Consider This an Open Invitation

Sometimes we forget Who the Host of the party is. It would serve us well to remember that we are not the ones in charge of the guest list. That person you avoid in the grocery store? Yep, her name is on the list. That irritating relative you wish would not stop by unannounced? There’s a star beside his name indicating he is a guest of honor.

Jesus extends invitation after invitation to those whom we might prefer be excluded. It’s His way, you know. He called a hated tax collector to write His memoirs. An uneducated,  foot-in-mouth fisherman was one of His best buds. A pharisee and persecutor of His followers became one of the most effective missionaries of all time. You might be more familiar with their identities as Matthew, Peter, and Paul. The point is, Jesus looks beyond the exterior and the present, in order to see the inner man renewed in His love and fulfilling His purposes. And He wants us to have that same vision.

What would it be like to look at every person we see each day? To really look at them, Christian or non-Christian, and not just give them a passing glance, but to see them and marvel at the image of God they were created to portray. To realize that each person was birthed with a blessing to impart upon this world. To believe in the potential placed within each and every precious soul. And to prompt each one to fulfill the purpose that they have been issued. But instead, we hurry through our days with our eyes shut tight, seemingly oblivious to the mass of humanity bleeding around us. If we do slow down enough to look, it is all too often with eyes that are suspicious and skeptical.

Is it any wonder that Christians are deemed as critical and judgmental? You need look no further than the next facebook post to read a condemning remark or a digging barb. And I can’t help but think that those who judge us as judgmental have issued a just decree. Sometimes the hatred with which Christians attempt to share God’s love appalls me… and embarrasses me. Christian “truth” touted as “tough love” seems no less depraved to me than an Islamic devotion to suicide bombing for the sake of making a statement.

What would happen, instead, if we saw the “lost” (those without the love of Christ in their lives) as truly “lost”? Not just as depraved or barbaric. But as utterly separated and lost from the One whom their soul was created to find. To love. What if we looked beyond the wounds they inflicted and instead saw the wounds they bore? The wounds driven deep, induced by the lies of the most criminal of foes.

What if we felt their sense of loneliness? Their shame. The utter hopelessness that resides in a life lived separated from the God of love and grace. What would happen if we embraced the blackness of despair that has been sown into their souls? If we would hold high the light of God’s love and walk toward them instead of fleeing in fear or attacking in judgment, deeming them as somehow unworthy of exposure to the Light.

I challenge you to join me in asking yourself: What if I acted differently from the rest? What if I embraced others with the grace that their Father intended? With the same grace that was spilled upon my life so freely? The grace that was priceless beyond measure, yet poured out in extravagance as bounty for my soul. What if I remembered my own salvation? If I recalled that I was once just as lost as those who still walk in darkness?

What would happen if I truly responded to others with the love of Jesus? Would it change what they have done, who they are, who they have become?

Or would it simply change me?

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