Monday, August 22, 2016

"Sometimes Jesus Talks Back"

Galatians 4.12

“Brethren, I beg of you, become as I am [free from the bondage of Jewish ritualism and ordinances], for I also have become as you are [a Gentile].” AMP

“…become like me, for I became like you.” NIV

I sometimes talk to myself.

“What a bozo that guy is. He’s shacking up with his girlfriend-of-the-month, drinks too much, and emits crude, loud noises from body orifices. He offends me. He’s obnoxious and doesn’t appear to care what I think or have to say. He’s boisterous and self-centered and probably wouldn’t hear me even if I tried to engage with him. I wish he did not live on my block. I am shamefully indignant toward this man, and helplessly drawn to despise him. Is it possible he is in my small world for a reason beyond my limited understanding? 

“I can’t stop thinking about him. I am both repulsed and fascinated. How could anyone behave so poorly? He and I have nothing in common (I hope). I vacillate between pity and disgust. I wish the guy did not exist, at least not in my neighborhood.

I am conflicted. I really do not like the man. I am not inclined to love him in any tangible way… strike up conversation, show some respect, invite him to dinner. I am seriously reluctant to walk the short distance to his home and try to befriend him. I am not afraid of rejection. It’s worse than that. I am afraid I will be successful and make an emotional connection. He might accept me and then latch on to me. What if he starts hanging around my house? Oh Lord, forbid it! I don’t want him near my kids and me. He’s definitely a negative influence and probably smells bad. I would much rather keep my distance and excuse my attitude with the obvious fact of his unworthiness.”

Sometimes Jesus talks back.

“See that guy down the street? He’s suffering. His level of emotional pain is getting the better of him. His dad was too self-absorbed to show him any real love. But I never quit loving him. He behaves like a buffoon, but he needs Me as much as anyone ever could. I placed this man in your life for a reason. I need you to love him. Love him by what you say and how you behave in his presence.

Stop judging this man. I don’t judge him. I died for this guy and his worth far exceeds your imagination. Do not look at his appearance for I do not see as you see. You look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.[1] I became like the object of My concern. I am the Word who became flesh and dwelt among the people I created.[2] I am a high priest who is able to sympathize with every man’s weakness, for I have been tempted in every way — yet was without sin.[3] I want you to sympathize with this man. I want you to embrace this man, dwell with him, sympathize with him.   

Become like this man in every way, yet do not join in his sin. Find out what he thinks. Discover the reasons for his behavior. Comprehend his thoughts. Feel his pain. Admit you are tempted by what tempts him. Earn his respect. Then you shall be my witness [4] and I will touch the world through you.”

Both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul became like the people they came to serve and, in so doing, became my example of real empathy in the face of human brokenness. Paul extended an invitation to those he paid the price to serve. Maybe someday I can too...

“Become like me, for I became like you”.

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[1] 1st Samuel 16.7
[2] John 1.14
[3] Hebrews 4.15
[4] Acts 1.8

The cartoon of the guy drinking beer is "Barney Gumble" from Portland, Oregon's Matt Groening's famous cartoon TV series "The Simpsons".

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