How's that for a title?
Two things occurred to me when I decided to write this post -
1. I don't write a lot of 'Christian' things, or at least things that most people would view as 'Christian' (can a blog post be Christian?), so you might be caught off guard.
2. There are going to be a lot of people who don't like me when I'm done. Or possibly, without even reading. Actually, I'm hoping all the people who don't like me are the ones who don't bother to read.
A while back, I started working again part time.
I kept thinking of all the reasons I wasn't going to be able to find work before that, because I wasn't going to find summertime childcare, because my kids would always come first, because I'm inherently lazy and enjoy not getting dressed until noon.
But then this opportunity came and despite my best effort to convince the Director of the agency that I suck, they still hired me. I work almost exclusively from home, and they basically demand that I put my family first, so overall, it was pretty clear that I am supposed to be there.
The goal of the agency is to reach the marginalized in the community. The broken, ignored. The ones who not only who may be poor in physical assets, but who are poor in spirit, poor in community, poor in supports.
I can get behind that.
To love Jesus is to love those who are broken, right?
People may have in their head that to love Jesus is to hate things, and well, that's the result of a lot of bad PR. Mostly by people professing to believe in a faith that should put love first.
But to love Jesus is to love people.
And everyone, EVERYONE can get behind loving the orphans and widows. Those with terrible back stories that show that through no fault of their own, they are broken.
Most people wouldn't think twice about helping the orphaned child on the street with no where to go. But as soon as that child grows up, it gets messy.
And no one likes messy.
Messy means the money you give might not be used for what you think is best. Messy means the back story is dirty and the hurts have gone both ways and 'fixing' it isn't going to be easy.
Messy is a harder sell.
But I can get behind messy. I'm messy. I've been hurt and I've hurt people and I've made bad choices and I've screwed up really bad and I do my very, very best to look at each person I meet and say 'there but by the grace of God...'.
When I was in college, I did my practicum with a wonderful hippie named Phoebe.
She had dreadlocks and she didn't wear shoes and she wasn't a Christian but she knew the Bible better than I did.
And she was pretty sure after school was done she was going to work rehabilitating..... pedophiles.
One day when we were talking she said something that always stuck with me.
'you and me, we are attracted to people of the opposite sex and same age as ourselves. And we are not in any way attracted to anyone that it is socially difficult or morally unacceptable to be attracted to. So we have no conflict. It's easy for us to not break the law because the idea of doing so disgusts us. But what if we were? What if every day we felt that same physical attraction that we do toward men, except toward children. That wouldn't make it even a little bit right, but it would make our lives a whole lot more complicated. The truth is, someone needs to counsel those people for the sake of them and the sake of the kids. And no one wants to. No one. So I think I will try. You're a Christian, right? So aren't they just as broken and in need of help as the teenage addicts you're trying to save?'
I didn't have an answer to that 13 years ago. Only a lot of disgust.
My first day at work at this agency, I was enlightened to a fact that should have been easy to process but had never occurred to me because I live in a bubble and that bubble doesn't include people who hurt children.
The fact is, this city has many prisons and as such, has many ex-offenders. And following that same line of thought, some of these ex-offenders are the kind that had hurt children.
And all of a sudden my brain found this tiny spot where God could still be heard and it occurred to me - where would those people find Jesus?
Not at our child-filled churches they wouldn't.
That's not going to help anyone.
The needed to find Him here, in this little drop in center, where there was community and acceptance and love for everyone. And no children.
There needs to be no children so that we can reach those who cannot be around them, legally or morally or precautionarily. (I'm aware that's not a word. No other word works there).
So they can find grace.
And that rubs me (and maybe even you) the wrong way.
Because I don't think they deserve it. As though, somehow, I get to make those decisions about how broken a person can before before God.
Let me make some things clear at this point, if you've read this far and are still willing to keep reading.
I believe in justice. I believe that love also means boundaries and facing consequences for actions. Just like loving my children means disciplining them, I believe loving people means allowing them to face the full consequence for their actions. Please, do not, in any way, believe that this post implies that I think anyone should be let off the hook for anything.
I believe in protecting children. This should go with the first point. I only tell my own stories and so, I won't get into any detail when I say this: my family has dealt, in the most painful and terrible way possible, the reality of child sexual abuse. We've cried innumerable tears over children in our family who have been irreparably hurt by horrifyingly broken people.
We've gone down that road, friends. Please completely understand that I don't believe an offenders rights should ever trump a child's safety.
The thing is friends, sometimes God whispers to me softly while I'm running. Sometimes He whispers in my ear 'you are loved' when I need to hear it.
And sometimes, God yells in my ear when I'm busy ignoring Him and He says 'You Hypocrite!' when I am standing in judgement.
In Matthew, Jesus makes a point that is hard for me to understand.
Because Jesus is love, right. And we are supposed to love. And for most of us, this means we love the people we think are deserving of our love.
Then He hits us with this:
" If all you do
is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.... In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up.”
In the past few weeks, I have realized that if my faith means anything at all, it has to mean this.
Everyone is deserving of grace.
It is for the drunk and the abused, the prostitute, the john, the rich and the destitute, the murderer, the adulterer, the addict, the liar, the lazy, the broken.
It is for those who are broken through no fault of their own and those who have made every wrong choice that has brought them where they are, whether that's to riches or death row.
It is for the abused and it is for the abuser.
It is for the lying, spiteful, judgemental and most importantly, hypocritical woman who is still in her sweats at noon.
And it is
without a doubt,
not for me to decide who is worthy.