Celebrating our Differences


Yesterday on Facebook I made a statement and it was something to the effect of, “I am so glad Jesus didn’t try to put us in boxes and say, this is how you need to look to fit into my group.” Instead, He invites us to come just as we are and trust Him enough to let Him reassemble us from the inside out. We, on the other hand, like to section people off. Especially in church. Single people here, Marrieds here, 50 plus over here. It makes us feel safer I think. Maybe it’s easier than trying to figure out where they belong.

But why do we insist on “pigeon-holing” people if Jesus didn’t? When we try to put people in categories we’re comfortable with it only serves to make them feel bad when they don’t fit into the box we try to force them into. Certain men don’t know one tool from another but are made to feel like they have to volunteer for the “Habitat for Humanity” project. Certain women are great architects and designers but are made to feel like their only usefulness is baking cookies or working with children.

Jesus however, accepted people at face value, He approached people of all ages and walks of life; all different talents and abilities.  He was never put off by people’s differences, but rather met them where they were in every instance. The reason He was so effective was because when they looked into His eyes they immediately saw the depth of His compassion, His holiness, His goodness. And by contrast they saw their own sinfulness and inability to save themselves.

He gave them an immediate solution to their “sin problem.” He offered forgiveness, wholeness, reconciliation with a God they had fallen out of love with.

Last weekend I was playing my Brooklyn Tabernacle DVD…….it’s what I always reach for when I want to get a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. I see all those colors, all those ages, all those ethnicities, all those pasts. I see people, men and women in beautiful suits and dresses, all lifting their hands to the Lord because they remember what He brought them out of. Many have been homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol. Some have been very successful in their careers and made a lot of money.

Some have the tattoos they got before they were saved, some have the tattoos they got after they were.

But the thing we all have in common is that each of us have a unique and beautiful redemption story.

It’s the life story that God records in each of our books. You know those baby books parents make when their kids are born? Well, God has one for you and me. He has kept record of our progress all through the years. And I think maybe He opens it and leafs through it because I know He makes the additions. And I think He smiles.

And when we get to Heaven, folks? I don’t think we will be prepared for what we are going to see. God is going to restore all things. That means every single animal that was part of His original design will be there. Colors we never even thought of and  beauty this world has never seen.

And every time I watch the news and catch myself saying, “Even so come, Lord Jesus?” I breathe a prayer and say, not just yet. There are still people who haven’t heard. Still more souls that need saving.

What Ferguson needs is what we all need.

Thankful to be Thankful

I was in prayer as to what to write about today, waiting for a direction……a word. I click on the news events, the chief one being the funeral of Michael Brown. I pause when I read these words by Jesse Washington in the A.P article:

He was a “gentle giant” headed to college. Pictures of Brown circulate that show him smiling, baby-faced — reminiscent of the childlike photos that first introduced us to Trayvon Martin.

I try to reconcile that with what I saw on the video of him strong-arming that clerk when he and his companion robbed the convenience store. My mind wants to make sense of it…..wants to reconcile it somehow, settle it. That’s what we want in times like this. We want a definite right and wrong. Black or white, if you will. But sometimes we are left with no right answers but only our emotions, anger, confusion, sadness.

Each side wants to paint a picture, this is how I see it anyway when I look at the media. One side wants us to believe Michael Brown was an innocent young kid on his way to college full of hopes and dreams. The other side wants us to believe he was a thug, a would-be rapper, up to no good and going nowhere fast.

Our minds and hearts grapple……..we want to know what to believe. When it happened, the barriers went up. The battle lines were drawn, and there were those of us who stood back and just wanted to get the facts. We wanted to make sense of the anger and the violence. And then there were those who just wanted to go and see for themselves, to stand in the gap and pray. And I know that’s always right.

To be truthful, right after it happened and I saw Al Sharpton spewing anger on the news, I rolled my eyes. “Here we go again,” I thought, “Why does it always have to be someone like him or Jesse Jackson when there are so many other more intelligent, well-spoken individuals out there who we might listen to.” I believe I am speaking for many people here and not just white people either.

And after that I kind of shut my ears to it all. It just got too noisy.

But now, this morning, I see family members and a community grieving and that’s never good. I know how it feels to put someone in the ground. You can never forget that sorrow.

I’ve read a little about the history of the town of Ferguson and I want to have a deeper understanding. I think of how I would feel if it had been my dear friend’s son standing in the street that night and what if it had been him who had been shot. I would be at that funeral right now. And it wouldn’t matter if he’d been in the right or wrong, or if he’d been inside or outside the law because grief is grief and heartache is heartache.

Kids aren’t perfect, any of them. Neither are any of us. We all have the capacity to make good decisions and bad ones. We sometimes find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do. I do know one thing, violence will never solve anything, but prayer is always right. My prayer is that healing can begin, not just for Ferguson but for the whole world.

In times like these I believe the Church has a unique opportunity to pull together, that’s what Jesus would have us do. Because the world is watching. In fact, that is what Jesus is praying for right at this moment. Unified hearts united with Him. We are called to love each other, and sometimes love means standing back and seeing things from a different perspective.

Deep down, it’s not about black or white or anything in between, it’s about the battle we each fight within our own hearts. And the only way we will ever have true peace, true healing in our hearts is when we invite Jesus in.

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. Apostle Paul