Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Wish We Could Send All The Muslims Back Home

"I wish we could send all the Muslims back home."  I know that is a really bold statement but don't judge me, just yet.  Some of you are about to unfriend me, while others are about to befriend me.  So, regardless of where you stand on an issue like this, just don't be so quick to cast judgment.  I know you want to, but hear me out before you do. I was sitting in a room listening to a conversation between several individuals when I heard this statement blurted out.  That's correct, I didn't say it.  Those who know me well, know that I would never say something like that.  This statement came at the tail end of a conversation that I had been quietly listening to on the topic of our country and religion.  The gist of the conversation was about our country and how it had been founded on Christian tenets.  Then from out of nowhere came this statement from a lady well up in years. As she continued it was easy to see that her statement was the result of a heart that had been tainted by life's experiences.

I get it.  I really do.  I understand how someone can despise a person or people group.  No, I didn't say I agree with it, but I do understand.  There is a constant battle that each of us finds ourselves in. It's an ongoing challenge to love those we do not understand, those we disagree with, and those who oppose us.  None of us are immune to this ongoing challenge.  While our culture preaches a concept of tolerance, the reality is that most only tolerate those who tolerate them.  For instance, there a many who, like this lady in this conversation, have no tolerance when it comes to this very same people group.  On the other hand, there are those who do not tolerate this lady or those who think like her.  So, this politically correct idea of tolerance really just allows us to justify our prejudices while condemning others.  Besides, is tolerating someone truly loving them?  I don't think so.  For instance, I tolerate taxes but I sure don't love them.

The way I see it, there will probably be a few different responses to reading the title of this BLOG.  There will be those who read it and immediately cast judgment without bothering to dig a bit deeper to hear the real truth.  They'll move on assuming that one statement is enough with which to judge the entirety of my heart even though I never truly made that statement.  Then there will be those who will immediately judge me and will read on in order to find more fuel with which to condemn me. Still, others will read the title and be happy to think they've found someone with whom they can agree.  They'll read on convinced they've found justification for their disdain of a people group, since a "man of God," agrees with their position.  Then there will be those who really know me who know there has to be some type of twist because I would never hold that position.

Although we were all taught at a young age to not judge a book by its cover, our culture is one that does just that.  We are quick to pass judgment.  We hear a sound bite, read an opinionated editorial, or hear something through the "grapevine" and immediately we make up our mind regarding an individual.  We are quick to condemn without hearing the whole story.  We judge the book by the cover without taking the time to read through all the pages.

As I sat there listening to this conversation on this day, I said nothing.  I just listened.  As I listened I discovered some things I could have never discovered had I been quick to interject.  I discovered that the heart that was spewing this hatred was one that was wounded.  A heart that was full of fear.  The miles that this one had journeyed had bumps along the way that my journey did not. While I did not agree with what she said, I understood where she was coming from.  I understood where she was coming from because I cared enough to want to know where she was coming from.

I'm a much better talker than I am a listener.  Sometimes it is extremely hard for me to keep my mouth shut. My first impulse on this day was to say something.  To jump into preacher mode and put people in their place.  Condemning someone's behavior is so much easier than helping them find healing for their heart and that's why our default is to condemn.  Leading people toward freedom and healing requires so much more from us than preaching or standing on a soapbox.  In order to rescue us, our Heavenly Father didn't stand at arm's length from us and spew condemnation.  Scripture tells us that, "God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17).  God sent His Son into our world for the purpose of rescuing us.  He cared enough to come into our world!  He cared enough to understand the depth of our brokenness and rather than condemn us, He reached out to rescue us.  He gave us the answer, not a lecture. Our salvation was not secured by someone telling us how messed up we were but by someone who dove into the middle of our mess determined to pull us out of it.

While I did not make the statement that this lady did, I can assure you that judgment and condemnation has proceeded from my mouth more times than I care to admit.  As a matter of fact, it took everything within me on that day to put a lid on condemning words that wanted to make their way across my lips.  I'm desperately trying to get this "loving my neighbor" thing down.  I'm trying to navigate through our culture determined to love those who are difficult for me to love.  Will you join me?  In the same way, that God sent His Son into the world, Jesus sent His followers into the world.  If Jesus wasn't sent into the world to condemn it, then I'm thinking neither were we.

For more on loving those you struggle to love, you can get a copy of my e-book: Yep, Even That One - a believer's guide to loving your neighbor.

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