Here’s a really good one from one of our own congregants…Lee Pierce! We haven’t heard from him in a while, but I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this one. So, grab yourself a cup of something and get nestled comfortably in your easy chair, sit back and enjoy…but take heed as well to the message below! -anita
Have you ever found yourself immediately judging someone you encounter? Maybe they’re poorly dressed, or deficient of proper speech…or maybe they smell of body odor a bit. Whatever it is, something about them repels us from them. And the thought of discipling them…well, probably not. This person is too offensive and repulsive.
What about the person who is crude, abrasive, and arrogant? That one who pushes passed you to get ahead of you in line. Or cuts in front of you on the roadway nearly causing an accident (okay, that one hits me close to home since I know how I’d probably react, and it might be neither pretty nor very Christian!). Or, as we’re sitting in a group of people discussing something…you have something to say, to contribute, and this one person won’t stop talking. In fact, he or she literally talks right over you as you start to say something.
I read something recently that caused me to stop for a few minutes to consider the types of people I describe above and how I often relate to them (or not!). The article I read posed the question of whether I, as a Christian, really believe that no sinner is beyond the grace of God. I would quickly confirm for you, if you asked me, that God is all powerful and capable of doing anything He sets His mind to do. So, as I thought about some of the repugnant individuals I’ve encountered along the way, the thought entered my mind that maybe, just maybe, God could work in the lives of any of the folks I describe here. In fact, I got rather upset with myself as I confronted the awful truth that I probably would hesitate to even speak to or like such a person as I describe above, let alone try to tell them the gospel story. Then Matthew 7:1-2 came to mind, “Do not judge lest you be judged.” And very tellingly, Scripture says, how we judge others, “…you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”
What is our Lord’s position on this? In John 13:34 He tells us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” In Romans, the Bible even introduces the concept that we are honoring one another as we reach out to them. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Rom 12:10.
I don’t know about you but I struggle like crazy to reach out to—and even somehow forgive—someone who has just slighted me. Or as the Urban Dictionary might put it: I was dissed (disrespected or dishonored). My deepest held typical reaction is always an eye-for-an-eye. Yet how can I overlook the fact that the Lord I love was cruelly and unfairly dealt with at the end of His earthly life but He did not strike back in any way.
I didn’t say any of this would be easy, at least not for me. I’m sure I will continue to struggle with trying to act in the manner I see Jesus act in the pages of Scripture. But what’s important to me is this: I do in fact want to be more like Him. I want the Holy Spirit to guide my life, to change me, to make me more like my Lord. I know He is capable of changing me; my hard task is to let Him!