Last week I was in a workshop with some students, teachers and administrators from Austin ISD, case workers from Child Protective Services, as well as a few other agencies. We focused on understanding racism, it’s impact on all of us, and what steps we could take as we face it in our society.
Our discussions were difficult and emotionally charged because we all have been touched by the topic in one way or another. It was, thankfully, a very diverse crowd. I say thankfully because if we’re going to affect change in our community, we need to gather and hear one another, across all perspectives.
The Church came into the crosshairs of our discussion. I heard different perspectives on the Church, from some folks who don’t have any interest in attending church. Some of them have general assumptions about the Church, and some have genuinely been hurt in their experience.
Lest you think I always react in a perfectly pastoral way (whatever that is), please know I’m just a guy and my blood is as prone to boil as yours. Through God’s grace, I was able to listen. In listening, I was challenged.
Some of the comments I heard were hard for me to hear, but they were honest experiences and opinions. Someone in the Church needs to hear, and respond with grace, to those who have been hurt. So, I signed a few of you up for the next workshop :)
As I considered what I heard, I ran across this quote:
“Seek to live in My love, which covers a multitude of sins: both yours and others’. Wear My Love like a cloak of Light, covering you from head to toe. Have no fear, for perfect Love decimates fear. Look at other people through lenses of Love; see them from My perspective.”– Jesus Calling, Sarah Young
Look at others through the lens of love. Ever wonder how The LORD sees those who hold political views that oppose ours? Sure, we cannot imagine how anyone could support such views or different lifestyle choices, especially those who have such hostility toward Him.
If we’re honest, we more closely identify with King David’s words “shouldn’t I hate those who hate You?” from Psalm 139, than Jesus’ idea of loving others…even our enemies. Yet, we as a Church are called to love others. Every. Single. Believer.
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” – 1 John 4:16
How can we love them…
if we only want to prove we’re right, and they’re wrong?
if our social media posts take shots at their political views?
if we don’t know their names, their stories, or what they hold dear?
if we haven’t sat across from them and listened to their point of view?
What became clear to me, and I keep thinking about, is this: Those who harbor anger and hostility for the Church have no idea how much The LORD loves them.
“Each one of us is unique, known by name, and loved by the One who fashioned us.” – Adam, Henri J. M. Nouwen
Do they know He has made them to be in intimate union with Him? Do they know He loves them with an everlasting love? Do they know in the midst of their tragedies, He is there, with them, hurting and wanting to comfort them?
“How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t event count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, You are still with me!” – Psalm 139:17-18
When we look at others through His lens of love, we will more clearly see their hurt, hostility or point of view in the correct light, through their eyes. And then, He might just be able to use us to comfort them.