December 20, 2013

In Which The Phil Robertson Event Becomes Irrelevant

So it's a day or so after Billy Whiskers Phil Robertson helped to stir up all sorts of outrage over his comments concerning gays and blacks in civil-rights era Louisiana. I still think that Phil owes the LGBTQ community an apology for the dehumanizing tone of his statements and members of the church of Christ (and Christians at large) an apology for the coarse and vulgar manner of stating his opinion that served only to bring reproach upon himself and the church at large. A man that serves as an elder should be mature and compassionate enough to know how to speak in a more gracious manner.

But that's all irrelevant.

For lots of reasons, in the big picture, but for a very specific reason in my life.

This morning I received a phone call from my dearest friend. I answered expecting to hear her cheerful voice, but I heard the choking gasps of anguished grief.

A young friend of hers was found dead a few days ago. It wasn't completely unexpected, given her situation, but it was still shocking and painful.

I found myself crying with my dearest friend. And that in itself is a testimony to the power of Jesus' love.

I was never a truly caring and empathetic person until a few years ago. I knew all the right things to say, the tones of voice, the facial expressions to make it seem as if I was connecting to your pain, but the reality was that I wanted you to hurry up and get past it so things could get back to normal. Unless it was my pain we were discussing. And I had gotten to the point where even though I believed in God, I didn't believe one bit that He cared for me.

But my dearest friend prayed for me to know and feel God's love in a very real and immanent way.

That's it. Not the somewhat self-serving prayers that we tend to pray upon others, she prayed just for me to know God's love.

And it came true. Where once I could only see people acting as if there were a loving God working in their lives, I could now directly experience that love in the way that they would claim to me. And it changed me. Not the instant change that preaches so well in pulpits and revivals, but a slow change in how I saw and felt about other people.

Their feelings became real to me, and of real importance. I found myself hurting when they hurt, and wanting to connect with them in their pain. I found myself caring about things that other people care about, and offering my support to them.

That's not me; not at all.

I have to remind myself to stay out of negativity, because that interferes with the empathy and compassion that God has opened up inside of me. And all of the duck quacking yesterday distracted me for a bit back into the negativity that surrounds such events.

But this morning, I heard that a girl that I had never met had died.

And I cried for her with my dearest friend.

That's what is relevant. That is the heart that Christ gives to us. The heart that is to be opened to, shared with, and broken with the hearts of others. The heart that grieves when we carelessly hurt others with our words as Christians.

The heart that awaits the restoration of all things.

The heart that desires to work towards that restoration.

The heart that is being made new.

That is His love showing up on Earth.

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