I’m a nobody,
Who loves everybody.
Do you recoil when you read that? It’s not that I suffer a poor self-esteem. I’m just getting my cues from Paul, the apostle. He called himself the scum of the world, a dreg, a fool for Christ, and a spectacle. He said, “God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death.” That phrase ‘last of all’ infers the finale of a gladiatorial contest. If I think more highly of myself than I ought, I drift from a willingness to put myself out there in my witness to men. But if I see myself like Paul, who considered himself no better than a doomed gladiator, there’s not far to fall if things don’t turn out. In those moments God reminds me that like Paul, my life is not mine to pamper. Instead, I put sword in hand and enter the arena of men willing to be rejected. It’s often pride that keeps me away from others.
On the receiving end of our words stand a multitude of cultures, ethnicities, language groups, and people of all ages. They are the reason God put His Son into the torturous hands of Roman soldiers. At times I’ve hesitated, made rationalizations because of hair color, tattoo’s, mean looks, size of forearms, ANYTHING to find a reason for keeping my lips shut. People are different from me, but it’s what I enjoy most about having no filter regarding whom I approach. After five minutes I begin to see they are not different so much as I think.
Twice now I’ve sat across from John in my favorite café. He’s a Buddhist screenwriter with a penchant for flowery language, long-winded stories, and pompous self-promotion. Yet, we have found things in common, and a friendship has budded. He’s intrigued about Jesus, who’s powerful enough to change a troubled long -haired pothead into a minister.
Jesus Christ lived here. He had friends, parents and made a living, just like most of us. He was extraordinary, and He was God in skin. Just think, what the Bible says about his life, death and resurrection is true! Let your mind wander for a moment, and believe that Sunday school stories aren’t just made up for your entertainment, but happened exactly stated. God came here, because He knew that no one else could pass muster. No other sacrifice good enough. No other life lived perfectly. The lamb had to be spotless on the altar called Golgotha. God wielded the knife that took His son’s life. One solitary life, one solitary truth and one solitary sacrifice solved the issue that haunts the world–sin. It’s not a popular message today, but it’s the truest. Somebody called Jesus; God incarnate actually lived the life chronicled in the Bible. I keep it simple. I keep it about Jesus.
Theology can trip us here. I’m saying God loves everyone, but certainly not everyone will receive His love. My message is love to whomever God sends across my path. I don’t debate the virtues of theology, or lift up my way of life over theirs. I’m introducing people to an unusual kind of grace. We are love-craving creatures, whose existence depends on others affirmation. We tend to love what’s in people, their gifts, personality, honors and position. We want them to love us in return. But God loves what in us is not yet. Creature love feels good, and it can sustain only for a lifetime. But eternal love breaks through our hard crust of unbelief and dislodges all the reasons why God shouldn’t love me. When that kind of grace shows up, it’s pure dichotomy, and it’s powerful. I’m broken, in desperate need and have nothing God should love. Yet, when my heart surrenders, He comes in like a rushing flood to wash away what kept us apart.
I’ll never forget meeting Steve on a short flight, and discovering he was on the run from God. In my lap was Henry Nouwen’s book, “Prodigal Son,” and so I gave him the copy. After we landed he thanked me profusely. Love had awakened him, had turned him around, and had sent him on a journey home.
Love wins all arguments.