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lovethisAhhh, I just love this little meme. That is the Father’s heart for us. He knows our past and He knows how to love us, as we need to be loved.

Not as others think we should be loved. Not as we ourselves want to love others, but specifically, sacrificial, tailored to us as individuals.

That’s how the Lord loves us. That is how we are called to love others, too.

That’s a tough concept for many to embrace. Far too often we hear “love your neighbor” and the best we can do is to project our own selves and our own needs onto them. We like to try to remake people into our own image. We even like to try to remake God into our own image.

And who is “our neighbor?” Probably those wayyyy outside of our comfort zone.

Seriously, the bible in Luke Six:32 thru 42 says, If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Chuckling here, but perhaps I should really post that on my fridge. “Remember to be kind to the ungrateful and the evil today IB, for He is merciful.” All in good fun here but that is just a fabulous verse for a mom…..and anyone who works in customer service. See, God’s got you covered wherever you are at.

It’s really very easy to be kind to people who do what we want, think what we want them to think, believe as we tell them to believe, and act as we want them to act. Extra credit kudos if they are actually grateful to us for having helped them……conform themselves more into our own image, our own likeness. Ours, not God’s.

We love those kinds of people! They are like mirrors we can hold up and admire ourselves in. What’s a BFF, a best friend forever? Usually someone who likes all the things we do, a co-conspirator, someone possessing a bit of like-mindedness in the secret places of our soul. Friends are good, a great blessing, nothing wrong with friends, it is just that they are often incredibly easy to love.

Now, go forth and proceed to love a social justice warrior, an alt rightie, a white supremacist, a feminist, an outright misogynist, a conservative, even gasp, a liberal. That changes the whole ballgame. Or love someone sporting pink hair and yoga pants, or my personal favorite, an ideologically driven Blind Pharisee of Sherwood Forest. Let me tell you, my grace and charity begins to wear pretty darn thin when I encounter some of the so-called “biggies” within our faith. “Biggies” who often seem to be far more ideologically and culturally driven then they are driven by the love of Jesus Christ. (I’m hesitant to even call them “Biggies” because I fear it will go right to their swollen little heads.)

Those “biggies” have an opportunity right now to heal some cultural divisions, to heal some social injustices, to build unity within “the church,” to light the path before us and to lead the way.

Yep, I’m speaking to all those “biggies” still bragging about how they have now saved the world by signing their name right beneath John MacArthur’s declaration of Anti Social Justice. It seems as if I am not a fan of this move, and feeling kind of bad for the 4000 or so pastors who have leapt forward to sign it.

True, I really am just sitting in the “cheap seats,” judging from the sidelines, armchair quarter backing, discerning what I perceive to be some epic fails, epic fails to display the love and grace of Jesus Christ for all the world to see.

I think a huge part of the problem is that so many of the movers and shakers within faith actually do perceive those who would dare to question them as just the rabble rubble sitting in the cheap seats of the peanut gallery.  And therein lies the root of the whole problem.

We have to get to know people in order to begin to understand how to love them as they need to be loved. That means we have to listen to them. It costs us something, it challenges us, it requires us to take ourselves and our preconceived notions out of the equation. It forces us to see people as complex, diverse, made in the image of God, rather than the kind of reductionist mindset that tries to shrink people down to nothing more than flat, two-dimensional avatars, avatars we can now just perceive with contempt and then dismiss.

Let me just say one more thing about the “cheap seats.” I love to be the Lady of the Crumbs with the Lord, because His crumbs are simply amazing. I really am quite cheerfully crawling around beneath His table, collecting all the crumbs, and resting at His feet. But His “cheap seats” are actually the very best seats of all, because He invites us to sit right beside Him, and He just so happens to be seated in victory at the right hand of the Father.

Some of those “biggies” looking wayyyyy down there at the far off cheap seats, don’t seem to realize that we are actually sitting right beside the Lord already and therefore, so much closer to His heart then you are.