Sunday, January 10, 2016

{Don't} Be Careful

We recently invited a young hippie couple to live with us for an undefined period of time.

We met them randomly about two months ago when they were walking down the street to sell their artisans. Our friend and ministry partner saw them with their awesome instruments {and awesome hair!} and said it would be cool to hear them play some music. “Invite them in!” I said.

That led to donuts which led to a few dreadlocks for me and some friends which led to inviting them to our big Thanksgiving bash which led to us asking God to allow us more and more opportunities to speak Truth and Love into their lives which led to us finding out they’d be homeless mid-December which led to “I know exactly what you are up to here, God.... and that is {once again} taking things further than I expected which led to “We’d love to have you in our home... and yes, even your cat."

And I do not like cats.

So here we are and here they are and wow.

And you know what?

They’re really awesome people. We played Monopoly the other night and it was a blast. She can play the “melodica” like a beast and you should see the jewelry he makes. Our kids love them and invite them to play and we spent Christmas and New Years day together because we are all strangers in this jungle town and “we’re each other’s family this year”. We eat together and have had many conversations about life and living and God and Christ and what it means to love and forgive. We’ve shared our struggles {current and past} and we’ve laughed and had frustrations {like when their cat tried to kill our duckling...what is my life??}. He talked for two hours about God and being rejected by “the church” and we shared our stories and what community and the Body of Christ really looks like in the day to day.

Mostly, we don’t tell other Christians we have them in our home. Why? Because it’s the same response.

“Be careful.”

I don’t really know where this idea came from of “being careful”. I can’t seem to find it in Scripture. In fact, what I see in Scripture is the exact opposite. I see people doing crazy extreme things in the name of Christ. I see people living in community and opening their doors and their refrigerators and their closets and their hearts and saying, “There is Love here. And you are welcome here. Exactly as you are.”

But it’s uncomfortable to invite them in. We’d rather preach to them with our words at an outreach one day than with our lives in our own four walls in the every day. We don’t want to do life together. We want to change them. All the while forgetting that we were never—never EVER—called to change anyone. We were called to love. The Holy Spirit does the changing.

And for some reason we are afraid to love whole-heartedly, unconditionally, just as they are. It’s almost like we think it’s the weak thing to do. We need them to see that they are SINNERS! Going to Hell!

But we forget that they are DEAD in their sins. Dead men can’t see. So in our lame attempt to put glasses on them and hand them a Bible, we don’t notice that their hands and hearts are cold because there is no life in them. They CAN’T see no matter how hard we tell them to open their eyes. It’s going to take nothing less than the Holy Spirit giving them sight and giving them life.

Our role in it all is love. {Remember the two greatest commandments?} And here is what Scripture says love looks like:

Love is patient,
love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful,
is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish,
is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

It doesn’t say that love is safe or easy or careful or comfortable. It doesn’t describe it as something conditional or something that eventually runs out. It doesn’t say that love tells people what to do or points out all their flaws so that they can get better. Love goes against every human instinct we have because often it just. doesn’t. make. any. sense. y’all.

I know what you’re thinking...of COURSE there is wisdom to be had as well. Some would say it’s not wise to have people in your home like this. But I’d say those people are confusing wisdom with carefulness. (See James 3.17-18 for Biblical definition of wisdom... hint: it doesn’t say anything about being careful.) 

Carefulness says that when they smoke pot one rainy night in your backyard, that you kick them out and deem them untrustworthy. Wisdom says you let them know that is not ok here but that you love them and forgive them. Carefulness says that they may bring with them demonic activity so it’s best to protect your family from that. Wisdom says that you address their spiritualism with Love and Truth {knowing that He that is in you is greater}, covering your home and children in prayer, not fearing the enemy.

We are so very thankful for our community at The Common Thread that encourages us from afar in this journey. They speak Truth into our lives and set an example for unconditional love, self-sacrifice, and humility with open doors and pouring out and dreaming big. When we tell them things like us taking in a hippie couple, their response is, “We’re going to pray with you in this. Here is some of our experience in the past. Let us share with you some wisdom we’ve learned over time. What are their names so we can pray specifically? Keep us posted.”

Doesn’t that sound a lot more like a body of Christ followers, passionate for our neighbors, than, “Be careful!”

I think about it and I wonder what type of impact we would have as the Body if we truly died to our comforts and fears. Instead of seeing people as souls to be saved, we saw them as individuals to love. Jesus will do the saving. He promises He will in His time to those who believe. It’s just not our job {By the way, that was a good call. We can’t even get the basics down, much less save souls!}

If our lives looked more like Love and Hope and less like condemnation and judgment (like Jesus commands), we’d actually be really surprised at the rich relationships we build and the incredible opportunities He gives us to speak His name to people so different from us... and yet so, so much like us.

So let’s stop being “careful” and start loving people where they are, how they are, just like Christ loved us. Let’s bring them in and let them know that we are with them and Christ died for them and there is Hope and Truth in this world. That we were once lost and broken, too.

And let’s all be thankful that God wasn’t “careful” about loving us.

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