When I got off the streets and off dope, I learned of this man who had been in the heavens who chose to be a homeless being, who was judged for His work. He knew how messed up I was. He knew how messed up the world was and would continue to be. Yet, He still chose to face the bondage of this world, to be born and to die. He was murdered in the most humiliating way so that I could have a second chance, a chance to enter the gates of Heaven. He could do something no one else could. He could forgive me my sins, and He offered me grace. He loved me so much that He was willingly born for the sole purpose of dying for me. He even knew me before I was born, and loved me.
When I heard this message, I cried. I wept. How could He love me so? Was this the same message I had heard at the soup kitchen that turned me away when I had no shoes on my feet, my body battered and bloody with road rash from being pushed out of a moving car, in paper clothes? Was this the same message I heard when I had been turned away because of “no shoes, no shirt, no service”? If I had heard such a loving and compassionate message during the years before, maybe I would have embraced His love sooner.
I am thankful for my journey of brokenness. My experiences shaped me to help others understand the plights of individuals such as myself and empower those trapped in the grip of hopelessness. However, I often wonder how many good and well–meaning believers crust the message and push broken people away rather than drawing them closer to the arms of the Father. How many lose sight of the calling to love people to Him by meeting them where they are, tending to the human needs first?
Can desperately hungry people hear your message, anyway? If they are broken, do they need confirmation of their brokenness? A loving approach with no strings attached is a powerful message. Maybe it should be as simple as the message, truly allowing love to be shared—the love of our God who sent His only begotten Son to die for us.
Somehow we Christians have missed the intersection joining the humanity of our fellow hurting humans with the love of Christ. I do not mean we aren’t preaching at these folks—we are doing that ad nauseam. No, what I
mean is that we are not engaging with their basic human needs, such as food, water, and shelter, without attaching strings of judgment and wagging fingers in our interactions with them.
If we are created in God’s image, meant to be His representatives to a broken world, then perhaps we should follow His model. Jesus tended to people’s human needs before presenting a spiritual message. He chose not to condemn when He had every right to. Perhaps we should seek to love with tangible expressions of Christ’s unconditional love. Perhaps then the message can be heard.
“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald