The topic of Iron Porch and what my ministry means to me came up today. The conversation was raised from a question regarding the topic of my relationships while I was talking to two newer friends of mine who weren’t familiar with my story. One of those dear friends said to me, “Well, now that I know you have a ministry and believe what you believe, then I know you really must not like me.” What a crushing statement against the soul of a lover of Jesus. And I don’t even blame her for thinking that.
I know all too well what it feels like to be judged by my fellow Christians. People have stopped talking to me because I was divorced. I lost dinner and coffee invitations. I’ve received looks of disapproval for being pregnant. Shaking of heads when they saw me with a glass of wine. Loss of mentoring and leadership roles due to “perceptions.” I could go on for days. These are just some of the things I’ve experienced in the last two decades, and some as recent as a year ago. And I’m a Christian! Can you imagine what it’s like for people who are struggling to believe in any God, much less our gracious God who freely gave His only Son for us??
The scribes and Pharisees in biblical times made a mockery of a true Christ-following lifestyle. They noticed habits and mistakes of the people in the cities, and kept track of who wasn’t as “holy” as they were. Do you know what Jesus said to them?
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” Matthew 23:25-26 (NASB).
THANK YOU, JESUS!
I can just see Him now, looking at these men who were acting like fools. He said to those pretenders, “You make it seem to the people around you that you’re perfect, nice and shiny in My eyes, and then you judge others for their actions. But, it’s for show! How about you clean up the inside of yourself with My kindness, love, and grace?! Because all you’re doing right now is drinking and eating out of dirty dishes!”
Our service and honor to Him demands that His love shines through us to others, DESPITE who they are or what they’ve done. We are to love our neighbor, love our enemies, and be kind. The love of the Almighty should be so bright within you that people ask what the special something is that you have that makes them feel welcome and happy, as if they’re home.
I looked at that friend and I told her to NEVER think that I think negatively about her – that I loved her sassy spirit exactly where she was in her life, and that nothing would change that. I also told her to never believe that I would ever look down on her for anything she’s done or does because I’ve got my own sinning to worry about! The acceptance of my answer in her eyes confirmed that Jesus was present in that space, and I’m grateful He was.
Reach out, everyone! There are people who are afraid to get close for fear that we may judge who they are. If Jesus can look past our stupidity and thoughtless sin and see the beauty that He’s created in us, we can do it, too.