What is the road we take toward each other,
and how do we show forth the love of Jesus,
even when our disappointment wells up fiercely in the gut
and threatens all we thought we knew about the other?
Months before I spoke words meant for all of us.
“We will offend one another, but we are called to bear with one another in love.” Each of us smiled, heads nodding in agreement. Sure of own hearts…certain of our own character…established in our faith.
But somehow…in some way….I managed to offend. And in the space between us? Instead of peace, compassion, love? A spirit of dissension grew, fed by Dear Ones who follow hard after Jesus.
“There is a fine line between sharing concerns and gossiping,” one explained. In the meantime, harsh words tore at the tender flesh of my heart like scalding water peels flesh off of bones.
Can you relate? Have you ever been slighted, rejected, or even hated by those for whom you have prayed? Cared for? Done for?
Yesterday, a man ambled past our home. I peered at him dismissively. Garbed in low-hanging, baggy jeans, an orange beanie, and head hanging heavy I knew the neighborhood pot-head was heading toward The Place where he makes the sale.
Then the unwelcome whisper of conviction reminded my heart. Guilty. You are guilty of the same sin! You may not have spoken the words, but you judged The Man. What do you know about him….his life…his wounds? He needs love….hope….forgiveness. Pray for The Man—this one who is an enemy of all you believe.
And my spirit knows the truth. I judge others unfairly….just as others may judge me unfairly. Oh, may we learn to love like Christ!
Friend, when the Son of Man stood before his accusers and felt the weight of an unfair judgement—even a judgement to death—He refused to utter words of condemnation. Instead, Christ loved The Man whose roughened, soiled hands marred the back of The Innocent with a razor-edged rope. Instead, Christ forgave The Man who took pleasure in piercing the hands of The Innocent with hard edges and merciless pain. And instead, Christ loved The Woman who had not yet been born. I, too, would have been like the Dear Ones at the foot of the cross—perhaps hurling insults—or those cowering in fear in a hidden corner. I don’t know Him!
We will offend one another, but we are called to bear with one another in love. Christ has borne all for us! Oh, Church, let us do the same.