Sunday, March 1, 2009

A bunch of imperfect people

Read the following poem and spend a few minutes on what God's love means to you.

God's Love

by Sri Chinmoy

God-Love outlives
All our imperfections
And limitations.

God’s Love for us
Is overwhelming-
In the inner world
And in the outer world as well.

A day of God-love
Is the only real day
In my heart.

The God-seeker in me longs
To arrive at the goal.
The God-lover in me feels
That he does not have to arrive
At a particular goal,
For God-love itself encompasses
Both the journey's start
The journey's goal.

This is one person's reflection on what God's love means to them. I really like the end where is says that "God-love outlives all our imperfections and limitations". We are such imperfect people and yet God loves us no matter what. At this retreat I went to Bart Campolo was the speaker for the weekend and some of you might know him because his dad is Tony Campolo or you might know that he set up the program Mission Year. He now lives in inner-city Cinncinati with his family and a community of friends. He was a phenomenal speaker and he said something yesterday morning that just hit me hard. He was talking about the people that live in his inner city neighborhood, the prostitutes, the drug dealers, the alcoholics, the kids, etc..and he told us about how he started this monday night dinner where he invited about 40 people over to his house to have a meal together, they were not "Former prostitutes, drug dealers, etc" they WERE and would continue to be. They were a bunch of broken people all under one roof, breaking bread together. He said it took about a year before people felt comfortable enough to stay for more than 15 minutes. But slowly they learned to feel included, accepted and above all LOVED. These broken people in Cinncinati might never change, they might never accept Jesus into their hearts, they might never stop dealing drugs, the cycle of poverty might never end, but does that mean a Christians we do nothing. NO! We are called to love. Jesus says the greatest commandment is to LOVE ONE ANOTHER, not to fix one another, not to change one another, not to make everyone a Christian, God just calls us to love. He wants us to love without judgement and to just be there with open arms like the father in the prodigal son story. Bart said that there was one guy that had been a drug dealer for 20 years and only stopped because of getting shot once and now he can't think well. He used to never aknowledge when Bart would walk by him on the street, but now he stands up, when he sees Bart coming and he open his arms to embrace Bart and tell him he loves him. We should be like that drug dealer, waiting with open arms for everyone, no matter their background and no matter if they will ever change.

I just wish every church would act like Bart and his friends do in their communtiy. I wish every United Methodist Church truly lived by their motto to have "Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds". Maybe we should alter it a little and say, "Open Arms". Churches & Christians remain judgemental, are lacking in the unconditional love, and need to stop trying to fix and change people and just embrace them with love. If everyone felt loved, we would have a whole different world.

I have decided I can probably relate everything to working with my kids, they do consume me life. But this is something I needed to hear. Our kids might never be "fixed" or "changed", they might repeat the same abuse their parents hurt them with, they might never get out of the cycle of poverty. Or some of our kids might. But that doesn't mean we give up hope, but we need to focus on just loving them with every ounce that we have in our bodies, to be there when they come home from school or have a crisis, with open arms to embrace them with love. Jesus showed us the way by spending time with the poor, lonely, broken people and loving them unconditionally. I challenge you to love deeply this season of Lent. Find away you or your church can embrace your community and share God's love.

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