Monday, February 28, 2005

Parables and Prophesies, guilt and glory

Daily we walk down our streets and pass people without a spark of connection. We think, "they are dirty, they are strange, they might have a disease, those poor people, those beggars, those scum of the Earth, they'll only buy more drugs, they will only waste what I throw in their cup." They are those we wished weren't there because they make us feel guilty.

Guess what. They are God.

Those beggars, those drug addicts, those alcoholics, those prostitutes are the heart of God, and we walk past them and wish they weren't there. We make up stories about how they all deserve to be where they are, or how they have a car parked around the corner and live a good life in the suburbs, but they are suffering and providing us with an opportunity to show God's love ... and yet we walk on by.

We see that poor pregnant teenager but we can't stop making moral judgements about her long enough to see the Christ child growing inside of her.

We look at the 28 million people in Africa who are dying of AIDS and somewhere inside we say they deserve it. We say its God's will or we say to ourselves that God could work a miracle if he wanted to, and all the time we forget that we are God's miracle. We exist to do God's will and his will is that we transfigure the world like he transfigured our hearts. He gave us a chance, so we would be his miracle workers and give someone else that same chance.

We head off to church to sit on a pew and listen to stories about how great God is and by what means we should measure our morality and all the time God is out on the streets, shaking a cup and wondering why we want to talk about him when we could talking to him.

We try so hard to go to church every Sunday and shake hands with the preacher and we hold the door for the matriarchs and patriarchs of our congregation, we tithe and we follow all the commandments, but we never even think about doing it the way God told us to.

Have you ever noticed the different tones of Christ in dealing with sinners, specifically the contrast between the way he gently sat down and talked with the sexually immoral women that we deplore today, and how stern we reacted to the hypocrite we are most days?

We are the religious and the wealthy men riding by the poor man in the ditch, looking down at him and trying not to make eye contact because we know that guilt will leave an ache in our throats until we can make it back to prayer meeting and maybe remember to say a prayer that he was okay. Or we just look down and wonder what he did to deserve it.

And all the time, God is wanting to bless the Samaritan who is willing to get down in the dirt with him and help that poor soul realize the Love of God that exists inside all of us.

The thing about God's love is, he loves that person in the ditch, that Samaritan getting dirty to do his will and that rich preacher who turned his head and rode on by. He loves the junky and virgin just the same, because his love is perfect.

Maybe we could learn something from that example.

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