The great love dilemma
A few weeks ago I had to have a very difficult conversation, which made me realize that English might be spoken between people in my neighborhood and myself, but it can be far from the same language. After trying to “help” one of our neighbors through a hard time, and then not seeing her for several months I finally got a chance to bring up the fact that she had distanced herself. It turns out that the vast majority of the things we did that we thought would bless and help actually offended and humiliated. Things that I innocently thought would bring aid, and would develop them into being more responsible were taken as “tokens” towards a “charity case”. Many different emotions have flooded my heart and mind since this conversation. First there was the shock that what i thought would help was totally twisted around to be something that hurt. Then anger and resentment over their ungratefulness filled my heart, and then there was frustration over the fact that suggestions I had that could really help these people get OUT of a place of constant need had been rejected. Then, in self reflection, I thought about the times I had been judgemental, times I had talked about this family’s situation or habits or history to show people “just how bad Newark is”, times I had shared how we had helped them, but with roots of pride behind it. Then questions over how to truly LOVE people without simply catering to their every whim, each new “emergency”, or another cash shortage filled my mind. After crying out to the Lord to open my eyes, I came to Eph.5 where it talks about Christ LOVING the church IN ORDER to present them to himself blameless and pure, a spotless bride. Love in a world where people use and manipulate to get their way, cannot and IS not simply giving out handouts every time they are asked for. Handouts are easy. Just give it to them, and they’ll leave you alone…until the next emergency. Love, true, self-sacrificing love, is willing to to the extra mile to help equip people and teach people to stand FOR THEMSELVES. I would not be helping Daniel Josiah if I just carried him around all the time and not let him try to walk, fall, possibly get hurt, but eventually manage to walk on his own. Max Lucado in one of his books says “Jesus loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there” So, a letter is being written, a letter to confess the evil failings of my heart, but also a letter to speak the truth in love, to challenge, even rebuke, in the hopes that this person’s heart will be softened, that pride would fall, and that the Gospel would reach into the depths of me, of her, and of our momentarily shaky friendship. The GOSPEL, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…EVERYONE who believes…the self-righteous hypocrite, the begger and manipulator on the street, the lady who, after having been hurt so much as a kid, sees everyone who tries to help on terms other than her own, as a fake and an enemy. We need help, Jesus, We need healing, We need YOU.