It’s been about 4 months since I’ve embraced the reality that I may be home for some time. Home is a place I rarely visited, and for good reason. In between my mission trips around the globe, I stayed just long enough to never fully reintegrate. I guess in all honesty, I didn’t want to become my old self. I wanted to protect the change God was doing every time I left home. Now I find myself contrasting against a world I feel so near yet distant from. Little did I know, I may have been hurting myself and fanning the flames of immaturity.
Needless to say, my heart has been transformed through all I’ve seen and experienced with God. I’m a changed man who was given the undeserving grace to see through God’s eyes. And when a soul is given the honor to beautifully collide with Jesus’ grace, our nature begins to change. The standard in which we live, and the identity we embrace in Christ makes our ceilings become our floors. The culture in our hearts, the DNA of our spirituality, and the rewiring of our intimacy with God become the definition of our personal faith. All very essential things, yet open doors for danger that can make anything different a possible threat to our faith, instead of an opportunity to love.
Throughout the years, visiting home was bittersweet. Seeing my loved ones was always a plus. Sharing testimonies of God’s healing power and imparting encouragement can never get old. But, walking into any environment that didn’t “live up” to the standards of my new standards, made me feel extremely uncomfortable. The tension of my old life butting heads with my new heart created a cocktail of distaste, entitlement, and superiority. So easily I’d walk into a church service and be bored with the “milk” being fed instead of the “solid food” that Paul so bluntly proclaimed against the Corinthian church. Infant’s he said they were, and infants I viewed them.
Please, don’t get me wrong; I never yoked people with my standards or bullied people with the revelation of God. But I cannot deny that the posture of my heart created more anticipation to leave, than to stay. I found myself frustrated that my community couldn’t see what seemed so blatantly obvious. So obvious, it cornered me to believe that people were simply being disobedient to the obvious solutions I would prescribe in my head. “They just don’t get it,” I would think. So easily, I found myself being a spiritual doctor who knew the exact prescription to give to people. Albeit, possibly the right prescription, but one that I now know I was too immature to give to anyone.
So easily, I found myself being a spiritual doctor who knew the exact prescription to give to people.
Now imagine if you were hanging out with a dear friend who happens to be a physician. She’s visiting town, and you’re catching up on life and having a grand time. Suddenly she begins to notice some symptoms that you may have overlooked or chose to brush under the rug. (Let’s be honest – we’ve done it once before) Your friend begins to escalate her tone and patronize you for the mistakes you’ve made in protecting your body. She begins to be frustrated by the way you’re handling your health and seems to have minimal patience to walk you through it. She even wonders if you’re doing it on purpose, being irresponsible and ignoring the signs. Knowing exactly what’s wrong, she gives you a list of prescriptions, claps the dust off her hands and walks away.
I know. Sounds ridiculous. Unfortunately, this shock and awe tactic was once my approach with the church; an approach I’ve witnessed much too many times for those that were graced with a deep understanding of God, without the grace to carry it out. I had to ask myself “What good is it to have revelation, without the grace to be a bridge for others to partake?”. I soon realized, it’s always easy to point out problems and give a solution when standing on a soapbox and looking down at everyone. I would confidently say even demons know how to stand from afar and point out flaws. But the difference between demons and Christians, is the greatest divider of all: LOVE.
I’ve come to realize, none of our experiences and revelations of God are our own; not even our convicting prescriptions no matter how correct. It wasn’t earned, nor was it given because we deserved it. Much like the Ephesians 2 type of faith that is “not [of] our own doing”, any revelation of God’s love is likewise. How antithetical to the kingdom of heaven, to believe that any revelation of God’s love that came as a servant to all, is not being served to others. However, whether it’s the conservative theological savants’, or the overly experiential charismatics, the greatest flaw we may have is our inability to be a bridge to those who don’t understand; and may not for a while. We become belligerent doctors who don’t give the same grace that have been given to us by God. In turn, we become the incarnation of Irony itself, when the words “they just don’t get it” roll off ones lips. Sadly, I know, because those were my own.
But as always, all we need to do is look at Jesus to let His holy life expose the flaw in our very own. Jesus, our great physician, was the very embodiment of Revelation itself. Yet, He never belligerently prescribed the sinners into the Kingdom, but loved them into it. Regardless of how obvious the sin, not once did Jesus show frustration to the prostitute, or patronize the tax collector, but loved them into the greatest revelation that has ever existed: Himself.
No matter how radical our experiences with God’s truth change us, we must never sacrifice the reality that we’ve all been called to carry the revelation just as He did.
Love, as Jesus showed us, “is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails.” … Never, fails.
I end with this last thought. No matter how radical our experiences with God’s truth change us, we must never sacrifice the reality that we’ve all been called to carry the revelation just as He did. No soul on earth was saved because of a harsh prescription from another human being, rather, the Love of Christ revealed by the Father (Matthew 16:17). Christ’s revelation of Himself to the world came with a cost. I believe the same is required of us; a cost, that has nothing to do with atonement or salvation, but the responsibility to be a bridge so the rest of the world can follow. And trust me, sometimes it’s a great cost to be patient with others, especially when it comes to understanding God.
As I once heard, “if you want to be a bridge, you better be prepared to be walked on”. Quite fitting for a God who was beaten and rejected, so that we could walk across the chasm of Hell’s sin into Heaven’s salvation.
Like Jesus, may we be graceful physicians who never take the revelation of God to merely give prescriptions, but to serve and love people into eternal health. In the end, it isn’t the revelation of God in itself that makes us more like Him, but the journey of loving others through it.
Photo graciously provided by Jasen Chung