I’m a person with a strong moral compass. I am fair, kind and thoughtful. To my daughter’s horror, I like to strike up conversations with total strangers. I’m the one that returns my grocery cart and yours to the storefront. I’m a born cheerleader, an encourager. And I’m a great tipper, too. I love people. I love being around people. So imagine my surprise when Holy Spirit said I didn’t. Well, He didn’t exactly say, “Rhonda, you don’t love people.” But I have this alter-ego named Drama Queen— and that’s what she heard.
This is what happened.
A week ago (or so), I was reading Matthew 10. The subtitle in the Message version of the Bible was The Twelve Harvest Hands, referring to the disciples. The subtitle aptly described the scripture verses that followed. I sat for a minute, trying to digest what I read.
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Luke 10:2 (NIV)
I say, “Lord, I want to have harvest hands. I want to be used by you.” Holy Spirit says nothing.
You’re probably thinking that’s what this blog is all about, harvesting souls for the Kingdom. Yeah. Maybe. I would disagree in part. I’m an encourager, remember? My blog audience and those who entertain my conversation tend to have a modicum amount of faith. Faith that is rooted in Christianity. It’s easy for me to remind you who you are and whose you are. Evangelism and apologetics is something different.
This has bothered me a bit. I have many colleagues, a few friends and one family member that are Muslim. My presence, my life, my walk in Christ has seemingly been of no effect. As far as I can tell, I have drawn no man to Christ. But have I strengthened my brethren (Luke 22:32)? Yes…
But, I want to have harvest hands, too!
Days later, I was in a meeting with someone whom I believe is an incorrigible liar. Marked with a reputation for throwing others under the bus in a heartbeat, his default button is self-preservation. I don’t trust him. As he left my office, I rolled my eyes. I felt tired and drained. Feigning interest can be exhausting.
And then He spoke: “You will have harvest hands when you can love others the way I love them.”
“Huh? What do You mean? I love what You love and I hate what You hate.” (Referencing Ps. 97:10)
“I hate adultery, but I love the adulterer. I hate murder, but I love the murderer. I hate child abuse, but I love the abuser. I hate sin, but I love the sinner.”
I sunk in my chair. I knew exactly where this was going. He continues…
“You can’t be mad when I forgive people for what you think is the unforgivable.”
Maybe this is you, too. The idea that serial killers and pedophiles who confess their sin and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior will also have their slate thrown in the sea of forgetfulness is a bit unsettling to me. The very grace and mercy that covers me and leads me into unrestrained worship is the same grace and mercy that I have been secretly critical of in my heart. I have even said aloud, “Really God??? There’s got to be a special lightning bolt for that!”
What’s your ‘that’? What sin do you think God should judge more harshly than others?
As you probably already guessed, there is no sin greater than another in the eyes of God. Nor does Jesus have a special lightning bolt for any particular sin. His grace and mercy is available to any and every one. What makes it special is that… it’s available to any and every one. And I am grateful, because I know I have been forgiven much. It is truly my heart’s desire to grow in God. Borrowed from Moses, my prayer has been, Show me Your ways that I may know You (Exodus 33:13).
It’s not enough to just love what He loves. Jesus is calling us to love who He loves. And that’s everyone. The undesirable, the deviant, the diabolical, the derelicts, the debased, and the dysfunctional. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. The Father is creating opportunities to extend to them the same grace and mercy that He generously lapped onto you and me, and He’s going to need Harvest Hands.
Can you separate the deviant from his/her deviant behavior and extend Christ-like love? Loving has nothing to do with justice. God believes in justice. But that’s another post for another time.
Holy Spirit reminded me that the Disciples followed Jesus *before* they knew that He was the Christ. They watched Him heal the sick, raise the dead, command the storm to cease, and cast out demons and yet had no idea that He was the Son of God.
So why did they follow Jesus? Because they knew He loved them, inexplicably so. Jesus validated their worth, their existence. The Disciples were drawn to the One who accepted them “as is”. He looked beyond their faults and saw their need. They followed Jesus because His teachings consistently lined up with His actions. He showed kindness and compassion to everyone, and openly criticized the Pharisees who misrepresented and feigned God’s interests. Every aspect of His life on earth was congruent- He loved…
I say, “I get it, Lord. I get it.“
As a beneficiary of Jesus’ love, favor and authority, all I have to do is love people like Jesus loved if I want to draw them to Christ. I have to be consistent and congruent with my kindness and compassion. People will be more receptive to my message of His love when they know that I love them, inexplicably so. When I can touch them where they are- then I will have Harvest Hands.
Then I said-
“Jesus, forgive me. I want Harvest Hands. I want to love who You love and hate what You hate. Open the eyes of my heart, so that I can see past their faults and see their need.”
If this is your prayer too, simply say ‘Amen’.
It is so.
I Love You!