I sat down tonight to write a mini-paper on discrimination against people with disabilities - mental and physical, for my graduate program in counseling. The more I wrote, the more I realize - people don't just discriminate against people with disabilities, they discriminate against people for being people. What do I mean by that? Well, the looking, the pointing, the talking, the gossiping, the being afraid of what we don't understand, the jokes, the sharp and discouraging words, the put downs (sometimes packed with hand picked scriptures used in such an unGodly manner), and the list could go on. I don't just see this type of behavior against people with disabilities, I see this type of behavior occurring between people against people. I wish I could say Christians are different, but we aren't - Christians do it too, to other Christians at times. I began to think long and hard about that, and asking God a multitude of questions.
For those that know me could tell you I've been grappling with this "lack of love" between people and Christians for a month or so now. I've come to recognize this verse:
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. - John 13:35, NIV
I'd say sometimes we do a crummy job of loving one another. Sometimes we are quick to get angry, quick to assume things we shouldn't, we are quick to try and read minds, we are quick to call a friend to vent instead of going to God, we are quick to reject or unfriend, we are quick to retaliate, we are quick to defend ourselves instead of humbly hearing someone out, we are quick to read into situations, we are quick to catastrophize by thinking the worst, we are quick to take control, and we often wonder why get so exhausted?
Jesus wants us to have abundant life, and to TRUST Him. He didn't die upon the Cross for us to ruin each other, or tear each other apart. He died to take our sins away, so we may be clean, but mostly to glorify God. And what glorifies God is loving each other, just as He loved us enough to give us the eternal gift of salvation. A quote I read recently explained it this way:
"For community is more than people living together, it is also solitude greeting solitude. Healing encounters and deep communion with others come about from persons who have experienced at least a taste of love offering love to another, without manipulation or subtle games. ...We become violent precisely because we expect more from each other than we can give. When we look for divine solutions in others, we make others into gods and ourselves into demons. Our hands no longer caress but instead grasp. Our lips no longer kiss or form kind words but bite. Our eyes no longer look expectantly but suspiciously. Our ears do not hear so much as overhear. Every time we think that another person or group of people is finally going to come and take away our fear and anxiety, we will find ourselves so frustrated that, instead of becoming gentle, we will become violent." -- Henri Nouwen
It amazes me when we free ourselves enough to let God love us, and most importantly to trust Him, to give Him the control of our entire lives. I confess, I needed to repent this morning - for attempting to take control of my own life out of my own fears. I began to believe God could not be trusted. You see, I felt that I had been burned, and burned badly. I felt hurt by God, and let down by Him. I was terrified to trust Him, even though I believed He was my Heavenly Father and intellectually knew He had my good in mind. However, I can tell you the feeling of not trusting God and not giving Him control is absolutely miserable. It's a pit. It's a pit designed by Satan himself. Don't fall into it, know that God is trustworthy and at the end of the day, you may not understand it all, and you may not understand any of it, but know that He IS good and He IS trustworthy. Trust Him with your life, because He loves you.
Out of His love, our love flows for each other. It's impossible to love someone else without the love of God, you would run dry if you depended on your own reserves. His love is infinite. Henri Nouwen said once that when our love grows from God's love, we no longer divide people into those who deserve it and those who don't. I often hear people say they want to go and love those who are impoverished for Jesus, but what about loving your brother or sister who is just as impoverished spiritually? I'll see people give a hungry person a meal, but never invite a friend over for dinner. I'll see the same people who say they want to love people, slander someone else behind their back. But wait, we are called to love! We were designed to worship something - what will that be? I'm certain, anything else other than God is a poor imitation of a Savior. Pouring our affections out for Jesus means loving each other with a radical love, a love so radical that the world takes notice - just as it did when Jesus hung on the Cross.
"An overflowing love which seeks nothing in return, agape, is the love of God operating in the human heart. At this level, we love people not because we like them not because they possess some type of divine spark; we love all human beings because God loves them." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Isn't life too short to let the enemy derail us from glorifying God in a radical love for each other? For some people, the only way they will actually see God is by seeing His love - between us! I know we are not all great at this, and we'll mess up along the way, but repentance is sweet - and forgiveness just as sweet. I pray God moves us into a radical love for Himself, and out of that, we may love each other radically for His glory alone.