A look at the people Jesus loves – Part 1

We focus on a little Baby during this season. That little Baby came to us on a mission of love: “...the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

I’ve had the opportunity to meditate deeply on just who it is that Jesus loves. Today is part one of a series that explores this topic. Read on. Some of these thoughts may surprise you:

When a graffiti artist is responsible for the writing on the wall

In recent years, there’s been a mini-torrent of books with very provocative titles written by young evangelicals:

  • Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
  • My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion
  • Plastic Jesus: Exposing the Hollowness of Comfortable Christianity
  • Jesus Has Left The Building
  • Tired of do-list Christianity?
  • They Like Jesus But Not The Church

Evangelicals aren’t the only ones expressing this kind of spiritual fatigue. Throughout Christendom, these sorts of sentiments are the anthem of those who are tired of institutionalized religion that rewards hypocrisy, wounds the hurting, and insists that serving the purposes of their particular organization is the best (or only!) way to serve God.

The organized church didn’t woo me to faith in Christ when I was a teen. Other than a couple of visits to church services (including one memorable Midnight Mass when my very drunk friend puked all over my coat), I had little exposure to the church prior to my “conversion”. What happened first in my life was seeking and being found by Jesus. Participation in church life came much, much later. That particular order of events continues to be a push back for some of the negative things I’ve experienced when it comes to the church. It’s kept me from getting completely consumed by bitterness by all the weirdness I’ve witnessed in the church…

…Especially when I’m honest with myself, and remember that I’m a part of the church. Gulp. Even though I want to be different more than anything, the truth is that I’ve screwed up and hurt people in some of the same dumb ways I’ve been wounded by the church. Even though I don’t want to be a part of the problem, I am part of the problem.

My perspective changes when I crouch next to Jesus so I can try to see what he sees when he looks at the church. His church. It’s not too hard to know that there’s anger and sorrow at the dunderheaded, piggish and even evil done so frequently and by so many in his name. I understand that this anger and sorrow aren’t meant to crush and shame, but to redeem and transform.

The thing is, it’s not all anger and sorrow in his eyes when he looks at his church. The Bible explains that he perceives something else there in her – something pure and true, beyond the ick – and he sees it with the unblinking certainty of someone who already knows the end of her story.

(to be continued)

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4 thoughts on “A look at the people Jesus loves – Part 1”

  1. I just read your article in Today's Christian Woman for September/October and then found this website. I could really relate to a lot you wrote in that TCW article.

  2. You know, it is interesting that the Lord's first priority in my life as a newly committed Christian – way back 30+ years ago – was to show His love to me. I needed so much of His comfort and awareness of His mercy… it was not the bad habits he was focused on, until I could step out in faith having already experienced His lovingkindness. Oh how wonderful He is!!

  3. Beautifully put, Margaret.

    In "cart before the horse" thinking, we often focus on the external bad habits, hoping to clean up our act and "look" like a Christian should look. We don't really believe that bad habits are external symptoms of our internal brokenness. But, as you remind us so well, they are.

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