Over the course of the last year, we have been delving deeply into the profile qualities that characterize members of our church family (More on High Places Community Church here). We studied through all six of those profile qualities in great depth, and that ended last week with the second of a 2-part study on the profile quality of rest.
In that vein, the pastors took the week off last weekend and left the insane to run the asylum. Six volunteers were asked to take one each of the profile qualities and lead a rotating small group on one profile quality. I chose the profile quality that says we are to be “Radical in the likeness of Jesus.”
“What does that mean?” Well, I’m going to tell you:
For years I have loved the depiction of Jesus as a radical figure. He was at once a divisive and inclusive person. He railed against the “establishment” and pushed people to seek a personal relationship with God. I assert that Jesus didn’t appear to love big crowds. He was, however, crazy about people and loved having relationship with them one on one.
He was radical in several ways, but I want to focus on the most impressive to me, and that is how Jesus worked in the margins. He worked in the margins geographically, and he worked (most especially) with the marginalized in our society (hookers, addicts, tax collectors, fishermen, etc). Jesus had a real passion for the disenfranchised.
The forgotten, the broken, the tarnished, the mistaken, the imperfect. If any of this is starting to feel personal, it should. We all fit into one of these categories. We are all in the margins in one way or another. We have all made mistakes and wished we could turn back the clock.
I think the best thing about those margins is that it gives each of us the capacity for compassion. All too often we want to erase our past and pretend like it never existed. Never mind that’s impossible; It’s also not practical. For good or for bad, our past is a part of us. We learn from it. It doesn’t have to define us today, but it has definitely played a part in shaping who we are.
“They hit me when I was down,
but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved – surprised to be loved.” 2 Samuel 22: 19-20
This one jumped off the page to me this morning, because I think we’ve all been in a place where we were surprised to be loved. Whether it’s the woman of your dreams, or a loving parent, or someone who has forgiven you for something really stupid, someone has probably made you feel loved when you didn’t feel deserving.
To quote from “Life of Pi,” “And so it is with God.” Tomorrow Begins Today.