Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday | How I've Fallen in Love With Love

There's a young guy at work that I love to hang out with. JM and I have gotten to be good friends, we tease each other mercilessly to the entertainment of everyone else, we stop and have five minute conversations when we both end up doing stuff in the dairy cooler room at the same time. He's one of my favorite people at work and we've actually developed quite a good friendship. He's dynamic, outspoken, hilarious, silly and he's known for constantly saying outrageous things. But he works hard and everyone knows that if you need help with anything, JM will be right on it. He's the kind of guy that it's impossible not to know is in the room with you.

JM is also a homosexual and an outspoken one at that. He's a cross-dresser and frankly, it took me a couple weeks to determine whether “JM” was a she or a he. I wasn't the only one a little confused. The initials of “JM” wasn't much of an indicator either.

 I'll be honest and say that he and a couple other gays at work are the first gay people that I have actually personally been friends with. I'm a firm believer that homosexuality is wrong and it's an abomination in the sight of God. But I'll tell you what...I love my gay friends

But it's been my interaction with JM and Emilio, another gay guy I've spent a lot of time with at work, along with just the dozens of other unsaved people that I've grown to love like they're my own family, that have taught me one of the biggest spiritual lessons that I've ever learned in my entire life.

And that's love. The unconditional kind. Love without limit, without restriction, without judgment, without condemnation, without prejudice or pride, the I-love-you-just-the-way-you-are kind of love. Not a love that says I approve of what you do, but a love that says I will love you no matter what you do or who you are.

Because that's the way that Jesus loves. Jesus love unconditionally.

 It can be hard to hate the sin but love the sinner and I think that in this, the church (God's people) have miserably failed. We see sin and we grab our children and quickly hustle them out of the way. We cocoon ourselves in our safe churches and wait for the sinner to pass by. We're so preoccupied with keeping ourselves pure and undefiled, safe and secure in the arms of Jesus, that we place concrete-and-barbed-wire fences around ourselves, saved on one side, sinners on the other.

But how will they know we are Christians? By our love. They know we are Christians by our love. What is love? Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not boast (ie. does that think higher of oneself). Love does not hold record of wrong. Unconditional love gets down in the gutters of sin, wraps up the lost in a firm, never-letting-go embrace and holds on. Unconditional love holds on no matter how inappropriate, how weird, how disturbing and how dirty the subject is.

I have been given a whole new grace to love my gay friends. I talk to them, listen to them talk about relationship issues, ask them questions about their boyfriends, don't look disgusted when JM brags on his sex-transformation and just give them the same kind of love that every single person needs. And a little extra more. I never say I approve of what they do, I never encourage them their lifestyles in my words or in the things I say but they're in my life and so I'm going to be in their's.

When the moment comes that I get to fully share with them that I'm a Christian who believes the Bible and everything that it says, I want them to be able to look back on every single moment that I've been with them and never once see even a hint of me holding myself off in judgment. That may not mean that I don't lose a friend or have an uncomfortable confrontation, but at least they'll hear the name of Jesus from someone's who never failed to love and value them for exactly who they are.

Unconditional love.

Love truly is one of the greatest things on earth and I'm really learning that these days. In fact, love has changed my entire world. When you find yourself loving, truly loving, the people that the Lord died for, there is no way that you can stand unchanged. Love changes everything.

There is a reason that "the greatest of these is love."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday | Why I Love the World & Why I Think That's Ok

I've never felt a huge personal burden for the lost. I've always been passionate about revival and further transformation of Christians and the church. To me, the unsaved were just a blank silhouette, like an empty facebook profile box where someone's not uploaded their photo yet. I figured that there were plenty of other people out pounding the pavement for Jesus, while my personal calling was for the church

Truth is, I didn't really know anybody who wasn't saved. My family is all saved, minus a few. All my friends were all second/third generation Christians. The only social settings or groups that I was involved with were either with church or various other Christian conservative influences. Everywhere I rubbed shoulders, I rubbed shoulders with a fellow believer in Christ.

Until seven months ago, when I accepted my job at Target. Every day since then, I have worked, sweated, talked, laughed, shared and just been friends with dozens of people who only know Jesus as a reason to swear. Suddenly that empty profile picture became the faces of my friends.

Of Yolanda. Of Miguel. Of Alex, Misty, Luis, Belen, Rose, Tom, Derek, Kayla, Stephen, Emilio, JM...the list of names go on. All of these people are my friends. My people. People I care about. People I've talked to, heard their stories, teased and joked with in the backroom at work. They have personalities, heartache, strengths, weaknesses and hurts. Some of them fall under the categories of best friends. Some I've even had small crushes on, haha. Some annoy me sometimes, some come to me with their grievances, some like to tease me because I'll tease back.

 I love my people. And the more I'm with them, the more I love each one and care so much about each one. And the more that happens, the more it cripples my heart that these precious friends aren't going where I'm going. That the way they're going is taking them to an eternity in hell. Suddenly, with the faces of my friends backdropped by the flames of eternal destruction, hell has become so much more real and eternity that much more forever.

And I cannot be silent about Jesus. Because my silence could cost them their lives. Oh no, I'm still terrible at it, it doesn't come naturally. Sometimes I just feel like the words that are coming out of my mouth don't make sense and I feel embarrassed because I must look so stupid. I still bypass those perfect opportunities because I talk myself out of it. But those opportunities, by God's grace, are becoming less. I'm just a tiny baby witness, who's big smile and constant positive attitude at work is more well-known than her faith. But that's changing. Because I can't let my friends, my work family, not know about Jesus any longer.

I'm so different than the girl who didn't care about the world overly much. Because I wasn't out in it. But now? I'm out in the world and I love the people in it.

The worst thing that we can do, as teens, as parents, as singles, as to stay in our church circles where it's safe, surrounded by the like-minded and protected from the world's temptations by the cushion of our fellow believers...because then we will never personally know the people who need Jesus.


It's when we know them personally that we love them. And when we love them, then there's no way we could ever be silent about Jesus.