Love People. Not Issues.

It’s easy for me to judge someone whenever I choose to see them as a problem or an issue instead of person who has been created by God.

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I remember many years ago I took part in a phone interview with a church that was looking for a minister. There were a few interviewers and also several people who were listening in.  Whenever someone would opt into the interview or opt out you would hear a “beep.”

I was asked by one of the people conducting the interview, “What do you believe about marriage divorce and remarriage?” I responded by asking him how many people in his congregation were divorced. “How many families in your church are blended households?”

He could not think of one family or one person. This was a church with an average attendance of close to 400 people. In a church that size it would not be uncommon to have several people who were divorced and remarried, unless they were not welcome there or you didn’t choose to see them.

After being surprised by his answer of not knowing one person, I thought it best to say I would choose to help the church to minister to those who have experienced a divorce. They needed to be loved and welcomed so that they could find a place to heal and grow in God’s kingdom.

I heard a lot of beeps.

A church that is an unstoppable force loves people and not issues. People are not theological arguments. Their plight is not a cause for religious debate.

I felt trapped by the question and chose not to answer it as they would have liked. They wanted a ruling and judgment from me on those who were divorced. Is this the unpardonable sin? If someone chooses to remarry should they break up their current marriage and go back to their first spouse and reconcile? Can a person get married again? What is a scriptural divorce?

Those questions are the usual suspects. Those are the usual questions we ask when we want to throw stones.  Instead, I wanted him to name people and see their faces.

If you want to love people you’ve got to see them first.

It’s not hard to condemn people when you can’t see them.

In my experience people who love issues more than people usually soften whenever the issue becomes personified because either they now are part of the issue or a family member experiences the issue first hand. Divorce becomes less “black and white” whenever you get a divorce. You start to rethink your hardline position whenever it’s one of your kids. You rethink your position whenever your faith community rejects you.

You were once unwilling to extend grace and now you desperately need it.

Jesus chooses to see you as someone created in God’s image. Sure, you may have messed up, but he chooses not to condemn you. He instead, chooses to forgive you and restore you if only you will seek his face.

 

Visit here to listen to a sermon Jovan recently preached entitled “Love people, not issues.” on May 8, 2016.

Jovan preaches for the Littleton Church of Christ near Denver, Colorado. You can visit Littleton’s webpage here

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