There’s a lot I don’t know about. I’ve never broken a leg or had my appendix taken out, so don’t ask me about that. I’ve never adopted a child or tucked a foster child into a bed in my home, held them while they had night terrors. No one in my house has special needs, and we’ve never lived in poverty or been incarcerated. So I defer to the wisdom of my friends who have walked those roads personally to teach me about such, and trust me, I ask a lot of questions.
Let me tell you the shortest of stories, and I’m gonna say it blunt, which will embarrass me a bit. Before my husband lost his job when my kids were all under the age of 4, I didn’t care about people who lost their job. I said I did. I even prayed for some out of work. But my heart wasn’t truly with them because it wasn’t personal to me, yet.
I’m not suggesting we have to personally experience something to truly be in the corner of someone who has, but we better get as close as we can. This will take intention, fighting against our running away. A lot of times we do the opposite since it takes courage to run to something that might mess our heart up.
Sometimes those friends walking hard, different roads will throw up on us and tell us true things that singe our ego and challenge our safe train of thought. But if we stay close, we will become better humans and stop being comfortably ignorant. When my husband lost his job, I couldn’t blame people for being too lazy to keep jobs, anymore. Now I knew better. A guy with a master’s degree and the best work ethic I knew lived in my home and no one would call him back. I grieved over every ignorant stereotype I had about people who lost jobs and determined to never again ask naively painful questions to an unemployed like, “what’s God trying to teach you?” as if losing their job was God’s only way of getting their attention, the stupid rebel. Now I knew: sometimes jobs were just lost and God wasn’t to blame for that.
So here’s the thing I’ll say to the church, which happens to be the one thing I do know a lot about since it has from birth been my life. Until we make the Gospel personal, we will accept a Gospel that is arms-length. I think this is the second best thing Satan could want for us, only after not giving our heart to Jesus at all. At a moment that requires rising up, we can’t expect to suddenly be anything more than what we’ve been for months and years. Turns out, there is no full-time passion to be lived on a part-time Gospel. Not now, not ever. The church has some real soul searching to do about that.
If you think about why Satan doesn’t want us involved in the Gospel, it makes perfect sense. Ministry from afar and of the intangible isn’t compelling enough to wake us from slumbers, ease and self-preservation. When people don’t have faces or names and you’ve never smelled their clothes, you can dismiss their pain.
But when you know you can’t unknow.
And when it becomes personal, it changes everything.
So these are the very things we have to make sure we do.
People don’t care about racism when they look around and their world is only white. Nor do we care about those in poverty, when we don’t ever get out of our air-conditioned house to be exposed to it. A mom struggling to cope with a child in prison? Not our problem if we don’t personally put ourselves in a position to look into her eyes, see the tears, hear the whole story. We have become the numb, unaware people we have chosen to be. And one day we will answer to God for it. This is the bottom line.
I know this is not a feel-good post. So be it. I am convicted by my own words and drawn to the cross for answers, yet again. We must know what we don’t, find out at all costs instead of running the other way. We are not too busy: that is a lie we have chosen to make ourselves believe. We are not too tender and sensitive: that is a false humility we have chosen as a shield for hearing truth. The church will continue to ignore racism, laziness, manipulation and all the other things God hates if we don’t stop lying to ourselves and recoil at a leper’s hands because we think ourselves better. How gross we, the recoilers are. How much we are the ones who truly need the healing.
And if this offends us, may it be the telltale sign. We can change. We can get better. But we have to stop running away and instead, move as close as we can get.