Tag Archive | unconditional love

Are Politicians Made in God’s Image?

Politicians in God's ImageDear Christian friends:

I’m watching the world discuss politics. We all know this is a strange election cycle. It has been filled with drama, with surprising votes, with anger and hostility. Unfortunately, too much of that hostility has come from us. Christian friends. People who claim to believe men are made in the image of God. People who think it’s cool to walk up to strangers and tell them God loves them. People who are told to pray for their leaders and love their enemies.

And yet, I see mockery every day. Sure, we have to consider the character of the next president. Sure, we can discuss their worthiness, their philosophies, their political prowess. God doesn’t mind us choosing our leaders wisely.

However, I am ashamed of us. We mock. I have seen post after post mocking these men and women. Trump is a human made in God’s image. So is Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Sanders. Mrs. Trump. But it feels like open season on them. Let any of them say or do one stupid or embarrassing thing, and suddenly we’re not discussing their worthiness to lead. We’re mocking them as though they are not made in the image of God.

Don’t get me wrong. There are people I just listed whom I want to mock. People who rub me so far the wrong way that it’s scary, and I don’t want to love and pray for them. So I’m not talking to you from some position of success. I have to be careful, too. I have to remind myself that even the worst of us are made in God’s image, and we should weep for their hearts and pray for their lives and hope God calls them and covers their sins with the blood of his son.

Because isn’t that the hope? Can you honestly say you’d like to see all our leaders cling to Jesus and reside forever in his glory? My answer is no. I can be spiteful. I want to see the bad ones pay for being the bad ones. God is not impressed with my attitude. I know it. This is definitely a work in progress.

I was born sinful. As far from Jesus as it was possible to be. All of us were. And His blood was shed–a huge, monumental sacrifice–for me. And for all the other wrecks of humanity he chose to save. I don’t think he’s finished pulling wrecks of humanity to his bosom, covering them with the blood of his son and loving them with an amazing, everlasting love.

So if he does that, do I want to have to admit I mocked those people he loves? Do I want to say no, I never prayed for them. I never showed them respect as his creation. Instead, I joked about their mistakes, laughed at their sins, made people who cared for them feel ridiculous, and otherwise did my best to spread dislike for these people. Not just for their politics, but for them as humans.

Honestly, I don’t want to say all those things to God. I want to know that, if those running for office this year cling to God, I can feel like I’m part of that. I can know I prayed for that. I can rejoice with them and not need to apologize to them for dismissing their humanity. (Right now I’m making a huge judgment call and thinking most of them don’t give an outward appearance that they love God with all their hearts, souls, and minds. And if they suddenly seem to do that, I hope I have an open enough mind to rejoice with them and not hold past discretions against them.)

I don’t normally post mocking things on social media. But I think them sometimes. I say them to family sometimes. I don’t honor all those around me as image bearers of God. I don’t weep for their souls and want them to have the best God can give, namely the blood of Jesus washing them clean. I need to change my attitude. Sometimes I mock out of fear, because it scares me to think of some of these people as leaders. Sometimes I do it because my peers do it. But mostly, it just shows that I haven’t yet learned to value humans as God does.

And that needs to change. Maybe this is the right time to do that. Maybe we can remember that the Trumps and the Sanders and the Clintons and all the other people running for public office have souls. Spirits. Hearts. They can be hurt. They have human emotions and weaknesses. And maybe I should have compassion, even if they don’t seem worthy. God had compassion on me when I wasn’t worthy. I doubt my compassion will ever change these people. But it will change me. And I will be closer to God, and perhaps he will answer me when I cry for the souls of our leaders, our leader wannabes, and others we mock in the news.

I’m with you, Christian friends. I know this has been a strange ride. But let’s let God use it to change us. And when God changes us, love is always the outcome. Always.

 

Does God like me??

I have a confession to make.  The term “unconditional love” doesn’t fill me with warm fuzzies.  In fact, the way I’ve had it explained to me, it seems very cold.  I’d almost rather be loved with a few conditions.  Or even better, I want to be liked.

I’ve been told unconditional love has to do with actions, not feelings.  None of those wishy washy emotions that can mess up things.  No, it’s the doing part.  It’s action part of love.  Acting loving without the emotions of loving.  And suddenly it doesn’t sound so loving.  I hear the word ‘acting’ and feel like it’s all pretend.

My pastor spent a great deal of time yesterday assuring us God thinks his children (and that includes me!!) are important.  It was a message I needed to hear, because I admit my view of God skews way off center about a hundred times a day.  I don’t know why it does, but it does.  And the whole unconditional love thing always skews it.  In my mind, God is looking at me, and he rolls his eyes and says “Wow.  What a mess.  I don’t really like you, but I decided to save you and accept my son’s sacrifice for you, so I’m stuck doing loving things for you.”

Hm.  Kind of an embarrassing view, but sometimes that’s the view I have.  Not all the time, but sometimes.  Sometimes I forget what my pastor said, that I matter to God.  I have to say that again, slowly.  I.  Matter. To God.

Right now, with my husband’s job situation, we don’t matter much to the world.  Since we’re so far beyond the ninety-weeks of benefits, we don’t even show up on the statistics any more.  We don’t pay taxes, don’t get government benefits, don’t really exist.  We’re very quiet and background in churches, so it’s easy to feel we don’t really matter there.  And sometimes that feeling of not mattering spills over.  Yes, of course Jesus died for me, I think, but he also died for a whole bunch of other people. Maybe it wasn’t really personal.  He just included my name for kicks and didn’t really think much about who I was.  You know, actions without feeling.  Unconditional love–I’m not worth much, but he chose to include me anyway.

But you know what?  God likes me.  I forget that, but it’s true, and over the years I’ve decided I want to be liked more than I want to be loved.  God says he delights in his people.  Delight is a strong word, a happy word.  I like to think something in God gets happy when he thinks about me.  Sure, I’m a mess, but he likes me.  He made me for some purpose, and I fill that purpose, and he likes that.  The kingdom of God wouldn’t be the same without me.  And that’s kind of cool.  And it makes me want more than anything to be the person who will fill those purposes, the person the creator created me to be.

I get the whole unconditional love thing.  It really means I can’t do anything stupid or sinful or horrible enough to make God change his mind and toss me out of the family.  And maybe someday I’ll remember that when I hear the term.  But meanwhile, I want to remember that God likes me.  He made me with his own fingers, and he put into the mix everything needed for very specific purposes, the Jill Purposes.  Nobody can fill those like I can.  Jesus died to rescue me so I could fill those purposes.  Jesus will come get me so I can fill those purposes in the final Kingdom, the really awesome one to come.   I matter, and that’s not some self esteem thing.  I matter because I was made to matter by the God who gets to determine such things.  And I’m loved because he has actual emotional attachment to the good things he made.  And so I can be loved, and I can be liked, and I can do it without ever becoming big headed about it, because it’s not about me; it’s about him, but it benefits me all over the place.  It almost makes no sense, but it works for me.

And, I hope it works for you, too.  Because, by the way, as a child of God you matter.  You were made to matter.  And God doesn’t just act like he loves you, but he does, with delight.  And how cool is that?