I was driving to a missions conference, alone at last! Alone with my thoughts and no interruptions. Often it is when I am driving and “uninterruptible” that I ask God questions and He speaks to my heart and begins a transformative journey. On my drive I was pondering the violence in our culture, really it’s world-wide. “What would You say to us, Lord?” Interestingly, God reminded me of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty written by a Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This quote comes from her sonnet, New Colossus, which she wrote for a fundraiser auction to raise money for the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty now sits.
This poet surely captured a piece of the heart of God when it comes to the kinds of people He beckons to His feast. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
The prophet Isaiah also said: Is. 55:1“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
As I pondered the immensity of God’s love for us I saw a vision. There was a person (male or female, I couldn’t tell) laying in a pool of black, stinking, muck. S/he was covered from head to toe in black “yuck”, and was unrecognizable because of the filth. I saw the two hand reach down from above toward this person and I thought: “YES! Lord, you are going to pull them out of this mess and clean them up!” However, that’s not what happened. The hands took the hands of the person, arms embraced them, and the hands caressed them and loved them IN the yuck. The presence of God accompanied this person IN the mess and appeared to make no effort to change them.
I heard the Holy Spirit say: “I love you IN your anger, racism, violence, religion, and egoism. I join you in it. I walk with you through ALL your human experience, because I love you so much. I am passionate about you! I won’t be without you! So, bring me all the parts of you that you hate. I can handle it. I want to walk with you in this journey.”
Jesus, didn’t just enter into humanity once for our salvation. He is continually entering into our egoistic systems and redeeming us. All too often we mistake God’s presence with His “blanket endorsement” of our beliefs, actions, and systems. We misunderstand His love and His redemptive nature. We think that because God is with us we MUST be the ones with the “right” doctrine, behavior, what-have-you. We think that we must be “right” to be accepted when in reality we are accepted because He is right.
One final thought from Romans 8
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.