In his social contacts, Jesus went out of his way to embrace the unloved and unworthy, the folks who matter little to the rest of society but matter infinitely to God. People with leprosy quarantined outside the city wall, Jesus touched, even as his disciples shrank back in disgust. A ‘half-breed’ woman who had gone through five husbands already and was no doubt the center of the town’s gossip industry, Jesus tapped as his first missionary. Another woman, too full of shame over her embarrassing condition to approach Jesus face to face, grabbed his robe, hoping he would not notice. He did notice. She learned, like so many other ‘nobodies,’ that you can’t easily escape Jesus’ gaze. We matter too much.
The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved – loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.
There’s something like radar inside the human heart that senses the displeasure of others. Displeasure and ingratitude are like a repellant to human relationships. People think, “If I can’t measure up, if you can’t see anything good in me, I’ll go where people will accept me as I am.” Thanksgiving brings our loved ones closer to us rather than driving them away.
So often, well-meaning Christians pray for a visitation from God, but what He really wants is a habitation with us. He doesn’t want to come into our lives as a guest while we are on our best behavior around Him until He leaves.
Community is love you can see and smell and touch… Community is the invitation to be a mess when you need to be. Community is the joyful embrace of your complicated story. Community is the e-mail or phone call or text message that says, “I’m thinking about you, even when you are away.” And community is the grace-filled invitation to always return to a place, no matter how wrecked you might be. And if community is grace-with-a-heartbeat… the biggest barrier to community will be you. Because in order to receive the grace of authentic community, we will have to believe we are worthy of receiving it.
A tongue filled with laughter and praise is a reflection of a heart filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord. What a joy it is just to be with someone whose heart is full. A soothing tongue, a tongue that can say “I accept you where you are,” or “I appreciate your questions” without offence or bitterness, is a secure place someone can go for help without fear of judgment, condemnation or censure.
It’s not about finding ways to avoid God’s judgment and feeling like a failure if you don’t do everything perfectly. It’s about fully experiencing God’s love and letting it perfect you. It’s not about being somebody you are not. It’s about becoming who you really are.