Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sometimes it is very hard to know what it means to help...

This post is going to be hard to write and not sound self-serving.  If it does, please forgive me.  It truly is not my intent.  I want to write this blog simply to say that I stand in awe of Jesus.  I really do. 

I stand in awe of Jesus because He is God - and He left His throne of glory and became man to save us.

I stand in awe of Jesus because He stood before those who hated Him and uttered, "Father..forgive them, for they know not what they do."

I stand in awe of Jesus because He defeated death - by physically rising from the grave He opened a new door of life that had been shut since the fall of humanity. 

I stand in awe of Jesus because He is going to right every wrong.  At His reappearing He will end this sinful world and create a new heavens and a new earth - our home of righteousness. 

But this post is not about the above sentences.  This post is about how Jesus was constantly pressed upon by people - and still loved.  He always did what was best for the hearer no matter the situation.

He rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees.  He showed compassion to the woman caught in adultery.  He was kind to Zacchaeus and knew He was ready to repent.  In every and any situation Jesus knew when to speak a harsh word and when to speak a word of gentleness.  In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 Jesus speaks both words of rebuke and comfort to seven churches.  It is a perfect blend of Law and Gospel.  It is real help.

He knew who the secure sinners were - and He rebuked them.  He knew who the broken in spirit were - and He healed them.  He was, and is, a perfect Savior.

I am not Him.  As a pastor it can be so difficult sometimes to discern who is taking advantage of the help of the church and who truly needs a hand up.  In seminary we were taught to always and consistently err on the side of grace.  When in doubt, simply give grace.  Yet, we were also taught that some people need discipline.  Sometimes we all need to struggle.  We must remember that sometimes God sends a flood....

Discernment is so important.  I see my friends on two sides of the fence consistently.  On one side I see people make excuses for repugnant behavior by saying, " just don't know how they grew up...they were raised that way...that's just the way they are...boys will be boys..." and all such ridiculousness.  I have been taught that the Law of God is written on the hearts of human beings - let us not kid each other - we know when we are wrong.  It is not mommy's fault, daddy's fault, grand-pappy's fault, and it was not how we were raised.  We know...we just do.

But then there are those on the other side.  I hear them say things like, "I pulled myself up by my bootstraps...why can't they??....I did this, that, or the other thing - why should I lend a hand?  They made their choices - now they have to live with their consequences..." and such things.  People that say such things forget how perhaps their lives are not so much comprised of their, "hard work" as it is comprised of God's grace.  I mean truly - what did I do to be born to loving parents, in a rich nation, given a good education, etc....?  The answer is I did nothing.  It was given - why should I brag as if it was not. 

This is what makes helping hard.  Some people truly do need to struggle.  They take advantage.  They will sop you dry if you let them.  But others - well, they truly need help.  Their conscience has been pricked, they need hands of help and grace - and no soul ought to be given up on. 

It is exhausting to be Christian.  It really is.  This is why I stand in awe of Jesus.  In every and any situation He knew who needed the harsh word - and He knew who was a bruised reed that could withstand no more pressure. 

Lord, help me truly help.  In the truest sense of that word.  Amen.