Originally published Monday, 24 August 2015.
Jesus, friend of sinners, I long to be more like you but truthfully, I’m struggling to follow your example.
When hearts are hurting and divisions begin, sides are taken and lines are drawn in the sand. It’s natural but is it Your way, God? Teach me to love like you love because at times, my heart doesn’t feel capable of loving everyone.
And how do we do that anyway? How in this world can we love the way you do even across lines drawn in the sand? Sometimes our friends have irreconcilable differences with one another. Sometimes hearts ache and we feel like loyalty says we have a choice to make. Yet I don’t think that is the way of my Savior.
A wise woman I know recently said that she prays, “God, thank you that Your love for her is so perfect. Please help me to love her the way you love her.” If God created these friends, he also designed something about them that we can love well. We can seek to love well.
Befriending someone, or perhaps even continuing a friendship with someone, does not mean that we are ignoring the sin in their life. It doesn’t mean we are unaware of poor choices. Friendship doesn’t mean we have to enable sin and forsake truth. No, no. Friendship, in fact, means we are able to broaden our horizons and widen the lens a bit until we see the beauty God has created in that person’s soul.
Praise God that we are not held to a standard of perfection. I struggle with my own personal “perfectionism,” and at times, I’m a bit self-critical. Believe me when I say that I have done enough self-evaluation to be largely aware that I am imperfect and that my life is full of shortcomings and sinful blemishes in my heart. Yet, God loves me in spite of this. My Savior loves me more than my husband, more than my children, and more than my parents. He loves me perfectly. By His perfect grace, He sees the love in my heart for Him and for others. Upon surrendering my life to Jesus, my life was not defined by my shortcomings but was covered by the forgiveness of God. He sees me as His child, His beloved, His chosen daughter. How then, can I justify a critical heart?
There is always something to love about the people God has placed in our lives. And yet, many times, others will only see their flaws. Friendship doesn’t mean that we approve of the sin in someone else’s life. Friendship means we are willing to stand with someone else while they lay down their burdens and while the sinful blemishes are still painful and fresh.
Jesus was a friend to the sinners. I know this from the word of God, but I’m also so sure that in my sin, He has never abandoned me. Jesus has led me to repentance with a loving kindness. May we do the same for our friends in the midst of division, hurt, sin, shortcomings, and lines drawn in the sand.
We never have to pick sides. There are no sides in the Kingdom of God. I won’t be asking for an isolated room in the mansions of Heaven once I pass through the pearly gates, now will I? I might as well learn to live with one another here are this side of Heaven. And while we are at it, we might as well learn to love them well!
Heavenly Father, help me to love those that You have placed around me. Help me to love your precious creations the way You love. Thank you, Lord, that you love us each so perfectly. When my friends make mistakes, God, please teach me to gently speak truth. When my friends have division and hurt among them, please help me to be a peacemaker. Your love is bigger than I could ever comprehend. Thank you, Jesus. Help me to be a friend in the midst of brokenness and across lines drawn in the sand.
In Jesus precious and Holy name I pray, Amen.
Friends, be peacemakers. Choose to love.
From my heart to yours, ~Courtney