Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This is my Neighbor //

At one of our pit stops on the way to Florida I passed by a stranger who was smoking. She spoke to me as I passed by. I don't usually associate with smokers by choice, but I saw her as my neighbor, not a smoker and I wanted to love her. I chose to stop and talk to her. We talked for awhile. It was good. I want to love all of my neighbors. Some of those neighbors will make lifestyle choices that are offensive to me, but it doesn't change the fact that they're my neighbor.

I read that Starbucks CEO was quoted as saying that if you support traditional marriage Starbucks doesn't want your business. My immediate reaction was offense. I was thinking, "Really? You want to cut that much of your market out of the picture? Okay. Lets see how you like losing that many customers." But spite isn't loving. If I walked past Starbucks with a judging scowl on my face every time I passed it, what would that accomplish? Starbucks hasn't persecuted me, they've merely offended me. Since we are supposed to love our enemies, people that use us and persecute us, I bet we're supposed to love our minor offenders too.

The baristas at Starbucks are my neighbors and they may not even be aware of what their CEO said. There are people who work there that do support traditional marriage, as well as ones who don't, and both are my neighbors. I want to love them. I choose to. So while some people may choose to buy their coffee somewhere else and whisper bitter words about Starbucks, I will continue to go back. It isn't about the coffee or the CEO's political views, I just want to love the people. Regardless.

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In Jesus' day, Jews did NOT associate with Samaritans, and men did not associate with women unaccompanied, and teachers of the law did not associate with people known to be sinful. Jesus knew all of this when he chose to pass through Samaria. There He met a woman He knew to be living a sinful lifestyle. There He told her what He knew of her. There He, the Savior she knew would come one day, had come to her. There He offered her what her heart yearned for, life abundant. And the disciples marveled but did not question. (John 4)

At the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought before Jesus a sinful woman. There Jesus revealed to all of their hearts what He knew of their sin. There Jesus remained with the woman after all the others had departed. There He offered her what her heart yearned for, forgiveness. And I'm sure the disciples marveled but did not question. (John 8)

Jesus' love compels Him to provide the way for us to live with Him. Only one repentant of the sins they know they are guilty of can desire what He offers, can accept what He freely gives, can welcome the Spirit in to change their ways. "From now on sin no more." (John 8:11)

As Jesus did, we meet people where they are. We offer them what Christ's love in us compels us to offer, what their hearts yearn for: forgiveness and abundant life and, yes, hope even for you! We testify of the benefit of giving up your old way of life, with all it's sins, and allowing The Lord to enter in and make us more like Him with every passing day. Draw near! Do not hinder them. For in drawing near to Him you see your desperate need for Him. In pressing into Him you find life abundant.

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