Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do you trust Jesus to make them whole? (Part 1)

"Do You Feel Their Pain" by Steve Camp is probably one of the most powerful songs I've ever heard. I don't say that lightly. Tears and tears have fallen as I've listened to this song that was written, if I remember correctly (can anyone substantiate this?), as an appeal to the church to respond in love to those affected by the AIDS crisis that was still in its early stages in the late 80's. The song also played a powerful part in my own life as I began the process of dismounting my legalistic high horse and began to see all people as souls Christ suffered for.

I found a site that has the lyrics of the song, and also a site where you can listen to the song. This song is definitely on my you-must-listen-to-this-song list!

Along with mentioning this song today, I want to ask two serious questions.

My first question is, "What's your beef?"

That is, as a Christian in today's world, what issue(s) are you so against that it keeps you from seeing others as Christ sees them - as souls He suffered for? What behavior(s) are other people involved in that keep you more focused on their outward appearance rather than what's going on in their hearts in regards to their need to be loved?

Is it homosexuality? Is it abortion? Is it the political persuasion of others? Is it their alcohol use? Is it drugs? Is it a certain cause that others don't agree with you on? Is it abuse? Is it injustice? Is is skin color? Is it their tobacco use? Is it their foul mouth? Is it their lewd behavior?

The issues themselves are endless. It just seems to me that the church today is known more for what they're against than they are known for actually loving and putting their arms around those for whom Christ died.

With all this being said, I don't mean for this to be confession time. :) My purpose here isn't to try to get people to "come out" publicly about various issues that they've been judgmental about. You can perhaps deal with those things in your own heart. Not that I mean to belittle or neglect any of these issues - I know how deeply penetrating some of these subjects can be. But my purpose here isn't to start a discussion on any specific issue. I simply listed a few issues that tend to be areas of contention in Christian culture today.

What this really leads up to is my second question. If you personally know and admit that, like me, you are lacking in love (whether often or from time to time) toward people who display certain kinds of behaviors, then this question, which I've asked myself a lot of times and continue to ask myself, is for you.

Do you trust Jesus to make these people whole?

My question is derived from part of Steve Camp's song:
Oh empty eyes, and lonely souls
Starving for love and crying for hope
And Jesus said, "Bring them unto Me.
I will make them whole, I can set them free"
Is it possible for us as the church - the body of Christ - to look beneath the surface of the outward appearances and behavior of others, even when it manifests itself in its filthiest and most detestable forms, and not only see the need for love, but be (fulfill) the need for love in others?

Your thoughts? I'll address this question and the subject of trusting Christ to make people whole in Part 2.


  1. Joel, this is a great reminder, that I so quickly can drift away from - Judging others is so easy to fall into, I grew up in the church, that seemed to have a disdain for people with certain behaviours or habits such as the ones you have's sad really, as Christians we are to be known for our love, because of His Love - anyway, I find it easy to slip into an attitude of impatience with those closest to me struggling with "messy issues" and often lose sight of God's promises and that it is He who began the good work who will bring it to completion. It is definitely the cry of my heart to have God work in me to love others more and more, to be able to be understanding and take time to pray for and care for and I know He is able and will do this...
    Thanks for this!!!

  2. Great post, Joel. I work in a public high school and at times it's difficult to look past the behavior and see the child who needs to be loved unconditionally. It's easy to get judgemental and I struggle to not be so offended by their behavior that I respond to that instead of yielding to the life of God in me.

    I too want to learn how to love more. I know this can only come as I experience a greater understanding of how much I am loved and accepted by my Father. As I learn to receive his love, I'll then be able to share that love with those who desperately need to know that they are loved.

    BTW, your post reminded me of a video I saw a while ago on Wayne Jacobsen's website. I added it to the sidebar of my blog if anyone is interested in watching it. It's entitled Finding Grace and is quite a powerful video.


  3. Lydia,

    I'm preaching to myself here. :) Like you say, I can very quickly fall back into judgmental thinking, and I need the constant reminder that God loves people and that "while we were still sinners Christ died for us. He met us right where we were at, not focusing on how rotten we are but focusing on the new Life that we could find in Him.


    I too want to learn to love more. As I said in the post, I've by no means 'arrived' and I know no one who has arrived. My thoughts in the past few years have become more and more of a reality, that as I focus more and more upon who I am in Christ and less and less upon my particular behavior problems and the behavior of others, I grow more in love and I find less of a need to 'try' to change myself.

    I'm sure that when you're dealing with high school kids, this whole idea is not the easiest thing to appropriate, because you can't not deal with their behavior. I have found this to be an issue with all the elementary school kids who come into our home (friends of our children). They've all been raised so differently than our kids, and while I want to show them God's unconditional love and acceptance, I also have to deal with the ways they act.

    Overall, I'm not a strict disciplinarian, that's for sure! All in all, I don't 'call out' each bit of bad behavior. I think I'm growing in how I relate to all them, with the love of Christ, but it was a pretty new thing to me (having so many kids in my house) this school year so I have lots to learn!

  4. Joel,
    God is doing some work in my heart that I can see that I have an increased desire to love all kinds of people regardless of their sinful condition, but I still struggle to love legalists, and I don't know why. I myself was one of them at some point in my life and it was the love of God what took me out of that pit. I think one important prayer we need to pray is to reveal the love of Christ to them. We can't pull them out. The love has to be revealed, not taught.

    You have asked some important questions and those were some great reminders for me.

  5. Bino,

    I can truly relate to what you are saying. Although I've not "arrived" in loving people in general, and in trusting God to make people whole, I think I've grown in this and continue to grow, but legalists are the people I have the hardest time with. What you're saying about praying for the love of Christ to be revealed to them is really where I'm at right now. You're right - we can never convince anybody. We can share God's truth, but it can only truly be revealed by the Spirit.

  6. I hear you, Bino.

    It is so easy for me to like anyone who even hints at me with legalism or a performance based mentality. It's hard for me to be around even some of my friends because I "feel" that nauseating effort of trying to work up love or emotion for God instead of receiving His great love and grace in His Son. I hear things like "give your heart to Jesus" and things like that and it makes me cringe...How can a sinner love God of his own accord? How can he have a hatred for sin unless he first believes the Gospel of Christ and receives a new nature?

    I can go on and on but I know exactly what you feel, brother.

  7. I think I meant "it isn't easy" ;)

    I'm bad with the typos lately.