Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do you trust Jesus to make them whole? (Part 2)

In Part 1 I talked about various behaviors and issues of people who Christians tend to have judgmental dispositions towards, and I asked the question, "Do you trust Jesus to make these people whole?" I then asked if it's possible for us to look beneath the surface and to see the need for love in others and also to be, or fulfill, the need of love in others.

It's seemingly an impossible task for us... but yet we are indwelled by a God of love with whom everything is possible... so I believe it's possible. I want to offer a few suggestions (and ask for yours, too) as to why we, who have been embraced with such great love even in our deepest sin, seem to be quick to shrink back and/or be judgmental rather than embracing others with the love of God.

First, I think we don't trust Jesus to make others whole. We look at their behavior and that's as far as we go. We begin and end with outward appearances, and we drop all hope right there. We don't want to get too close or too deeply involved with them until their behavior changes. Instead of reaching out to them with the love of Jesus, just as they are, we "wait" until their behavior is suitable enough, and then we'll accept them. Or we try to force their behavior to change by setting up rules, prohibitions, laws, boundaries, etc. In many cases Christians have gone to court, and gone to their lawmakers, and gone to rallies and marches, and held up signs, and protested the sick, evil, twisted, demented behavior of others, thinking this will get their nation on the right track. We somehow think the key to everything is rooted in controlling behavior!

In doing all these things, even in the "name of Jesus," it's very possible that we actually leave Jesus completely out of the picture. Jesus didn't say, "go into the world and get everyone to start behaving morally, and then bring them to Me." Jesus' word to us, I think, is more like, "Just as you, like sheep, had gone astray, and you were not righteous, no, not one of you, but I came looking for you just as you were... go and find others who were just as you were, meet them right where they're at, accept them and embrace them. Love them unconditionally." And then as with the words of the song, Jesus tells us, "Bring them unto Me. I will make them whole, I can set them free."

Your rules, your laws, your looks of disgust, your protests... will never make them whole and will never set them free! JESUS makes people whole and JESUS sets people free. He really does!

Which leads to my second thought. I think the reason so many Christians don't trust Jesus to make other people whole and free is because they themselves, in their Christian experience, are not whole and are not free - at least as far as their soulful and mental wellbeing is concerned. And I believe that one major reason for this is because our own focus in our own lives continues to be a mixture of both our own flawed behavior and our own self-sufficiency. Our focus is not CHRIST, but rather our focus is our behavior, both 'good' and 'bad.'

We can never be made whole if this continues to be our focus, because controlling our behavior is not the way in which Christ makes us whole. Christ makes us whole by His love and grace. God has accepted us, and continues to accept us, not based AT ALL upon our behavior, but fully and completely based upon the life of Christ in us. Until we get that through our thick skulls and deep into our hearts, we'll never experience the wholeness and freedom that we truly have in Christ. And we'll never be able to embrace others with God's grace and unconditional love, and bring them to Jesus so HE can make them whole and set them free.

I just want to end by saying that we are all growing in this, in one way or another, and none of us have "arrived" in living out this life of wholeness and unconditional love. At least, I've never met anyone who I believe has fully experienced this and fully lives it out moment by moment! Also, this is not my attempt to bring shame or guilt upon anyone for "talking about the love of God but judging those who need Him most." I simply hope to be an encouragement to the body of Christ to grow in God's grace and unconditional love, so that we can experience the wholeness and freedom that is found only in Christ, and then go out and bring others to Christ so He can do the same for them!


  1. Great posts, Joel.

    I'm reminded of what Jesus said to the Pharisees. "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick."

    If you don't allow sinners to come to Jesus unless they hate their sin enough or quit a certain amount of sins, then you are no different than those guys who asked Jesus why He ate with tax collectors and sinners. The word sinner pretty much covers all varieties of acts of sin. Homosexuals, drunks, thieves, druggies, etc.

    Isn't it cute how we have so cleverly turned the truth of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who finds us into "I found Jesus." and the truth that Jesus gave His Life for us into "I gave my life to Jesus".

    Sneaky, sneaky.

  2. Great points, Matthew! We are expecting people to give their lives to God, and to change, when the truth is that He finds them, and He puts them on the cross with Jesus to die, and then to be raised together again in new Life... and He makes them a new creation. We've sadly made it all about behavior change.