I feel as if there are certain things in my life that were once completely out of focus. I feel God taking the lens in His hand and slowly moving the dial and those things are becoming clearer.
I was driving down the road on Monday and I saw a homeless man walking down the sidewalk. There are lots of homeless people near where I live. And I thought many things, but I realized as I passed that none of them were in judgement.
I used to judge homeless people. If I'm being truly honest, I used to despise them. "I mean how could you be so addicted to (fill in the blank) that you lose everything? So shameful." My brutal thoughts.
Not Jesus thoughts.
When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evilb spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolisc how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (Mark 5:3-8, 19-20)
He had MERCY.
On the possessed. The afflicted. The tax collector (who stole). The woman who had been menstrually bleeding for 12 years. The leper. The paralyzed man. The dead, stinky Lazarus. His brother who denied him three times.
So I saw this man, and my immediate thought was, "How far gone are any of us, REALLY, from being in his shoes?" Not far friends. One bad financial decision. One loss of a job. One moment. One breath. We take so much for granted.
I have been teaching at a local college this semester and I have really loved it. I know that Jesus put me here, this semester, with these students for a multitude of plentiful reasons. Not the least of which is pressing the yuck out of my own heart. I have young students and older students. I have white students and black students. I have students that love Jesus, students that think they love Jesus, and students that want nothing to do with Him. I have students that love pot. I have students that love alcohol. I have students with baby mommas that they live with and are cheating on. I have married students that flirt with me. I have students that are excellent and care and students that are just there for their financial aid.
And I care for each of them. They have changed me. The stereotypes my mind has formed and solidified over the years are being transformed into Jesus lenses. He says:
"That one, he's addicted to pot, but he's an amazing writer. Look at his potential."
"Look at her. She's been to prison. She has rebellious children and she's exhausted. And OH how I love her! I long to rescue her!"
"He hates Me because he's been fed the religious version of me. He's been torn to shreds by the Pharisee spirit. Tend to my sheep, Shana."
"See their potential. See my love for them. See their individuality. Don't lump them together."
Aren't you glad He doesn't lump us together?
Boy I am.
Jesus I am!!