The Face and Heart of God
Just giving people commandments on tablets and stone doesn't change the heart. It may steel the will, but it doesn't soften the heart like a personal encounter can.
- Richard Rohr
Some years ago, when I was working on my Master's degree at Florida State University, I was walking with some fellow students through one common of the many areas on campus when we encountered a street evangelist, who had attracted a crowd.
The evangelist's name was "Brother Jed," a loud and obnoxious self-appointed preacher, who makes a career out of protesting on college campuses all over the United States.
Jed's modus operandi is to say as many offensive, bigoted and hateful things as possible in order to start arguments with people, which he then records on video to post on his website.
In short, Brother Jed is a jerk.
On this particular day, Brother Jed had a huge sign that was using the word "gay" as an acronym to spell this unbelievably horrible sentence, "Got Aids Yet?"
My companions began spouting angrily about how narrow-minded, hateful and awful Christians were. They said a lot of really hard things, using some choice language. They forgot momentarily that I was a Christian, even though all of them knew it.
When it dawned on them that their choice words might have wounded me, they told me they were sorry, but I responded by telling them they had no reason to apologize.
I told them quietly, "You have to know that most Christians are not like that guy."
I then went on to explain that for people like Brother Jed, you can't gloss over their bad behavior by saying "Well, his heart is in the right place," because his heart was obviously filled with hatred and anger.
I then let my friends know that Jesus wants no part of that... period.
I was able to share with them that because of Jesus, we don't have to guess what God wants (for us to have abundant life), what God desires (God's shalom in the world), the things God would say, who God loves (everyone) and how far God is willing to go to rescue us.
We need to find ways every single day to help people connect with the face and heart of God--to help people see Jesus in our words and deeds. There are far too many people out there claiming to speak for Jesus and, though their voices might be loud, we will speak louder with our love.
And what we have to say is worth hearing.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.