Sunday, March 18, 2007

Throw-Away People

We know of a couple who recently and with heavy hearts left their church:
They had had some on-going concerns about their pastor for quite
some time, and when they attempted to bring those concerns to
the attention of the pastor, they were angrily rebuffed; apparently
their pastor was (is) content to permanently write off this couple,
(whom he had never made any effort to know or serve or understand)
as if they were little more than "Throw-Away People" to him...
Seems this pastor was simply not interested in the thoughts and feelings
of the couple, and he was (is)apparently not the least bit interested in
hearing their concerns and working WITH them toward some kind of healing...
His "oh well, so you're leaving... Whatever..." attitude came as a bit of
a sad surprise to the couple, especially from someone who talked so often
of "love" and "grace" and "humility"...

In direct contrast, the Gospel calls ALL of us to be PEOPLE-centric:
In Luke 19, we read that Zacchaeus was sought out by Christ;
and when the locals complained about Jesus seeking out someone
who was guilty of extortion and therefore despised publicly,
He told them, "Today salvation has come to this house, because
this man, too, is a son of Abraham"... Jesus' point was that despite
his sinful ways, Zacchaeus had just as much VALUE in the eyes of God
as those who were condemning and rejecting him... The next verse
continues, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
Jesus didn't wait for Zacchaeus to come close to Him before showing
this person Grace; Jesus sought him out and brought him
Salvation as a result...

Read the Bible and you'll see this same LOVE VALUES PEOPLE
theme repeated over and over: Hosea pursued his prostitute wife,
Gomer... The father strained his eyes every day to see his prodigal
son return, and RAN to him when he saw his son a long way off...
The Good Samaritan went out of his way to CARE FOR the man in the
ditch, left to die as a "Throw-Away Person" by the religious elite...

Indeed, the fundamental POINT of the Gospel (the "Good News")
can be paraphrased from John 3:16... God VALUES each and every
Human Being so deeply and profoundly that He does anything
and everything He can, including sacrificing his very Son,
in order to come TO us and try to win us back...

There ARE no "Throw-Away People" in God's perspective,
no "relationship (i.e., "clique") first, Grace and Love second"...
Everybody has Value, and God relentlessly pursues US, saying,
"Hey YOU...Yes, YOU, up there in the 'cheap seats'... Come down
and sit with ME... Let Me LOVE you and HEAL your hurts..."

Incidentally, when Zacchaeus was showered with Grace and Love
by Jesus, and shown his VALUE in Jesus' eyes, his first reaction
was to make ammends, in an attempt to rebuild damaged relationships...
And that's the pattern of the Gospel, and the one that WE should be
following in ALL our dealings with people: Grace and Compassion first,
then Healing, then Relationship; it's important that we not get those
out of order, that we do not view ANYONE as a "Throw-Away Person"
simply because they are not a member of our own tightly-controlled
Inner Circle...