Have you ever been so close to something that you couldn’t see it? It might be something totally obvious to everyone else, but invisible to you. It’s kind of like getting a glob of mustard on your cheek at a party and not discovering it until you get home. While you were at the party, laughing and talking with everyone you weren’t embarrassed at all, because you had no idea.
Of course, there are worse things than having food on your face at a party. At least you can spot something like that in a mirror and do something about it. But what about problems that aren’t so easily observed?
You know, we in the church have to be especially careful about this. We are called, as followers of Christ, to point out injustice in our world and to reach out to people in need. But we have to be careful that in confronting all of the moral and spiritual problems of the world we don’t manage to look right past our own.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the business of church we don’t notice when we’re not being the kind of people Christ calls us to be. It’s like the old story of the minister who goes to the leading elder in his church and says, “Bob, I’m really concerned about the way things are going in our church. What do you think is wrong? Is it ignorance or apathy?” And Bob says, “To tell you the truth, I don’t know and I don’t care.”
How is it that we can change and see beyond ourselves to something greater?
The answer is simply because God loves us first, even before we believe.
Nothing in this world has more power to change and transform us than the power of love – and God knows that. It works on us and in us in ways we can’t even comprehend. A while back I read a story about a person who was changed by the love of a friend. Listen to what she has to say:
“I was neurotic for years. I was anxious and depressed and selfish. And everyone kept telling me to change. And everyone kept telling me how neurotic I was. And I resented them, and I agreed with them, and I wanted to change, but I just couldn’t bring myself to change, no matter how hard I tried. What hurt the most was that my best friend also kept telling me how neurotic I was. He too kept insisting that I change. And I agreed with him too, though I couldn’t bring myself to resent him. And I felt so powerless and so trapped. Then, one day, he said to me, ‘Don’t change. Don’t change…I love you.’ Those words sounded like music to my ears: ‘Don’t change. Don’t change…I love you.’ And I relaxed. And I came alive. And, oh wondrous marvel, I changed!”
What a wonderful thing it is our God loves us into obedience instead of forcing us. Our discipleship isn’t something that is coerced, it is a relationship that lives and grows with us. For we serve a God that loves us with a love so complete and overwhelming that we are forever being “born again from above.”