Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “love like Jesus”

ISSUES EXIST…LOVE ENDURES

I have issues. It bugs me when people stand really close to me. I don’t like people messing with my hair. It drives me crazy when, in an empty public restroom with a dozen open stalls, the next person in chooses the stall right next to me.

Like I said…I have issues.

I have bigger issues than the ones I mentioned above, however. I’m stubborn—and it’s not easy to overcome. I’m arrogant—and it’s a daily battle within me to keep my ego in check. I don’t have a stellar bank account or the perfect marriage. And my kids are on pace to be every bit as flawed as their mother. Oh joy!

Like I said…I have issues. I’m not proud of them. I’m not flaunting them. I wish I didn’t have them. But the truth is I struggle with them just like you struggle with yours.

Everybody has issues.

Your friend has issues. She’s insecure as all get out. Your spouse has issues. He/she is arrogant, insensitive, and controlling. Your co-worker has issues. She’s overbearing and doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise. Your neighbor has issues. He lies constantly. You wonder why he feels the need to do that. The lady in your bible study has issues. She’s got a root of bitterness bigger than Dallas, but hides it as best she can. Your nephew has issues. He’s into pornography, but doesn’t see the harm in it.

Everybody has issues. And issues present us with an interesting enigma.

The question is, can you see past my issues? Can you overlook your co-worker’s issues? Can you embrace your neighbor despite his issues? Can you be kind to the lady in your bible study regardless of her issues? Can you get along with your friend even though she has issues?

Here’s what I have found to be true in this interesting enigma: issues exist…but love endures. At least a Christ-like love does.

Issues Exist Love EnduresJesus loved His disciples—all quirky, ill-equipped and flawed twelve of them. I don’t know if that was easy for Him or not. My guess is He wore thin of patience with a few every now and then because you know what? They had issues. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Maybe they were easier to love than His disciples. But Martha certainly had issues, and Jesus brought those into light.

Jesus also loved the rich young man who ended up walking away from Him—materially wealthy, but eternally bankrupt. Ouch!

Jesus had compassion on all sorts of people who had all sorts of issues. He hung out with sinful people. He touched “unclean” people. He embraced the ones who were far from perfect. He did life with people who were self-absorbed, broken, messed up, whacked out, and didn’t buy what Jesus was selling.

They had issues. They had struggles. They had challenges. They had problems. They had difficulties. Their lives were not pretty little packages wrapped up with pretty little bows. And truth be told, neither are ours.

Can we have compassion like Jesus did on others who have issues? Can we hang out with people like Jesus did who are far from perfect? Can we do life with people like Jesus did who have hang-ups, problems, and struggles? Can we embrace people like Jesus did who don’t even acknowledge Jesus?

Can we love like Jesus? Regardless…in spite of…even though…
Issues exist. Love endures.
Go love like Jesus!

 

WHAT DO GRACE AND FROGS HAVE IN COMMON?

I’m not a fan of long processes. But oddly enough I find myself in them all the time.

The “love someone for who they are, not what you want them to become” is one very…long…process. And I’m not a fan of it at all. Because it’s long. Because it’s arduous. Because it’s taxing. Because it’s not pleasant. Because it takes all my energy. Because it requires more than I am capable of. Just…because.

Think of the people in your life that get on your nerves, weigh you down, drain the life out of you, make you crazy, are hard to be around, challenge everything you say, and keep you constantly in the classroom called patience. Surely you know some of these people. I know lots. And truth be told, they’re hard to love.

What Grace & Frogs Have In CommonI want to love them. I really do. And just when I think I’m making progress in that direction it occurs to me I do not love them for who they are. I love them for who I want them to become. I love the “better” version of them that I’ve created in my mind and heart. It’s as if I idealize the “prince/princess” version of them instead of embracing the “frog” version of them.

But if I’m to love like Jesus, I’ve got to love people, blemishes and all. I’ve got to love people where they are. I’ve got to love people in spite of everything I said in paragraph #3 above.

And that’s a process. Ugh!

God’s been teaching me more and more about grace lately. And I firmly believe it’s this thing called grace that will allow us to love someone for who they are, not what we want them to become.

Strangely enough, however, I find this thing called grace is quite frightening to lots of people. You see, grace says that you’ll never change someone into that “better” version. Grace says you perhaps have lowered your standard. Grace says it’s okay to hang out with less than the absolute best. Grace just might tarnish your reputation. Grace says there’s no difference between the frog and the prince.

And grace, too, is a process. Ugh!

Who do you find difficult to love?
Who do you find challenging to embrace?
Who do you find hard be around?
Who do you find tough to like?

Rather than see the blemishes—the flaws, the ugliness, the bad attitude, the negativity, the crusty parts—seek this thing called grace. It just might be where the contempt ends and the love begins.

ARE YOU MORPHING?

In 1991, Michael Jackson released a video to his song Black or White. I remember watching this video the first time and being blown away by the seamless transition of change from one person’s face to the next. It was truly fascinating. The word used for this process is called “morphing.” According to the dictionary, the word means to transform or be completely transformed in appearance or character.

I was reminded of this word a couple weeks ago when I was at work. (I work at an assisted living facility.) One gentleman looked at my hair (which is getting grayer every year) and said, “You’re beginning to look like the people you hang around with.” Now, although I was surprised he said it, I wasn’t offended at all. I chuckled and told him I started getting a few gray hairs way back when I taught and coached high school kids in the 1990’s.

Now I know I can’t instantly morph into an 80-year old person, but it got me thinking about how we change with the company we keep. Think about it. The longer you’re around a group of people, the more like them you become. You begin picking up their habits, whether good or bad. You begin talking like them, thinking like them, dressing like them, adopting the same philosophies or attitudes, etc. And I think it’s safe to say many of us lose who we once were prior to this morphing phenomenon.

The Apostle Paul warns us of this slippery slope in Romans 12:2 by saying, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Interestingly enough the word “transformed” in the original Greek is Metamorphoo and it means “to change into another form; to transfigure.”

So, if morphing does indeed occur as we do life with all kinds of people, does this put us in a quandary? (Remember that popular saying “Don’t drink, cuss, smoke, or chew…or run around with girls who do.”) Should we simply stay away from anyone we consider a bad influence? Are we supposed to be protecting ourselves from the “undesirables” and “ill-approved” people in society? Is the solution to make sure we only hang around good, godly people so they can be a positive influence on us? My answer would be an emphatic NO.

When Jesus prayed for His disciples (John 17:6-19), He prayed specifically that God would not take them out of this world. He didn’t want Christians to completely avoid non-Christians. He prayed, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one…Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world…

Jesus is sending us into the world as well. Not to be “of the world,” not to morph into the world, but to love those in it. Jesus spent time with the so-called “undesirables” and “ill-approved” people of society. He did life with them, yet did not become one of them. He hung out with them, yet did not condone their behavior. He didn’t condemn, He showed kindness. He didn’t morph, He loved unconditionally.

Let us not morph into the fallen world in which we live. Let us renew our minds. Let us be sanctified by Truth, God’s Truth, as we seek to live and love like Jesus. Above all let our striving be to morph into the One loves us, loves others, and seeks to save the lost.

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