My son came to me recently, feeling convicted. Plopped himself across the table from me and shared an internal debate, that leaves him teetering. How a kid he knows from school will be attending the Younglife camp we financial struggle for each summer. And he, my son, feels that other kid doesn't deserve to go -- that he doesn't deserve the glory and grace you get to experience at Young life camp, because this other kid “isn't even a Christian. He’s not like us. He's just a spoiled rich kid.” On the other hand, feels like everyone deserves to come to the cross and how dare we discriminate or attempt to decide who’s worthy and who’s not.
Honored, I thought to myself, that he would still come to his mama with life’s dilemmas like these. But as I listened, I too felt convicted.
Creative that God!
Remember that story? (Luke 18: 9-14) The one where the pharisee and the tax collector went to pray and the pharisee got all high and mighty, saying, “Thank you, God, for not making me like him,” (meaning, of course, like the tax collector).
Yes, from time to time, we have moments where we act just like that Pharisee.
Now, let me pause here and let you know, I’d much rather be writing about something different. I am not proud to admit to you my propensity toward these things. I so desire to have reached the end of this journey, received my certificate, and walked across the finish line. But that’s just it. This is a journey, with pit stops and setbacks along the way, right there on the same path as the victories and shining moments.
Just because I talk about breaking down all the walls we’ve built up to keep one another at a distance doesn't mean I've got it figured out. As far as I can tell, God doesn't really operate that way. He doesn't wait for us to get it right before he signs us up to be part of the solution. He seems to enjoy the process better that way. And, it’s quite possible, getting us involved before we've figured it out is one of the best ways for real transformation to take place, and to take hold for the long term. (It’s probably also a good strategy for keeping us from taking all the credit when it does get figured out).
Our tendency. My tendency to “he’s/she’s not like us” is not news to me. It’s just that, sometimes, I get comfortable and I need reminding, and sometimes God uses a wise-beyond-his-years teenage boy to bring my attention to all the ways I've discriminated the world, and the beautiful people God put in it.
Well, thank God for grace. First, from Jesus and then, from people just like us, and (especially) from people not at all like us.