“The Gospel demands a great deal of us. It calls us to a perennially unpopular and unselfish path. Little wonder Jesus said, ‘The world’s going to hate you’ (John 15:18-19). When you can no longer play the game of judging, labeling, and punishing others, you will quickly become the outsider.” Fr. Richard Rohr
Jesus was an outsider. If we choose to follow Him into the next year and for the rest of our lives here on Earth, we also choose to be an outsider. It means we forever give up, as Rohr says, “judging, labeling, and punishing others.”
There is no such thing as blessed intimidation, sacred condemnation, honorable hate, justified segregation or redemptive violence.
When we speak or act in unloving ways, we step away from God, separating ourselves from the love and grace He has given us – and continues to give – from our birth. We must remember He gives, not because we have done or refrained from doing anything to earn His love; God gives because He is Love.
Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. We must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. (1 John 2:7, 4:7)
In four days, a brand new year will be upon us. We all have a choice to make. Will we continue to travel the same, well-plod, self-centered road that is parallel to our walk with Jesus, or will we surrender control of our own egos? Will we let go of unforgiveness, anger and condemnation and allow the Spirit of God to lead our lives into a transformational rebirth?
If we accept our Father’s invitation into the heart of Christ, it means we participate in accepting His overflowing love and grace. It means we direct the overflow of His love and grace onto others. It means we take on the mission He has given us to heal and restore all of humanity – not through condemnation, but through love, forgiveness and grace.
It means we must become outsiders, offering grace when others tell us to be harsh, offering compassion when others tell us to turn our backs, offering love when others tell us to fear or hate. It means holding hands with Jesus on the narrow path, allowing Him to give us strength when being an outsider becomes more than we can handle on our own.
“Salvation is not a ‘go to heaven’ ticket you get punched at the altar. It’s an invitation into Christ’s life. It’s about God in Christ taking on humanity in order to heal humanity and restore us to our original image.”(Gen 1:26a*) Mel Wild, author, Sonshift
I pray God provides you a hunger for a new heart and new mind this glorious New Year. Amen.