But, what if . . .?
That’s usually the comment I receive as we discuss this harder path of faith.
Suzie, what if they’re a jerk?
What if they won’t change?
What if I love them and get hurt again?
I hear your heart. I’ve been there and I’ll be there again. Yet the more that we learn to love, the less power someone else’s brokenness holds over our heart.
It doesn’t make sense in the natural, but it’s freeing.
Jesus was followed around by scalawags. I don’t have a better name for them. They were polished on the outside and dark on the inside, and they concocted devious plans for Jesus and his followers.
I remember reading an email one time and it was heavy. It blasted me. There wasn’t a thing held back, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the accusations. It felt worse because her accusations didn’t make sense.
I had a few choices. I could hit the delete key. I could respond after praying. I could set her straight.
Which one do you think that I wanted to do?
As I watched Jesus teach the early followers, he truly led them in this area by example.
A few times he simply moved on, because they weren’t ready to hear what he had to say. Other times he shared truth, but always wrapped in grace. Sometimes the burden got so weighty that Jesus went to be alone with his Father.
He taught the disciples that ministry and faith will always greet a mixed crowd. Some will adore you. Some will be intrigued. Some will mock or make things hard for you. The constant is found in you — and in our faith — as we refuse to allow the crowd to define who we are.
Let’s talk about the invitation as we watch Jesus’ example.
People are watching our lives and asking if Jesus is worth following.
That day I sent a response. Her response back was even more harsh.
I sent another. That turned into a conversation. I prayed that first, God would help me not take her words personal. There was a deeper battle going on here, and I didn’t have to embrace her words as my identity.
That conversation went back and forth.
Each time I prayed before responding.
Honestly, it would have been easier to delete the first email and move on, and sometimes that’s exactly what we should do — unless we feel the Holy Spirit saying otherwise.
At the end of the day, I received one last email.
This really didn’t have a lot to do with you, and I attacked you. Your mercy to me was surprising, and it shows me what I can do next time.
Even if it hadn’t turned out that way, Jesus showed me how to follow Him in loving difficult people. I wish I could say that I do exactly that every time.
Just in case you think I never make a mistake, I have missed it too many times. There are moments when I have had to learn from my mistakes, seek his beautiful mercy, and start over.
That’s the beauty of receiving and giving love.
When I mess up, I know where to go. When that person messes up with me, I pray that I can give a small portion of that grace back to them in response.
This is one of the harder paths of faith. It just is. It’s also where following Jesus can change us forever.
- Read Chapter Four
- Watch the video
- Go deeper with the questions at the end of Chapter Four with your group
- If you are studying alone, join me on my Facebook page and let’s chat about this!
- Discuss the discussion prompt at the end of the video.