I have a thing for the least of these. The world’s throw aways. I think because I’ve been them (several versions actually) I know what it is to carry a scarlet letter, to be invisible, to not meet the world’s standard of worthwhile or worthy. And if you want to get me worked up, mess with these people. Tell these precious people for whom Jesus died on the cross that “they should leave and never come back.” Gossip about them, turn your noses up at them, ignore them, tell them with your actions that you don’t have time for them.
If you ever want to find out who your real friends are, make a mistake. I’m not talking about an error in your check book, but a real and true, life changing error in judgment. Or experience a messy loss that cannot be erased in a few quick clichés. Want to know who really spends time with Jesus? Ignore the YouVersion Facebook posts online and instead see who meets you with mercy when you make a truly awful choice or find yourself in great need.
I was talking to a friend recently who was walking through this very thing. Shunned by so many who’d been her greatest cheerleaders just weeks before, she was trying to process -what had changed? Why was she suddenly worthless? A throw away? The difference was that they disagreed with her decision. Now, never mind if they’d not been privy to the private struggles or prayers or desperate pleas lay bare before the throne at predawn hours. No matter. They were qualified to be judge, jury and executioner. Dear Reader, this makes me angry. It makes me angry when they do it and it makes me angry when I do it. Who do we think we are? Do we not all find mercy, grace and forgiveness at the same cross? Which one among us is a spotless little lamb without sin? Which one among us has never needed help? And what scripture authorizes ripping to shreds those we disagree with?
To the throw aways, the forgotten, the seemingly abandoned: If today you wear a scarlet letter or find yourself in great need—for whom “the church” has no time or at whom they turn up their noses—these are my words to you: Dear One, you are NOT forgotten. Nothing you have ever done could make Jesus love you any less. God’s people may be fickle but he is not. His plans for you and His love you for you have not changed one bit. You will never forget the judgment or the mercy that you’ve been met with, here, in this place and you’ll always be the one to meet people with mercy in the future. And it’s here, in this place, that you can come out changed, stronger than ever before, and God can use this for your good and His glory. It’s here, in this place that He can give you eyes and a heart for the least of these so that no one else has to know the judgment, the hurt that you have known. It’s from right here, in this place, that you can change the world, one person and one act of mercy at a time.
Church, what if we let grace begin with us? What if we stopped assuming we knew it all and we just loved, truly loved—even when it’s messy and it hurts and it requires a sacrifice—one another. What if we started today, here, in this place?