Matthew 25:37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,f you did it to me.
I have been reading the story of Hosea this week. Hosea was an amazing prophet, told by God to marry a prostitute as a living illustration of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. I won’t fill in all the blanks for you, but as we read the story we see a beautiful Old Testament example of God’s overwhelming love for us. When I asked the group discussing the story, can we love the unbeliever with this level of self-sacrifice, the comment was made, “Well Hosea and Jesus set the bar pretty high for us.” This isn’t the first time that I have heard similar statements. “Well Jesus was God, that how he could keep from sinning.” “He had supernatural power, that why he could endure the cross.” ” I can’t forgive on that level because I’m not Jesus.” It can become so easy for us to downplay or up-play Jesus’s deity, depending upon our day to day perspective, and whether we want to get our hands dirty with the depravity of man.
Our minds struggle to accept both God’s right judgment of our sin which requires death and his overwhelming love which leads to life–both held on the cross at the same time. How can we hate what is evil and love without conditions all at the same time. I was reminded during counseling training on Friday and Saturday that only God says when to shake the dust off of who is unrepentant. I don’t get to pick who I believe is worthy of God’s grace. The Church has ill equipped us for ministering to the lost, and for that I am deeply sorrowful!
How do we turn this around? We began seeing the harvest around us, the hunger, the needs, the brokenness in others by seeing and accepting our own depravity. Apart from God I am dead in my sins. My own circumstances included a pastor and his wife taking me in when I was pregnant and homeless. That love and sacrifice spoke volumes to me. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted far more than the world could offer me, but there are some it takes 20 years or more! Are the believers willing to sacrifice, come along side, endure rebellion for that long? We need to be if we are taking up our cross daily and following Jesus.