She's a racist. She's an uneducated redneck. She never turned me away from sin and toward God, was not a Godly example. She was prone to gossip. She hated whom she hated unyieldingly.
So, why do I pack up my five children and drive half-way across the country alone (sans anyone to share the driving) to see my grandmother? Because she loved me. In fact, for the majority of my life she was the *only* one who loved me.She's not all bad, she never acted out her racism, she was diligent in her work, she has a sweet nature, she really didn't hate many people, and, shoot, she tolerated my grandfather, and me at my worst. And it's very easy for me to overlook her faults, because I know she loves me. She loved me in the way I needed to be loved. She didn't love me the way she wanted to, she didn't love me so I would love her in return. She just loved.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, people know when we love them. If the love of a woman who was not really Godly in most ways that we would consider Godliness can engender the level of devotion I have for my grandmother, how much better can the love of those who are loving others in Christ?Many times I meet Christians who are afraid to say anything about their faith to others...I've even been that Christian. When asked why, we will inevitably reply that we aren't perfect. We are afraid that the mistakes we make, any of them, will make our witness for Christ ineffective. But, honestly, there is only one thing that will turn people off our message fast, and that is if we do not love them.
In all honesty, real people are not looking for perfection in Christians. They are, if they are looking for anything, looking for Christ's love reflected in us. When you talk to them you'll hear they've had enough of the hypocrites who pretend to have it all together, either in obedience or knowledge. They're tired of being judged when they mess up. They are tired of being preached at when they are suffering.But if we love them, and they know it, and they *will* know it, it will not be a big deal to them when we mess up. Sure there will be some who throw it in your face, but if we are real, honest, and loving, they will be few and far between. By loving others, by showing them we genuinely care about their "lot in life," we will create natural openings to share the Gospel.
I've been watching it, in our family. If it weren't for the love of certain Christians, we would have walked away from the church this year, and probably eventually God. Our family would have continued its downward spiral, and Lord only knows where we'd be today. But in just a short time, God graciously brought loving, Godly, people into our lives, and that has made all the difference.I will have more to write on this as the full implication of this love works itself out in our lives. And more to say on what exactly this love is (it's more than loving others as we want to be loved, far more), and how it has radically changed our lives.
For now, I need to finish packing, and get some shopping done, so we'll be ready to leave for Texas in the morning...to share some love with the woman was the first to show me what love is.