Looking and loving
March 11, 2022
Sunday last, we took a Muslim international student out for dinner to celebrate his birthday. He chose a place that serves the kind of food he would eat at home. The takeout business was steady, but we were the only dine-ins, so the convivial host focused his attention on us. Conversation was light and playful, until a particular people group was mentioned. Our host blurted out, "[They] are responsible for all the evil in the world!" Taken by surprise, especially because 1/4 of my lineage had just been maligned, I responded weakly, "Oh, I think there is evil in other people as well...." The topic quickly shifted to the Raptors losing a close game on the screen above us.
I hate being taken off guard like that. I felt like he had scored the winning shot. Should I have asked him why he would say such a thing and attempted to enter into a discussion? Should I have pointed out that his people group is murdering Christians, supporting terrorism, sanctioning honour killings and...and...? Should I have looked for a way to talk about Jesus coming to destroy evil? Should I have capitulated and returned, as I did, to focussing on having a pleasant birthday celebration for our young friend while trying to understand what had just happened? What would you have done?
I wrote the paragraphs above without knowing what would follow. As I wrote, the Lord reminded me of the conclusion to David's magnificent Psalm 139 which praises God for His pervasive presence and His personal loving presence throughout his entire existence:
"Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)
I admit that offence was in my heart, as well as the desire to be vindicated. Not enough to call him out make a scene, perhaps not enough for him to even notice, but enough to partially obscure the Jesus who lives in me. I was taken off guard because I was concerned for my self.
Jesus doesn't require us to be perfect before He gives us the ministry of reconciliation—not at all! But He does use opportunities in our lives to expose weakness and sin in order to purify our hearts and to call us higher. And when He sees those flaws in us, He looks at us and loves us.
"Jesus looked at [the rich young ruler whom He knew would refuse His invitation to follow Him] and loved him. “One thing you lack,” He said..." (Mark 10:21)
Meditate on Psalm 139*
considering with wonder this awesome God
who knows us so completely and intimately
who loves us so tenderly
and who leads us in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:19-22 can seem alarming in the context of entire poem. I believe it's kosher to direct these verses at the dark powers spoken of in Ephesians 6:12.