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May Not Look Like Much, But…..

I have been so fortunate to be enrolled in a place of continuing education and the positive impact it is having on my life is eternally significant.  Like most courses of study, there is the personal time spent in reading and research.  Then, there is the corporate time with others in some type of class or seminar setting as the course material is taught and explained.  And, most important is the “on the job” application that provides the vivid clarity of the content’s practical nature.

God has been teaching me so very much through the members and staff at FBCBA over the years and in very tangible ways in recent weeks and months.  I have done my reading continually in sermon prep and devotional reading.  And, in the worship services and small group meetings, we have examined the “how to’s” of the faith.  But, I was truly and indelibly impressed by watching our people in various ministry settings as they cared for folks of all ages, backgrounds, and needs in multiple kinds of settings and situations.  The compassion, kindness, and genuine love of Jesus that these Christ-followers have exuded is beyond the norm.  They remind me of Paul’s description of the Macedonian Christians in 2 Corinthians 8 – “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us.”  They have demonstrated the love of Jesus to all people freely and consistently that is indicative of a strong faith and genuine walk with our Lord.  Powerful!

One of the greatest advances in vending machine technology was the ability of the machine to accept bills rather than just coins. Especially as prices increased, it came as a relief not having to search the car seats for that extra quarter – now you just slide in a dollar bill or two and you’re ready to snack. That is unless your dollar bill is rejected!

What a terrible feeling. You watch your dollar get sucked into the machine and then it spits it back at you. You check the little picture to make sure George’s head is facing the right way and try again. If you’re rejected again you do that little ritual that you saw some other guy do – you take the bill and rub it on a corner trying to take out any possible crease in the bill. You unfold any turned-up corners and hope you’re bill is good enough. If you still find your bill rejected you’re now ready to take the machine on – that’s why they put those machines behind metal bars!! “What’s the deal,” you think. A dollar is a dollar, after all, whether it’s fresh out of the mint or if it’s been folded, wadded, washed and taped. Why should this machine accept a good looking bill but reject an old, worn out one? A clean, fresh bill is of no more value than a worn-out one.

As much as we don’t want to admit it, we are so much like those dastardly vending machines. We tend to be more accepting of people who have it all together and tend to be less-than-accepting of people who have been folded, wadded, washed, and taped. People who have been through the ringer often find themselves spit out by many of us who prefer to accept only the pristine. (Copied).

Jesus came to love sinners.  We are most like Him when we have the capacity to love sinners.  And, since we are all “sinners”, we are really loving “our kind of people” wherever God puts us. I am still learning, but I have great examples around me!