Have you noticed the world lately? Whether it’s the nightly news or the unrelenting stream of social media, or your neighbor or co-worker, it seems like a lot of people are unhappy. Many people are angry and dissatisfied with the things going on around them. From President Trump and Pelosi bickering in Washington, The left and the right of our countries political leaders, unable to find common ground about the most basic things, to climate change or not changing and the cause, the legalization of marijuana, the gender and restroom and marriage issues, to immigration and building walls, or to vaccinate or not vaccinate, even the language people speak is a point of dissention. People are hurting, People are angry, just look at the rise of suicide and depression and anxiety in our culture.
At my day job, I interview a lot of potential candidates for hire. Several interviews a week most weeks. I’ve found it’s really hard to find someone who doesn’t claim, anxiety, depression, ptsd, or any number of other mental hindrances that will prevent them from being able to do a simple job like cleaning a toilet, without special allowances and treatment.
There is an undercurrent of unease in our world right now that has become undeniable. There are a lot of lines being draw in the sand that are separating us and dividing us, over and over, maybe we don’t recognize it or even know it’s happening or maybe we feel like we are obligated to take a side, lest we be considered a sympathizer with something that could be wrong or sinful. I have found myself unintentionally becoming bitter or even angry about something that I really have no vested interest in, no dog in the race so to speak, and I’ll allow it to change my feelings or thoughts about a group of people who may disagree.
Our world is becoming overrun by grinchiness. I’m not talking about one big green hairy guy up on the mountain, I’m talking about a culture of grinchiness, many people around us choosing anger and resentment and hate over love. The sad thing is, it takes less energy and thought for people to just pick a side and be angry about something, than it does to choose love, joy and forgiveness. Love, joy and forgiveness take effort and commitment, thought and perseverance. Anyone can be angry; all anger requires is an unthoughtful reaction to anything that is different or difficult. Dogs can do that. People can be mad dogs all day long.
There is a cure for grinchiness, there is a way to heal ourselves and others. To stop grinchiness, to end the cycle of unhappiness, anger and hate, we must remove all the love barriers in our lives.
What do I mean by that? We have to love God and others, unconditionally. We must love, like our Father in Heaven loves us. Freely, fully, unconditionally, endlessly. Anything in our minds or hearts that stops us from doing that is a barrier that must be removed. Whatever side we’ve chosen or incidentally ended up on, we really need to examine and decide, is this what’s best for building and growing in relationship with Jesus?
In Mark 2 there is a story about four men who had a paralyzed friend that needed to get to Jesus, this man needed a miracle. If we think about it, we all know a person or two that really needs to get to Jesus, they need a real encounter with God, they really need a miracle… are we willing to do whatever it takes to get them to Him.
Mark 2:1-5,11-12 says
When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
Talk about removing barriers, it says they dug a hole through the roof, a hole large enough to lower their friend through on a mat, that had to be a big opening. These men did whatever it took, they removed whatever barriers there were, they would not be denied. Getting their friend to Jesus was all that mattered, and they wouldn’t be stopped, not by a large crowd, not by the impossible task of getting a paralyzed man on a roof, but also through an opening large enough. This is a literal example of removing barriers. It would have been easy for them to look at this situation and say, it looks like this wasn’t God’s plan for us, it’s too busy, it’s too difficult, we are too inadequate to make this happen. It was the removal of barriers, by faith, that Jesus said brought the healing. How many times in our lives to we allow barriers in our minds or thinking to stop us, this is a literal example of a spiritual truth of what may need to take place in our hearts and minds. Anger, resentment and hate are the large crowd that may be stopping us, or the impossible task of digging a man-sized hole in a roof or the finding the guts to lower a man, unannounced into the presence of Jesus. We can overcome, we can rise above we can remove all love barriers that are stopping us from reaching Jesus.
We must love sacrificially, counting others as more important than ourselves. The kind of love Jesus demonstrated in His life and fulfilled on the cross. The kind of love that causes the Grinch’s heart to grow 3 sizes what he saw the Who’s in Whoville rejoicing and singing on Christmas morning, even without any gifts or decorations or food.
When we get a glimpse of God’s love for us, it changes everything.
Jeremiah 31:3 Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself.
This is one of our purposes as the Church of Jesus Christ. To show the love of Jesus in action, in our lives, to be the loving hands and feet of Jesus. It’s by loving the heck out of people that we will turn this world upside down. And right now, this world needs to be turned upside down more than even.
This everlasting, unfailing love is the same love that drew and welcomed the prodigal son home – the same love that called the sinful little man Zeccehias out of that tree and into repentance – the same love that shared mercy and forgiveness with the woman caught in adultery. It’s the same love that orchestrated and pulled off the virgin birth, a sinless life, and the obedience to suffer and die for a sinful people, many of whom would reject Him, hate Him, and never understand this whole love thing at all. It’s this love that has made a way for you and me to be forgiven and redeemed through Jesus. The entire collection, all 66 books of the Bible, make up one big love letter, from God to you.