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Friday, October 01, 2004

The Gospel is for people I like

I'll blame my years of home schooling, but I never seemed to learn that most vital of elementary school lessons: You must share. I'm just plain selfish.

Devona is always telling these awful stories about the people she (no longer) works with. I mean, really sad stuff. So-and-so has been living with her boyfriend for five years, who beats her continually, and now she's pregnant, and he's beating her even more, and now she has no place to live, so she's moving back home with her parents, but she can't find a job because she can't buy a car, because she has no income....

At some point in the narration my stomach really sours and somewhere inside me, between my gut and my heart, a little fat red-faced man starts yelling things like "Serves 'em right! Shouldn't be so stupid anyway." I hate that little fat man. But I always listen to him.

When it comes to the cross, I'm a lot like Tolkien's Gollem. It's my precious -- my strength, my love (well, I tell myself that at least) -- but I just can't bear sharing it. When my prodigal little brother comes running home, and Dad goes out to meet him while he's still a long way off, all I can do is just give dark-faced glares across the kitchen counter while Mom stuffs the turkey. I'm not even in the mood for cranberry sauce.

Thank God my pride is not so sharp an axe to hew that sacred tree. The Gospel is not just for people I like, and grace is not a balm for only the sins I can stomach. Christ died for the worst of sinners. The really despised, ugly ones. Even people with the sins that don't make cool summer camp testimonials: Rapists, lazy people, murderers, the impatient, child abusers, gossipers, and genocidal dictators.

A gospel like this certainly offends me. Tonight, I have to say that it frightens me. I mean, really taking that to heart in my marriage could mean ultimate honesty between us. Teaching it to my children could mean they grow up and actually know something of true love. Maybe they'll even truly love a few people, sometimes.

So I'm trying to get better at sharing. How well will I really believe the gospel, until I really believe that the gospel is for all to hear?