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I added a frame to my Facebook profile recently proudly stating Jesus for 2020. And then it got me thinking, am I serious about that? 

It sounds really good but what if it means:

doing away with the death penalty and dissolving our military and defense programs because I’ll be too busy loving my enemies and won’t have time to bomb them?

sharing all of my resources and finances so that no one around me is in need?

declaring the Kingdom of God first, not America, or any other foreign empire?

refusing to pledge allegiance to anyone or thing other than the Christ?

shaking up the status quo to seek justice for the oppressed and marginalized?

flipping the tables of the local church and the theology of tradition and fear she sometimes pedals?

joyfully serving the least of these and refusing to judge their life choices?

losing my reputation with the religious to work for peace with my fellow outcasts.

I have a bad feeling it wouldn’t take long for us to go from “Jesus is Lord!” to “Jesus is asking too much!”

Maybe it’s time to prayerfully consider what Jesus for President would actually mean for our lives, for our country, and for our future. And then ask ourselves if we would we even vote?

What’s your favorite worship song? Lately, mine has been ‘Jesus Loves Me’. I sing it on Sundays and Wednesdays with kids who know it well and during the week with kids who are learning the words. Anna Bartlett Warner wrote the poem that was put to music sometime around 1862 and it quickly became a church phenomenon.

Recently, a friend sent me the video of her barely three year old happily belting out the song unaware of the power it holds and it was adorable. I watched a couple times wishing adults could sing it with the same enthusiasm.

We all know it but what would happen if we really got the words? Would we treat that annoying person at work better? Would we let the car cut in front of us during rush hour traffic? Would we welcome the outcast, the immigrant, and the marginalized? Would we go out of our way to connect with them in ways that would bring God glory? Would we shut down gossip with prayer? Would our churches be filled, not with people punching an archaic time clock but with those excited to be with others who believe in the hope that the love of Jesus brings? Would our marriages be rejuvenated? Would our children grow up in homes that continually tell them who they are in Christ? Would we quit relying on politics and start recognizing King Jesus? Would we forgive our enemies? Would our curbs be filled with men and women on fire to proclaim the love of Christ? Would justice be a priority? Would our racism and bigotry be put to death?

What if we made it a habit of singing how Jesus loves us, not only to our three year olds but to our thirty-three years olds? It might just change the world and remind us that we will only find our peace, hope, and belonging in his love.

Accepting the truth of God’s love won’t take away the pain and depression this world doles out, but it will equip us for the battles. It will remind us who we are in a world that tells us otherwise. We need that. Church, you need to believe how loved you are so you can tell others.

Have you been broken and used? Jesus loves you.

Are you questioning your worth? Jesus loves you.

Are you in the throes of grief? Jesus loves you.

Have you been hurt by those who should have been trustworthy? Jesus loves you.

Have you lost your faith? Jesus loves you.

Are you an outsider that feels like you’ll never belong? Jesus loves you.

Are you grieving your childhood? Jesus loves you.

Are you overwhelmed with life and it’s endless stream of intrusions? Jesus loves you.

Are you angry at God? Jesus loves you.

Do you feel like no one truly cares? Jesus loves you.

Are you a misfit? Jesus loves you.

Have you been hurt by the church? Jesus loves you.

I invite you to listen to the words of this song. Sing them along with your Lord until you start to believe them. He’s singing over you.

There is nothing more true than the fact that you are loved. You belong. You matter. Ask God to help you believe it.

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong.

Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.

Sometimes we just need a reminder of how much we are loved.

If you’re doing the December Reading Plan in Luke with me this month, then today you found yourself in Luke 19. One of my favorite stories is here. Zacchaeus the dreaded tax collector. If you were to ask the local church people, you would have been told he was he a crook, stole from the less fortunate, and used Roman guard to strong arm his own people. He was known as a trader and nuisance to the good Jewish people. And our Savior, who should have gone straight to the local synagogue to make the religious feel good about themselves, instead spent the day with the Chief Tax Collector.  

I love the Christmas story. I love the baby in the manger, the shepherds in the fields, the caravan of the wise, the animals, the weary, excited parents, and the star overhead. I love the joy, hope, and story of the Nativity. But I am in awe of the Savior who grew to love the unloveable, see the unseen, and defend the weak, hated, and oppressed.

This Christmas season as you’re beholding the baby in the manger, don’t forget who he grew up to be. Take hope and joy to those that most people refuse to see. Befriend the poor and marginalized. Call them by name, share a table with them, and let them know how loved they are. And don’t get too upset when you’re faced with opposition. Following Jesus has a tendency to upset the comfortable.

Continue to love, serve, and encourage those whom others refuse to see. That’s the true story of Christmas. Not a baby in the manger but a King who left the splendor of Heaven to walk our broken streets.  


 

I received this note from a kid at school the other day. I especially like the second line. “I love God and Jesus so you have to love God and Jesus.” I can hear her attitude loud and clear and it cracks me up. This sweet, innocent child of God has some bad theology to sort out. But don’t we all?

I hope a kind soul gently breaks it to her someday that not everyone is going to love God and Jesus. I hope they go on to tell her that regardless of what others choose to believe about God (even choosing to live against God) doesn’t negate the way God expects her to respond to them. She still has to be kind to them. Still has to protect them, go the extra mile for them, feed them, visit them, walk alongside them, and help them. She still has to show them Jesus even if they refuse to see him because loving someone doesn’t mean accepting the choices they make, it means accepting the Christ and his wildly, radical call to love your neighbor.

I hope someone opens a Bible and shows her that Jesus died for us while we were still enemies so we have no excuse to exclude or mistreat ours. Maybe they’ll also show her the Gospels and she’ll realize that our Savior built a church on relationships not rules and regulations. Maybe she’ll strive to be a friend to others regardless of how or what they choose to believe. Maybe she’ll be so moved by the way Jesus loved, healed, and associated with sinners that she’ll eagerly welcome them and do the same. Maybe she’ll be so busy she won’t have time to protest, oppress, or ignore others made in the image of God.

I hope she chooses not to listen to some in the church when they say love is a nice idea but won’t work in the real world. Jesus certainly thought it would. I hope she sits with the outcasts and hears their story. She might find out they loved God and Jesus all along.

More than anything, I hope someone gently teaches this sweet kid that loving God and loving other is what we have to do and we have to do it in a way so genuine, others might even decide to love God and Jesus, too.

 

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