I had a couple of lovely folks ask me if I minded them reading my blog and the question was asked because their beliefs do not necessarily match my own. In fact, some beliefs do not line up with mine at all. To which my response is; all are welcome here. If you can handle how much I love God and talk about Him, all are welcome and, by all means, keep reading!
Then, a well-meaning person pointed out that I needed to be careful of the ‘company I keep’ while also throwing a bunch of doctrine into the mix to point out how I am ‘doing it wrong’. Well, nuts to that is what I have to say. I was simultaneously doing some deep breathing exercises and biting my tongue (my tongue really, really hurts today).
I felt I needed to put it out there and announce my doctrine, which is taken straight from Matthew 22:37-39 (and is repeated in other parts of scripture):
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Do you know who our neighbors are? Our neighbors may have differing belief systems, differing lifestyles, differing opinions, and differing principals. Our neighbors may also be the wounded alcoholics, the withdrawn depressives, and the ones wearing cranky pants all day. Or, if you have lived in some of the big cities like I have, your neighbors might be from extremely differing walks of life for a wide variety of reasons. There are prostitutes, gang members, homeless people, people stuck in a cycle of addiction, and those suffering mental illness.
Does this mean we don’t install healthy boundaries for ourselves and use wisdom and discernment? No, not at all. It does not matter what our belief systems are, we all need to be wise and use our ability to reason when it comes to our safety and security. Beyond that, though, what good is my light if I keep it hidden and only share it with people who are burning the same type of candle I burn? It is the same idea in Luke 11:33:
No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.
While I believe we all need to be aware and have boundaries for ourselves, I do not adhere to the idea that believers need to distance themselves from unbelievers. In fact, it might be a bit of the opposite.
I cannot help but wonder what would have happened to us all if Jesus Christ had allowed that woman to be stoned to death, if he refused to touch the leper, or if he threw Mary Magdalene out of the house during his fellowship with the Pharisees. What if He never called Lazarus out of the tomb, allowed the blind man to see, or reached out to the despised tax collectors? What if He sent all of those people away and refused to feed them because He was annoyed that they were mooching off of Him and the disciples? What if He refused to speak to the woman at the well because of her bad reputation?
Or, what if David, a man after God’s own heart, had been rebuked mightily by God and rejected as a servant or a king? Whew, I don’t know what Bible some people read, but my Bible is chock full of some seriously screwed up people who went on to do amazing things simply because they held fast to their faith.
And, you know what? I am a seriously screwed up human being myself and I am holding fast to my faith.
There was a time when I was thrashing it out to death metal music, wearing Doc Martens and leather jackets, flipping people off, cursing like a sailor, and flipping cigarette butts out the window. I had an attitude, I am telling you. I even tried to rage it all out with a guitar in my hands. I wore a very tough exterior as a mask in an attempt to hide my soft insides, deep wounds, and protect myself. I thought if I drove people away, I wouldn’t get hurt again. I thought if I could look tough and act tough, I just might scare away anyone who wanted to violate me as badly as a group of people had already done. Sometimes, I actually wanted to hurt others as much as I myself was hurting. So, I cranked up the music and put a scowl on my face. I was young, I was wounded, and I was trying so badly to just hide somewhere. I have said it before and it is truth: broken people do broken things.
Thankfully, I grew out of those days, but I was still walking around with deep, festering wounds that were getting more infected by the day. I had a soft heart and my tough exterior no longer worked for me. I sincerely began to seek God in my twenties and I sincerely longed to have a path set out before me that would be completely different than the path that was behind me.
I reached out in churches and I was rejected. I reached out to people I cared about and I was rejected. I have spent numerous holidays without others to celebrate with; it was a silent phone and an empty mailbox during those times. I taught Sunday school, I volunteered for numerous organizations, I took care of the homeless, and I poured myself out into things that I thought were important. Yet, I was still alone and very lonely.
Where does a person go and what does a person do when everyone just wants to dismiss and discard them?
Well, they go the Lamb.
The Yeshua I know is the man who welcomes the rejects, the discarded, the lonely, the widows, the rebels, the misfits, the dark poets, the orphans, the sick, the demented, and the deeply wounded. And, He welcomes them with open arms. That is why He was born, that is why He had a ministry, and that is why the Pharisees wanted to see Him nailed to the cross.
I am here to share my story and my story includes what the Lord Himself has done with the ‘likes of me’.
My job here is not to convert, condemn, judge, or throw doctrine at anyone.
This is me, just a girl and a wounded soul, burning my candle on a stand for others to see.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Parts of this post appear in the book: Shattered in Him © 2016 JD Mays