Last week, I ended by reminding us all that every single sheep in the pasture is there because they love the Shepherd - we're all in the church because we love Jesus. At least, under the best of circumstances, that is true.
But even as I was writing that post, something was gnawing at my spirit. Something deeper, something even more true than our love for Jesus. Something that doesn't wax or wane; something that doesn't come in waves and isn't impacted by our circumstances or what kind of day we're having.
It's true that we're all in the church because we love Jesus, even in the moments when we forget that we do or when it's hard for us to hold onto that faith.
The greater truth is that we're all in the church because Jesus loves us. The fat sheep, the lean sheep, the sheared sheep, the loud sheep, the quiet sheep, the dirty sheep, the speckled sheep, the spotted sheep - Jesus loves every single one of us.
How much would it change our one anothering if the first thing we realized when we look at the person standing next to us is just how much Jesus loves him or her?
This is the goal of the Christian faith, right? We want to see the world the way that Jesus sees the world; we want to develop God's heart for His creation.
What's strange is that we don't start inside our own walls. There's something in our brains that tells us that we are the home team, the starting lineup, and so we don't scout each other out the same way that we do the opposition. We come together in our Sunday huddles and we kind of roll our eyes because we know that other person is our weak point. We know they're just going to stand out in right field and pick weeds...or pick their nose. We're embarrassed to be wearing the same jersey they are. We can't believe we have to put up with them on our team, and we're always secretly thinking about ways to bench them...or get them to leave altogether.
Not, of course, that we don't want someone to love Jesus. Of course, we would never say that. What we say instead is that they already don't love Jesus. They're just faking it because they're not any good. They're not serious about it like the rest of us.
The first thing we always seem to do is make ins and outs on our own team, dividing ourselves into real players in the game and pretenders. Judging those around us as to their intent, their heart, their execution. Their clothing, their cleanliness, their punctuality. Their sin.
If we can't even love each other like Jesus, how are we supposed to love the world the way He does?
If you don't look next to you in the pew and see someone Jesus loves, how are you ever supposed to see someone in the grocery aisle?
It starts here. Our one anothering starts here. By realizing that every single sheep in this pasture is loved by the Shepherd. Period. Every single one.
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