Caring Like Jesus Part 2

Last week, we discussed in this column that the call to care like Jesus involved the sacrifice of our time.  You cannot truly love someone to whom you aren’t willing to “give” your time.

But caring like Jesus also means being willing to get our hands “dirty” with the hard work of serving others.  Loving like Jesus means, as He did, we must be willing to walk with people in hard places:  hospitals, convalescent homes, courtrooms, jail cells, and other places where human need is crying out for attention.

It also means we are willing to walk with… and let me be clear that this means IDENTIFYING with… others in their distress.  I remember the first time I sat with a family in a courthouse hallway awaiting a sentencing hearing for their errant son who broke the law and got caught.

In those places, the people waiting outside in the hallway are all lumped into one to the people who walk by.  I felt the disgust, the “shame on you,” the judgement, and the disdain of the “nice” people who traveled up and down the courthouse environment.  The family I was with was not well dressed (and for one, not well bathed).  Their hair was not beautifully coiffed, and their clothing was older and not stylish.  And I realized, “They think I’m part of the people … of this family… that I’m sitting with.”

I wasn’t… really.  But it was in that moment that I realized, as a person seeking to care like Jesus… that I was identified as if I myself were waiting for a hearing before the judge.  And it was uncomfortable.  And it was an education.

If we are going to care like Jesus, our hands will not stay clean, nor our clothes spotless.  We will find ourselves being identified with people mired in sin, and sometimes that mire splashes onto us.

Squeamish people cannot care like Jesus.  We cannot follow One Who became “at all points like as we are, yet without sin” without being identified with the hurting for whom we are caring.

The world will not be won to faith in Christ by people determined to “keep their distance” and never walk with people into the raw pain of their world.  We must “keep ourselves unspotted from the world” of course.  But that doesn’t mean we keep ourselves apart from a sinful world.

We must bring the presence of Jesus, living within us, into that brokenness.  And sometimes that’s hard, and distasteful, and dirty.  But if that’s what it means to care like Jesus, then that is what we must do.

I thought about the verse that says, “He was numbered among the transgressors” as I sat in the Jefferson County, Kentucky courthouse that day long ago.

And I knew that it was a price I was willing to pay to follow My Lord.

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