But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously!
I sat recently in my living room with a young man named Sean, as he shared his life. At 20, he has lived a life that would scare the hell out of most of us. At 8, he watched his mother brutally murdered right in front of him…by his step father. He was placed in the home of his aunt, who apparently had her own problems. While she gave the appearance of being successful, she was and is, addicted to cocaine. At 12, he was introduced to the “best thing to ever happen” to him…crystal meth. It was a gift, he told me. A reprieve from the awful nightmares that had racked him since his mother’s death. And now, at 20 years old, this attractive young man, is now one of the major drug dealers in my city…and his best friend is still crystal meth.
As Sean shared with me some of the things he’s witnessed since he’s been dealing drugs, I sat in rather stunned silence. The experiences didn’t particularly stun me! They are what you would expect from someone who is living his life. If I’m being honest, I would have to admit that I’ve experienced some of them myself. What stunned me, was a simple little line…
I don’t believe in God but if I did, I would hate Him because of all the shit I’ve gone through!”
For the past several days that conversation has been running through my head. As I thought about our conversation, my mind raced back to a scene I witnessed at a recent Gay Pride parade. Walking to meet some friends on the parade route, I came across some “christians” standing in the middle of the parade screaming about how much God hates gay people. Suddenly it made sense to me why Sean would have such a reaction to God. He has no choice but to say that God doesn’t exist because if God does exist there would be no reason to continue on with life since he was obviously not one of the people that God would care about. It hit me that it absolutely must be easier to believe there is no God than to believe that God exists and created you…but doesn’t give a “shit” about you.
This morning, a scripture from the book of Micah began to play through my head. As I thought of my reactions to Sean and others in my life, I began to wonder what is it that God requires of me. According to Micah 5:6, it is quite simple! In fact, those requirements boil down to just three things He feels are important.
- The first is to treat everyone we come in contact with in an upright manner. Treat them fairly! Don’t screw people over! I am not to curl my lip up and walk on the other side of the street simply because I don’t approve of people or their lifestyle! I’m to treat each of God’s creations (whether they believe they are or not), as I treat those closest to me!
- I’m also to extend mercy! When I look at my own life, I am reminded of the mercy that God has extend to me! Sean’s life doesn’t look all that different from mine if you think about it! Sure, I didn’t witness the death of one of my parents and I didn’t start using drugs at such an early age. And yet, I hated God for all the garbage I saw in my own life. I chose to believe in God and I still hated him! Why would God deal me the hand he did knowing it would cause such pain and torture? It’s a tough question and I still don’t have an answer, but I do know that God, with absolutely no hesitation and full of compassion, gave mercy to me! For me to withhold that same mercy from others who desperately need it would be asinine!
- The final requirement is that I walk humbly with God! Yes, my life is blessed! Much of the garbage that use to be my life no longer exists! It’s been cleaned up! And I have to thank God for that! Some christians though start acting very arrogant at this point! They become better than other people. They behave just like their counterparts in the story that Jesus told about the Good Samaritan. They gather up their “righteous robes” and quickly pass on the other side of the street! The neighborhood drug dealer, the gay couple next door; these people immediately bring about a heated, hated response from so many christians! Grab the robes and get away!!! We are arrogant and could care less who knows it!
I wanted to say a prayer with Sean…but I knew I couldn’t. Instead, I gave him a big hug and told him my door would always be open! I let him know that I was a friend he could count on! As he left I whispered a prayer that God would give me the courage to treat this young man, who has so much potential, with the same respect I treat those who are like me! That God would give me the ability to extend all the mercy that has ever been extended to me! And, that God would allow me not to get so wrapped up in what He has done for me, that I forget it’s not about me at all!
As believers, you and I are the living, breathing evidence of God. There are people out there who desperately need the message that He brings. People like Sean. But until we start patterning our walk with Christ after the methods He’s laid out, we will be nothing but poor imitations…with zero impact. God has no use for unfair, merciless, arrogant christian. Yet, unfortunately, that’s what many of us have turned into. Perhaps it’s time to remember what God is looking for in us!!