By Niki Turner
You know, those moments when every person you encounter is irritating, stupid, or just "pushes your buttons"? (All right, stop the holier-than-thou stuff and admit it... you don't love every one, all the time, with the perfect love of Christ.)
Those judgmental moments in my own life are often triggered by visits to Walmart and while picking up my youngest child from school (mommy road-rage). Seriously... the dean of students came out at the beginning of the school year and explained the pick-up process to each of us. It's not complicated, so why does it seem like I am the only parent willing to comply?
It's SO easy to judge. SO easy to condemn and criticize.
After picking up the youngest at school Tuesday I had to make a Walmart run. Do you know what I mean by a Walmart run? A quickie trip to snatch up three or four things on our grocery lists that are cheaper at Walmart, as opposed to the double-cart stocking-up-for-the-apocalypse trips those of us with multiple teenage boys still at home are inclined to make.
Anyway... everyone at Walmart seemed to be operating in slow motion that day. Moving through the aisles with my under-loaded cart became eerily reminiscent of a video game quest with my fellow shoppers as obstacles to my goal.
I was halfway through the checkout line when I felt the Holy Ghost nudge me...
"Jesus loves these people. All of them."
My gaze flickered from face to face... the checkout girl, the obese person in line behind me driving the handicapped cart, the family in the aisle over with lots and lots of children and a card for food stamps, the uptight businessman stalled by a computer error in the self-checkout lane...
"I love them. Do you?"
All of a sudden, my aggravation and irritation ebbed away.
Jesus DIED for these people.
He loved them, each one of them, with all their faults and failings and foolishness, so much He was willing to endure the cross for them so that they might live, might know Him, might enter into eternal life by faith.
No guarantees, no promises... just an abundant measure of hope and faith and love. Just a "might."
My prayer? That I might go through life, day to day, with that same attitude. Not expecting anything from those around me, not demanding their allegiance to my doctrine, not hoping they'll "come into the fold." Instead, going through the motions of my OWN life as though all those around me were already worthy, already included in the flock, already part of my own family, already chosen, already loved.
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him."
John 3:16-18 (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)