Spent a little time in a local store the other day. I was buying some birthday gifts for my wife. Years ago, you would have never seen me walking through the aisles of women's apparel. I have long since lost that fear and shopped for just the right clothing items for Traci. I did receive some strange looks as I glided through the intimate section. I kept my head down and moved on. As I finished choosing some things I approached the check-out counter. The cashier stood on my side of the counter with her back to me. She turned, saw me, and proceeded to walk to her station. She moved in a fluid motion, almost like she was on automatic pilot. Missy (not her real name) greeted me and I returned her pleasantry. She picked up one of the blouses I had selected and immediately fawned over the pretty shirt. "Oh, this is really nice!. I like it!"
I felt pretty proud that another person (woman) thought my choices were pretty good. I mentioned to Missy the purchases were for my wife who happened to be celebrating a birthday. In an instant, Missy's demeanor changed as she said, "I never get nothing (sic)." I stood silent, then said, "Oh, that's too bad." It was one of those awkward moments when there were many things I wanted to say but instead remained silent. Missy said how lucky my wife is that I would get her nice things for her birthday.
In one sense, I wanted to walk around the counter and give Missy a hug and tell her of her infinite worth and at the same time I wanted to meet Missy's husband and remind him of his wife's infinite worth. I did neither. The love and justice of Jesus Christ is a delicate mix of caring for "those who hurt" and holding accountable those who "hurt". Missy was hurting and her words betrayed her strained smiling face. She seemed to be seeking affirmation and hurting at the same time.
If we are to be bearers of Christ in our world, how does that image look and how does it make a difference? In the brief interaction with Missy, I encouraged her to have a great day and thanked her for her work. It didn't feel like it was sufficient though. How do you bear the image of Christ? Do you experience a tension between love and justice? Caring for and holding accountable isn't easy. The delicate dance between these two poles doesn't allow for imbalance
"Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other." (Psalm 85:10, NIV)
We are commanded to love and bring Jesus to people in all stages of life, to those who are broken and to those who break people. In the former case, broken folks need to know of their value as a human being and in the latter, folks need to know they are responsible for their interactions with others. It seems to point toward the two greatest commandments to love the Lord God with everything we have and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
As Jesus prepared his disciples in advance of His ascension, he commissioned them to be the balanced Gospel of righteousness and peace. Encourage those who are broken and challenge those who break things. Repentance is required and forgiveness is available for all.
He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and
repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at
Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:46-47, NIV)
Today, be on the lookout for people who need to see Jesus in you. Bind up the broken and hold accountable those who break.