Archive for May 25th, 2012

Joe is one of the homeless guys that frequent TLH for a meal and a place to sit for a few minutes.  He is perhaps one of the most difficult of the people in our community to deal with and he just might be the most honest.  From the title you might think that Joe has been hateful, rude or mean to me or even destructive to TLH.  This could not be further from the truth.  Joe is appreciative of the meals we provide and the moments of rest and relaxation that he experiences in his otherwise very mobile day.  He has always been mostly polite, at least by his own standards (on occasion his colorful language and energetic demeanor has worried my immediate neighbors that he is being less than kind).  Even when he arrives less than sober he has always been respectful to me and the property.  So then why is Joe so difficult for me?  Joe hates God.

He clearly believes in God.  On more than one occasion he has acknowledged my relationship with God asking me to present to Him the long list of wrongs that plague Joe’s life.  He blames God for everything negative that has ever happened to him and sees only a cruel being who refuses to intervene in any kind of positive way in his life.  While this type of external locus of control is not unusual in today’s society, I have not run into too many people who so squarely place their animosity on God.

So then what do I do with this man?  What would I do with someone who hated my wife with a deep-seated passionate hatred?  This man literally hates the purpose of my entire life.  He hates the Spirit that indwells me and the savior to whom I owe everything.  It would perhaps be easier if my wife or myself or even my children were the object of his animosity.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:43-48

I have often heard that last phrase pulled out of context and misused.  Jesus is specifically referring to love.  He is establishing a concept that John would later develop as a major theme of all his writings.  God is love.  The Greek word here for perfect is τελειος which carries the idea of completeness.  God’s love is complete, without gaps, without limitations and without exceptions and more importantly we are called to love in the same way.

So as Joe walked away and yelled @#$%% you God, even as my heart cringed and my pride bristled at this man’s arrogance  I was quietly corrected by the Holy Spirit, “Sam, forgive him, he does not know what he is doing.”  My pride deflated and my heart melted as the heart of God for this man flooded me.  “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Thank you Lord for continuing to teach me, for continuing to bear with me.  Give me your love for all the “Joe’s” out there.  Develop in me Your heart and Your perfection at Loving the Haters.

If you can, add Joe to your daily prayer list.  He has a hard life and maybe it needs to get harder before he can see the truth.  Pray that his heart is softened and that whether it is through TLH or another godly place he receives the truth that will penetrate the fog of deception that he is surrounded by.

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