Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Inside or Out?

Posted on: May 9, 2008

About ten days ago my oldest daughter text-messaged me with a list of physical characteristics she wants in a guy. She asked me to save them, but I forgot and by the time I needed to retrieve them they were gone. Fast forward to last night when we were talking about guys, and if we had arranged marriages in our country who would I select for her. I gave her a list of spiritual attributes I thought she might look for in a guy.

This reminded me of what the Lord looks for in each of us. It isn’t about acts and actions. For example, a person can bake pies for everyone in the country, but if their heart is full of evil then they don’t reflect the love of Jesus. They are only a good pie maker. Let’s get past the pie to the scripture: I Samuel 16:7—But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

The problem with the religious people of Jesus time was they looked at outward appearances. Jesus was always about what is in a person’s heart. Therefore, the secret things we hide aren’t really a secret from God. And I’m amazed at how many church plum lines are all about appearances. Possibly it’s because you can’t see the heart, and it makes it real difficult to get a fix on motives and desires of a person. As well, when we only consider what’s in the heart, then we have to “leave it up to God.” We serve a big God who managed to create the entire universe and arrange redemption without our help.

I’ve heard there was a man named Starr Daily who was in prison—in solitary confinement—and was considered to be a sociopath; a man who would never be rehabilitated. From what I’m told Jesus appeared to this man in prison, and within a short time he was released and went on to write books and speak at Christian camps. While I have only heard this, and in part it might be an urban legend, I can speak for my brother-in-law’s experience.

My brother-in-law lived a fast life. A cocaine addict who was the body guard for a dealer in a large US city. After they were all busted and he ended up in jail, Jesus appeared to him on night, and he was immediately delivered from drugs. He’s stayed on a fixed path toward Christ these 25 years. The best testimony comes from his daughter who visited with him for two weeks every summer when she was a child. The year she came to see him after he became a Christian, there was such a change in his life that she committed her life to Christ—and her mother’s home was not Christian.

Jumping back to the top and where I started this blog as it relates to my book, And You Invited Me In—in our conservative Christian effort to convert the world and beat Jesus into people, we overlook the fact that he doesn’t need us. However, he uses us…and that would be as loving examples of forgiveness and unconditional love. Or the things that are inside the heart.

Your “fellow brother of major good works” might be a person with a heart of evil intent. Therefore, we can’t assume that certain groups are lost or don’t know Jesus just because their life is different from ours. As Protestants we can’t assume Catholics are going to hell. As straight people we can’t assume that gay people are going to hell.

First we can’t assume—God never mentions anything about assumptions on the “to do” list. Second we have to work on ourselves and that will take a great deal of time. Next, we have to rewire our thinking to understand that the power comes from forgiveness and unconditional love….and this is where I will stop for tonight, more tomorrow….

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