Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Horrible Man

I haven't written in a long time. I've had a lot to think about and life has been busy, but here we go:

Recounting a news story he was reading off his iphone, my friend told us about the man who entered an Illinois church, shooting and ultimately killing the pastor ( An eight-year-old at the table muttered, shaking her head, "What a horrible man!" While a few at the table nodded in agreement, I was taken aback. Saturday night I had gone to church with my friend and heard a sermon based on Luke 18:9-14 (I will post it later). This passage is a parable about a pharisee (religious leader) and a tax collector (an unfair traitor) coming to the temple to pray. I came away from the sermon learning that we are all equal, we are all sinners. God saw the religious leader and the unfair traitor on the same level. None is greater than the other. I am no better than the horrible man in Illinois. So, I spoke up, "No, he is not a horrible man. He made a bad decision." The eight year old was surprised, "But why would he do that?" "I'm not sure," I replied, "maybe he was mad or hurt, but he is not horrible. He is no different than us." How easy it is to be like the pharisee: earning God's love. The thing is, God's love can't be earned. It is freely given. God loves us as much as He ever will. He will never love us less. He will not love the Horrible Man less. How radical! We can experience less or more of His love in our lives when we allow it, but His love remains constant....for you....for me....for the Horrible Man. But how do we change our thinking to this radical way of ascribing God's infinite worth to everyone we meet? We see it in the Disciples' question in Luke 17:5 where God talks about radical forgiveness. They simply say, "Lord, increase our faith." It is only when we experience God's radical love and forgiveness in our own lives that we can then project it on to others and see them the way God sees them.

Check it out:


Steve Turnbull said...

Thanks for the cool video link. Love it.

Maybe this is splitting hairs, but I wonder why you say "he's is not horrible; he's no different (from) us." Why not say, "Yes, that is the horrible action of a horrible heart. Just like ours."

Something about saying it that way feels more like you'd be telling the truth about the violence.

Bethany said...

Interesting way to re-phrase that. I like it. We are all fallen, not all good.