“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”
I wonder when Abraham Lincoln wrote these words in his journal? Was it during the soul-searching season of Lent? Because a response like his doesn’t spring naturally from the human heart. Such wisdom is usually been shaped by an intentional practice of honesty and humility.
Compare Lincoln’s words to those in my internal conversation when I don’t especially like someone: “I don’t like that person. And here is every reason why…!”
Today is a good time to ask a simple question in God’s presence: “Who don’t I like?” And then bring the honest reasons why I don’t like them into the light.
They talk over me. They question my judgment. I don’t think they’d be terribly sad to see me fail. They diligently search out my flaws and are pleased to find and announce them. They don’t remember me. They don’t ask my opinion or listen well when I give it. They talk and talk about all that matters to them and never ask about what matters to me. They don’t give me the benefit of the doubt. They don’t consider my schedule when making theirs. They don’t acknowledge my hard and hidden work. They routinely think their agenda trumps mine.
Bring all the reasons for your dislike out of the dark echo chamber of your soul into the open daylight before God. You are his child. Will he be disappointed in you for coming to him? Will he be angry? Will he turn his holy face away in disgust?
Some of you need to know this today: You cannot disappoint God. When you come to him humbly and honestly, He not only sees your contrite spirit, but he also sees the precious blood of his only son which covers you like a royal robe. When God looks at you, he sees Jesus. How could he ever be disappointed?
So bring out from the dark what threatens to harden your soul and open your clenched hands to the One who already sees you as holy. You don’t need to prove it to him.
And then wait quietly; expectantly; dependently, for his words of compassion and mercy to flow into your parched places. It’s new water from heaven, given for you and those you don’t particularly like. Do you need to know them better?
Would you be glad to see them fail? Do you give them the benefit of the doubt? Do you find things about them to commend, or do you look for the flaw? Do you really care about their long-term good?
If not, then turn around today – repent – and remember who you are: You share in the life and body of Christ. You are hidden in the body and blood of Jesus who was also sorely tempted to reject certain men, yes, but who was faithful and obedient to his father until the end, knowing you and I could never be.
Turn around today, and you will find yourself squarely in the arms of a Father who is so proud of his son, Jesus, that he welcomes you, helps you, and keeps Christ’s redeemed as his very own.
Shalom to you and yours today,