- Posted August 29, 2013 by
Churchiness And Unconditional Love
By Kenneth Stepp
From My book, "Churchiness" Chapter Seven
By Kenneth Stepp
First things first. You can love others unconditionally. This means no excuses needed. If you love someone unconditionally, you love them beyond you. Look at Jesus. That is suppose to be the model for the church. But in all my years as a Christian, I have never seen one person that acted like Jesus. Why is that? It is because Jesus only loved. He never judged. Don't jump ahead to what someone wrote about him running the money changers out of the temple. Instead only look at the red letters in there. These will be the only writings that capture the real Jesus.
If that last statement made you angry. You just judged me. I am actually trying to teach you something about yourself. You see. The entire evangelical church is based on the assumption that the bible is the whole word of God. To prove that they go to one book out of the 66 if you are a Protestant or 76 if you are a Catholic. Both sides believe they are right by the way. So going to this one place and reading that this is the whole word of God covers everything. Even what was written long after that was written. Not a very convincing statement if you had not been told that since birth. I choose to not believe that, because it is simply ridiculous to think that. But I am more willing to believe the words of Jesus were preserved because they were important. That makes a lot more sense. Plus I believe it contradicts itself in so many places that it loses credibility.
I've read the teaching directly from the mouth of Jesus many times. If you take the clutter around it away, it actually makes sense, even logical. The spiritual level of his thoughts and teachings are mammoth. I could read and reread them. These have power.
To devote one's life to such noble teachings would indeed be life changing. To stop judging others and begin truly loving them the way he empowered us to do, would bring about things that could only be imagined by a few.
The power of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us, giving us the power to never judge anyone again. To not care if they are gay, having sex, living together, Muslim, in prison, or any other thing the church busy's itself pointing out. To only see the heart condition like he did. To only care about loving them unconditionally. How liberating and meaningful would that be?
I get laughed at, judged, and ridiculed for my work with the homeless. I have completely broken myself giving all I could. Even beyond what I could (an example, not boast). But when I get a call late at night from a homeless person, I realize they have already been turned away by everyone else.. I never question how they are in the circumstances they are in. They are here and need me. To begin questioning them about what they did to find themselves here, is simply judging them at a time when they have been judged enough. I just help. If I have two hundred dollars to my name. They get half.
Last week I worked fourteen hours and got home at 9:00 PM. By 9:15 I was in my shorts, in front of my fan, exhausted. My cell phone rang. Hello! Hi my name is Deb. I need help, I am so close to things getting better. I just need someone to listen to me. Deb. I'm listening.
Deb had a plan. I don't see plans often. Usually I am getting them in a shelter or something. No future in that. But it is all I can do. Just get them off the street into a safe place. Safety first,
Deb gave me directions to where she was. The drive there was a short. It dawned on me that we were neighbors in a broad sense of the word. I can get in my truck and be there in a few minutes. How can I possible look at her as anything less than myself?
I arrived and she was sitting on a curb near the road. I told her what my truck looked like and the front tag. She spotted me. She hopped in my truck. The air was thick with body odor and cigarettes. It was very strong. She had been on the streets for about a month, quite overweight. Her hair was dark, her roots were light gray. It is amazing to me that you seldom see pretty girls in this spot. I believe they are valued higher to most people. But these people need for care more than others. I feel like I am in this just for that reason.
Her plan was amazing. She had called a place she worked for some time but left almost six months ago. They had a spot for her. Upon talking with her I noted that she was no dummy. She was very bright and articulate. She needed to make herself presentable. What do you need Deb? The first thing was gutton free hair dye. I had never heard of it. But she knew right where to go. I pulled up my GPS and off we went to Walmart. From undies to everything else. She was set. I got her in a weekly hotel and went back home. It was almost 2:009 AM.
My only questions for Deb were simple. How did you find me? Who else did you try to get to help? She had called so many churches in the area for help. Big ones and little ones. But they asked a million question and none could, or would. This is usually under the excuse of being good stewards with God's money. Somehow I couldn't see Jesus leaving her on the street. He just never used excuses. He wouldn't have asked qualifying questions either. He would have loved her in the same way you would if your child called while on the street. Unconditional love without judgment. You have to wonder why someone at a church doesn't think this.
I followed up with Deb a few days later. It was Monday. That was her first day back at the job. She had also found a roommate situation on Craigslist. Her near term future was shaping up. I felt a sense of pride for Deb. Then it hit me. Not knowledge, but a question. Why would someone not involved with organized religion, and almost no resources, be the one to do this? The answer came at the same instance. Because I don't judge. I refused to ask her questions until she gave me an out. I'm not sure I showed her unconditional love. doubt it very much. But I did show her basic human kindness, respect, and that someone cared. The absence of judgment is powerful. It allows you to see the entire person, their value, their pain, intellect, and even their joy if you look hard enough. I never leave one of these guys without making them smile someway. They are in so much pain that when they smile I can actually feel the joy it brought. Totally worth it.
I've given up on reaching any of my old church friends. A captive that can't believe they are captive's can never be free. What I do know for sure is the church looks far more like the Pharisee's than Jesus.....