I am reading Sacrilege by Hugh Halter right now and I'm finding it quite challenging. He basically goes through Jesus' most famous sermon and looks at the ways in which Jesus was being "unorthodox," challenging the religiosity of the day.
Today I read about the idea of Jesus being able to look at a person and see "their history, their chemical makeup, the brutal world system around them, the effects of both their own sin and the sin of others around them, and the wiles of demonic forces constantly trying to tear them down." Jesus came for sinners, He came to get those who couldn't get to God before and bring them into relationship with God. Therefore, "people of Jesus...are those who no longer look at a person's gender, age, color, or attire. They don't care about their denominational affiliation, church background, or sinful behavior...Stop looking at the cover of the book and see the painful storied pages of each person's life as a whole, understanding that their behavior is only the symptom of a sin-ravaged world."
Man, that's good stuff! I've been learning this in my own life since I entered the world of foster care. Marji, who leads my adoptive parent support group has talked about the importance of us as adoptive parents finding something good about our child's birthparents. Even if it's just that they gave life to our children, that is enough. But we have to find something good about them because our children will, of course, pick up on our negative feelings toward their birthparents if negative feelings is all we have.
This is a challenge for many adoptive parents and Marji has helped me understand that we can't just look at people's behavior, but rather we must see that behavior as a symptom. A symptom of addiction (which is itself a serious disease), sometimes mental illness, family dynamics a person grew up with, etc. Wow, my adoptive parent support group sounds a lot like Hugh Halter's book!
That's our calling as Christ followers: to stop just seeing a person's sin and to see their heart. Because we all live in a broken world and that affects us all. But God's grace and mercy are enough to cover all of that! So as we have been forgiven, let us forgive.