How do we love people well with whom we disagree? Exes who skip out on child support, a co-worker who betrays you, a friend who abandons you after the divorce, a rebellious child who continues to ignore your advice and spirals out of control. Some people are difficult to love – especially those you don’t even like.
But this week’s sermon gave us guidance in navigating these difficult situations. We were reminded that, “God loves the people that I don’t like,” pastor and author of “Messy Grace” Caleb Kaltenbach said. “God even loves the people that don’t like you.” In his sermon he shared his inspiring story and also scriptural guidance on how to love messy people, as God loves them.
In John 8, the Bible provides a perfect example when the Pharisees publicly challenged Jesus, throwing an adulterous woman before Him in an effort to trap Him. But Jesus kept His cool and took a moment to pause and even to bend down to write in the sand (an act that puzzles many to this day). When Jesus responded He redirected the focus from the exposed woman thrust in front of Him right back to the accusers, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7b NLT) It was as if Jesus were saying, “Never mind about her, what about you?” As the story continues, the crowd grows silent and slowly dissipates until Jesus is left alone face to face with the woman. His next move is one we should remember. “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’” (John 8:10-11 NLT) Jesus responded with grace, “Neither do I” but also truth, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t condemn this already broken woman, but He also didn’t let her off the hook.
Responding with grace and truth often creates tension – just like a rubber band when pulled from opposite ends. Although difficult, having these conversations is often the most loving thing we can do. “Love is the tension of grace and truth,” Pastor Caleb said. “God is found in the uncomfortable.”
Who are the messy people in your life who you need to extend grace and truth to right now? God is with you in the tension, and His love is in the midst of it.
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT)
To view this week's sermon click here: “Messy Grace"
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