Real Talk: People aren’t Projects

When I think back to my time at Howard Payne, I remember the people most of all. Sure, I heard a lot of sermons, a lot of lectures, did a lot of reading/researching/studying. But when I look back, I remember the people: friends, roommates, best friends, professors. I’ve never felt so loved in my life. The friends I had loved me in my happiest and in my darkest moments.  They were “God with clothes on.” Not meaning they were perfect, but they loved me in my mess, despite my mess, and encouraged me consistently. Were there rough times? Yes. Tough conversations? Yes. Did I get along with everyone all the time? No. But that’s community for you. There’s nothing worse than faking it, pretending everything is cool when things aren’t.

As I reflect back, I think about how cheated I would feel if my friends only befriended me so I would become more like them. Like, what if I was this rebel child gone astray, and they treated me like their project and they had this agenda of “fixing me” when they befriended me. That would totally cheapen every nice thing they did for me. Of course, none of that is true.But its so convicting because I’m guilty of treating people like projects. Oh, you drink a lot? Let me fix you by “loving you.” Oh, you gossip? let me love you enough so you’ll stop. Gross right?
Not to mention, you can finish a project when you’re done with it. Right? People aren’t a science experiments you can display at a fair, or a C+ book report that you’re trying to turn into an A- report. Let’s ditch the agenda based relationships. And Let us never deem a person “ready” or “unready” to be loved.

Jesus had every morale high ground to stand on, but He didn’t get on a high horse. And who are we to get on ours? When we interact with the world, with non-christians and Christians, who are we to stand on pedestals? Who are we to ride Manny the Horse of Morality around and pick people to treat as projects? People are not projects. We can’t fix people. we can’t save people. We can’t even save ourselves, if we could, we wouldn’t have needed a Savior.

I’ve been in John lately, and I noticed something about Jesus and the miracles He performed. He never said “Okay, I’ll heal you, but first you have to clean up your act. I hear your thoughts, I know how jealous you get. So, try and be less angry and jealous. Then I’ll heal ya. Deal?” Nope. He sees the leper, the woman at the well, the thousands of hungry listeners, and loves them where they are at. He meets them where they are. Interestingly enough, afterwards, each person is so moved that they run and tell people about what Jesus did!  Jesus loved people in their present condition, but He didn’t leave them there. God loves you so much right now. He doesn’t hate “past” you. He doesn’t just tolerate you. He isn’t going to love the “future version” of you anymore than He loves you right now. He loves you. Period. The end.

And there’s nothing we’ve done to deserve His love. In John, there’s a story of a man who was paralyzed and waiting by a pool to get healed. He waited 38 years! Then, Jesus came and saw Him and healed him.  We love because He first loved us. We’ve all fallen short. Every last one of us. Man, if none of what I’ve said has made any sense, please read Ephesians 2:1-10. That’s basically what I’m trying to say. And these things too

1) People aren’t projects. They are works in progress just like you and me.

2) to love like Christ loves, is to love people where they are at. Not a “future version” of them. God loves us in our mess. So, we should love others in theirs.

3) relationships are powerful. the most important relationship we can have is one with God. Our vertical relationship with God effects our horizontal relationship people. (know God, Know love.)

okay that’s all.

thanks for reading. now go read ephesians 2:1-10, and John! because both are so good!

Lie: Love should always feel good.

The greatest act of love in human history was the Son of God being crucified on a cross. Crown of thorns on his head, nails in his hand, 40 lashes on his back, suffocation on a cross.

And we have the nerve to look someone in the face and say “I just don’t love them anymore. That feeling is gone.”

The  greatest act of love in human history did not revolve around feelings. Thorns, nails, whips, hanging on a cross till He suffocated? Sorry if I’m jesus-juking* everyone here, but the Cross didn’t feel good…at all. If we as Christians are to love like Jesus did, then with the pain of the Cross, we can conclude that perhaps Love is not about feelings. then what is it about? well let’s look at the Cross and the man who died on it:

Love is a choice: Jesus willingly came to Earth and willingly died. Every whip, every beating, every breath he struggled for, was him choosing to save you over himself.

Love is action: Jesus didn’t just waltz around the Earth talking the talk telling everyone He loved them. He proved it with his life and death.

Love is sacrifice: Jesus put the needs of others (reconciliation with God) over his own needs.

Love is submitting: Jesus submitted Himself to His father’s will, “Not your will but Mine” He said as he sweat so hard, that he sweat drops of blood.

Want more? please go to 1 Cornthians 13. replace the word love with God.

read it again and replace the word love with your own name. Did ya cringe, feel like you were lying at some parts? Congratulations welcome to the club. We’re self-serving, self-righteous, self-seeking human beings. But God loves us right where we are. I pray  that knowledge travels from our head to our heart., that we may grow in the understanding of the height and depth of our Father’s love for us.

Can love involve feelings? Of course. There’s nothing wrong with that. Do not use the words love and feelings interchangeably.  I heard a pastor say once “As I spent more and more time married to my wife, I realized love was not about my feelings, love was a choice. I had to wake up each morning and choose to love my wife that day no matter what. Because no matter what, God loved her. And who was I to say anything different?”

For God so loved the world…

And who are we to say anything different?

Love today.

(((***In case you are unaware of this term, this is an example of what the kids call being “Jesus-juked”: Boy 1: “these books are so heavy.” boy 2: “I bet Jesus wasn’t complaining when He carried the cross! Boom. Jesus-juked!”*)))