Tag Archives: Humility

Humanity – Romans 12

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Romans 12: 14-16

I know that all we want is normal. And this year is far from normal on so many fronts. It’s easy to slip into the fear, to grasp onto the entitlement that we think or hope to deserve. Making ourselves the underdog hero of our story makes that triumph feel within our reach. And when it doesn’t happen, when chaos whips around us, it is really easy to lash out at the other side, make them the villain.

In movies, the villain used to be all bad. It was the thing or person that the hero conquered. But in more recent years, movies have presented the villains as misunderstood or misguided, even capable of being good or changing course. It gives more depth to the characters, more understanding in their own humanity. In Romans 12:14, this idea of blessing people who are persecuting you gives that same chance to keep other people’s humanity intact.

Removing their humanity requires us to remove a piece of our own humanity, to forget our flaws in the face of outrage.  To forget the grace we need when we are learning and growing.  We forget how long it sometimes takes for our hearts to soften, or how much pain or fear can blind us to what is going on around us. But in addition to keeping the humanity intact, or maybe in order to do so, there is also this thread through these verses to keep our entitlement in check as well. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn requires a healthy dose of empathy.  The empathy removes entitlement.  I rejoice because I connect with those who are rejoicing.  I see their humanity, their need to rejoice because things are so hard.  Same with mourning.  I see their humanity, their need for space to mourn how they need to, not how I think they should.  I won’t push their pain or their joy under the rug when it is convenient to me.

I am willing to associate with people in a lower position. Or maybe even a different position. People who are not like me, who don’t think like me or read the same news outlets and articles that I do, who don’t have the same priorities that I do. It’s really easy to disassociate myself from others and make judgment calls and create labels to write off their humanity from my own echo chamber.

When we see each other as humans, as creations of God, it doesn’t matter what labels are given to the people around us. We are called to have the sober understanding that under God, we are all the same. These verses are really challenging me to put down the desire to be right and superior in that rightness.  Instead, we are called to love wholly with the love we receive from our holy God.

I don’t know when the chaos will stop. But judging from my past experiences with loss and disruption, I know that the day will come. I have real concern about the divisions in our country, our church, and our community. But I also know that God is in control, that he loves us completely in our own humanity. So, I can trust in God, and that frees me to humbly embrace others in their humanity and love as God first loved us.

Mercy

Sorry for the hiatus.  It’s been another crazy couple of weeks.  I continue to have a love-hate relationship with my technology.  My office manager is about to leave on maternity.  There are some transitions coming with our church family (new additions to the staff.  Very exciting!).  So, it’s just been an overall crazy couple of weeks.  Oh, and tomorrow is the last day of my summer Spanish class.

I know that I’ve mentioned taking this class on the blog at the beginning of the summer.  It has been pretty amazing and so much more than a simple language course.  The professor is agnostic, yet he loves to talk about religion, faith, culture, and how these are affected by current events.  Of course, if anyone gets too “religious-y,” he tends to shut the conversation down and go back to Spanish.  Still, considering the diverse group of individuals in this class (coming from Algeria, India, Japan, Taiwan, Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia, as well as different backgrounds here in the US), it’s interesting to hear all the different perspectives.

In the most recent class, the conversation turned towards the meaning of evil and anger towards evil.  They listed off all the usual suspects like Hitler or the 9/11 terrorists as just plain evil people.  It got interesting when we started talking about mothers who killed their children due to extreme post-partum depression, whether they should be considered evil or just mentally ill.

I was very quiet, listening to all the comments made.  I didn’t realize that my thoughts were showing through on my face though.  In the middle of the discussion, a woman turned to look at me and said, “Katy, you look so sad.”  I shared that I felt that I couldn’t personally justify labeling someone evil, just writing them off as unredeemable.  I think choices can be evil, but for all the sacrifice that Christ made, I just can’t fathom that people are completely unredeemable.  Because that could very well mean that I could be unredeemable.

No, I haven’t killed anyone or made some terroristic action against my country.  But I have manipulated and hurt people before, and never asked them to forgive me, or even had the chance to ask.  I have selfishly indulged in the love, forgiveness, and salvation of God, knowing its relief and yet didn’t share it with others who were searching.  I have created the gap between God and myself with my sin, without having a way to repair it on my own, depending on the grace of God to find forgiveness and redemption.

The Bible shows me that I’m not alone.  Paul, as Saul, imprisoned men and women.  David was an adulterous murderer.  Rachel was a manipulative liar.  Jonah wanted to commit genocide.  Moses was a murderer and had anger issues.  The stories in the Bible are not of saints, but of imperfect people, people that could have easily been labeled evil before God’s redemption.

I think something this world desperately needs is an extension of mercy and grace.  One guy in my class said that God doles out mercy and grace and man doles out justice.  But my question is how will others understand that grace if we don’t first give it ourselves?

I’m, of course, not perfect in this wisdom.  I still judge people without mercy and grace.  I write off people as ones that can’t or won’t change, forgetting the stories of the Bible that say different.  I’m hoping to continue working on this because I honestly believe that if people started experiencing the grace of God through us, that we can change the world.  And what better way can we love others, but in the way that God has loved us?