Sometimes I’ll look at a dude and instantly judge him — “There’s no hope for that guy in a million years” — and I have to slap myself, because I was that same guy a million years ago.
I think it’s easy for us to throw around labels like “lost cause” and “damaged goods” and “bad for business” because we’re just lazy. It allows us to sit back and judge from a distance. It’s easy to like people who are likable, but really dang hard to get involved with emotionally draining drama queens.
Everyone loves the idea of compassion until it costs them.
I tend to time-stamp someone on how they used to be, because it’s more comfortable for me to presume “at least I’m better than that guy.” It physically bothers me to think this person could change. How could everyone like him now? I want to say things like, “But I know how he really is” and “People don’t change” — but then I’m revoking the very chance I’ve been given.
I’ve seen Christians casually dismiss other Christians down the street, pastors dissing pastors, churches entering into fierce tribalistic nationalism claiming some kind of moral standard above the curve. I’ve been wounded by the venom because I have a past here, and no one has honor in their hometown. Sometimes I desperately plead my side to be heard: but some people have their mind made up about you, and you’re the bad guy no matter what you do.
Really though: We just don’t want to get into the broken mess of other busted people. It’s dirty work. It requires standing out of our chairs, rolling up our sleeves, entangling with slobbery flailing lives, even forgiving them. It is not our nature. It hurts. It costs.
But this is what God did, against all odds: because God sees people as they could be, not as they should be.
Whenever we dismiss someone as incapable of change, we instantly suckerpunch the sovereign grace of God. We are downsizing His sovereignty to those people and not these. Then we’re no longer talking about God. We’re just exposing our laziness.
You know what I mean. I see a person on their first lap of faith and I make assumptions; I see 0.5% of a person’s life and somehow predict their future; I see half a story and presume the whole story. But this is a sort of evil that holds back potential, that undermines growth, that destroys a child’s dreams. It’s an ugliness that I’ve experienced from others, who wouldn’t give me a shot, who wouldn’t see past their negative filters and accusations and condemnations, who saw me as a deadbeat nobody with no hope of a turnaround.
But occasionally, love would cut in and open a door. It grew my heart. It embraced me in.
Love sees a greatness in someone who cannot see it in themselves. Love keeps no record of wrongs. It hopes in all things, it does not rejoice in evil. It perseveres.
God saw you from a cross over a distance of two-thousand years, and He loved you enough to stay there.
I hope we have eyes to see that God is doing something we cannot see. This takes discipline, but we have help. God has a vision far greater than my sight. He has an imagination that infinitely outweighs mine. He can take a murderer like David and crown him the king. He can take a terrorist like Paul and breathe holy words into Scripture. He can take a beat-up dude like you and me and baptize us into saints.
We think a person is an impossible case: but God is in the business of the impossible. After all, He saved you and me.