I Hate That Guy!

I have known what it is to live for myself, to choose me over those I love and to pursue every desire of my heart. I hate that part of me. I can’t stand it when that voice emerges in my head and encourages me to grab at what I want or to defend my rights. Truly, I hate that guy. I know him so well but also feel like he is an alien and a stranger in my own body. He does not belong there. And he is not welcome.

I used to invite that guy in. Knowing that he would ultimately do me harm but thinking I would enjoy his gifts. However, I have come to the place that his gifts are torture. Even the thought of them causes a physical reaction in my body. My back gets tense, my legs feel heavy and tight and I can feel my freedom beginning to slip away. I can actually feel death creeping into my heart.

As a result, my eyes dim. I walk with my shoulders a little lower. The cadence of my speech is altered. Little moments that would normally make me smile and fill my heart with joy are now lost on me or even irritate me. In my submission to the voice of that old guy, I am defeated and broken. In my pursuit of selfishness, I am actually destroying everything that I love. Yeah, I hate that guy!

But this is not the way of my Jesus. He has taught me a different way to live. One that is free. A life that is defined by comfort, intimacy and joy. A life of overwhelming love.

This is the life that dominates my heart and my thoughts. When I am living in it, I hear the voice of Jesus reminding me, encouraging me and celebrating with me constantly. I find myself smiling at young children and laughing freely with friends. I see people’s eyes and respond to what seems to be an unmistakable need, whether it be a hug or a probing question or a high five.

What’s amazing is this is a life that is not about me. I am constantly led to consider the person in front of me. To offer care and concern and challenge and love. This new life seems to be an upside down way of living. The more I think about other people, the more my heart comes alive. The more I serve my wife and my kids and my friends and the guy at the grocery store, the more my heart leaps.

It has even led me to a new way of dealing with conflict and struggle. I am reminded that the person I am dealing with has a heart that matters and I cannot be the reason for the lack of freedom in their life. That if humility and submission can serve them – then I can offer it. And I am challenged to not allow that old guy to rise up and attack both of us. Freedom is too precious for that!

The attitude of Jesus…no, I don’t always live there. But I love the days that I do!

You Know I’m Right

You know the feeling. We’ve all experienced it countless times. You’re in a conversation with someone and it has begun to elevate. Emotions are now invested and you can feel the tension rising. Your heart begins to pound. Your face turns a little flush. Your voice raises and maybe even cracks a bit. And you’re there, right in the middle of a personal conflict.

Question: What do you do? How do you proceed?

Does it depend on who the person is? Whether it is a friend or a family member or just some guy you bumped into at the store?

Does it depend on the issue? If it’s something personal or religious or political?

Or does it depend on how convinced you are about your argument? What if this particular conflict hits really close to home? What if it directly touches your life? And what if you KNOW that you’re right? What then? Does this change the game for you? Are you all in, no questions asked? Do you attack until you have conquered?

As Jesus followers, these interactions really matter. It is these moments that will come to define us – possibly more than anything else. It is from these conflicts that we will be remembered. These are the conversations that will be retold about us. This is how our Jesus will be judged by the world.

You see, it is possible to be 100% right and yet 100% wrong at the same time. If we are right with the truth that we carry but we speak it with anger and rage and even hate, we could not be more wrong. We have lost our way as badly as if we had no truth to share.

Ours is a message of love. It is what we are to be known by. It is what we have been rescued by and it is what we have to offer.

What if we spent every moment of every day trying to discover how we could best love the person in front of us? What if we were more concerned with that than winning an argument or defending our rights or making a point?

What if love was our point? What if the person was more important to us than the issue? How would they leave their experience with you? What would they think about you? About Jesus?

When you’re after love, you can always say, “You know I’m right!”