Free to Welcome Differences {#31 Days} {Quotable}

There is a very dark and terrifying prison of which I must warn you. It’s walls stand dank with pride. There is no light. It’s small and confining–you will find no room for stretching or exploring. It holds in insecurity and keeps out growth. It is an all together loveless place.

What is this prison you ask? It is the prison of conformity. It’s the underbelly of community. It’s where the few determine how all must think and act, sometimes even look. Differences extinguished. Disagreements silenced. Knowing and treasuring is replaced with merely knowing of and keeping status quo.

The light of God’s love in Jesus breaks these chains. He opens eyes to see people in all shapes, sizes, and stories. He replaces scowls and insecurities that separate us with arms wide open that declare, “Welcome!”

We can only truly love people who are different, we can only discover that difference is a treasure and not a threat, if in some way our hearts are becoming enfolded in the heart of the Father, if somewhere God is putting into our broken hearts that love that is in God’s own heart for each and every human being. For God is truly in love with people, and with every individual human being. ~J. Vanier {From Brokenness to Community}

God loves every individual. No matter how hard they may be trying to fit in or fly under the radar of critique, God sees who they really are and he welcomes them, accepts them, and truly loves them.

Do we? Not if we are in prison to conformity. We will be put off by the differences of the opinionated, the wounded, the homeless, the mentally unstable, the Republican, the Democrat, the GLB, the rich, the poor… The list goes on and on as we size one another up and select those who are most like us and distance ourselves from those who are not.

We are told that Jesus, the Good {Beautiful & Perfect} Shepherd “calls his own sheep by name” (Jn. 10. 3).  By name. Do you hear the preciousness of his ways? He calls us by an individual name–knowing and treasuring our uniqueness. His love frees us to do the same.

I’m challenged by this. As someone who has spent much of life teetering on the margins of acceptance and never really feeling like I fit in, this truth makes me, con treasure all the more Jesus’ love for me. It stretches me to open my arms and my doors in new ways. It helps me rest in the knowledge that not fitting in isn’t the problem–we weren’t created for that to begin with. Instead we were uniquely created to reflect God’s heart for truth and love in all the ways it gets diversely expressed in other’s lives. We were created for welcome…yes to freely welcome others…by name.

Be free today! Free indeed!

This month I’m participating with The Nester in her 31 Days challenge to write every day on a topic of choice. I’m writing this month on how Jesus make us free.

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