from our partnerLightWorkers Guest
written byMary Demuth
WWe love evangelism. Our mission boards espouse and revere the Great Commission. To disciple another is to walk alongside, to hear, to teach, to reproduce our faith in Jesus, infusing His love into the life of another. Discipleship is about relationship, connection, conversation, prayer and powerful empathy. But if we dismiss the hurting, the broken and the abused, we cease being the disciple-making church, and we instead become citadels of unreality and privilege. In short, we shirk the joyful responsibility it is to truly disciple everyday people.
Ever notice how broken and outcast people flocked to Jesus, the Good Shepherd? Hurting people did this because the Good Shepherd exemplified the Good Samaritan, and that kind of love is powerful. Jesus was irresistible to the marginalized. They couldn’t help but long to be in His presence because He listened, dignified and healed them. He didn’t treat them as religious projects or numbers on a baptism tally sheet. No, they were people, flesh and blood like the marginalized Samaritan woman.
Unfortunately, we have lost our irresistibility, replacing it with the idol of stability and status quo. We find ourselves protecting what is rather than redemptively imagining what could be, what should be.
We Christians love a good turnaround story, don’t we? We love testimonies of people moving from darkness to light. But if we continually push away those who are broken and beaten by the darkness, how will we ever see the audacity of light-infused redemption? The redemption of God shines brightest on the darkest backgrounds, and yet we have deemed those priceless works of art (Paul calls them poiēmata, creations) as worthless. We have walked conveniently on the other side of the road, forgetting that Jesus wears the upsetting disguise of the marginalized, those bleeding in the ditch. Those who have experienced the hell of darkness, then the healing of Jesus—they have the best stories.
I am haunted by these words of Jesus in Matthew 25:41-45:
Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
It’s time to heed these difficult words of Jesus, because we find Jesus in the face of the domestic abuse survivor. He wears the pain of the sexually assaulted. He is the one left naked and bleeding and vulnerable—it’s how He’s depicted on the cross. Undressed in my doctor’s office, I understood a smidgen of what Jesus must have felt.
The pathway forward is not easy, because it involves truth—the kind of truth that cuts through darkness and exposes the hidden motivations of all people’s hearts. It involves admitting systemic failure, religious pride and, in some cases, denominational refusal to see what is right in front of them. It will mean specific rather than generic apologies, genuine face-to-the-ground repentance and a commitment to change backed by purposeful action. It will mean a radical recommitment to the Great Commission, making disciples of all people. It will mean a return to shepherding, to modeling Good Samaritan behavior from our pulpits to our pews.
Taken from We Too. Copyright © 2019 by Mary DeMuth. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. Used by Permission. www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
About the Author
Mary DeMuth is an author, speaker and podcaster who is passionate about helping you live a re-storied life. A survivor of neglect and sexual abuse, Mary was gloriously rescued by Jesus when she was 15. She has spent her life healing from trauma so she can help others not feel so alone. She is the wife of Patrick and mom of three adult children. For more information, visit www.wetoo.org.