Christmas: God Walking in Our Shoes

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In the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout has a bad day at school with her teacher and asks her dad, Atticus, for permission to stay at home and not return to school.

Atticus replies with these words of wisdom, “First of all, if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view?”

“Sir?”

“Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Atticus gives us a great description of Christmas:

God climbing into our skin and walking around in it.

“The Word became a human being. He made his home with us…” John 1:14

 

“…he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form…” Philippians 2:7-8

 

God is not distant. God is not out of touch. God gets us.

 

“We have a high priest who can feel it when we are weak and hurting. We have a high priest who has been tempted in every way, just as we are. But he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15-16.

 

Because God “gets us” we can “boldly (not timidly) approach God’s throne of grace”(not a throne of judgment as we often picture God or a throne of lies as the store Santa in “Elf”) throne of lies

 

Christmas is the celebration of a God who gets us. A God who walks in our shoes.

Jesus knew what it was to have great friends.

Jesus knew what it was to be betrayed by friends.

Jesus knew what it was to be undervalued.

Jesus knew what it was to be the center of attention.

Jesus celebrated.

Jesus cried.

Jesus knew injustice.

Jesus worked against injustice.

Now, listen to what Jesus says to His disciples: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21). God came “in the flesh” to “get us.” Now, He’s telling us to live in such a way that we “get others.”

How different would the world be if we lived that way.

A grocery store check-out clerk once wrote to advice-columnist Ann Landers to complain that she had seen people buy “luxury” items – like birthday cakes and bags of shrimp – with their food stamps. The writer went on to say that she thought all those people on welfare who treated themselves to such non-necessities were “lazy and wasteful.” A few weeks later Landers’ column was devoted entirely to people who had responded to the grocery clerk.

One woman wrote, “I didn’t buy a cake, but I did buy a big bag of shrimp with food stamps. My husband had been working at a plant for 15 years when it shut down. The shrimp casserole I made was for our wedding anniversary dinner and lasted three days. Perhaps the grocery clerk who criticized that woman would have a different view of life after walking a mile in my shoes.”

Another woman wrote, “I’m the woman who bought the $17 cake and paid for it with food stamps. I thought the check-out woman in the store would burn a hole through me with her eyes. What she didn’t know is the cake was for my little girl’s birthday. It will be her last. She has bone cancer and will probably be gone within six to eight months.”

The clerk should have followed Atticus’ advice.

So should we.

This Christmas, let’s celebrate the God who “gets us”.

This Christmas and beyond, let’s live like Jesus.

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Healing in a Hug

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Healing in a Hug?

We know about “an apple a day” keeping the doctor away, but how about a “hug a day” keeping anger, bitterness, prejudices away?

Hugs are good. According to Psychotherapist Virginia Satir,

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival.

We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.

We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

We need more hugs like the one between Sgt. Bret Barnum and 12-year-old Devonte Hart seen above. Devonte was one of several thousand people gathered in Portland Oregon to voice their opinions about the Ferguson, Mo incident. According to his adoptive parents, Sarah and Jennifer Hart, Devonte “ has a heart of gold but struggles with living fearlessly when it comes to the police and people that don’t understand the complexity of racism … in our society.”

With tears running down his cheeks, a “Free Hugs” sign hanging around his neck, Devonte stood in front of a police barricade. Officer Barnum noticed the boy and wondered what was wrong. He motioned the young protestor to come up to his motorcycle.

They shook hands.

They talked. About school. About summer activities. About favorite things to do.

Then there was this question from the Officer, “Why are you crying?
Devonte’s answer was an honest response about his fears regarding the level of police brutality towards young black kids.

The officer wasn’t defensive. He didn’t react. He didn’t give the boy a lecture.

He apologized. “Yes. I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

The tears stopped.

The 21-year police veteran and father of two teenagers, looked at the “Free Hugs” sign and asked, “May I have one of your hugs?”

The picture is the answer to the question.

Are there other answers in the action?

I think so.

Devonte’s mom, Jennifer, said the moment was about “listening to each other, facing fears with an open heart.”

Yesterday, I completed a series on “The Bible You’ve Never Known” with a teaching on taking a different look at what the Bible says about homosexuality. One take away from the message was Jennifer’s message: Listen to each other. Hear peoples’ stories. Seek to understand. Sympathize and empathize.

“Walk a mile in my shoes. Walk a mile in my shoes.

And before you abuse, criticize and accuse

Walk a mile in my shoes.”

It is said of Jesus that “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them…”

“Compassion” to feel with

“Compassion” to be moved in your gut

What difference would it make in our lives, our communities, if we “walked in other’s shoes,” if we looked with compassion? Is the answer to the ills of Ferguson as simple as a hug? As listening? As being compassionate?

I don’t know. But I think I’ll try it.