Deeper Hope:

An Abiding Virtue

This book explores the meaning -- and application -- of Christian Hope. It takes the fuzzy concept of Hope and reveals it in everyday settings



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Meditation: Having His Heart

Part of his true beauty is that Jesus loves the unlovely.

I’m drawn to him because he not only cleansed the lepers: he reached out his hand touched them even when everyone else demanded that they shout “Unclean!” He not only healed their skin, he received them kindly. I want that kind of heart.

When the male-dominated leaders of the day singled out a woman “caught in adultery,” (where was the other half of the adulterous duo?) Jesus did not condemn. Instead he challenged the very accusers with the now-famous words, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” My heart is moved by mercy mixed with justice. I love him for speaking those words. I even love him for saying raising the woman to her feet and saying, “Go and sin no more” because it was the best thing for her.

I love Jesus because he reminded a synagogue filled with people bent on perfection that a bent-over old woman was also a daughter of Abraham. I love him because when Jesus dined with Zacchaeus it meant that he brought salvation to the house of a tax collector. I love him because a woman previously infested with seven demons was the very one he chose to first deliver the good news, “He is risen.”

Time and again Jesus demonstrated what he taught: mercy triumphs over judgment. I want to be like that.

Jesus taught me to to love the unlovely.

And because he taught me to love the unlovely, I love his bride: the church.

Shouldn’t we all?

Reader Comments (9)

I am one of the unlovely. I carry scars that resemble "shell shock" and "PTSD" from an exhaustive relationship in the Christian church; not unlike those I carry from Vietnam. Christ Jesus is the Word (John one) that Paul (educated) and Peter the Rock (illiterate) shared with the different homes, communities, churches and synagogues they were led to share the Gospel. They did not justify their calling nor try to turn intellects with the interpretable words in the Bible. While I believe the Bible is Divinely inspired I, also, believe your sincerely heartfelt words are Divinely inspired and are equal to the Bible in bringing others into the Father's family. Christ Jesus is by circumcision a membered Jew and because we accept it so by baptism we claim membership as Christian. Please refer to 2 Timothy 4:1-4 while petitioning the Holy Spirit to explain any doctrine, ritual and sacrament not within Luke 10:25-37. The extreme fundamentalist theologian of any religion whose doctrine is adopted by any church whose children are raised to believe in God (by any name) are crucifying God no different than the chief priests and teachers of the law did to Jesus. Jesus is not a study, as most here have acknowledged, but is the only trustworthy life Teacher. We are right now in a supervised lab exercise on the campus owned and operated by Jesus.

You might understand how I can be suffering Christian church PTSD. What you may not understand is I still don't see any other way for us children to find the Father without a temple, mosque, church or any place set aside for spiritual outreach. I found the Father while looking out a window of a high school Sunday school class and saw His hand intervening in the daily activity of my community to maintain just enough balance that we did not lean too far over the precipice. My mind and heart was specifically looking and there He was. I, much later, brought the Father to inmates in Folsom prison by sharing that they could talk directly with Him in any vocabulary, language, directed thought and/or feeling. I told them they didn't need me, the Bible, or a church but did need to get by themselves and sincerely petition God to prove His presense in mercy and love was real and available to them. It worked and the direction most certainly did not come from my brilliance but was a light that showed through me.

Through you and the rest of our lab group comes enlightenment sourced directly from the only Teacher and Guide who knows the Way. Maybe, one of us knows how best to share the Light of Truth, Love, Mercy and Grace with the church??? ... I don't. Herm

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

Herm: I'm so pleased to play any role at all in your path to Jesus. As the scripture says of him, "a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not put out." Blessings to you.

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Ouch. I was all, "Yeah! Preach it, brother!" And then I got to the end. And I wondered if I love the church, the whole church, even the ugly parts or the parts the bug. Those little nudges of truth are better than a sledgehammer, Ray. Well said. Color me challenged.

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Thanks so much, Jennifer. Color me "Me, too."

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Good stuff Ray. I have a question for you. Let's say someone decides to focus instead on the passage where Jesus drives people out of the temple with a whip to justify judgment or harsh treatment of those perceived as theologically incorrect, what would you say? I've been in dialogue with someone who keeps pointing to the times when Jesus and Paul got angry as a way to justify anger. I have my thoughts on this, but I'd love to hear what you think.

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEd Cyzewski

Hi Ed: It's such a God-thing that you bring up this very event from the gospels, as it was my the subject of my morning quiet time.

You already know that if someone chooses to focus in a certain direction, he or she can certainly find a scriptural passage to support that focus.Sometimes this makes dialogue difficult, if not impossible.

The most helpful insight I've heard regarding the anger of God came from Mike Bickle, who said (something like) "The anger of God burns against everything that keeps us from the love of God." I like that quote because it keeps the objective in the foreground--coming into the Father's love. I think that's why Jesus was upset that day in the Temple: because the very stewards of God's presence were making it difficult for others to enter in. The had become the keepers of the rule, but not keepers of God's heart. God's ways are not rules we enforce upon others. His ways are how we invite others into his presence, and into his community.

As for anger? When the day comes that I have God's perfect heart toward others, I'll feel free to share his anger. Until then, I'll keep it bottled up.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Ed and Ray, you guys have got to the crux of Christian church theological intimidation, manipulation and confusion of their flock. I can come to no more greater anger when I as having been a father am separated from my children by a community gang. I cannot come to a more acceptable definition of sin than a separation of necessary to survival relationship. I sin against me and my Lord God when I usurp His authority to love me. I sin against man when I deny that I am one of them and have no need to love or be loved by them. I am betting my heart, mind, soul and strength that my Father in Heaven is big enough to nurture me and man (female and male) no matter how I come to Him for Truth and Guidance. If there were not a problem of separation of relationship with our Lord God all doctrine, ritual and must do to not invoke the anger of God would be the same in every Christian church that says it is by the authority of Jesus Christ they are led. That is my anger because I care for my siblings and am prepared to fight to the death to protect them from the neighborhood gangs, as would most bonded sisters and brothers, as did Christ Jesus. Please, forgive me for invading your conversation like I know better than you, I don't, but our Father in Heaven does and He is accessible to all His children (blood and adopted) equally (but not the same). Herm

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

I too am the unlovely! For years as a pastor's wife, I felt like Jesus loved me based on performance only. I can so relate to Bro. Halbach's comment. I too suffer from PTSD, which can be crippling in so many ways. I wasn't in Vietnam but a war was raging in my spirit, mind and body. I say these things, begging you not for sympathy but to help another person that was hurting like me. Years of trying too hard, being abused and disrespected, the keeping it all in. My battle, my war! My Dr. said, Paddy, you're exhausted and depleted of everything that keeps you alive. That was a divorce and 14 long years ago. It wasn't until 4 yrs. ago during a fall healing conference at church, I was sitting in my 28 yr. old daughter's kitchen, she and her twin sister, escaped with many of the same scar's I did. I was hit with a simple and freeing truth. Sarah said, "Moma, God loves you!" "He loves you just the way you are!" "You don't have to prove yourself worthy!" "He loves you and loves you and loves you!" I broke down and for the first time in many years, I was free! It is so TRUE that Mercy does Triumph over judgment and YES, YES, God does LOVE the UNLOVELY!

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaddy Daugherty

Paddy, AMEN!!! Thank you for sharing. Herm

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

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