Over the past few months, in a men’s small group, I have had the chance to see the hearts of a few awesome guys. We have shared our life stories and are reading through a book to better understand who God is calling us to be. I have been trying to get to know each of these guys better on an individual basis and last night I had the chance to break bread and introduce wives with one of them. This all started over a simple text message. I told him I wanted to get to know him and his family better with no agenda. We agreed on a time and place to hang out a few days ahead, but no real details were put together. It was clear from the very beginning that we both were pretty busy in our everyday lives, but we agreed that fellowship was important, and we would intentionally make time in our schedules for each other. Two hours before we were going to meet up, we started figuring out what this evening would look like in just a few brief text messages. We decided that Kathryn and I would come over for dinner and have Crock-Pot made White Chicken Chili (super yum).
When we arrived, we were greeted at the door with genuine, real hugs. Two men fully embracing each other in everything that they are. The first of many real and genuine acts of love. After exchanging pleasantries, we stepped over the many children’s toys that were on the ground and all over the living room. The toys were scattered about like land mines in a field that we would have to navigate through to get to the kitchen where some crisp ice cold Natural Light beers were awaiting us, another genuine act of love. Later we would go on the share a meal together, us and the entire family.
When we went to sit down at the dinner table, we realized there weren’t enough chairs for everyone. Not a problem, we shared chairs and even sat on each other’s laps as we feasted. Over the next hour or so we got to talk about each other’s lives, growing together. We talked about growing up, dating our spouses, marriage, jobs we have had, places we have lived and much more. Before the meal was over, I looked over at Kathryn and I saw half of her hair was braided and tied up by one of the daughters, and the other half was just being tugged on by the other, LOL. She looked crazy but I could tell that at that moment she was overflowing with real joy as she played with those girls. As the night evolved, old high school yearbooks came out, and outfits were changed to play princess.
This was hands down one of the most refreshing human encounters I have had in a while. These sweet friends of ours invited us into their lives, right where they were. They didn’t try to clean up their house to make everything perfect, they didn’t cook a fancy meal that they only eat on special occasions or have fancy beer that they don’t normally drink, and they didn’t even have enough chairs at the table but we made it work. Above all else, they didn’t let anything in the way of pursuing us and our hearts. They exposed themselves in a very raw and vulnerable way and this is how I believe Jesus has called us to love others.
Depicted in the book of Luke is the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector. Zacchaeus climbed the sycamore tree to get a better view of Jesus as he passed through Jericho. Jesus commanded that Zacchaeus come down from the tree at once and that he must stay at his house that night. I highly doubt that Zacchaeus woke up that morning cleaning his house and getting his life together expecting that Jesus would stay as a guest at his house. Even the people of Jericho muttered “Jesus has gone to be the guest of a sinner”. But Zacchaeus let Jesus into his life exactly where he was, in the midst of his mess, confusion, and chaos. I imagine Jesus’ night at the “Zaccheausb&b” was a lot like our night with our new friends
Genuinely opening your life to others in the middle of whatever mess you are going through is scary. We are allowing others to see that we don’t have everything all together and figured out. But doing so allows to exude both Godly truth and Godly love. In the bible God has called us to two greats, The Great Commission and the Great Commandment. The Great Commission operates on a continuum of truth, while the Great Commandment a continuum of Love. Without Truth (Commission) we don’t have love (Commandment) and without love we don’t have truth. Love without truth is deceptive, hypocritical, and unpredictable and in the end turns out to not be love at all.