Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The many faces of redemption

There is something beautiful about raw humanity. Not the kind where you simply appreciate one another or recognize the benefits of when multiple cultures collide. I'm talking about the kind of humanity that is only visible when you begin to strip away the superficial layers that the years in our lives pile on top of us. Skepticism, cynicism, bitterness, anger, complacency - these are the layers that can cloud our vision and prevent us from viewing humanity in it's purest form. We don't set about our days seeking after these layers - but yet they seem to build and build and before we know it we've become robotic. We wake up in the morning, complete our daily routines and set out to check the tasks off our lists. At the end of the day we offer part of ourselves to our families or friends - articulating a "good" day or a "successful" day by our accomplishments.

This is the American way. The "be all you can be", "have it your way", "set your mind and achieve it" kind of life. We end up floating through the years without so much as a look over the shoulder because we've been justified along the way that this is acceptable.

But something unfortunate happens when we live this way - we miss out on humanity. We miss out on the simple interactions that can come about when we simply slow down for a few minutes to enjoy one another.

Today I witnessed an amazing example of true, un-adultered, raw humanity: three generations of loving family setting aside the agenda of the day to just "be" in relationship with three missionaries and two translators from our team. Set aside for a moment the reality that the two hours they spent with us meant sacrificing doing work that sustains their livelihood (at a whopping equivalent of 75 cents per day in wages).  Sisters who sat alongside one another in the dirt, with babies on their knees, laps or in their loving arms - laughing, smiling, asking us questions.  The loving grandmother, proudly telling us of her fourteen children and her four daughters who sat before us offering their time, their love, their curiosity about who we are.

I'm often asked why I want to spend time in Guatemala. It's the moments like today when I witness life and humanity that is stripped of all of life's business. Stripped away of the luxuries that we are offered in America in abundance as long as we strive our hardest to be better than the person next to us. Humanity is real and raw in Guatemala. Community is shared and love is offered freely. In these rural communities, no agenda is more important than getting to know the person in front of you - to earnestly seek to understand their needs, wants and desires. No meeting gets in the way. No deadline competes with the importance of caring for another human. No one is trying to "one up" the person next to them for a moment of prideful exaltation.

What's even more beautiful is their recognition of where this gift of humanity comes from - redemption. Sometimes, when we let our layers cloud our vision we seek redemption by working ourselves silly - by believing that our actions and efforts could somehow purchase our happiness. But that's not it at all, and that's what this family reminded me of today. That there are many faces to those who have been redeemed. They don't all look alike. They don't all speak the same language. They don't all live in the same conditions or have the same kinds of family. It's not earned by merit. It's not earned by being better than the person next to you. It's not earned by even trying.  It's a gift.

In Romans 3:22-25a we learn that "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith."

Redemption cannot be earned. It cannot be purchased. It cannot be merited to you based on how hard you work.  It is not held back based on your nationality, your socioeconomic status, your education level. It is pure and raw and can sometimes only be viewable when you allow yourself to remove the clouds in your vision.

Those family members and our team members - we had few things in common that the "world" cares about. But we shared a very important commonality - faith in the redemption that only God can provide to us.

I believe that was the Lord's gift to me today an in-your-face reminder of His redemption - expressed through the rawness of the human interaction that just a couple hours provided.  I pray your eyes are opened to His reminder to you as well.

~ Jenn

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