Changing hearts

Updated: May 15, 2020

Thursday May 14, 2020

Rev. Jerry Kulp

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”

Ephesians 5:1-2

Greetings my friends!

Do you ever hear a politician speak who has a very differing worldview than you do and as soon as she/he talks you feel the hair on the back of your neck begin to bristle? Or, how about that person who, no matter how patient you try to be with them, no matter how kindly you try to treat them, simply complains and objects to everything you have to share? Still yet, how about that member of your family who “wronged” you decades ago, but now every time you think about that family member you harbor ill feelings? If you don’t have anyone like this in your life, you are indeed blessed!

If you struggle with people like these, or have similar situations, please know that you have plenty of company within our greater community. Recently, I was struggling with a person who I have a quite different worldview than. I felt myself getting angry with this person even though I knew in my heart of hearts that no matter what I said or did nothing was going to change. Then I read this passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book “Life Together.”

“Intercession means no more than to bring our (sister) or brother into the presence of God, to see him/(her) under the Cross of Jesus as a poor human being and sinner in need of grace. Then everything in him/(her) that repels us falls away, we see him/(her) in all his/(her) destitution and need. His/(her) need and his/(her) sin become so heavy and oppressive that we feel them as our own, and we can do nothing else but pray… To make intercession means to grant our brother/(sister) the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in His mercy.”

When I imagined the person that I was angry with in this manner, my anger quickly melted away and I began to empathize on deeper level with the events in this person’s life that led this person to behave the way they behave. The aftermath of this experience left me with nothing but love for my fellow human being and hope that their life would someday be renewed in the presence of Christ.

Imagine for a moment, the very person that you hold the greatest grudges against being hugged by Jesus. A sinner indeed, but still one of God’s beloved children. Standing in the same light of God’s grace as I claim for my own.

I’d imagine that Bonhoeffer understood that this type of exercise is not a “once and done” activity that is the be all and end all in repairing our relationships with one another, but rather as I have come to know and understand an ongoing “dance” that we have with our God… claiming our own divine inheritance and understanding that this inheritance is not simply mine to claim, but rather through the great love of Jesus Christ it’s an inheritance for the multitudes of people around me. Even those whom I stand in direct opposition to.

Until next time.

Keep trusting God, washing those hands, and work on being at peace with all!



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