What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘only God can judge me’? Ghetto tattoos aside, I am reminded that I should ‘judge not lest I myself be judged’ ,and up until very recently, as far as I was concerned that ‘un-judgemental’ lifestyle was the life I was living. I accepted that I wasn’t perfect, I wouldn’t let someone’s imperfections stop me from being nice to them or showing the love that I would show to anyone else. Then I met someone and realised I was living a lie: I did judge others, and quite frankly, I did it every day. I guess my excuse was ‘been burnt once, don’t want to be burnt again’, but since when was that an okay mantra to live by? It just sounds bitter from all the girls using it as their excuse to not trust men and a little pathetic from all the guys who use it as their reason for not taking girls seriously. Can we all grow up?! Once you get passed secondary school the idea that you can write off a whole group pf people for the wrongs of one becomes questionable and by the time you leave university it just becomes ludicrous. So why was I still operating on that basis?
Last week I got off of my self-righteous high horse that I didn’t even realise I was riding on. I shall explain
As I was on my way home and changing tube lines on the underground I saw a tiny woman who was looking bewildered at the foot of the stairs. Her hair had been roughly scraped back and she had a big cut on her forehead. I probably would have walked past but I’ve been studying love lately but I knew I’d have sat thinking about her for the rest of the evening. So I stopped and her story began. Normally I offer to buy homeless people a meal to avoid giving them money to fund addictions but that wasn’t going to be an option today. By the end of the story I had gathered that she needed money for a bed for the night and she was £8 away from her target. My insides squirmed, £8 wasn’t money I wouldn’t miss and it was an awful lot to trust someone with. I’m along the masses that are distraught when they walk past people sleeping rough and the thought of leaving this woman without a bed for the night was stopping me from just giving her a pound and wishing her the best. So I found a compromise. I offered to go with her to the homeless shelter and pay for the night directly. But then I was met with a string of reasons why that wasn’t a good idea and she said she’d rather not have the money than have me follow her around for the night. Had never considered that my act of love could have come across in a stalkerish fashion.
That was it, the terms of the deal had been explained and it was a take it or leave it situation. Had this not been after 11 at night and were she sitting on the pavement refusing food I would have just walked past feeling like I’d done everything in my power to help but this felt different. She told me she understood why I couldn’t trust her and the shame seeped in.
So I opened my wallet. I didn’t trust her any more than I had when we first started talking but I decided to bet my tenner on the benefit of the doubt. She may have used it for a bed or she may have not, but I had given her what I had, giving her the choice to abide by her word.
The rest of my journey I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Every day God gives us his love and entrusts us with things he knows we’re going to abuse or take for granted and yet there isn’t a day where he stops giving. Imagine showing someone love in a relationship where your other half, won’t even reciprocate your love by not doing things to hurt you. Because I’d been conned by homeless people in the past( refusing me purchasing them travel cards when that was the very thing they had asked for money for or admitting the drink they wanted money to buy was alcoholic) I couldn’t help but paint them all with the same brush and decide handing over money was no longer an option, but, how does our love, riddled with rules and regulations, fare to God’s unconditional love? When we encounter people that don’t fit the profile of the usual people we would show love to, our actions are filled with excuses galore.
I would give you a pound BUT…
I would let you share my umbrella BUT
I would forgive that person BUT…
I would lend them money BUT…
I would sit with you at lunch BUT..
When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Hosea 1:2-3
When God told Hosea to go and marry a prostitute there were no buts. Where do we feel we get the right to screen who we show love to when God loves us all the time. It’s so easy to love the people who look like us and talk like us but what does it say about us when we can’t love people who don’t fit that mould.
Prostitutes have a lot in common with homeless people. Many of us have preconceptions about how they got to this place in their lives and even those of us that aren’t religious have a holier than thou attitude. You may feel like people ‘deserve’ their lot in life but if God loves them anyway then why can’t we. Who are we to put conditions on a love that we don’t deserve ourselves?
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8
We have no claim to the love that God gave us so. There may be a long list of buts in our heads regarding someone but if God loves them, then so should we.