To this day, Matthew may be the best and most impactful church elder I have ever worked alongside.
Anne Lamott tells the truth when she says that it’s okay to realize that you’re crazy and very damaged, because all the best people are.
Matthew and countless others are proof of this very fact.
Grace and love must come before ethics. No-condemnation must come before the morality discussion. It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, not our repentance that leads God to be kind. Love — the broad embrace of the narrow path — will trigger some of the most life-giving experiences we’ll ever be part of. In the end, the more conservative we are in our beliefs about the Bible – the more we truly believe and seek to embody every single word of it — the more liberal our loving will be.
The narrow path of Jesus always leads us toward an ever-broadening embrace.
How can we begin to live in such a way that Matthew stories become the norm versus the exception?
How can we create environments in which this kind of properly-sequenced love flourishes?
Here’s how. We must first realize that LOVE is the environment that we ourselves are already benefitting from. LOVE has to be a Person to us before it can become a verb. And the One who is LOVE Incarnate — Jesus — doesn’t just love us when we’re at our best.
Jesus also, and especially, loves us when we are at our worst.
He loves us when we are caught in the act. When we fall asleep on him instead of watching and praying with him. When we deny him three times. When we become his prosecutors and his persecutors. When we enter his prayer meetings drunk — drunk on a self-medicating substance like Matthew was, or something more subtle but no less destructive.
Drunk on our ambition.
Drunk on our greed.