Yes, this will be a little bit odd for a weblog. These are actually my notes for tonights CoffeeHouse talk typed out into a semi-readable form. I would write something else, but this is what has been on my mind today; well for that matter the last week. If you think you’ll be offended by a what is basically a sermon stuck into my WebLog, you don’t have to read it.
Today I am going to relay the testimony of a girl that I met at Urbana03 and look at some verses that I think both speak to the depth of God’s love for us.
Allison Miguel is a black girl in her middle twenties. This summer she was on a missions trip to Mokkattam Egypt, a subburb of Cairo. Mokkattam is a community of garbage collectors. They survive by going into Cairo and collecting garbage, and then bringing it back to their front yards and sorting it out, looking for little trinkets that can be cleaned up and re-used. In her second week there Allison was walking to her work site, some sort of rescue mission, when she saw a young girl sitting in a front yard sorting trash. Seeing people sorting trash was quite familer by this time, but this was the first child she had seen doing it alone.
She stoped and watched, and as she did so her heart filled with love and compassion for the girl, and she felt a strong desire to show her that. She could not speak the language, but she remembered the way Jesus treated people, and so so walked over and sat down with the girl and started sorting trash. After a couple of minutes however she began to feal nauseous, but she did not want to give up. She prayed to God and asked for another way to show the girl love or strength to carry through with this.
As she prayed she felt God speaking to her, saying, “I also am a garbage sorter. This is what your sin looks like, feels like, smells like, to me. Every day I sort through this stuff that your standing in so that you can be forgiven.”
To me this is a crazy picture of what my God does for me daily. As I listened to Allison I thought of all the garabage in my life and was humbled at the thought of what my God does for me.
Allison sat and continued to sort trash. Every time she looked at the girl her heart was filled with love and it gave her strength to bear the smell. After a while the girl got up and came over with her hand out and said “es-mig-nora”, or “my name is nora”, and then went back to work. Allison couldn’t bring herself to leave. She felt like this was how God was calling her to demonstrate love. After another few minutes the girl found a toy doll in the refuse. She started jumping up and down and shouting in excitement, and came over to Allison to show it off, then went to the street to show the kids that had gathered to hear her shouting.
As Allison watched the girls excitement at finding a toy in the trash, she felt God speaking to her again. “Allison, this is how excited I get when I find something precious in you, some gift that I placed in you from your birth, and I can clean it off and use it for my Glory.”
Several other adults came by and tried to tell her not to do this, that she was an American and a guest here, and this was disgusting — even critisized the girl for makeing her do this, but Allison said, “No, I want to do this, she is my friend and this is how I can show her love.” … and she did – she kept at it all day and several days after that. It lead to a deep friendship with the girl and her family.
This story really hit me because it is a very graphic picture of how outragious our God’s love for us is, it’s a love that has no limit and it get’s down and dirty. It’s a love that knows the cost and is willing to pay it.
Now think about Jesus for a minute. Jesus left his perfect heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, and He came to earth to live with us. Why? I believe He did it because by entering our sin scared world with all it’s filth is how he chose to show His love for us. As if comming here wasn’t enough, check out his attutude after her got here.
In Luke chapter 5 there is a story about a man who was covered with leprosy comming to Jesus. Leprosy is a disease that attacks flesh. People eventually die from it simply because their flesh rots off of their bones. This man comes up to Jesus and begs on him on his knees to be healed. He says, “If you are willing you can heal me.”
Jesus reply is really cool. He doesn’t just say, “Be healed,” like I’m sure he could have done. Instead he walks over to the man and puts his hand on him and says, “I am willing. Be clean!”
Godis not afraid of your garbage! I know that there is junk in your lives and in your minds, just as their is in mind, but God knows what it is and in spite of it’s stench God is willing to touch it and to take it away from you. Psalms 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
When I think about the man that I am I tend to get a little depressed. /For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God/. It draggs me down to think of my own righteusness because in God’s eyes everything that I can do for myself is /as filthy rags/. But there is something really awesome that I can grab onto here. /Now a righteousness from God…has been made known…this righteousness caomes from God through faith in Jesus Christ/. Yes, all have sinned, but /all are freely justified by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…you see at just the right time while we were still powerless Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrated His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us/.
When Jesus walked over and touched the leaper and said, “I am willing”, he was not kidding. He knew the filth and he knew the cost, but he was willing to pay the price. Not just for that lepper, but for every sin of the human race. As they nailed Him to the cross, the most horrible death that the Romans could come up with, he hung there in pain and looked at the soldiers who spat at Him and said, “Father forgive them.” That is God’s heart for you. He is willing. Be clean.
In old testiment times the Jews used to kill animals and offer them as sacrafices, symbolizing the cost of their wrong doing. Then Jesus comes along, the perfect Son of God, and offered himself, his own life, so that we could be free forever from the chains of sin. Hebrews 9:14, “How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who offered himself unblemished to God, clense our conciences from acts taht lead to death, so that we may serve teh living God.”
Jesus hung on the cross to demonstrate His love for you. Will you see it? Now he reaches out and touches you, and cleanses your mind, cleans it up from acts that lead to death, so that you may serve the living God.
What now? He has touched us, is willing that we be clean, but what do we do? I’ll tell you what we do! We enter presence fo God with confidence. /let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance fo faith, having our hearts sprinkled to clense us from a guilty concience and having our bodies washed with water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithfull. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deads…Let us encourange one another/.
As you go through your day think about encouranging eachother. When you see a friend down because of a rough day, or frustrated with a class, or elated with a good grade, or whenver, go to them, remind them of Christ’s love for them.
There is one more thing I want to share with you. If you are still feeling a heavy heart, feeling weighted down by you don’t know what, don’t be too surprised. This is still a messed up world. /We know that the whole creation has been groaning…right up until now. Even we ourselves who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our redemption.” God does not promise you an easy life, but there is comming a time when you will be rdeamed and /every tear will be wipped away/. Also, until that time he has promised his Holy Spirit to be with us as a guide and comfortor. One thing the Spirit does for us is pray for us. /The spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express,. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will/.