So I am giving you a new commandment; Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34
One of my favorite reads is the book The Shack by William P. Young. If you have read the book, you are familiar with the character” Papa.” However,” Papa” is not a man but the character” Papa” is a large black woman. As Mac knocks on the door of the shack,” Papa” greets Mac with open arms. ” Papa” knows that Mac is overwhelmed with grief.” Papa” also realizes Mac may not be quite ready to hear what she needs to tell him. It is established early on that there is nurturing, listening, and the demonstrating of unconditional love before” Papa” can reach Mac’s heart.
Now, the question has come up a time or two why did ” Papa” (God) appear to Mac as a woman instead of in the form of male gender. My answer to this question is that God was meeting Mac where he was in his life. If you have read the book, you know that there is abuse in Mac’s background and if” Papa” had appeared to Mac in the male gender, Mac would not be open to the process of learning about life, forgiveness, and healing which was “Papa’s” purpose of Mac being at the shack. Instead, God knew where Mac was in his life and met him at that moment in time.
As Christians, we are taught to be disciples for Christ. We are encouraged to share the “Good News” and to introduce people to God and his Son Jesus. Yet, how do we present God and His Son, Christ, to someone who does not know their Father and Teacher? Do we start out by quoting scripture? Do we drag them off to a revival and hold them hostage at the altar until they repent and accept the Lord into their life? Or, do we just simply greet and meet them where they are at in their lives?
The answer is the latter. We simply meet people where they are in their life. It is important that we listen to their story, hear their needs, and their hurts with a non-judgemental attitude. It is our responsibility to show unconditional love and demonstrate God’s grace. Through these methods of meeting someone where they are, they will eventually see and experience the grace of God. As they experience God’s grace through you, you will also experience God’s grace through their story. You will see first hand what Jesus saw each time Jesus healed or forgave someone. It is then, you are a true disciple for Christ.
Not only is The Shack a wonderful example of meeting someone where they are, but, my dad was an example of this in his ministry. I remember many times when Dad would go work on old cars with someone in the community who probably rarely or never set foot into the church. Then there were other times where he met some of the guys at the local coffee shop and simply listened to their stories. And, now a days at his local Cracker Barrel, Dad takes time to hear people’s stories. Many times they do not even know he is a minister. In the beginning of meeting someone, he just simply shows an interest in them. Then, he listens with a non-judgemental heart and somewhere in there God opens the door for Dad to share about God’s grace. As a result of this, I have witnessed some of these very people Dad listened to and met where they were walk down the altar and give their life to Christ.
If you have read The Shack, you know eventually Mac comes around. He experiences the gift of forgiveness. He receives and accepts God’s wonderful grace. We see Mac’s hurts from the past begin to heal and he is able to move forward in his life. I like what Mac tells Jesus before leaving the shack and Jesus’ reply to Mac. He says; All my best treasures are now hidden in you……I want you to be my life. Jesus responds; “I am.”
As you go through your week, I ask you to carry Mac’s statement with you as well as the response to his statement. Then ask yourself ; Who’s story do I need to hear? Then, ask God to use you as His vessel to show that someone where the best treasures are in life.