Don't waste your time - part two...

Let me offer a brief addition to yesterday's post as a few have wondered about my insistence that we "not waste our time on soul vampires." To be sure, as people following the radical path of Jesus Christ, we are called to "love our enemies." But here's the thing, more often than not, I've seen people do grave damage to themselves trying to act on this with conviction. As a result, they have wounded themselves and wasted time that could have been given to others who were actually hungry for that love.  More often than not, I have come to trust that leaving people to God's care is the best thing I can do for them. Three broad examples come to mind:

+ Toxic people - however defined - must be left to God's care. I don't think it abrogates the Lord's injunction to love our enemies if we leave them to God's compassion and grace, do you? God is more loving and more capable than I am in every possible way. What's more, we are not only unable to change narcissists, users and those under the demon of various addictions, but we often cause ourselves excessive and unnecessary pain in the process. Jesus once told his disciples that there are some people we must simply leave to the Lord as we shake the dust off our sandals and move on. 

+ Evil people - however defined - are beyond the care of most of us. I mean that: we must not mess with them - because we are neither trained to do spiritual warfare - and most of us have other levels of loving to accomplish. There are people, I've met them and trust them, who are skilled in dealing with evil. But that isn't most of us, right? Rather, most of us have families and jobs and friends to contend with; we have limited time and energy and unique passions that call us into action, too. So let's be clear that we don't have to fix everything. In fact, it is arrogant and stupid to try.  I say leave certain work to those who are called by God to do so. After all, isn't that what the Spirit teaches us through the blessing of our various gifts?

+ Long standing, well-armed and highly energized enemies - however defined - are also not those most us us should engage in with acts of love or listening. I think of my friends who put themselves on the line in acts of civil disobedience. Or those who are "witnesses for peace." They are both called to such acts of radical love and well-trained. Dr. King used to conduct non-violent training before kicking off a campaign for justice.  Anything less is not just foolish, it is dangerous.  I knew an unbalanced young man in Tucson, vigorous in his faith but totally ungrounded in reality, who sensed that Jesus was calling him to make peace with his ancient Korean relatives in the North. He is now incarcerated and who knows how long he will remain in that hell hole? His act was foolish and wrong.


So let me push this envelope a little further. There are people in our churches and families and circle of friends who are... users. They consume our attention and love, but suck us dry in the process. Beloved, only some of us are called to remain in relationship with these individuals. Most of us are simply called to love one another as Jesus loved us but not to try and re-enact the Crucifixion. Jesus went to the Cross one time - indeed, he asked us to pick up our Crosses and follow him - but not be be martyred again, again and again. Paul taught us to live as fools for Christ, but that doesn't mean being foolish and blind. 

We may weep for the selfish. We may pray and agonize over those lost to the various demons that haunt so many. We may even ache that we might make someone else's journey a little lighter by listening or sharing with them. But here is the nitty gritty: after trying a few times to right a wrong - or open a door with a difficult person - even Jesus advised letting them go and treating them like a Gentile. We must forgive 70 x 7 while understanding that we can't fix every broken person. 

What we can do with hope and conviction is leave them to the Lord. What we can do is love those who are closest to us and share our hearts with them with abandon. What we can do is give our love and trust to God knowing that God is God and we are not. What a liberating and joy-filled way to live.

Comments

Peter said…
I liked the term " crazy-makers" from The Artist's Way. Emotional and psychic black holes...
RJ said…
Amen to that my man!

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