Right now I’m sitting in a gazebo in a garden mausoleum with pink roses outside to my right as it rains. I’m also getting bitten by a mosquito at the moment, sucking my blood in the midst of the dead people who have no more blood. Sucking the life out of me in the land of the lifeless. There’s something profound about all of this, but I can’t pinpoint the significance.
There’ve been a lot of family deaths lately but I don’t really care. Because families are awkward. I put awkwardness above family. I give awkwardness and comfort more priority than my own family, my own flesh and blood.
Why am I anxious around my family? Because something inside of me feels guilty and sad and fearful that they do not know Jesus and have a relationship with him and thus are not going to heaven. So to escape from the subconscious pain and the awkwardness of my responsibility to share that with them I just avoid them or make awkward small talk. I can’t just enjoy being with them as family or truly, genuinely want to spend time with them for who they are and love them, because this important, spiritual obligation trumps family and love, so it seems to get in the way. I’d rather just forget about my family and in so doing forget about my responsibility to them.
How interesting it is to remember the week that I essentially renounced Christianity and how that instantly broke down the barriers between me and other people because there wasn’t this looming, overshadowing feeling of guilt and responsibility. And I was more likely to hang out with people just because they were people and I wanted to hang out. I would show them love simply for the sake of love with no ulterior motives and no agenda. It didn’t matter to me then what people do with their lives because there was no overarching Law to follow, no worldview they needed to understand. So instantly I was in the same boat as they were. No better than them, them no better than me. We were just people.
So what is it now — now that I’m a Christian again, now that I once again feel awkward around family and friends and strangers — that is keeping me from spending time with people, and just being people with people, and showing them love?
It is because I am a Pharisee. I love the rules and I like everyone following the same rules. It makes everything structured and comfortable, and if they are following the rules then I don’t have to worry about them and I don’t feel a responsibility to help them or better them. [Of course I forget that “rule-breakers” in my eyes are just breaking different rules than the ones I’m breaking.]
So what is better? To spend quality time with my family if it means forsaking the Great Commission, or taking the Great Commission with me to family gatherings (making them awkward and tense) fixing a wedge between my psyche and my family?
Wouldn’t it be better for me to spend time with people simply for the sake of spending time with them, and loving them, not to influence them towards Christ, but simply to love them? Love my fellow human beings simply because they are my fellow human beings, my fellow souls, on this planet with me trying to figure out eternity. Together in the here and now, in the physical, inevitably moving towards death and the unknown together.
God is love, so maybe when they feel love they will feel God, who is Christ, and he will reveal to them the face of love. And maybe he will use me to reveal it. One thing’s for sure, soon enough we will all be dead — one by one — and there will no longer be anymore opportunities to love.