A number of years ago my wife and I visited some churches in the nation of Rwanda. We were responding to an invitation to share marriage principles with these lovely, but broken people. Just leaving the airport, we were told by our hosts, “But first, you will visit the genocide museum.” Mary and I could hardly speak after seeing those images and reading about what happened in this war-torn nation. We were wrecked from the inside out and, quite honestly, our hearts ached. It was difficult to gather our emotional selves for the service that evening. As we looked into the Rwandan’s eyes that night, we wondered what images they carried with them.
Once again, a little over a year ago, I returned to that same country. On this visit, I listened to a young man who watched his father be hacked to death by another man whom he knew. Ten years had passed and the murderer was released from incarceration for his crime inflicted on my new friend’s father and family. He felt called by God to visit this man and extend his hand and heart of forgiveness toward him. Stunned, I sat there thinking and wondering to myself if I could do the same.
But I relay this story for another reason. I want to ask you what your heart aches for? Does your heart ache when you view the news and see the KKK member blurting out his or her beliefs? Does your heart ache when you watch and disagree with the political candidate that you do not endorse or even like? Does your heart ache for that self-centered and mean boss or co-worker? Does your heart ache for the drug addict, suicide bomber or immigrant? And does your heart ache for that welfare recipient who is lying and taking advantage of the system? Or, is your response anger, irritation and criticism?
In the gospel of Matthew (chapter five), it is recorded that Jesus said to me and to you…love your enemies and pray for those who may hurt or persecute you. He said that the sun rises everyday for them as it does you and me. He said, even a tax collector can love if they are being loved. He said that if you only greet (love) your brothers, what is that? Jesus then said, even those outside the kingdom can comply with such efforts.
My paraphrase of these verses would go something like this: If you or I cannot look at that certain government official, the parent that deeply wounded, a past friend who has rejected you, someone with a different sexual orientation or a former spouse who lied about you…with love, compassion and have your heart ache for their soul, then how can we go to another nation and openly declare our love for those persons, those national leaders and those unfamiliar faces whom we do not know?
Paul once wrote to Timothy that he was at one time a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man, acting in ignorance and unbelief, but God’s grace was poured out on him. Paul went on to say that he was one of the worst sinners who was shown mercy because Jesus came into the world to save those exact persons. (See I Timothy 1: 13 – 17) That was me too. Thank God for sending His Son whose heart ached for mankind.