Thursday, April 28, 2011

“You made your nest, now sleep in it!” - A lesson from the prairie in Christian compassion

I grew up on the prairie of Western Minnesota with other first and second generation Americans of German, Dutch, Czechoslovakian, and Scandinavian descent. The rules were simple: believe in the Lord, work hard, obey God and things will work out for you--most of the time.

Once in awhile someone would not play by the rules. Someone would marry outside their own church or ethnic group for example. It was said of them, and sometimes to them, “Well, you made your own nest, now sleep in it.”
We thought of ourselves as “good” people although hard headed. We felt like we believed in all the right stuff. One lesson of the prairie was this, you screw up, and you pay the price. The price paid was usually being isolated from the “good” people who hadn’t screwed up. People talked, sometimes ridiculed them behind their backs and sometimes ridiculed them to their face. Growing up and seeing this type of attitude kept us in line, for awhile, and we lived in fear of the day when we would “make our own nest.”

What if God would have “left us” in the nest we made? I mean we are all born sinners, right? God gave Adam a chance; he blew it. As a result of that, we blow it also. We were screwed before we started. But tough for us—God has His standards; we fall short and we honestly know that. We do suffer the consequences of our own sin. We made our nest now we must sleep in it.

Not so with God. He came and gave us a gift. He gave us the gift of forgiveness of our sins. He restores our relationship with Him through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We did nothing but earn His wrath but the Lord sent His own Son to the cross to die for our sins. This is the good news for us.

I ask you a question: What right do we have as Christians to look down our noses at people “who made their own nest” and pass judgment on them?

I heard about a Christian who ended up in a wheel chair for life because of an accident. Yes, in some ways a stupid accident. He spends a lot of his life alone. He senses peoples unspoken “you made your own nest attitude.” This may be true but God has not left him alone. This is good news. In Psalm 103:13-18 it says: "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children--with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”

We as fathers are to have compassion on our children. Yes, we are to have compassion on our children. Then it says the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him (those who have an awesome respect for who He is.) In verse 14 it says: “for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are but dust. We are fragile “crumbling dust” sinners in need of a Savior.

The Lord has compassion on us even when we show little, if any, to other people. We “good” people are good at justifying our lack of true Christian compassion because we have not fully realized the depth of our sin, the darkness of our own heart, and yes, we even squirm away from the calling of our God given conscience. If we would only stop and consider those “who have made their own nest.” If it were not for God’s grace, we could be in the same position. In a wheel chair for life…by the grace of God go I.

In Psalm 103 compassion is mentioned three times. It is mentioned in the same sentence with love and grace. We would do well to remember that. When we judge a brother or sister in trouble, we would do well to remember grace and love.

God help us. Amen

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