I hugged an abuser yesterday… a man who has raped, beaten, used, and cursed those he was supposed to protect, honor and love.
I hugged an abuser yesterday… a man who refuses to call his actions and words and lifestyle sin.
I hugged an abuser yesterday… a man who calls himself a Christian.
I hugged an abuser yesterday… a man whom I have called “Grandfather”.
There is something about the demonstration of compassion and love toward those who are known to have committed heinous acts of abuse, that evokes within some of us a cry of “Unjust! Undeserved!” or perhaps, ”Beware! Don’t be fooled!” or even “You are being weak! Stand strong!”. I get this. I’ve been on the other end of stories like these many times, and my initial response is often fueled by a desire for justice and protection of the individual who has been hurt. But there is more going on in these stories, in yours and in mine… there is a depth and breadth of pain that must be considered, and stepped into. And there is hope on the other side.
This man, while having done monstrous things, is not a monster – he’s a man, created in God’s image, who is desperately confused and lost. His prideful, tough exterior may not easily reveal the turmoil in his soul, but it’s there.
How do I know? Because I too am a mere human, created by God, with a heart proclivity toward controlling my world to ensure my own comfort and successful image (whatever I believe that to be) and this produces within me - within us created beings - an inner turmoil which can only be calmed and transformed by the One who created the world.
IDENTIFYING WITH THE BROKEN
A question I have been asking myself lately is “When I look at the horrific, the detestable, the most deplorable examples of humanity, do I identify with them? Or do I believe that I am a special human creation, a better one, incapable of living out such an opprobrious existence?“
The Bible tells us that Jesus, God’s Son, came to the earth to save the lost, the sick, those who were hated and written off by the more acceptable people of society. He came to the earth and lived as a man, experiencing all the struggles and temptations that come with humanity, yet He did not sin, because He was also God, fully divine. He lived amongst the least respected people, and He loved them. His love for these people was scandalous; it could be viewed as unjust and undeserved, because some of these people did horrific things deserving of punishment. Others, their bodies were broken, their minds were tormented, their words and actions were not socially acceptable, but Jesus ate and walked with them, he touched and healed them.
Can I identify with these lost and broken people? Am I one of these people who is so desperately in need of a Saviour? Are you?
as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes
THE ONLY DIFFERENCE
The man I hugged yesterday needs faith in Jesus, and I mean true faith in who He is, and what He has come to save him from. True biblical faith is synonymous with reliance. As Greg Gilbert puts it, it is “a rock-solid, truth-grounded, promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save you from sin” (What is the Gospel?, 76). And such reliance requires humility. Humility to continually acknowledge sin, and humility to continually acknowledge our innate need of a Saviour.
The man I hugged is an abuser, he has sinned grievously, against many people, but most importantly, he has sinned against God, and he has not yet bowed his knee in humility before His righteous Judge, God, Creator, Saviour, King. I too have sinned grievously against my God. I am continually in need of humbling so that I acknowledge my sinful heart, my need of Jesus, and the hope I have in His forgiveness, to change and live in a way that shows His love. The only difference between this man and myself is that God has graciously allowed me to see my need of Him. I hugged an abuser because I know the saving grace of Jesus, and I wanted this man to know that this grace is available to him as well, when he truly repents and puts his faith in Jesus.