Worship yesterday morning at the PCUSA’s 223rd General Assembly was going to be especially wonderful because Najla Kassab would be our preacher. I met Najla in Lebanon last year and ever since I’ve become a shameless Fan Girl. She is extraordinary.
And then God promptly cracked me over the head via Najla’s sermon. Najla preached on this text and suddenly, surprisingly Ivanka’s face popped into my brain when these words were spoken:
First from the Apostle Paul:
“regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation”
Then from Najla:
“Imagine if we saw everyone from a heavenly point of view.”
And then from God to Jan:
“You can be a new creation only if you see the tender age shelter worker, the immigration officer, and Ivanka through the eyes of Christ.”
I confess before you and God that I have an especially hard time loving Ivanka. She seems to be tone deaf in her social media presence posting professionally posed photos with her own son while other mothers’ sons are being taken out of their arms on the Mexican border. She seems to care about appearances more than true service, posting a tweet last week (which has since been removed) about the fact that the images of crying children at the border are a PR problem (but not a justice problem?) She seems to be using her proximity to power for enriching herself (coincidentally?) receiving coveted new trademarks in China just prior to her father promising to help President Xi Jinping save the Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE.
I do not want to love her. She strikes me as being the opposite of Jesus.
But I do want to be spiritually mature and whole and able to forgive as I’ve been forgiven. I cannot change her – or anyone else – but I myself can change with some potent doses of divine help. But I need to want to accept that help.
Who do you have a hard/impossible time loving? Consider those people who have hurt the people you love or those who have hurt you: the bullies, the abusers, the cheaters, the thieves. And consider those who hurt the innocent in Flint and Syria and Tornillo and Yemen and Nigeria.
Najla preached on the importance of seeking “moments beyond the flesh.” If we can see people – even those we deem as evil – then we can challenge them without hating them. Again – this is a profoundly difficult spiritual practice. Most days, I don’t want to love people like Ivanka. I really don’t.
But I know that I need deep peace in order to do the work I’m called to do. As a Church, we are called to have the energy to do what we Presbyterians did on Tuesday. But we cannot do it well if we are incapacitated by anger towards other human beings. Anger towards evil actions or lack of action – definitely. But I for one am trying not to hate people.
It’s not easy.
Image source here.