Eliminating the sliding scales of love

A few days ago, my entire family spent two days in the big city. We were there to see the ocularist, that is, the master fake eyeball maker. His work is actually really cool, as you can see in this interview video.

It was actually his daughter who did a lot of the work – just like her father and just like his grandfather, making her a third generation eyeball maker/painter. The new eye was for my youngest daughter of course, who is almost completely blind due to glaucoma. We had one of her eyes removed last April. The new prosthetic works great. It’s comfortable and looks really nice. Hopefully we’ll get five or more years service out of it.

To save money, we slept (all six of us in one room!) on the floor of a friend’s house there in town. She is a single lady who works as a nurse but also is mother to several foster children, one of whom she has completely adopted. Just down the street from her was another couple of friends who have adopted five children, most of them Mexican-American.

Conversations during trip were refreshing and fascinating. The one mother talked about how there are three different public pools in town and how all the snooty moms with perfect kids and perfect hair raise their eyebrows when she shows up with her herd of Latinos. The kids that have lived for a couple of years with the other mom – most have had multiple surgeries and live with a variety of shunts surgically implanted in their bodies. We were awakened in the morning to the sound of the feeding pump motor giving the baby his breakfast on a timer.

I was really touched though at how everyone loves these kids so much. I love mine and they love theirs. The fact that nearly all of them have some pretty visible “problems” or “shortcomings” is of no consequence. Heck, even my “normal” kids have their own issues, they are just not things that will show up on an MRI. We are all broken, but God, our father, loves us just like we love our children.

Some of these kids will go on to live independent and relatively productive lives. A couple of them are probably never going to head to college, but they might make it as an auto mechanic. Some of the others definitely won’t be going anywhere – they have some serious mental problems. Will they ever be able to read the bible competently or recite a catechism of some sort? Heck no. But they can still be taught the name of Jesus. It made me realize how silly the idea of some kind of established standard is for gauging whether someone is a legit Christian or not. What is the “age of accountability” for these kids? Some of them are NEVER going to reach a level of understanding that meets anyone’s definition of that. So should they not be baptized? Should they not not ever receive the bread and wine – in which Jesus has promised to be present to us in? By no means! They should! Do not withhold it from them.

Ah, but these kids are special exceptions, right? They are just too broke to be held to some kind of standard so they don’t count. The rest of you though, you need to get with the program. You have to say the right prayer or show that you have a Christian “worldview” before you can receive the sacraments. What kind of nonsense is this – as if we are NOT broken (and therefore under some kind of law) and they ARE broken (so under grace)? If Jesus died for us than it is His work, not ours and we are all under grace.

God’s grace is not dispensed on some kind of sliding scale where people with the most education or leadership responsibility have the highest bar to stay above and the average folk have a lower bar and then kids whose brains are wonky because their mom drank too many beers while they were being formed have a super-low bar. This kind of sliding expectation set is all law, all the time. It demands that we meet some kind graduated set of prereqs to be considered legitimate followers of Christ. It fits oh-so-nicely into our Modern merit-based pay-grades and other worldly measurements that surround us daily. But not so in the kingdom of God. The good news is that Jesus threw the scales and the checklists into the trash and we are free. That is good news indeed.

Just as we love our broken kids, so the father loves us – only with infinite patience and power. I got to see a lot of that first hand and up close last week and it was a blessing to me. I even found myself loving the other kids too – for who they were. I realized that if we are going to learn to love anyone – from cranky in-laws to back-biting coworkers, to our viscous enemies in foreign lands, we have first got to do away with our own home-grown thresholds and sliding scales that determine who is worthy of love or not. They all are.