I was driving down the freeway today, flitting in and out of traffic, trying to get my daughter to her Taekwondo tournament on time, when a large, black SUV suddenly zipped in front of me, nearly clipping my front bumper. Thankfully, I employed my cat-like reflexes, braking fast and maneuvering the steering wheel to avoid a collision. I may have muttered something about wanting the completely idiotic driver to meet my daughter in a dark alley so Alex could pulverize them with her spinning heel kick. I'm just saying.
As my heart rate returned to normal, I noticed a square bumper sticker on the SUV's rear window that read simply, "Mean people suck." Ironic that the Mean People Suck mantra is being carried by a rude SUV that cuts off littler cars and thinks it owns the road. I'm just saying.
For the rest of the car trip, I worked on forgiving the driver, imagining that he or she was in a mad rush to the hospital or a funeral, or the airport, thus justifying said crazy driving. When forgiveness was achieved, I actually began to resonate with the sticker.
In our ministry life, Mike and I encounter lots and lots of great people. People who are committed to growing closer to God and allowing Him to shine his light in the dusty, dark corners of their hearts. People who really want to change. People who are committed to living out Jesus' call to Love God, Love People, and Serve the World. Ministry would be so, so easy if everyone we encountered was like this. If everyone had it together. If everyone was just nice to us and to each other.
Then, there are people who are so blinded by their own wounds and their own fear, that they attack. They attack anything that makes them uncomfortable, anything that presses their buttons. A decor style, a minor theological ideal, a song choice, a joke, a political stance. And, like alcohol on a wound, it stings us.
As I began to agree with the bumper sticker, that mean people really really suck, and that all mean people should just go live on an island together, I was smacked in the face with the full force of this realization: Jesus came for the mean people. "No," I tried to argue, "The mean people are not worth it. I mean, God, do you know how mean ____is? Did you see what she did? Am I the only one paying attention, here?"
As my self-righteous soliloquy continued, I was again smacked in the face with another realization: I am mean.
And, Jesus came for me.