Applying the Gospel to a Difficult Mother's Day SituationWednesday, August 16, 2006
I have a new brother...a brotha' from anotha' motha', as I now refer to him. His name is Gregory and on Easter Sunday the Lord delivered him from what appears to have been six to seven demonic spirits in a rather unusual yet biblical, supernatural clash against the gospel. He was a homeless man who came to our church during setup the day before. He came to stay with us that night, was delivered and regenerated the next day, and has been living with us ever since. Needless to say, twenty years on the streets with all the entrappings that go along with that lifestyle have not ceased to hang on like cobwebs which together we regularly seek out and tear down. One of those consequences in particular is an enstranged mother who chose several years ago to reject him as her son and today treats him with the utmost despise, even despite his miraculous change and abundance of spiritual fruit.
This presented a huge problem with mother's day rolled around last month. Gregory's predicament as a son is extremely difficult. At 49 years old he is the oldest of three, his youngest sibling being a 40 year old brother who has spent the last 20 plus years of his life in jail. Things were relatively fine between Greg and his mother until his mother reached 30 years old. She seemed to change overnight, according to Greg. She turned from being a woman of tender, motherly affection to a mother who treated her oldest son as an outcast.
Despite the checkered background Greg has had over the last 20 years, he can think of nothing in particular which would make his mother treat him, even to this day, with such disdain. He calls her regularly only to have his mother hang up on him. Gifts in the past have gone unopened, ignored, or thrown away. His heart breaks with anguish over what seemed to be an impossible situation, at least from a human perspective.
When Mother's Day was approaching I asked Greg what he intended on doing for his mother this year. He huffed with a grunted laugh, responding that whatever he did for for her would be rejected as always and just repeat the cycle of broken-heartedness and recovery. In the seconds following, however, he humbly inquired as to what I thought he ought to do. So with wisdom normally out of my reach, God's grace enabled me to respond with how the gospel applied to his situation. Here's what I explained to him.
The gospel is always focused on the Giver and the gift, and not the recipient or what he/she does with the gift. This is clearly the emphasis of the NT, and the Bible as a whole, in fact. Any positive response the recipients have toward God's gifts are in themselves a gift from God, so that the attention remains solely on God. This is what keeps the glory on God. He keeps giving no matter waht people do with those gifts. When we were helpless, when we were ungodly, when we were enemies of God, He gave His Son to us and Jesus gave His life for us (Rom. 10:6, 8, 10). And when we rejected His gift and remained His enemies, He still kept offering His gifts, didn't He?
None of us who are Christians will deny wht eventually happened though. God's persistence in giving finally won us over to the Savior. The whole force of the biblical definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 plows us over with conviction because it reflects God. God is love (1 John 4:8). And God's love never fails (1 Cor. 13). Read the way The Message reflects this text.
In the end, I encouraged Gregoy that if this is what God did for us then we should do the same for others. By continuing to pursue his mother with acts of lovingkindness two manifestations of the gospel would well-up in his heart.
First, when such acts and attempts are rejected or ignored we gain a needed remembrance of how often we ourselves responded the same way toward God's repeated acts of love.
Second, we experience another needed remembrance of the truth that His love for us eventually defeated our rejection of His love.
It is this last truth in the gospel that gives Gregory hope. He can hope in a God who will be stopped by nothing to win over His elect, including their own willful rejections. God is greater than our sin. God is greater than my sin. God is greater than Gregory's sin. And God is greater than Gregory's mother's sin.
Pray for the gospel to take deep root in Gregory's heart. And pray for the gospel to defeat his mother's hatred with soul-satisfying true love.