I don’t usually notice the passengers around me. However, this morning as I was headed for a meeting in rush-hour traffic, I couldn’t help but notice the men in the vehicle behind me: a man in his early 40s and presumably his 60-something father. Both had long beards.
Where I’m from, a beard is an optional fashion statement. Where I live, a beard like this indicates you’re a highly devoted follower of a particular branch of Islam.
At times, living in the grip of my flesh, I have found myself repulsed by such an overt legalistic expression of faith and that brand of Islam’s desire to impose their beliefs on others—Muslim and Christian alike. Yet this morning, I was overwhelmed by a sense of compassion for these men. In that moment, I was listening to a collection of hymns, and these words jumped out at me:
Let every kindred, every tribe
on this terrestrial ball
to Him all majesty ascribe,
and crown Him Lord of all.
O that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall
We’ll join the everlasting song
And crown Him Lord of all.
All I could think was, God, I want these men to be around your throne with me.
As the words of the hymn settled in my spirit, I spent the next few minutes praying for them and the multitudes of others like them in the region where I live. God, I want them there with me. May they be present. I want them to know You.
In my own strength, I don’t have the capability to love like this. Yet when I abide in Jesus, (John 15:4), my heart remains soft, my eyes attuned to seeing people as He sees them, loving people as He loves them.