To love people we need to stop being afraid of them.

I worked at an after school program with a lot of inner city kids. It was great, I played pool with the kids, went skateboarding and hung out with them every Monday and Wednesday. Eventually through our friendship they trusted me with their thoughts and struggles and I was able to show them God's love through that. There were about 40-80 kids that came in each day. These kids cussed, disrespected each other, fought, smoked, bought/sold/used drugs and slept around. Sometimes when these kids came up to me with their struggles, thoughts, beliefs or pains. They were very honest, through that honesty they would cuss because it was in their vocabulary and that's the way they knew how to express certain things.

 

Eventually, the management of the Youth Center changed to the Christians that were afraid of sinners sinning. They started kicking the kids out for cussing. Eventually the numbers dropped to literally 5-10 kids a day, the remaining were the clean cut, good upbringing, non-swearing kids.

 

I was a youth leader at this Youth Center and I totally disagreed with this logic, it seemed so unbiblical. I didn't kick kids out for swearing, I encouraged them to stop but I expected them to slip-up when they messed up a pool shot or skateboarding trick. These kids told me their thoughts and pains looking for my advice, but after the 'no-swearing' rule, they were too worried about slipping up with a swear-word so they wouldn't be as honest as before.

 

The kids that were in the habit of swearing because their upbringing or whatever else didn't stop swearing but stopped going to the Youth Center. Some of these kids I have seen their parents cuss them out, how are we going to tell these kids not to swear when their parents swear at them?

 

I feel like that Youth Center was a very positive influence on these kids until we started kicking them out. Some of the very kids I played pool with and started seeing positive changes stopped going because they weren't welcome anymore. Those very kids I went to visit at prison. I can't say their whole future depended on the Youth Center, but I feel like we failed to love them because we were afraid to hear a swear word. I am curious what would be different now if we didn't chose the wrong battles to fight.

 

How many people at school or work do we avoid because of their vocabulary or smoking habits?

 

To love people we need to stop being afraid of them. I think that most our lack of love for people isn't because of hate, but selfishness. We are too comfortable, we want to be loving to the well-dressed, nice smelling, non-threatening business man and women. A lot of times we don't hate someone, we just love ourselves more than we love them, which is natural. As a Christian I believe that sin is in our nature and that kind of stuff we need to turn from.

 

Let's stop worrying about our comfort and start thinking about people's souls. Let's love these people, not just the clean-cut non-threatening business men and women, but people. The ones that smell, the ones that swear, the ones that do drugs or treat women like dirt. A lot of times people don't know how to love because they have never been loved.

 

your friend,

 

-Isaac