Monday, June 16, 2014

Being on the A-List

There is a word used in the entertainment industry that defines persons who are approved to entertain or to attend events in the entertainment world.  It is called "The A-List."  I do not know if the A in A-List stands for approved or if it is just because A is the first letter in the alphabet so being on the A list is better than being on the B list, if such a list exists.  If one's name is on the A-List then doors open for them, both professionally and in reality.  Such persons can go to events that are reserved only for special people.  They can enter places that most of us will never see.

Being on the A-List in the entertainment world means that you are special.  It may mean that you are loved by persons who decide who can and cannot be on the list.  Being on the list is reserved for only the elite who have been chosen.

It is a bit like being loved or giving loved.  Some people are on the list to receive unconditional love from others.  Some people are able to give unconditional love to others.  They just have that quality to be able to include and accept others just because they are alive.  People do not have to do or be something in order to receive love from such persons because they are just loving by nature.  Then, there are others who seem to not be able to give or express love, unless others are on their personal A-List.

I know a person who is unable to give unconditional love to anyone in her life.  She has always had strings attached to how much she would love others or if she could love others.  People have to be approved of by her according to the way they look, the color of their skin, their weight, the place they were born, and many other characteristics.  She makes a judgment of them based upon her many criteria and decides if they are worthy or not and then decides whether or not to love them.

Perhaps the greatest characteristic that she applies to evaluating the worthiness of others has to do with the religion a person embraces.  This person belongs to a very conservative, fundamentalist church that has a very literal interpretation of the Bible.  She had heard her preachers (they do not call them ministers) over the years talk about the worthiness or lack of it of many types of persons and she has embraced their teachings wholeheartedly.  She disapproves of all non-Christian persons so Jews, Muslim, Buddhists, and all others who do not call themselves "Christian" are automatically eliminated from her approved list.  She disapproves of all Christian persons who practice what she calls "dead, dry religion".  She probably is referring to those in mainline, liturgical churches but she does not have enough vocabulary in that area of knowledge to know how to express herself.  She merely repeats what she has heard her preachers say.  So, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and many others are on her list of Christians who really do not practice the "true faith."  Then there are the cults to consider, of course.  She lumps together Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Unitarians, and many others into this camp.   None of these can be truly approved by her and, by extrapolation, loved by her.

Finally, there are the unchurched.  They are to be pitied by her.  She prays for them constantly.   She witnesses to them and gives them gospel tracts that she purchases by the hundreds for the purpose of trying to convert every server in a restaurant or maid in a hotel.  She leaves her gospel tracts everywhere she can so that some may read them and "find the Lord."

Her concept of love is narrow.  If you can fit into her approved list, then she may be able to love you in some way.  She may accept you but see you as one she can potentially convert or change to her way of thinking.  You may not be fully accepted by her presently, but she may see you as a possibility.

God has an A-List that all human beings are on.  Everyone who lives is loved by God unconditionally.  God told the people of Israel that they were on the A-List even though they constantly made mistakes and followed after foreign gods in a way that God told them not to do.  Despite all that, God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah (43) and said to them, "Do not fear; for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine." (v.1)  That ragtag bunch of reprobates that constantly messed up and went wandering off in areas to which they should never have gone were claimed by God.  They belonged to God and God claimed them and called them by name.  They did not have to earn God's love.  They already had it.  God simply wanted them to live as beloved of God.

"Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you..."  Chapter 43 of Isaiah is a love song to God's people.  It promises God's presence and God's fidelity toward them.  There is nothing that can be done to earn or deserve God's love because we all already have it.  God loves us all unconditionally and God wants all of us to love each other in the same way.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for Love is of God, and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love, does not know God, for God is love..." (I John 4:7-8, paraphrased)     So, loving others is not an option.  We are to love others as God loves us and in the same way that God loves us.  We are to love others who are not on our A-List (yes, we all have one).  We are to love in a way that surprises and challenges and affirms us all at the same time.  We are to love because God loves and the best part of it is God loves me and you, just the way we are.

You are on God's A-List.  Accept it and live as one who is loved and forgiven.

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