My son gives a lot of unsolicited hugs. He is 19 months old and if giving unsolicited hugs was an Olympic sport, he would be the youngest Olympian ever. What is an unsolicited hug? What Patrick does is identifies his target, zeroes in, moves in for the kill, and wraps his arms around his prey before they know what hit them. They usually squirm with their arms tucked to the side and a face of both confusion and anguish and Patrick maintains the warm embrace. He doesn’t have to know someone for this. Perfect strangers and the play place can all the time receive these hugs, unprovoked, unsolicited. His mother and I, the ones who are always grateful to receive such hugs, begging for them sometimes, receive them all too seldom.
Patrick doesn’t see it as unsolicited however. He has hugs and it is his duty to release them upon the world.
Christians give a lot of unsolicited hugs. I don’t mean literally, well sometimes literally, but most often it is in the form of advice, counsel, Biblical insight, revelatory prophecy we have received in the clouds during a summer solstice.
The unmarried couple moves in across the street and we wonder when it will be time to, “let them know,” you know, that their living arrangement is against the Bible. Your son want’s to go see the Harry Potter movies at a friends house but first you need to call the parents of his friend to let them know that witchcraft is obviously of the devil. You have to let your friend know that God is not in favor of their particular political party.
C’mon, we give these hugs all the time. We don’t even know we are doing it sometimes. And yet, although we mean it as a warm embrace, all in the name of Jesus of course, the other person is left squirming with a look of both confusion and anguish on their face.
Here’s a rule to follow: only hug people who are ready to hug back
I work with a group of high schoolers who by and large understand the principle of only hugging people who are ready to hug back better than any people I know. I see new faces in our ministry weekly because the high school students who are committed to our ministry are committed to influencing their friends where they are at. They don’t force them anywhere, to do anything, or to change anything. We have kids who come who leave and get drunk or get high and a host of other things during the week. But their friends who love Jesus also love them. They pursue them.
They give hugs, but they wait until others want them.
We get paranoid that our Jesus is broken. That if we don’t tell others to change, who will? If we don’t inform others of their sin, who will? But we are called to love Jesus, and our friends, and neighbors, and gas station attendants, and even that guy who cut you off this morning. We don’t change people, we love people and Jesus changes people. Our Jesus isn’t broken. He is doing just fine, and we need to let him do what he does. We need to stop the unsolicited hugs already. Love people in a hand shake, a passing