News days like this last week have
caused me pause.
I tend to stay out of the political discussions because I don’t usually feel led to go there…
Today I do.
And today, I am simply loving the fact that Christ said this:
And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.”
…and I love it simply because He sounds completely exasperated. That one sentence lets me know that He fully understands, once again, everything.
Last week, our President decided he was actually in favor of same-sex marriage. North Carolina, on the other hand, decided marriage was only between a man and a woman. Covering a completely different topic, the cover of Time Magazine showed a boy who looked like he was about 4, maybe even 5, blatantly nursing, and the cover question was, “Are You Mom Enough?” (I later found out he was just 3 years old). Regardless of one’s thoughts about breast-feeding, the cover seemed very “in your face.” I haven’t read the Time article yet, but after reading the slew of arguing going back and forth between Democrats, Republicans, Christians, and non-Christians on the same-sex marriage issue, I just don’t even want to know any more about it. I don’t even want to know.
One ray of hope shone through in the way Lisa Belkin at “Huffington Post” responded: “No, I am not ‘mom enough’. I am not Mom enough to take the bait. To accept TIME’s deliberate provocation and either get mad at this woman for what I think I know about her from this photo, or to feel inferior, or superior, or defensive, or guilty — or anything at all, if it means I am comparing myself to other mothers. I am not Mom enough to think that the debate over how to feed our youngest children — an important and nuanced conversation about nutrition, and workplace policy, and government responsibility, and gender relationships — can be boiled down to a simplistic, unrepresentative, staged photograph.“
That was a breath of fresh air, but I’m still somewhat exhausted and exasperated with our culture.
And not for the reason you might think.
I’m tired of judgment being leveled every time I turn around, and most tired of it being leveled by Christians, in the name of Christianity.
I expect non-believers to not know the truth and behave
rudely to one another. It makes me sad when those of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior pay little, if any, attention to how our communication deeply injures others – AND, as a result, turns people away from the church.
What I want is loving dialogue by people who truly “love the sinner” – and stop disowning members of their own families over choices they make, and spewing mean, judgmental words at each other. I watched a viral video on Youtube this week about a pastor, whose words were about as injurious as they could be. How he was perceived probably wasn’t how he meant to be, but unfortunately, he chose to rant and blame – on camera. And I understand fully what it is to say and do the wrong thing, but some of us make a habit of speaking about things when we are emotionally charged instead of having the rule of NOT speaking when emotional – and then we do tons of damage.
How does the love of Christ, who spoke gently, lovingly to sinners, escape us?
I wonder if it’s not pride. We’re too busy judging others.
I’m tired of Christians pointing fingers and accusing others of sin, meanwhile breaking all the rules in Matthew 18 about how to resolve conflict (go to the person who has sinned against you), gossiping, spreading dissention, and stirring up others, when they haven’t even been sinned against personally… I’m tired of people throwing around accusations and expecting others to be perfect, and when they aren’t, getting out their axes, like the witch hunts of days gone by.
I’m also tired of thin-skinned people who are too sensitive to other’s communications and take statements too personally, thinking everything is about them. The pop-psychology of “I feel bad, therefore, someone (other than me) is responsible,” (and insert, “must pay”) is too prevalent. We need to toughen up. How on earth can we connect with people who aren’t perfectly pretty and put together (like most people, yes most people) if we are appalled by ugliness? This life is messy. We need to be okay with trudging around in the slop of it. We aren’t any cleaner. Our hearts are just as much of a mess, but we buy the lies of the culture that we’re somehow better than others, when all we really have is blessed hope and an assurance that we should be sharing.
Sin is ugly, all the time. Whether it comes in a “pretty person package” or not, it’s still sin. My nasty cutting remark to my husband due to a lack of patience is as ugly as the drug addict’s last fix, or the thief’s last job, or the glutton’s last binge. I’m no better than anyone else (and neither are you) just because I walk through a church door on Sunday morning.
Where’s the torch?
I’m also tired of Christians who spend most of their time going around and “rebuking” one another, usually with judgmental and hurtful language. And before someone starts slinging mean words at me, too, yes, I have been taught and have read in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. But I have also done a little research. I’ve learned a few things that have led me to the same conclusion with couples in marriage, the same problem that we face as a culture, the same starter and non-starter of dialogue that damages: judgment. Too many of these folks claim that homosexuals aren’t Christian at all. How can they judge this? Who am I to determine one sin is more heinous than another? Last time I checked, sin was sin in God’s eyes… and I would think the ultimate act of judgment comes from condemning someone to hell for a particular sin. There’s only one “unforgivable sin” and that is blaspheming the Holy Spirit – given that there’s a ton of debate on what that even is, I’d hesitate to level judgment about someone else’s salvation when they experience God in similar ways as we heterosexuals claim to… Unfortunately, this particular sin bothers some of us so much that we deem these folks as completely unworthy of any kind of contribution. We forget that God loves them just as much as He loves us, and that Christ’s blood purifies them before God just like It does for us and the little white lies, laziness, gluttony, etc. (the list is long)… Good is good, regardless of who demonstrates the goodness – our young adults can see this, and the blinding judgment they see within us “older” is sending them out the church doors in droves.
I realize I may have just turned a number of you off… suggesting that homosexuals actually could be worth learning something from… I’m probably not worth listening to, either, as I’m as big a sinner as they come, thankful for God’s saving grace, thankful for relationship with the Savior Himself, but imperfect as the next guy.
But meanwhile, what are the homosexual Christians doing? They’re choosing to disagree even with each other, but in a fully loving way. When is the last time you disagreed over something that was as important to you as your sexual identity in the profoundly kind way these folks are discussing different beliefs? If you are in the camp that negates their faith completely, you might want to read this guy’s thoughts. They’re articulate, compelling, and non-judgmental. Even if you don’t agree with the position, we have to fully respect the way in which they carry the conversation.
What if that hymn, “They will know we are Christians by our love,” is represented here? Or are we only supposed to behave lovingly towards certain types of people?
I don’t know about you, but the moment I think I know better than someone else and have the perfect answer for their life, particularly their salvation, well, that’s also sin: PRIDE.
One of my sons, the other day, made a rather profound statement – he said, “Christians could learn a lot about grace from the gay community – I’ve never seen anyone demonstrate so much grace and acceptance of others…well, other than Jesus.” Sometimes I get emails from concerned people who don’t even know me who follow him on Twitter or Facebook – they let me know about some “character” he’s “friends” with… Given that both of my boys want to reach the lost and actively choose to be in relationship with them, yes, they are going to have some “questionable characters” on their friends lists. One person even went so far as to suggest that I should be concerned about my reputation because of them and who they associate with.
Last time I checked, Christ hung out primarily with the disciples, yes, but also tons of sinners.
Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.
Know the hypocrites. They are us.
And we wonder why we’re losing our youth from the faith? More on that here. They’re not buying the pious pride performance. They want something authentic and real. They know we’re all a bunch of sinners saved by grace. They’re tired of the parade of perfection.
And they’re tired of judgment.
Even Christ didn’t come to judge the world, but came rather that we might have life and have it abundantly.
The bottom line for me is simple. Whether we are in a marriage relationship, parenting, dealing with a friend, one of your children’s friends, or just the people in our culture, know this: We can’t do the job of the Holy Spirit. We need to stay out of His way. Love and pray for the people who are on the journey with us, but be careful about choosing confrontation. We need to put more energy into our own relationship with Christ, and know Him so well, that when someone asks us a question (because they are in relationship with us and trust us) we’ll know if the Holy Spirit wants to use us… and we need to remember He might not – but if He does, it’s likely He’s encouraging us to take our friend to the Word.
Dare you to not be judgmental today. Dare you to remember that is also a sin, and creates distance between people, and destroys any opportunity for witnessing. Double dog dare you actually check a few of the links above and choose to see people in a different way.
***Note added 5/22/12 – please see the comment below. Here’s the link of the original event, not sure how long it will be up as it was last weekend: http://deeperliving.info/
Thankful for the journey.
Love to you,