When I see a really adorable baby in the grocery store with a frazzled, tired looking mom, I bust out of my introverted non-eye contact self and tell her how cute her baby is or how brave she is for confronting the cold or line ups while toting a car seat. It may only take a very short moment and I certainly don’t do it to make friends; we don’t exchange numbers or even names. I just give her that knowing nod- the affirmation she needs to press on. I’ve been there. I’ve been that mom. And I’ve been on the opposite end of having glares, stares and “what a shame” glances. Listen, we don’t all LOOK great ALL the time. We don’t all do our shopping the same or mow our grass the same. And we certainly don’t raise our kids the same. My kids often had unruly hair, dirty faces, messy clothes and no shoes. But they’re loved and cared for- I assure you.
I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks. Maybe months. You see, I’ve crossed the line. I’ve crossed over to a new way of thinking. I’ve grown up. I used to be a black and white thinker. I was the “what a shame” woman without children shaming the frazzled, exhausted mother. I was the judgy woman who labeled people I did not know based on how they looked or acted or spoke. I. WAS. THAT. PERSON. And for the most part, so are/were you. We all make too many assumptions on people by what they wear or how they wear it. We hear stories of little boys wanting to take “girly” backpacks to school and we poo-poo the parents for allowing such an action. We are GREAT at our passive aggressive stance on anyone who is sinning differently than we are. We are. Christians. We are AWESOME at telling other people about THEIR sin and how GREAT we are at NOT DOING what they are CLEARLY doing WRONG.
I’m going to take a leap. I’m going to jump from the old-school way of thinking that there is absolute black and white, sin is sin, hell is real, my need to point out your faults kind of judgment. Do I still believe in black and white? Mostly. Do I still believe in sin and hell and God’s judgment? You bet.
I will tell you this- I am just as confused and concerned as anyone. I know what my Bible says. And you know what else? Those who do not profess the Christian faith even know what the Bible says. People KNOW what the Bible says about sin. What the general public doesn’t know, doesn’t understand is why a faith that is built on the LOVE OF CHRIST, on the foundation of LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOUR, on the premise of FORGIVENESS AND GRACE is so HELL BENT on telling them what they’re doing wrong and how bad they are. It sickens me daily. I see it played out over and over and over again, online and in real life.
Christians!! If you really want to reach people for Jesus, stop telling them about their sin(which they already know) and show them how you’re going to love them in spite of it! Because I hate to break it to you, but you’re a sinner too.
I don’t know when it first happened~ this idea that some sins are worse than others. I don’t know how it happened that God-fearing , righteous holy rollers decided it was perfectly OKAY to publicly shame, yell at, berate, mock, tease, bully, hound and condemn to Hell those whose sin is of a particular nature. You do know that all sin is selfish, right? Read the 10 commandments(which I might add are not the only 10 sins- there are literally 100s if not thousands of sins listed in the Bible). If sin is about selfishness, then worrying about the colour of paint on my walls while my neighbour has nothing for supper tonight is sin.
If sin is selfishness, then buying supper at MacDonald’s before I pay my debts is sin.
If sin is selfishness, then pushing my way in front of a little old widow in the grocery store is sin.
We all sin.
We all sin daily.
We are all sinners.
We are all sinning daily.
Each night since I was a little girl, I fall asleep AFTER I have cleared things up with the Lord. My nightly prayer goes something like this:
“Lord, I know I messed up today. I know I spent more time on Facebook than I did with you. I realize I was short tempered with my kids and I love them and I’m sorry. Dear Jesus, I don’t want to hurt you or hurt my family, but I know I do- so I ask you to forgive me and help me do better tomorrow. In your name, Amen.”‘
You see, I cannot share Christ’s love with others if I don’t realize that my need for Him is also desperate. I cannot be a light in the dark if I have surrounded my own heart with darkness. We are only as effective in our crusade to be the hands and feet of Jesus if we are willing to humble ourselves as he was humbled, if we are willing to walk where he walked, if we are willing to touch the dirty sinners as he did. We have to be the Jesus who, the night before he died- the night before one of his best friends gave him up to the soldiers for some pieces of silver- if we’re willing to wash the feet of the ones who will hurt us. Jesus did. That is love. That is grace. That is mercy. Jesus didn’t yell in Judas’ face. He didn’t berate him. He didn’t have to. Judas knew he was guilty. Judas already knew that what he was going to do was wrong but he was willing to do it anyway. Because of selfishness- even in the face of his own friend. Let your heart and mind sit on that for a while.
We have a mission: Love God and Love others. Jesus did NOT give us a mandate to judge. In fact, he said the opposite: “don’t judge anyone”. As hard as it may be for some super duper McJudgy Pants Christians to admit- your judgment and subsequent condemnation of others is actually pushing them AWAY from the throne of grace of which YOU represent! Your theology, your interpretation of the Gospel and the words of Christ will only be heard and received if you serve them on the platter of grace and love. If you feel it is your duty to defend the gospel at all costs- even at the cost of someone’s spiritual life, you do not represent the Jesus Christ whom I love and serve. And ya, that makes me judgy. I am a sinner too.
This week, the internet exploded with the news that World Vision would now NOT DISCRIMINATE against those who profess to be gay. So , you know, to show the world our love and all , Christians took to their keyboards in contempt- disavowing World Vision, dropping sponsorship of small, helpless, innocent , hungry children. Because that’ll teach ‘em! Right? Right…………..
I have seen some pretty ugly words. I have read things that should never, ever, ever come out of a Christ-follower’s mouth or mind. Good gracious, people, what are we doing?
Can I be honest here about my feelings on the gay issue? I’m on the fence. I know what my Bible says. I know that homosexuality is listed as A SIN in the Bible. I also know that adultery is listed in the same sentence. I also know that lust(looking at someone and dreaming and drooling about them in our minds would be covered in that) is also listed. You know what else is listed? Drunkenness. As are many other sins of the flesh. So now what? How do we move forward as people of grace and mercy? How do show the way of the Cross, forgiveness, and justice too?
I’ve crossed the line. I have grown up. I have realized that hammering and pounding my fist in profession of my faith is NOT the way to win souls and influence anyone. I have gay family members. Do I shun them, hate them, pour salt on the open wounds they are already feeling from the church? What about my family members who are in adulterous, fornicating, relationships? Do I prevent them from coming into my home because of their dirty, sexual sin? Who am I to judge the condition of their hearts? Who am I?
I suspect God is waiting for His Church to put down their slings and arrows. Like a good Dad he is waiting for us to calm down and grow up. The temper tantrums need to stop. The finger pointing and line-drawing has to end. He is waiting to see how we handle the next phase…..the part where we start receiving people into HIS Kingdom with all of their messes and sins and troubles, knowing they aren’t perfect and neither are we. He is WAITING for us to open wide our doors and be people of love. He is quite up to the challenge of worrying about who is sinning, how they’re sinning and how to let His Spirit speak into their hearts. That is His job, not ours.
1 Corinthians 13 is often quoted at weddings. But at the end of it is a curious verse about growing up….I think there’s something to that. I don’t understand all of what God is up to. I don’t understand why we continue to sin when we know we shouldn’t, but we do. We all do. We learn to love and then we learn to BE LOVE.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.