As you have seen on my blog many times, I am a strong follower of the Christian God. I believe He created me, loves me, sent His Son to die for me, and lives to have personal relationships with us. Why He does all this blows my mind when I consider how unimportant I am in the grand scheme of the world we live in. However, He does and I am continually amazed.
Having said that, I don’t know how to feel about the American Christian Church. I think we’re airing our crap in a way that is breaking God’s heart. Even “our crap” is not in line with Scripture:
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5
John 8:3-11, “As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Mark 2:17, “When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Unfortunately, the American Church has become a group of Pharisees that feel like they can pass judgement on other people’s issues and not worry about their own sin. Why do I say that? I say that because of the many people I have met who have been pushed away from the church because we choose strict adherence to a set of rules we have created, not God. Where is love? Where is grace? Where is truth tempered with the knowledge that we’ve all made a mess of our lives, so who are we to pass judgement?
You may be saying to me as you read, well you’re passing judgement. Your passing judgement on the Christian Church. No I’m not. The truth is I know that I’ve done this very same thing more times that I want to admit. I’ve passed judgement on other’s personal problems, I have gossiped, I have slandered. It all breaks my heart. Who am I? who is the Christian Church? Why do we feel the need to categorize sin? Why must we ostracize the very people God has sent us to go into the world and bring into the church? We’re giving God, our God, a very bad name.
So what is the answer? Because I know that truth is important and it needs to be spoken. Sometimes truth does not feel good to say. Just like this blog post is so difficult for me to write. I think we need to go back to where are identity is supposed to be. Is our identity Judge, Jury, and Executioner? Or is our identity to be Jesus’ Disciples. As Jesus Disciples, what is the path to take? What did Jesus do? He walked with sinners. He talked to sinners. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. The women at the well was an adulterer, James and John had tempers, Peter had a big mouth. Did Jesus show any signs of passing judgement or putting on a holier than thou attitude because we haven’t sinned “as bad” as the rest.
What about God the Father? What does he do? He puts a prostitute, a foreigner, an adulterer into the lineage of Jesus. What?! How can this be? He was and is showing us by example that His Grace trumps. Does that mean we only show mercy and never speak truth? No. However, when truth must be spoken, it must be spoken in grace and love. You can speak truth if you really know the person. You can’t speak the truth if your walk with God isn’t in the right path. You can speak truth if your heart is to help the person. You can’t speak the truth if in your heart all you want to do is rub their nose in the dirt.
I know that the basic truth is that most Christians mean well. They’re not out to be brutes or Pharisees. The mistakes we make come out of a heart that wants to please God. However, it is still a truth that meaning well is not good enough. We have to do our best to also do well. The way we do well is balance our lives like God has done, in-between grace and truth. It is hard. However, it is the right thing to do.
In closing I’m going to share again a favorite quote of mine. Theadore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Are you joining us in the arena? Or are you just a critic?