(mandatory must read for the summer…)
Recently I had a conversation with someone who was creating doctrines out of “one-liners,” essentially judging the behaviors of others with consequences they saw fitting from the Bible based on one single sentence in Scripture.
X = Y.
This is dangerous business, the doling out of judgments, biases, and “God’s” reprimands. This is what denominations and religions and cults and cliques and exclusive clubs within Christianity have been built on for ages and in more recent years, I personally see it gaining momentum. A momentum which is building even in light of all the free love and acceptance that’s preached on any given Sunday.
This business alone is God’s. Just God’s. God revives hearts. God’s mission is all of us. God is the miraculous.
How very helpful we must feel to point out the imperfections of others…you know, because God can’t see them on His own and all. And what we have to show others in being right and proving their wrongness will sure teach them and inspire them to want to be more like us…urrr, God, I mean.
Sin is real. And sin is painful. And we all sin. And the truth is, we don’t sin exclusively, meaning, it doesn’t only affect us, it affects our relationship with God and our loving relationship and connectedness to other humans. Sin is a big deal. But not so big that God can’t forgive it…and never so big that we can’t go to Him and receive renewal in His grace, every day, fresh each morning.
It seems it’s only the humans who want to keep pointing out one another’s suckiness…
I can think of two specific examples where God gave “X = Y” a swift kick in the pants. There are tons more, but these two I’ve been chewing on more recently.
- One is when the super spiritual people of the day approach Jesus and ask him about this blind guy, stating, “Who sinned, the man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” The Message answer reads, “Jesus said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines.”
- Another is when the spiritual ones brought to Jesus a woman who had an affair. They pointed out the laws written stating she should be stoned because of her behavior. Rocks would hurt. They would definitely kill her. I wonder how many of the spiritual ones said stuff like, “Well, she deserves it, I mean, she’s the one who had the affair…” And then Jesus said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” And then it says, “Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone.”
Then let’s just chuck it all. I mean, pointing fingers and segregating throughout the course of church history has clearly made the world a better place. Either chuck it all, God, baby, and the bath water, or, better yet, because this has definitely been more effective: let’s surround ourselves with people who believe the exact. same. things. we do and then let’s point out all the ways in which everyone else doesn’t measure up to what it is we believe. Yep. That, for sure, will convey God’s supernatural, unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, and Sacrifice to a hurting world.
How is it, then, that we should live? “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” – The Message, Matthew 22:36-40
So then what? Just love God with all your guts, and love everybody else and yourself as #2? Is it that simple?
And yet it’s almost excruciating at times, because usually what we hate the most in others and are able to see blatantly in the behavior of others is what we most readily recognize within ourselves.
Radical love isn’t pointing out one another’s shit. It’s walking through it together.