My Fitness

Saturday, July 11, 2015

this is happy - thoughts on grace

I'll get to the happy part in a bit. First, I want to address those people we all know who makes us feel plain bad even when their criticisms are unfounded.

Maybe this describes you or someone you know. She's a person who just can't help seeing where people have gone wrong. He's just so in tune with the Holy Spirit that he immediately sees where they've allowed compromise and idols. These guys and gals are offended by things that no one else even sees. She doesn't understand why ANYONE would be impatient with their child, while she is childless. He thinks everyone should have as many Bible verses memorized as he does. She will only dress a certain way, any less clothing is of Satan and any more is a form of legalism. She thinks it's loving to constantly correct people. He thinks it's loving to always point out where people fall short of his God's standards. To them it seems as if they are just that godly and close to the Spirit and the rest of us should be seeking their opinions and guidance. They wonder why we don't.

And we don't.

And we shouldn't.

It really is true though.
It's an ecard so it must be true. 
These arrogant attitudes are not of Christ and not of his Spirit. They seem super spiritual, don't they? But they aren't. Usually these people have an arsenal of Bible verses at their disposal ready to rebuke and correct. Why can't people see them for the great teachers that they are?

While their hypocritical self-righteousness is obvious to everyone else, if you try to point it out to them, they will not hear you. They wish everyone would hear them and their bad advice but refuse to listen to sound teaching. The book of Proverbs was written especially for them to be educated but instead they twist it to try to educate others. Like the blind teaching the seeing to read. Like someone selling Brita water purifiers and then bathing in the Ganges.

One such Proverb is in chapter 19:
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11 ESV)
Admit you're hypocrite and work on it. So simple!
It's actually okay to not be okay, but it's not okay to stay that way.
They might even try to get you to look over their offenses. They are very good at judging everyone else on their actions and themselves on their motives. This narcissistic hypocrisy is blinding them from sound judgment. They might even be thinking right now, "Lauren, doesn't this describe you RIGHT NOW???" But I've been around narcissists long enough to recognize this deflective question that makes them resists acknowledging any fault in themselves. "Lauren, WHAT ABOUT THAT LOG IN YOUR EYE???" Again, with the deflection. We can address any issue you see with me and I'll take it to people I respect and who have evidence of the Spirit after we finish this discussion. (Or if I respect you, write a blog post about it and I'll read it. If I don't respect you, I'll not read it anyway.)

These people will quote 1 Corinthians, "the spiritual person judges everything." (I mean, really they aren't spiritual. Just mean and proud. Or just foolish.) They somehow think that by judging mercilessly that they are becoming more spiritual. The hypocrisy is astonishing and has often left me speechless when dealing with such individuals. [Just by the way, these people are not in my circle of influence but these conversations happen from time to time with people who are quite young in their faith. You can be "young in faith" even while being a Christian for decades.] These people see a situation and immediately come to the worst conclusion about why someone else would be doing something: She must be sleeping with him. They should be above reproach. That person just did such-and-such sin. You meant a bad thing and are trying to tell me you hate me by the way you walked past me. The only reason he did that was because he has bad motives.

Their immediate response is that everyone else is attacking them and their morals. On PURPOSE. With MALICE.

That guy in this Pirates of the Caribbean just said, "my first love" and means that he's in love with Capt Jack Sparrow. They're gay. They are actively trying to get kids to be okay with homosexuality.

Almost there...
This is an actual conversation I've had with someone. What do you do with that? I even explained that they were trying to portray a cussing sailor without using cuss words and what he actually said was "Mother's love" for an obvious substitute for a certain f-word.

Absurd.

How about giving grace? What if instead of just assuming people are out to insult you or purposefully being incendiary, these people thought, "No. There's another explanation. I'll choose to believe the nicer thing." What if these hypocrites who claim to be after God's heart, were loving? What if they hoped all things, believed all things, bore all things, and endured all things?

What if they overlooked an offense?

Well, then they wouldn't be using God's gifting. They'd be burying their talent in the sand instead of rebuking, reproving, and exhorting!!! (please read my sarcasm)

Most of us can see their foolishness. That's why people rarely ask for their "wisdom". There's no wisdom there, only twisted understanding used to puff themselves up. Their knowledge puffs them up, and they neglect love. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8:2 ESV)

If you ever receive a random email from me, or a hate-filled text that seems like maybe I sent it to the wrong number, and especially if we do not have a relationship where we trust each other, then you can be guaranteed that I suffer from the above narcissism. I can be certain that I have NEVER had someone approach me with "God told me to say such and such to you" and them be right. It's gotten to the point that with these two individuals that I just stop listening, delete their emails unread, block their texts because of how wrong they are. If we were in Old Testament times, they'd be stoned to death because God does not enjoy people claiming to speak for him falsely. Neither do I. Neither does anyone.


Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.
finally!
Here's the happy part. These people are not of God. How does God handle people's sins and mistakes? He looks at them with compassion!
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)
Jesus loves you. He wants you and will take you as you are. He knows what is true and good. And the closer you get to him the more like him you will look. You don't need those goons. You need Jesus. That is much better. That is happy.

What if we became so much like Christ that instead of consciously having to give grace and the benefit of the doubt, it was first nature? What if instead of having to think, "he didn't mean that rudely." it just didn't even occur to us that that might be a possibility? What if we were just so overcome with love for these same people that Christ has compassion for, that we saw them through the lens of love instead of how they aren't measuring up? What if we were like Christ?

Jesus never called anyone "disgusting."
This is happy - Christ has borne your sins and so you don't have to bear them. No matter what these accusers throw at you. Your judge sits in heaven. Your law book is available to you. Council is good, but make sure that there's more than just twisted verses. If you are a Christian, the Spirit will convict you to goodness, not condemn you to shame. If someone is constantly trying to tear you down (even to "build you up later") they are not of Christ; or at least, they are confused. Christ wants you to come as you are. Let him clean you.

My pastor, a very wise man, once told a story about how he was sitting around a camp circle decades ago and a man spoke up. This man said how he had just became a Christian the previous week and already he felt the Spirit at work and he started listing off things that had changed. As he's telling his story of conversion, he pulls out his pack of cigarettes and lights one up. My pastor said he thought, "Oh man, should I tell him? [that he shouldn't smoke] Maybe the Spirit will tell him. Maybe the Spirit won't tell him! Well if the Spirit isn't going to tell him, I'm not going to tell him." This man is a pastor and still recognized that it wasn't his duty to go around pointing out everyone's short-comings. This new believer will probably stop smoking on his own as he grows less and less dependent on earthly things. And if he doesn't, so what? Is smoking some sort of 11th Commandment that Moses or God accidentally left off the list?

Jesus is a friend of sinners. My pastor is a friend of sinners. I hope you will realize how happy this is. Be encouraged that the crazies I wrote about are not the ones you need to please. There are only two rules you ever need to remember in this life:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37 ESV)
and the second:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39 ESV)

Good News! Jesus gives GRACE to sinners!
He actually rebukes the religious abusers.
Trust the Bible. Question authority. Pray. Be willing to change. Be wary of anyone claiming to speak for God if they do not have a proven record. There is wisdom in the counsel of many. Just be sure they are biblical and not just feel-gooders. Advice is good when it's good; when it's backed with Scripture that edifies and encourages. My personal litmus test is if someone offers advice or correction when I haven't asked for any, I don't listen; like, I don't even hear their words. It takes great arrogance to think that others should listen to your unwanted advice or that you're trustworthy for correcting. Since arrogance is not of God, then I'll preemptively dismiss what has usually been false accusations (I say "usually" because I've stopped listening and therefore don't know what the rest of what they've said.). If by chance they have something true to say, then I trust God enough to know that He will put those words in the mouth of someone I trust and who I know loves me. [One girl made it easy for me after giving bad advice after bad advice and me not listening to her, she finally said, "If you're not going to take my advice then stop talking to me." Done. I was trying to reach out and share details of my day. I was trying to be friends with this difficult gal. I wasn't looking to change my situation. I was trying to share my life with her. But with such an ultimatum, how could I refuse? I happily stopped trying to reach out to her and build a relationship. She has tried several times through emails and texts to give me EVEN MORE advice about completely random things. Luckily nowadays I have a husband that I hand my device over to and ask him to screen her comments. He usually comes back with, "I deleted it for you." Thanks hubby!]





Lyrics:
"Jesus, Friend Of Sinners"

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

Yeah...

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

'Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost cause and I was the outcast
Yeah...
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

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