My own personal stance against religious hypocrisy - both my own, and any others who seek to hurt people in the name of God.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Watching Out For Me

Thought I would be more ready to write something today. After all, we got back yesterday morning. Only I'm still frazzled from the trip.

I confess I did not read the Quran this morning. Barely remembered to read my Bible. We did do a family time, and that went long, about an hour. My personal reading was in Luke: the Beatitudes. Our famly reading was in Matthew: the parable of the sower.

What was interesting about my personal reading was that part of it included Jesus' position on censure and reproof.

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condem not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back. Luke 6:37-38 Revised Standard Version

Why is it so easy for us to forget these verses? Especially when we preach from a pulpit on television? I saw another one this morning as I changed stations. There he was, waving his arms and ranting and raving about "someone else" who was/is behaving badly. I suppose I have no right to moan about them, but the message I receive from them is that they believe they are without sin. That is just not true. Not for them. Not for me.

It is easy to be an extremist. I've done it. Maybe you have, too. There are two reasons which come quickly to mind to explain extremism. The first is an ugly reason: control. Phonies often take extreme positions in order to garner a following. Suddenly, they are important. Never mind that they don't really care about what they preach about, be it faith in God or which team is going to win the NCAA Basketball Championship. They just want to be important, and taking an extreme position makes them so. In their mind. And, alas, in the minds of many others who want to believe what they say is true. God talks about this.

But understand this, that in the last days, there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovrs of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 Revised Standard Version

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 Revised Standard Version

The second reason I think people become extreme is fear. We are not fully settled in what we believe, and so when we hear anything contrary we become afraid and consider it a threat to be wiped out. We try to pass laws which force people to believe as we do. But that cannot work. It cannot work with faith any more than it can work with prejudice. If we are going to pass laws they should be for the good of all the people, and for the protection of all the people, not just a small group which fears for its faith. Some things just should not be against human law.

I fear for myself sometimes. I talk a good game, but I don't always live it.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:16-21 Revised Standard Version

True, I do not do every one of those things, but I am guilty of some. So, the point?

If you really fulfil the royal law, according the the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. But if you show pariality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," said also, "Do not kill." If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged undere the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:8-13 Revised Standard Version

It always comes down to forgiveness. How sad that it is so easy to forget that and heap condemnation upon others.

It's about forgiveness, people, and nothing else. Forgiveness is a by-product of love.

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