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

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's Time to Return to Our Roots

We were watching "I Walk the Line" last night. At one point in the movie June Carter is in a mercantile store and is confronted by a haughty woman who remarks that June's parents are good Christian people. Then the woman says that she's surprised June's parents even talk to June. The reason? June was divorced.

I felt compelled to speak out loud at that point. The movie was quite correct in portraying the woman as judgmental and hypocritical. My comment was this: That's why people hate Christians. We like to think it's because we belong to God and they are against God, but that's not true. They hate us because we are such hypocrites. We received the free gift of forgiveness from God. And now we seek to cast everyone else away from his presence with hateful attitudes. We are such fools.

And it seems the more well known our name is in our community, region, or even in the world, the worse we are.

When Jesus was with us in the flesh he spoke often about forgiveness and acceptance. He accepted everyone who came to him for forgiveness. In fact, the only people Jesus ever spoke crossly with were "religious" people. People who thought - in their hearts - that they were better than others. Often, we are those people. We lie to ourselves and say we're not. But it is a lie. The tendency is to look down upon people who are doing things we don't do. But the truth is, we're no better than them. We may even be worse.

In Luke, Chapter 7, we read this passage about two people. One is a religious leader. The other is a confessed sinner. Read and listen with your heart to what Jesus is telling us.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "What is it, Teacher?" "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon. "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair." You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sin?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:36-50 Revised Standard Version

We think we are doing God some big favor by lambasting others for the sins they commit. And for the sins we perceive they have committed. But we are wrong when we do this.

How did we received our forgiveness? Why? Was it because we straightened out our lives to the point where God came to us and said, "My, what good work you have done. You have certainly earned my forgiveness." Or was it because God saw that no matter what we did with the rest of our lives, our current status was hopeless. So he offered forgiveness free of charge. WE WERE FORGIVEN AS WE WERE AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME. Why do we seek to deny others this same gift? Are we jealous? What's wrong with us that we spew out such venomous feelings of hatred and intolerance at those we do not believe have forgiveness?

Get your bible and read this from the Gospel of Matthew.

Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."

"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, "Pay me what you owe.' So he fellow servant fell down and besought him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went out and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive you brother from your heart." Matthew 18:21-35 Revised Standard Version

Did you pick it up? Someone who had received forgiveness was cast into prison because they would not forgive others. That is a scary thought.

And do you know what is most pitiful about the Christian's intolerance and lack of forgiving nature toward others? They haven't even sinned against us. They have committed no crimes against us. They simply live lives not in accordance with how we believe they should live them. And so we seek their misery and demise.

If we do not stop this, prison is what awaits us.

Let us leave off with intolerance and return to preaching forgiveness. And love. And acceptance. "Love covers a multitude of sins." Don't tell people what their sins are. They probably already know. Show them God's love and acceptance by loving and accepting them for who they are. Sins and all.

Isn't that what God has done for us?

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