Would you pause a moment to read this post with an open heart and mind; without rendering a final judgment right away?
I’m not sure exactly what brought you here, but I don’t think it was by accident. Please allow me to share a bit of my story.
While in college, I considered myself to be open-minded and free thinking. I lauded the idea of open-mindedness to all viewpoints as a supremely noble human quality. I write “considered myself to be”, rather than “was” because if I had been pressed on my viewpoints I think my hypocrisy would have been revealed.
Embracing the popular mindset on campus without much consideration for opposing viewpoints, I felt smug in claiming to be tolerant and applauded those living “alternative lifestyles”. I considered myself to be living an alternative lifestyle as well, dressing in dark clothing, listening to dark music that was never played on the radio, spending a lot of time inhaling nicotine in bars and driving while drunk.
This mindset, or world view, that I mention can basically be boiled down to the following statement:
Everyone should be able to do what is right in his own eyes, without judgement; whatever makes him happy.
Seems good, yes? In other words, if acting on a desire makes you happy, then it’s right for you and no one should judge you. Allow me to clarify what I mean by certain words that I am using, to eliminate confusion or misunderstanding. By “right” I mean something that is good, lawful, moral, and suitable. By “happy” I mean a feeling of exuberance. And, by “judge” or “judgment” I really mean “condemn” or “condemnation”. (Although one can judge either innocent or guilty, the connotation is generally negative when speaking of a judgment of personal values, and that’s the sense in which I use the word here).
Included in my alternative lifestyle and pursuit of happiness were romances with the same sex. What made me happy during these years was giving in to just about any sexual inclination that I had. If someone had dared to criticize my lifestyle, or plead with me to live another way, my rationale was that I was happy and that I wasn’t hurting anyone. I reasoned that anyone who would critique my actions must have sinister motives and/or must be deluded by old-fashioned ideas or religion.
If something feels good and no one is getting hurt, then why complain? Why judge? It’s not hurting anyone.
Consider with me for a moment the statement that “It isn’t hurting anyone”. How have we failed to realize that by making such a claim, one is stating that he has all knowledge of all consequences of all actions. Rather than an open-minded value, might such a claim be arrogant and misguided? How can one know with certainty that his actions are not negatively affecting others? It seems that my claim of being tolerant and a lover of freedom can be shown to be hypocrisy since I was also claiming that everyone who disagreed with me was a misguided idiot at the same time.
It’s easy to feel comfortable about claiming that a person is a fool who speaks against homosexuality when the antics of groups like Westboro Baptist church are considered; however, just because some group is displaying vitriol and hate alongside their opposition of homosexuality, is it fair to assume that all who oppose practicing homosexuality must have the same hearts of hate? I would contend that such a characterization is not only unfair, but intolerant and close-minded. Back then I didn’t ponder the possibility that one could speak against homosexuality out of a motive of love. And I certainly didn’t consider my views to be a cover for selfishness and rebellion.
Somewhere along the way, the possibility that I could be wrong presented itself. Folks who were pleading with me to turn from my lifestyle made a claim of following a higher authority. And further along the way, I realized that if there is an authority who sees more than I see and who knows more than I know, then perhaps such an authority should be acknowledged. At some point the thought surfaced that perhaps actions that temporarily feel good could not only be causing others pain but damaging myself as well. Consider the following verses with fresh eyes:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Romans 1: 18-19)
If there is such a higher authority, then I wasn’t only wrong, I was in danger. My conscience screamed of this certainty. I had three choices: suppress my conscience by either ignoring or actively denying the existence of such an authority; admit that such an authority existed but believe that my lifestyle was not in conflict with the authority; embrace the will of the authority and give up my rebellion.
What about you? Could you be mistaken about your beliefs? Could you be deceived or be practicing self deception to soothe an aching conscience?
Consider that the child feels the parent’s restraining hand to be oppressive, but once matured, he sees with fresh eyes that the parent acted with pure motives and with his own welfare in mind.
Would you consider this day your own beliefs?
Technology can be wonderful. Besides daily use of internet connectivity, one of the specific services I use several times a day is Google search. Searching for a new recipe? A Google search will quickly return tons of useful recipe links. Can’t remember the definition of “facetious”? Or the spelling of it? A Google search not only returns a definition, but the algorithms involved will probably figure out what you want even if your spelling is off.
I am thankful to God for technology.
I use Google search for more philosophical questions, too. For instance, today, I’ve been feeling hesitant about asking for help. My mom has been a great help to me, but she doesn’t live nearby. I’ve come to look to my church family for some help and advice, but I am still a little reluctant to plainly and clearly ask for help. And, when I do ask, I don’t always come right out and say what it is that I’m needing. It’s embarrassing and I tend to assume that people are wondering if I really need the help. [Wow, two sins in one–both my pride and not believing the best about my Christian brothers and sisters!! Lord, please forgive me].
So, today, unsure of the next step to take, I performed a search using the words “asking for help christian”. I entered the words exactly that way. I add the word “christian” because as one who confesses Christ, I am not interested in worldly ideas any longer. I want specifically Biblical help. My search returned the following article which I found to be a blessing. Hope it blesses you too.
After reading the article, I started to think about how I could help someone right now, even with all of my own needs piling up and threatening to bury me. I almost immediately thought of a couple I know at church that are going through hard times.
Someone gave me a restaurant gift card recently that this couple might like. This small gift isn’t going to solve their problems, but I can most certainly part with this gift card and pass it along to them, hoping it might bring a little encouragement their way. I almost sent them a message on Facebook to ask if they would like it, but thought better of that. I’m just going to put it in the mail to them, not giving them the chance to refuse it. They can use it, sell it, give it away, or do whatever they like with it.
My heart feels a little lighter already.
Thank You, Lord. Thank You for the blessing of being able to give. Thank You for the one who thought to give me that gift in the first place. Forgive my complaining and self-pity.
How can you be a help to someone today? Ask the Lord to show you if you’re not sure. And, if you KNOW someone needs help, just give them help if you’re able–don’t even ask–just do it!
Blessings to you,