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Pride and Rainbows

Man in jean jacket that reads 'born this way' alongside a unicorn image with folks carrying rainbow flags in the background

Photo captures the changing definition of pride and the symbolism of the rainbow

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?

 

 

 

 

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Discipling

My church has no formal setup for discipleship. I am so lonely and in so much need of help, wisdom, and instruction. The especially frustrating part is that many in my church are older, seasoned Christians, no longer raising children and no longer holding formal jobs.

As my 2nd job has me working many Sundays, I attended our prayer service last night, since there’s always a chance I may not make it to Sunday service. Once again, I met kind, warm Christians who inquire after my welfare and tell me that they are praying for me. I need the prayers! But, I have concrete needs as well.

I am in danger of falsely judging my Christian brothers and sisters. I don’t know what is going on in their own lives, but our Pastor, taking a break from normal expository preaching, has been teaching through our church covenant–which includes much about the “one anothers” of Scripture and about discipling–and I know there is much agreement about these commands, but I don’t see it in action. Lots of “amens” heard during the service, but I don’t see how it’s lived out.

I asked a lady at church with whom I’ve gotten closer about whether or not she had a disciple or was discipled, or had an accountability partner. She said she had partnered with another lady who attends our Wednesday evening service, as her own church doesn’t hold a prayer service, and they encourage one another, memorize Scripture together, pray together…She confirmed that there is no formal process at our church, just an expectation that we should be doing things like this with one another. *sigh*

I’ve put it out there several times, to several people, that I am starved for fellowship. I’ve opened my home to others, offered help to others, and made it clear that I am in need. (True, I’ve shunned opportunities for fellowship in the past, and I regret doing so. Lord forgive me. I see the need now, and now that I am lonely, I see how I should have taken opportunities to foster community long ago, before I ended up in such trying circumstances).

One thing that has got me confused is that I’ve learned that several people in my church own multiple properties and are landlords, but no one seems to have a place for me. It’s widely known that after my house sells, I do not have a place to live, other than moving back to my mom’s house. I have made clear that we don’t have enough equity in the home to be able to profit so much that I could secure another home.  I have, however, made clear that I am willing to work, that I am working, and that I am seeking more work.

I can’t say that we should all be giving away our property–I won’t go that far, and I don’t expect free housing from my brothers and sisters in Christ. However, it is troubling that none of these has even made a temporary offer. PLEASE note, I am not asking for free housing, just someone to say “We can help you until the Lord makes clear the path you should take; pay what you can, take care of the place, until you can afford to pay us market rent prices or can move elsewhere”. Perhaps their properties are already under leasing contracts.  Again, I know I shouldn’t judge, as that may very well be the case.

Mostly, I’m just discouraged and hurting and tired of holding it all inside where it’s festering.

It IS still confusing, however, when the majority opinion is that we should not be seeking government assistance, but should be working and earning our own bread. But, when the work doesn’t earn enough to pay bills….then what? Shouldn’t we be filling in the gap for our brothers and sisters?

One lady, the one I mentioned above, has opened her home to me. I may have mentioned before, that I stayed with her for a weekend. Delightful home and delightful lady. But, there isn’t really much room for me. The bed I slept in “has issues” she told me, and asked that I keep to one side of the bed.  The bedroom door doesn’t shut all the way. There are no blinds or drapes that completely give privacy in the room; in fact, other than the bathroom, the windows are not covered throughout the house and all is visible from the outside after dark. There was no empty closet to use and the bedroom has all available spaces filled with her own personal items and toys for when her grandchild visits.

This dear lady, who became a widow not long ago, has opened up a modest space to me, while the wealthier among us have remained silent.

I am being selfish? Am I missing something here? What would you do if you were in my situation?

How wonderful to be in a place where you can give to others. I look forward to the day when the Lord may put me again in a position to be a giver and not the one with so much need. I love to give and I know that is a gift and power from the Lord. I know another thing for certain–my circumstances have caused me to be more sensitive to others who may be in need. Instead of so much judging of others and allowing envy to overtake me, I suppose I should ask the Lord for opportunities to be serving others even in my needy state. That certainly seems more Christian. Now, if He will just give the power and strength to do it. Believe me when I say (er, write) that I know how ungrateful this reads. Will you pray that God help my tired, ungrateful, confused heart?

 

So Tired,

patricia grace

 

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in church, Finances, Giving, Trials

 

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