This is my December post, a few days early.
I read the news and right now it's saturated with the Ferguson riots.
I've listened to some commentaries, both professional and ignorant, talking their various points on both sides of the issue. Things are tense right now at the time of my writing this, because One side says that a thug got what he deserved, and the other side says that a crooked cop didn't.
The idea of getting what's coming to you has been on my mind for months now, and I have even seen it creep into ministries.
"So and so has done all this and they need to get what's coming to them, until they change and repent."
"I hate to see So and So walking away from the faith, but you know, oh well, that is their choice... they'll get what's coming to them."
Now sure, we all have free will, and yes sometimes people can be stubborn jackasses bucking the bridle or the Messiah. I know that, and I see that.
I know of a place where there was a huge rift that tore into the body of Christ. A family was hurt, a leadership was hurt, and I have heard BOTH parties say that they want restitution and restoration... but both of them see it as the responsibility of the other one to repent and make it right with them.
I've seen people surround the hurt leadership for the fact that they are leadership, and they speak softly and are often perceived to be the Lord's anointed. There is much talk about one party not submitting to leadership by humbling themselves, repenting and making it right with the church... in doing so, they are not submitting to church leaders and in rebellion.
When I hear this, I see parts of truth but there is something sour on my ears when it's spoken. I don't think that anyone has considered the possibility that perhaps they are in some way following the example of the leadership in that they have not humbled themselves and gone out to the other party for the sake of a relationship.
I've been wounded by people in my life. There are sorry's, there are apologies and then there are heartfelt pleas for forgiveness in wrong doing.
Admittedly, there have been times in my life where I have told people that I was sorry that they were offended. That took no accountability on my behalf to express to them that I understood that there was hurt feelings and to any degree was I accepting responsibility. I apologized that there was something wrong with them in essence. It's terrible. Then there were other times when I have given apologies. I've said that I was sorry and I meant it because some off handed remark I made I know I probably shouldn't have said and I do want to make peace and not fight with the person and they matter to me. Then there are the heartfelt pleas for forgiveness when I've humbled myself and come face to face with the pride and arrogance of my words and actions... I know that I have exalted myself and my own righteousness over my brethren. That is where there is weeping. That is where I have gone to my brother and sister and I have cried over the ways that I have wronged them and asked them to forgive me."For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
In the example of the family and the leadership, neither party wants to embody the text as it says
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
If we put 1/10th of the effort into grace, and forgiveness, compassion and mercy as we do into pride, judgement and in essence trying to be the Holy Spirit to other people in the messianic movement...
That would be true combat against darkness. That would be true heart changing materiel.
Can you imagine if Abraham, on hearing that God was going to destroy Sodom would have just said "they have it coming because they wont repent and come out here to me where I am and sit at my feet and hear the word I have to bring. I hate to see them destroyed but they have it coming?"
What about Jonah? God tells him to go out to the ninevehites so that they'll repent, but he becomes proud and angry and stubborn. What if he so proudly told God " they have to come to me to repent"
What if you swear you haven't done anything wrong?
"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering"
I actually was talking to someone at an old church about how someone was hurting and broken hearted about some things and that we as a church were losing them. Their response was the quintessential "so, that's their issue" I was shocked by such a statement. I was later reminded of the passage that says
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.
I know of places that have put leaders on full time payrolls before they've even gotten the church a phone line. They then struggle monetarily and there is then underscored the demand for the people to give more and do more to compensate for a drastic measure. People do need to pull their weight in a community, but when the focus of your sermons becomes a repetition of shortcomings citing scriptures about why and how a people are not doing what is right instead of inspiration and loving encouragement without demanding pressure to do what is right... something is heavily out of balance.
We do not know what Holiness looks like outside of the Savior. There are people that would get upset at that and say that they Torah is the outline for holiness... and I would argue that the Torah is a blurry picture, an out of focus snapshot of the Savior. The Messiah tells us in clarity what the Torah leaves to some personal interpretations.
I know a church that was sued for all of its equipment by a (in my opinion) crazy shady sneaky man. The man was after the money he could get for it all( in my opinion) but he was operating under the thinly veiled guise of the entire thing being about church business. This man was wrong and what he was doing was completely evil. That being said, What should be done in that situation? They fought it in court and there is something to be said about justice. However, I could never quite get past the part that says
"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
If everything that we have belongs to God, then who would the evil man be stealing from? The Judge. IF we were to make every effort to keep our brothers and sisters from sin, instead of just saying your sin and it's consequences are your problem and you'll get yours by going your own way and that sucks... I believe we do right. Through generosity one can keep another from becoming a thief. Through mercy we keep another from resentment. Through seeking forgiveness we keep others from succumbing to bitterness. Through gentleness we can keep others from haughtiness.
It's not us vs them. It isn't leadership as God's anointed vs the people of the world or community as our Messiah states:
"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."
What good is it to discuss word pictures, arrangements of Hebrew letters, place values, star positions, iconography ... when you haven't the essentials of love?
"hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."
How can we rid the world of the things most prevalent in our own selves...
There needs to stop being the WE and THEM mindset and leave only the US.
What if we loved God so much with our actions that we set down our lives to help keep another brother and sister from sin.