Day to Day

What’s So Difficult About That?

Today’s church is bent on appearing charming and representing itself as a fairy-tale to the world. It’s steadfastly chasing the ‘happily ever after’ that’s been promised in scripture by fulfilling its own agenda far ahead of its appointed time. We use the name of Jesus to condemn the person instead of the sin. We use salvation as a way to feel entitled and pass judgment. We use wealth to prosper in things that expire. Today’s church is impatient, and it wants its reward now. It’s rife with passive aggressive tendencies rooted in hypocrisy and is more invested in having a relationship with itself than it is with Christ. We want to please people instead of pleasing God. We are turning our backs on the very people we are called to minister to because they either don’t fit the lifestyle we’ve chosen for ourselves, or we’re afraid of offending them. Hell has become more of a concept than an actual place. We’re making excuses to conservatively live liberal lives all in the name of comfort.

The worst thing the church can do is exist to please the consciousness of people. That is lazy and abhorrent behavior. Attendance is down so we contrive new ways of drawing in crowds. We’ve turned church into a gimmick, and Sunday morning has become a sideshow. “Step right up and see what the miracle church can do for you! For a small donation you can by this book that will teach all you need to know about how to have prosperity now!” Televangelism is the new QVC catering to the night owls who will buy anything that’s shiny. Church leaders are selling you on the rags to riches notion of ‘You, too, can have it all!’ But wait…there’s more.

It’s true, the story of Jesus is a real life rags to riches story. There’s no denying that. He was born in a manger. He got a job as a carpenter and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He hung out with fishermen, and befriended a whore. He was homeless and slept wherever and whenever he could. He rode into town on a donkey. One of his friends betrayed him, and another straight up denied knowing him. The authorities thought he was a criminal, so they beat him mercilessly and had him killed. They buried him and went about with their business. I’m not going to lie, that sounds like a pretty rough life. One I wouldn’t want to lead, especially if I didn’t have to. That’s the thing, though. Jesus could have lived a very different life if he wanted to. He had pretty strong connections, and had access to a lot of wealth. So what’s up with this guy anyway? What gives?

I firmly believe that if Jesus were walking the earth today he would be the guy to tell the waitress to have a seat while he clears his own table. He would be the guy on the street hailing a taxi and insist he drive himself to his destination while the driver rides along. He would be the guy who continually serves his neighbor. Servitude, however, doesn’t mean being a ‘yes man’. Christ wasn’t a pushover; he stood up for what he believed in and never backed down. He had many opportunities to just go with the flow and step aside making way for mankind to do its thing, but his perseverance laid in his convictions. He would have done mankind a great disservice by backing down and being a coward. Essentially that is what today’s church has become, cowards. We don’t speak our convictions because we’re too afraid of being off-putting and not being accepted, or we speak them loudly with our own embellishment, because, you know, we believe in Jesus so we’re better than everyone else. Nonsense. We don’t develop relationships with people and let them see Christ through our actions. We hide behind the cross and play hide and seek with the world as it looks for a salvation they may not even be aware of.

I’m a Christian. I’m not perfect. I have many, may faults. I’m no better than anyone else just because I believe in Jesus. All Jesus means to me is that I’ve accepted the fact that I live in world full of sin, and as Paul said, I am the chief of them. I’m not going to condemn anyone because they don’t believe in what I believe in. What I will condemn is the lie that saturates this world with the belief that all you need to do is live a good life. It’s so much more than that. Why would God send people to Hell, you might ask. Do you think anyone sends a criminal to prison but themselves? Sure, they are judged and sentenced, but guess why they were judged and sentenced. They’re the ones who committed the crime. No one made them do it. They chose to. We’re born with sin in our lives and we have an out that is so simple. It’s unfortunate that today’s church as convoluted that simplicity with its own judgment and has made Christ nothing more than a farce.

Mark 12:31: “Love your neighbor as yourself…”

What’s so difficult about that?

I’m Judging You

“I’m judging you”. It’s a phrase we’ve all said jokingly to our friends when we catch them sneaking that extra slice of pizza, or we walk in on them listening to their favorite Nickleback song. It’s all said in fun with no harm done, but what about when we walk out the door and into the lives of everyone else around us? Chances are we’re still assuming the “I’m judging you” attitude only this time with less fun involved.

Let’s be realistic here, it’s fun to judge people. I wouldn’t be honest if I admitted otherwise. It’s a favorite pastime of many people that makes them feel a little better about themselves and might even justify some of their own actions. I’m guilty of it, very much so. When I see certain people at Walmart that really stand out (you know who I’m talking about) it’s almost second nature to pass judgment on them. If we must be honest, then let’s be brutally honest. This world is populated by a lot of overweight people, unfortunate looking people, obnoxious people…I don’t really need to go on, do I? I don’t say this because I think I’m better than they are; I say it to make a point. Earth is a big kitchen with a lot of spices, and some don’t mix well with others. That doesn’t make them any less important in the recipe, though.

Did you ever stop to think that the overweight woman you see milling about in the cookie aisle, the one wearing the mangy looking sweatpants and a tank top that’s stretched a bit too far around the more, shall we say, robust areas of her upper torso, the one with the dirty looking kids that won’t seem to shut up, you know, her – did you ever stop to think that she has feelings that are just as easily damaged as yours? It’s true that there’s some people in the world that are so self-confident they could appear in public in their underwear and feel no shame. And, of course, there are the ones that simply don’t care or perhaps aren’t aware of their appearance due to delusion. Suffice it to say, however, most people will be all too aware of the way they look, and people like that woman may not be at the place in her life to take better care of herself. Maybe all the money she receives is from state support, or maybe she works two jobs so she can pay the bills and feed her family with next to nothing left over. Why am I saying all of this? It’s simple, it’s time we start cutting people some slack. And I’m speaking to myself the most.

We lack conviction and compassion in our lives. We don’t want to be held accountable for our inner most thoughts because they’re ours. They’re locked away in our minds where no one else can hear them but us. If I said out loud half the things I think, I would no doubt offend a great deal of people. Keeping it to an inner monologue doesn’t change the fact that’s it’s any less wrong than making it public. On the contrary, it still has the same effect. You may not be hurting someone’s feelings with your words or your glares, but what you are doing is channeling that judgment from your mind straight into your heart. Eventually, if enough time goes by giving way to these patterns, cynicism and ego will take over and you’re going to start believing that you’re somehow better than everyone else around you., when in fact, you’re just like them.

Romans 2:1

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

And that’s just not talking about the act of wearing dirty sweatpants either. That’s summing up a lot more than that. It’s talking about hypocrisy. In simpler terms, we are a reflection of the people we meet everyday. The guy who is rude to the salesman is the woman who is obnoxiously talking on her cell phone in the check out line. The teenager who is making fun of a classmate in school is the principal who thinks all kids are worthless. The white guy that tells his friend that all black people are lazy is the black guy that tells his friend that all white people are privileged. Am I being bold in these statements? Absolutely. I think it’s time as Christians that we start holding ourselves accountable and recognize in ourselves what has already changed in our lives when Christ’s spirit came to dwell inside of us.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

When we accept Christ as our savior we not only invite Him into our lives, but into our minds, our hearts and our spirit. Christ has taken over who we are. When I said earlier that we are a reflection of the people we see everyday, we are also a reflection for them and it’s time we start letting them see Christ in us. When you see someone smile it makes you want to smile. When you see someone having a good time, you want to join in. Let’s start showing people the joy that Christ has given us so they’ll want what they see. It’s an open invitation and there’s more than enough room.

Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

So, the next time you see our friend at Walmart, say a blessing to her as you walk by. It will make her feel good and you might be surprised how it makes you fee, too.