Jesus said a lot of things that we are aware of. Jesus said a lot of things we are not aware of. John tells us the whole world doesn't have enough books to contain all that Jesus said and did. I'm not surprised; although, I'd certainly like to have a little more. We like to play games with Jesus' words and conveniently forget those things he made explicitly clear to us.
Christians are a strange tribe. We like to shoot our own wounded goes the old cliche. We like to point out the flaws of those we dislike and conveniently disregard Jesus' most important command to us when we encounter someone who troubles our sense of right(eous)ness. We like to think our sense of righteousness is the thing that matters and trumps the faith of others and our relationship to them. As I have reflected on my experience with the church, via the internet, I have come to think that maybe a little line in a song by Pearl Jam makes a little more sense to me:
I'm ahead, I'm a man
I'm the first mammal to wear pants, yeah
I'm at peace with my lust
I can kill 'cause in God I trust, yeah
It's evolution, baby
—Do the Evolution
That is, we think that so long as I am righteous, as long as I am singing in the choir, as long as I love Jesus, it's OK for me to do or say whatever I want–even if it is hurtful or hateful to others. I don't have to love someone from whom I am different because I love Jesus. And let's be honest: Christians are professionals at this game. We seem to think we can trample anyone who gets in the way of our righteousness. We seem to think it is our calling as Christians to point out the hypocrisy and sins of other Christians. We seem to think that if they offend us, we are permitted to have a word for them via blog or FB or Twitter or radio or otherwise. We seem to think if Christian 'A' offends Christian 'B' then it is the god-given responsibility of Christian 'C' to point out how heinous Christian 'A' is so that all those hopeless sinners won't think Christians 'B' and 'C' are somehow like Christian 'A.'
Because, let's be honest, the salvation of the world depends entirely upon such scenarios taking place rather frequently, rather loudly, and rather lengthily. I'm an intervention specialist and one of my main responsibilities is to help my students who have behavior issues decrease their Meltdown Level Events in frequency, duration, and intensity. I'd like to be have such a job in the church. I'd like to help people learn the valuable lesson that it's OK with Jesus if we mind our own business and worry about our own sins more than we worry about those of others. I promise you that the church will not fall apart if we suddenly stop worrying about others' sins and calling them out publicly on them.
I wish I could help some Christians reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of their hatred of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe even help them love a little.
I'm not gonna mention what provoked this post except to say that if we think it is our responsibility to dredge up everyone's, anyone's, or someone's past in order to point out how mean and horrible and terrible they are then we ought to make certain we dig up our own past too because I have a suspicion we, too, are guilty of something heinous and despicable. I have a feeling that those Christians who feel it their responsibility to harass other Christians by dredging up the past are going to find Jesus a difficult task master at some point in their own lives. You know, that whole mercy, love, forgive thing….
Ask yourself, you dredger-upper of the past: in what manner does your 'work' advance the Kingdom of God? In what way does it correspond to the grace of God? In what way is your rebuke helping to turn a brother or sister from sin? In what way is your rebuke restoring them to fellowship? If they have repented 77 times will you demand yet one more? Does it make you feel really good about yourself? Does it help your google-juice? Does it feed your ego? Do you delight in doing something even Jesus doesn't do? How does your effort reflect obedience to Jesus' command to 'love one another'?
In my opinion, Jesus has no use for such people and if he does then I'm not certain I understand Jesus just yet because I don't recall that Jesus dispensed to anyone the spiritual gift of Spiritual Historian. If Jesus can audaciously say something in the present like, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone," then who on earth are we to think he also said something like, "Appoint people in the church to continually dredge up the sins of other christians and expose them to more ridicule in the public arena"?
If I recall Jesus' words correctly, and I think I do, I recall him saying, "Love one another." He gave it as a command. Seriously, as a command. Seriously, christians of the world, did you skip that part that said, "Love one another."
I sincerely love Jesus and the church, but I am beginning to understand at a wholly new level why so many people are opposed to being involved with Christians or Jesus. It's because of the way we treat one another. Sometimes Christians are among the worst people on earth. Sometimes we deserve God's wrath simply because we choose to ignore his command to love one another. I can think of no other way to say it: we ignore his command. Jesus gave us one command, one task, one thing to do: Love One Another and we cannot get it right. Ever. Never.
Jesus said Love. What's so difficult about that? All we have to do is love one another. That's it.
Maybe it's time to give it a try?
God have mercy on me, a sinner, because I have left undone the hard work of loving those brothers and sisters of Jesus. God have mercy on me, a sinner, because I have loved my own righteousness more than my brothers and sisters in Christ.