A really good friend of mine is going through some difficulty right now with a few family members of the man she’s going to marry–one in particular. Her fiance has gone through his share of difficulty, and with God’s help, has emerged on the other side of it. He is a changed person, and that is not only due to Jesus, but also to his relationship with my friend. I believe that God, through their relationship, has grown both of them tremendously.
But this person(s) in my friend’s fiance’s family has chosen not to see that, but rather to condemn. This person was mean, and condescending, and holier-than-thou in a very Pharasiac (or Pharisitic–I don’t know) sort of way. I wonder, if Jesus were to materialize in the deep south, while this nice person was sipping a sweet tea on their porch, would they condemn him for eating with tax collectors and sinners?
Just look at what God has done in both of their lives. LOOK AT IT!! Look at Grace. Grace does not condemn. It saves, it blesses, it heals. And I believe that while scripture can be twisted to support any point of view, that is not why God gave it to us. It’s there to edify us, to teach us, and like Grace, to bless us. I’m sure if I tried hard enough, I could find a few verses to justify sticking grapes up my nose during worship on a Sunday morning. BUT THAT DOESN”T MEAN I SHOULD, or that it’s how God meant those verses to be interpreted.
Wait, did I just say interpreted? I did.
The reaction of this person reminds me of the fundamentalist movement of the 1980’s, which was almost exclusively condemnatory. And what it did was turn many, many people away from God, myself included. I think if you want people to find God, or turn to him in any sort of real way, you have to show them his love. That’s what saves us. Not anger, not hate, not condemnation for someone a person may not even really know, or a situation they aren’t even a part of.
Jesus did not come to condemn people, but to save them. Love them. Father them.
My first response to my friend’s situation was anger, lots and lots of anger. It felt justified. Feels justified, and maybe, probably is. That feeling of anger was probably reflected in my first couple of paragraphs.
But when I think about it, my condemning this unknown family member is much the same as what they did. I know this person is speaking out of their own brokenness. But that does not make it any easier for my friend. I spoke to her briefly and she said something that’s very true.
The hurt hurt, or words to that effect. Because this person was hurt themself in some way, their instinct (and pain) causes them to lash out. They may not even realize they’re doing it. But that doesn’t make it right.
Man, forgiveness is tough. It really is. It sounds like the person who lashed out and hurt my friend (I imagine her fiance as well), has a heart lacking forgiveness. This person needs to find it, and soon. That’s the key, of course.
I heard Miles McPherson say something in a sermon not long ago that just occurred to me. He said it in regard to dealing with people that he did not necessarily agree with, or have some sort of problem with, or even dislike. What he did in dealing with them was simply to remind himself that no matter how he saw the person, that person was someone Christ died for.
So when I think about this person, I need to remind myself of that very thing. Yeah, I’m angry on my friend’s behalf, and it upsets me that this person passes out judgement like a prize. In God’s name, no less. So what I’m going to try and do (no promises), is to forgive. And pray. Pray God shines his light into her heart, and heals it. Helps her to see the truth of things–His truth, not hers.
Forgiveness, man. That’s a bitch. I guess I needed to process a little. I’m going to go ahead and post this without editing out anything. It was what I thought, and think. I guess take it for what it is.
More to pray about, anyway.