Okay folks. I’m not happy. In fact, I’m pretty much mad. (Warning–It’s been another napless day. I’m likely to offend someone. You have been warned.)
In the past few weeks, I have had conversations with friends and family that have broken my heart. It seems that people who have all read the same book are using quotes from it to make the people I love feel vulnerable, uncertain, afraid, upset, judged, and hurt. ENOUGH.
It is especially ironic and very sad that this book is supposed to be the epitome of GOOD. In fact, it is often called The Good Book.
It seems that some people who are well-versed, and some who maybe aren’t, are using verses from the Good Book to let others know the path they are on is doomed. Or that the questions they are asking will lead to a fate worse than death. Or what they believe or think is WRONG WRONG WRONG.
What are we doing? Why are we using the words from this Book to hurt others? That’s not going to make them want to read it more. Or to follow the One who wrote it at all. It’s just my opinion, but it seems that some folks are quoting chapter and verse to prove whatever point they want to make and forgetting about two important ones.
First there’s the one that tells how to love others. Pretty much He said to love others as He loved us. And since His love is referred to as perfect love, I’m thinking we (myself included) are falling short. (John 13:34)
Then there’s the Parable of the Lost Sheep. The Shepherd has 100 sheep, but when he counts to be sure, he comes up with 99. He doesn’t say, “Oh well, it’s okay, no one else will count them, so we’ll be short a little yarn this year, it’s all good.” No. He loads up and goes after that ONE. One is enough for Him to love and to go after. There is no story we cannot bring Home with us. And when He finds the sheep, the Shepherd brings it home and parties. Abundant joy, people, that’s good stuff. (Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7)
Here’s the thing. I’m not trying to evangelize here. Probably just the opposite. I love this quote from Saint Francis of Assissi:
Or there’s the old saying I used to hear the old folks around saying: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
I’m not trying to make light of people and what they believe. I respect your right to believe what you believe. But I am begging you, please do NOT, no matter how well intended, share what you believe in such a manner that you are negating all others and what they might think. Let’s face it, life and all that is in it, is pretty much a mystery. I joke about looking forward to an Everything You Always Wanted To Know 101 class when I leave this earth. But for now, I just have to accept that some things are not going to make sense. Not easy, but I can’t honestly say I have all the answers. Or that I get everything I read.
I have a friend who was going through a really hard time. He happened to be homeless at the time. I met up with him one day, and it was obvious he was intoxicated. I think he expected a lecture, but whatever, this isn’t my first rodeo with an alcoholic and I figured out a long time ago, a lecture was not going to make it better. So we visited about other things. After a quiet moment he asked, “So are you one of them…..Christians?” I was actually speechless, because I could hear the defensiveness and anger in his voice. He was ready to disregard how much I cared about him because if I were a Christian, I would HAVE to care about him and it wouldn’t be about his worth as a person. Maybe he thought then it would be about trying to save him. I sat for a minute and then I replied, “Well I really like Jesus…..and I try to do what He said…..” All of the hot air went out of my friend, and we have built from that moment a precious relationship. I don’t walk in his shoes, so I can’t judge his disease. But I can love him through it. That’s about all I can do, but he says it’s enough.
I am tired of hearing about people being hurt by people who are supposed to know better. We don’t know what others are going through. When someone talks about how wrong divorce is, and about the tragedy of broken families, he or she should consider that there might have been abuse, and maybe that child is really, truly, and finally WHOLE. Using verses from the Good Book to condemn the way someone is living is risky business, and if the Parable of the Lost Sheep (told twice) is to be believed, and IF that person is in trouble, from what I’m reading, the Shepherd’s going after that one. All is not lost. And ultimately I’m not the judge of their right or wrong anyway. When someone hears a friend talking about how fragile their faith is in that moment, he or she is not helping the friend by saying it’s wrong to question, and that the only thing you need to know is Jesus died for our sins. We have no idea what life events brought that person to the point of asking questions. I can share from personal experience that when life’s turmoils have taken over, and I’ve asked questions and gnashed teeth, I came out on the other side with a faith that is stronger–even though I still don’t have all the answers.
Tonight I am thankful for the folks who have walked alongside me on my spiritual journey, no matter if we believed the same or not. I give thanks for my Mama and Daddy who loved people from all walks of life and empowered us to do the same. For my daughter who is strong in her beliefs and challenges me to figure out where I stand, I give special thanks. I’m thankful for phone calls from friends asking great questions and the sharing that follows. And I’m especially grateful for a question from someone who was drunk, the question that made me think about who I am and why I do what I do. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure all that out.