Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jesus? In me?

"Look at that guy trying to lift those weights..."
"She is so skinny I think she's gonna blow away..."
"Oh my goodness, that girl has a tattoo!"
"Now you better stay away from her.  She has a reputation."
"Her hair is a mess!  I'd love to take her to my stylist... Bless her heart."
"I don't mean to be ugly, but..."

Now wait a minute.  By prefacing your statement with "I don't mean to be ugly..." I would dare say that you do mean it.  Otherwise, your comments would have been better kept silent.  

Are you guilty of such condemning statements?  If you're honest, you will have to say yes.  I believe at some point in time we all are or have been!  We critique and criticize others all in the name of Christianity.  We just want them to "be better people".  We think by tagging "bless their heart" at the end of our sentences that it makes everything okay.  What we have said is true, right?  At least we say what we think!

Christians can be the most hateful, critical people.  Bitterness takes root and starts to spread like ivy.  What causes this bitterness, which leads to hatred?    I cannot judge your heart, but I do believe that a lot of times it comes from some super spiritual stipulations we place on ourselves that we cannot meet.  We have made up a list of rules of dos and don'ts that we ourselves cannot keep and it frustrates us.  Not a tangible list, but an "understood" list.  We've heard one teacher give us a list of what we're supposed to look like when we leave the house, and a preacher explain to us exactly what music, movies, and TV shows are taboo, and the newest book has given us a 10 step process of  "How to Live ______" (you fill in the blank).  We cannot reach these goals or legalistic rules and sometimes view ourselves as a failure.

Then there's the problem of comparing ourselves to others.  And measuring ourselves up to "some people", we look really good!  We begin to play the comparison game and begin to take on a "holier than thou" attitude that may begin in our mind but ultimately makes its way to our lips.  A dear friend once gave me an example when we were discussing parenting and I have often used it with my children.  A display of physical aggression did not "just happen".  It begins in your mind, then is spoken through your lips, and ultimately is acted out through your hands.  When we begin to believe we are better than another we will speak as though we are.  (Like in the above statements.)  Once spoken, we will then act on them.  How do you treat others you run into at work, school, sporting events, and even your local mall?  With disgust?  With hatred?  With aggression?  Or with love?

Our real problem is ourselves!  We think that we have to change.  We believe we have to do something to make us stop doing the bad and help us do the right.  But the real issue is that all along our focus has on US and not on HIM.  We can't change! There is nothing good in us!  It's like having a glass 3/4 of the way full of water and trying to squeeze milk in with it.  When you begin to pour in the milk, something is going to come out!  If we desire milk, the water must first be emptied so the glass can hold the milk.  Our dependence must be on Jesus Christ and Him alone.

When we see God for who He is, and ourselves for who we are, we will then have a heart that desires to love others and see them come to Him.  Where were you before The Lord revealed your sinfulness to you?  Can you remember?  Where would you be today without His grace and mercy?  God's Word says that a Christian will be know by the love they show to others.  Stop.  Take a few minutes to read John 13.    Do you show love?  Is there really a desire to see others come to Jesus, or only those who look like you, dress like you, and act like you?  It is a sad day when those who need love shown to them the most are shunned because they don't fit our mold.  We want them to pay for their actions!  "Yeah!  They're getting what they deserve!"  Really?  Really?  How hypocritical!  The next time you (I) sit at your (my) vanity, look into the mirror and see if others can see Jesus through your words and actions.

John 13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

James 1:14-15  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:21-26
21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 
 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
 26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

A song to ponder: