Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Righteous Indignation...Anger...Rage

I have been thinking about what happens when we of the church turn on our own. I have been thinking about it because I've seen it happen, been the victim of it and have a dear friend who has been abused by the self-righteous, holier-than-thou, so-called Christians in the name of righteousness, and in the name of Christ.

I was with a group of churchwomen eating at a local pizza restaurant. An extremely obese woman came in and sat down with her food. One of the ladies looked at her in disgust and with disdain dripping from her voice said, "How can she eat in public when she looks like that?" The lady was eating a very modest size meal, but that wasn't the point. To me, the point was how dare we look down our snooty noses at this woman whom Jesus loves? With great restraint and by the grace of God I controlled myself to say only, "some of us wear our sins on the outside, and some of our sins are hidden."

To these people who have called my friend and spewed acidic hate through the phone in the name of righteousness, I want to take them before the church and publicly call them to task for their hateful, ungodly, unbiblical behavior. My friend was told that God had withdrawn his blessing forever from my friend's life and the life of my friend's family because of a momentary sin. I want to rip them limb from limb! I am so incredibly angry, and yet...Jesus loves them too. Oh, I don't believe he would let this go, he seemed to have a record of chastising the self-righteous and moneychangers.

Others have been cruel to my friend's children because of my friend's one-time, repented of, covered by the blood of Jesus, 100% forgiven sin. Vicious vile people. when someone repents aren't we supposed to restore them so that they don't lose heart? I know that is completely scriptural. We are told to bear each other's burdens, and that love covers sin. I believe that means we don't expose someone to public shame unless biblical, private discipline yields no results.

So because I was not part of the conversations and have no first-hand knowledge (though I know the players well enough to know that the story is true), I must then tell you to watch yourself in your tendency toward self-righteousness. We all have that. We must go first to the sinner to deal privately. We must protect the reputation of our brothers and our sisters. We must not gossip. We must avoid the temptation to elevate ourselves by degrading our brothers and sisters in the name of truth. If we do not act in love and kindness toward our brothers and sisters when they sin, why should we be treated with love and kindness when we sin?

Think of it this way...

How would you like your private sins made public? How would you like the entire church to stand in judgement of the sins that beset you? What if it's gossip? What if it's lust? What if its jealousy? What if its pride? What if every ugly moment that you are ashamed of were displayed in a video on Sunday morning? Do you think those are any smaller or less shameful than theft or immorality or drunkenness? Do you really? What if you not only had to go to the foot of the cross and accept grace but you also had to pass muster with all the church people YOU know? What if your forgiveness were truly dependent on the sniveling, rude, unlovely group that composes a great part of the church?

What part of the church do you want to be in? Do you want to mimic Christ in his forgiveness, his grace and his mercy? Do you want to cover the sins of your brother/sister? Or do you really want to stand in judgement over your brother?

Oh please...let us not beat up our brother, our sister. Let us lift them when they are down, put an arm around them and carry them when they are weak. And as angry and enraged as I have been to see the hands and feet of Christ sullied in this way, I do appreciate the soapbox which has allowed me to get this out. I beg of you, let the church show the mercy of Christ to each other.