Friday, April 3, 2015

Thoughts on a Dark and Cloudy Friday Morning

Hello and a blessed Good Friday to you.

I've been thinking about my Good Friday blog since last Friday.  I've had a series of conversations with a variety of people in my life that have had me thinking about love.  Specifically the love that God has for us.  And by us I mean all of humanity.

A couple months ago I had a conversation with an acquaintance about faith and religion.  While the conversation was more in depth than this, the point that came out of it was, regardless of what they were raised to believe, this person did not want to identify as a Christian because "they're so judgmental."

And I get it.  I even agreed that this is a huge problem.  It's a conversation I've had many, many times with various people over the course of my adult life and I do most certainly believe that it is something Christians as a general whole need to work on.  Majorly.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) says "A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

If we look at the way the church (again, general whole encompassing all denominations of Christianity) argues with one another, not to mention how we treat those outside of our faith, it's clear we are not known by how we love.  Instead we are known by what we were specifically told not to do, which is by how we judge those around us.  And it makes me sad.  Especially today.

In my life I have a varied group of beautiful souls who I am blessed to call my friends.  We all have different backgrounds, different political beliefs, different religious beliefs and we've all made many different choices in how we live our lives.  Sometimes I scroll through my Facebook feed and chuckle because I think "my goodness if I ever had all of these people in the same room together, I'd have to get them to sign an agreement not to discuss religion, politics or the world at large.  Fluffy bunny topics only.  Otherwise we'd have a huge fight."

I have friends who are very conservative who think I've gone to the dark, liberal side thanks to my favorite state, and friends who are very liberal who think that's an absolutely hilarious thought because I'm more conservative than they are.

What is my point?

Look at the people in your life.  Do you agree on everything?  Have all of the exact same beliefs about everything?  If you're at all like me, probably not.  Yet, could you possibly love them any less?

Okay, so if your answer is no, of course not, these are people you hold dear to you; then how could you treat a stranger, someone you've never met and therefore who has not had the chance to personally offend you in anyway, with judgement instead of love or simply kindness.

Yet we are all guilty of judging others based on the color of their skin, how they look, who they're with, what they say and what they believe, but that's not our job.

We, as Christians, were given the simplest commandments by Jesus.  In Mark 12:28-31 (NIV) says "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.  Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"  "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this:  love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these."

Love.  Selfless and perfect love is what Christ showed us on the cross on Good Friday.  And if I am to call myself a Christian and to believe that I must accept Christ as my savior, otherwise completely imperfect little me could not possibly hope to see God in heaven, then how can I — knowing my own imperfections — treat anyone else as if I am superior to them.

I have a really difficult time with the idea of, not just hating, but even showing dislike or disdain for someone because they're different from me.  Probably because I was a weird kid.  I loved to play on the swings and sing show tunes at the top of my voice during recess and I loved and chattered about watching PBS - specifically Sesame Street - and I started to fall deeply in love with Shakespeare by age six and I was ridiculed for it.  For just being myself.  And I have some really clear memories of trying to figure out what on earth I'd done to make these people I'd just met dislike me so much.

I don't know any perfect people.  I am certainly not one.  So, I really believe with all my heart that we have to stop casting shame and hate and judgment down on other people who are also not perfect, just like us.  It does no good.  And I do not believe you could act less like Christ.  I worry sometimes that we have become more like the crowd calling for Jesus to be crucified and less like His disciples, and it breaks my heart.

I know I will continue to be guilty of not treating those around me with love.  And it makes my heart sad.  But I pray daily for God's help in loving everyone I meet the way He loves me.

That's just what's on my mind this Good Friday morning, and I thought I'd share.