Thursday, April 29, 2010

Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8

For me the most profound passages of Scripture are often the simplest: small, often overlooked passages that are so rich with meaning if you are still long enough to grasp it. This is one of those simple beautiful passages. We make things so much more complicated than they have to be; I think it’s a part of basic human psychosis. Leave it to us to take even the simplest of tasks and turn it into some monumental labyrinth. But here in this passage we are only given 3 simple instructions:

1. Act justly
2. Love mercy
3. Walk humbly

I am struck by the simplicity of these instructions. This is something that we all can do, from the youngest to the oldest, regardless of faith tradition, or social status. This is a simple message for all of us. What would our world look like if everyone tried to follow these 3 little instructions? To act justly, to do justice, to do what is right? We live in a world where people love their houses and love their cars and love their dogs, but what would our world look like if people actually loved mercy and kindness and compassion? With all of the egos we have flying around everywhere wouldn’t it be nice to deal with people who didn’t feel the need to feed their egos constantly but instead decided to embrace humility?

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. It’s so simple and yet deeply meaningful. Sometimes we need simple reminders on how to live and what life is really about and for this little reminder I am grateful.

Following the Way,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Judge Not

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
Mother Teresa

I absolutely love this quote! My friend Denisa brought it to my attention this week (Thanks Denisa). I think it should be posted in big bold letters in every single church everywhere! Imagine what Christianity would look like if we spent less time judging each other and more time loving one another. It's amazing how often we judge one another. It's almost a constant thing. We are constantly looking at people and pinpointing things we don't like about them and coming to a conclusion about the person based on these things. We judge people because of their hair, their height, their weight, their age, their looks, where they geographically come form, their past, their social status, their style of dress—and it goes on and on and on..

I was disgusted in church on Sunday. There was a man who's been battling cancer and he was in attendance on Sunday after being away for months. When I saw him I was so happy and so grateful to God that he was well enough to come to church! When the Pastor acknowledged him from the pulpit they church responded with a pathetic hand clap. I don't know what was going on. The whole church should have been rejoicing that our brother who was once too sick to go to church or anywhere else for that matter was now well enough to be among us. A suspect that if he were more involved with the different activities in the church he would have received a warmer welcome.

May God have mercy on us all! We shouldn't treat people differently based on how involved they are in the church. We should treat everyone the same. We should love everyone. We should recognize the immeasurable worth and value of every person who comes into our midst, but we're too busy judging people we don't have time to love them. We don't have time to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. We don't have time to see their needs and what we can do to help meet them.

Mother Teresa was right. We can judge people or we can love them. We can't do both. We have to choose. It's one or the other. Which option will you choose today?

Following the Way,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Where is The Mercy?

I had lunch with a friend of mine who’s a pastor and he shared with me a story about a young African-American boy, only 13-years-old who tried to kill himself recently. He’s effeminate and most likely gay; he gets teased and bullied a lot at school. His mother called him a faggot one day and that must have pushed him over the edge and he attempted to hang himself to death. By the grace of God he was unsuccessful this time, but who’s to say he won’t try again. And why shouldn’t he? When the church sends out the message that you are better off dead than gay why shouldn’t he try again? Why live? For what reason? To be rejected by the black church and the black community at large? When your own mother cannot show you any mercy and taunts you in the same manner with the same words you get taunted with at school why go on? So now the mother is planning to take him to a pastor for “counseling”. In the church “counseling” so often involves being threatened with an eternity in hell unless you straighten up.

If that little boy tries to kill himself again and succeeds his blood is on the hands of the church, his blood and the blood of every single other young gay man and woman who believed that they were better off being dead than gay because that was the message the church communicated to them in one form or another. May God have mercy on the church! Sometimes I find myself in church asking myself why am I here? What does this have to do with my relationship with God? When so many Christians do not resemble Christ in any way shape or form why am I wasting my time coming here?

I’m so tired of the judgment, the self-righteousness. The church is so quick to condemn everyone else, but themselves. How convenient! If indeed God is disgusted by the lifestyle of homosexuals than God must also be equally disgusted by the lifestyle of most Christians. If homosexuality is a sin than the way the church treats gay people is equally as sinful. The church with all of the many, many sins it has committed in the name of Christ is in no position to condemn any human being. God and God alone will judge the living and the dead. What is needed now is mercy. Jesus never uttered a word about homosexuality but he did say for us to love everyone even our enemies. Why don’t we stop occupying ourselves condemning others and actually do what Jesus told us to do: love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

Following the Way,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April's Theme: Mercy

I really am in awe of the unconditional love of God. You don’t fully realize what a gift mercy is until you see yourself at your worst and discover that even then God is still with you. God doesn’t abandon us when we fail one another instead he shows us mercy and it is the abiding presence of God despite our failures that makes change a real possibility for us. We are not transformed by God’s wrath, judgment or condemnation, but by his love and mercy.

I got so upset yesterday. I was waiting for a consultation in this Chinese herbalist store and I got irritated so quickly. You couldn’t make an appointment; they don’t write down your name or give you a number when you come in. This is really stupid to me. Instead you just walk in and hope there’s not too many people there. I felt that it was so disrespectful of my time. And while I’m waiting a couple of people come in and they are told very clearly that there are 3 people ahead of them and they will have to wait. What do they do? As soon as someone walked out of the office they walked right in; they knew full well what they were doing. That was it for me! Once that happened I was just mad at the world for the next couple of hours. Everything and everyone irritated me from that point on.

Later when I calmed down I had to laugh at myself. There was no reason for me to get that upset. With all that I have experienced of God’s love and grace and new life I could have responded to that frustration differently, but I didn’t. I’m so grateful for mercy. I’m so glad that as God watched me lose my temper it didn’t change the way he felt for me at all. He extended mercy to me before I even asked for it. He is still with me and his presence never left me. What a wonderful assurance to have that even at our worst moments God doesn’t leave us. This is mercy. This is love. And for this I am grateful.

"Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." 
Lamentations 3: 22-23

Following the Way,