This past year Shawn and I went to a Spiritual renewal retreat lodge in Colorado for 10 days. It was life altering! We felt like our Bachelor of Arts in Theology and 12 years of experience in “full time” ministry dimmed in comparison to the fullness of the Word we received 12-14 hours a day for 10 days.
One of the books that was part of our daily curriculum was, “The Valley of Vision”. It is simply a collaboration of Puritan’s journaled Prayers. To hear them repent for the need to repent among other cries for God’s Mercy and Grace stunned me. These particular puritan’s, not that all were this way, were consumed with their own Holiness. Their focus wasn’t on others need to be Holy but their own need. They knew if they caught flame, others would follow but it was their responsibility to check their motives, heart, desires not just first…..but period. They were aware that they had so many sinful ways as flesh of flesh that they could spend all day everyday working on themselves. It was introspection, Fear of God, trembling in His presence. Who were they to judge others if they felt unworthy themselves? That is where God wanted them…aware of their unworthiness and their need for Him.
We have come so far from the pure fear of working out our own salvation that we honestly feel it is our duty to work other’s out for them. Many have become dependent on men and women “of the cloth” and in turn feel responsible for someone else’s sanctification.
This is Religion. It is saying I want to have a fence built around me by man- made rules and obligations so it is simple and fool proof. Next step is I need to get that fence around those who become Christians so myself and my earthly leader can prove this faith is “fool-proof”. We must realize we are fools, and those who don’t know Christ yet may really look foolish but I’m not the wise guy to change em! We want so bad to control any bad thing that may come our way, and don’t see that delima’s allow God to turn us in the direction of our true destiny if we let HIM! (One of my next blogs will go into Delima’s Links To Destiny.)
We also feel obligated as Religious people to “take a stand against sin”, in fact we hear that preached often. It’s always a sermon that will get the Pastor some “Amen’s” and a “Preach it” here and there. Problem is, we believe we are making a difference “taking a stand” against sinners through picketing and making stern comments when opportunity arises. Shouldn’t we first take a stand against that darn plank in our own eye before we hold up our angry sign with a plank?
I recently was surprised to hear about a great Pastor we know who was rallying his congregation to show up and picket a topless bar. I asked Shawn if he thought the same time from the pulpit could be spent receiving an offering so some lovely church ladies could take money and hand it to one of the girls going into the bar to work a shift. This could be the “seed” God is sending to end the cycle of their need for this paralyzing career. The money may help a single mom support herself and poor babies so she can get out of the job that makes her a lot of money a night.
Oh, I know what most are thinking, “You don’t know what she will do with that money”….hold up right there…. is that us determining she answers to us not God? And how many preachers have used our offerings for the hotel bills to stay with one of these girls…ouch, that was just mean, I know! Sorry 🙂
(Another one of my next blogs will be on How Meanness has a History.)
Anywhoo, if we Religious folk (I act it too at times) would focus as much on ourselves and our holiness as a “sinner” saying “to each his own”, we would ooze with Love and Mercy for others. Our heart would break for what breaks His!
There is no way you can be on your knees and in the Word and walk away looking for a sinner to reprimand. So I contend that those who find me too liberal or easy on sin or who are disgusted by “sinners” have not been with Jesus lately because you would be crying not raging. Jesus only ever got angry at Pharisees, Saducees, and temple workers…oh and at the devil.
Another benefit to working on your own Holiness, ie. Spirituality is you will rarely be grouped in with “hypocrites” because we are to busy working on ourselves to flap BIG Religious Jowls. Huge thing you can say for Jesus, He was a man of few words and many questions. His ears were at least as big as his mouth. I think Religious people have UFC cauliflower ears that are closing up the more they fight people!
With love and gentleness….;D
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