Ok, so Aaron is teaching on the life of Moses right now and it's got me thinking. Poor Moses had to put up with an incredible amount of grumbling and complaining. Hmmm. So then I got to studying Luke 6 and Philippians 2 and that got me thinking some more. What has happened to us - the modern day Christian… specifically those of the charismatic vein?
Lately, I have found myself getting wounded and exasperated with people who call themselves Christians and yet show no signs of being "Christ-like" at all. What I see is selfishness, hate, unforgiveness and judgment…just to name a few adjectives. Aren't we supposed to be different? Aren't we supposed to be the ones who love? Ugh. Puke. Where is Christ in our version of Christianity?
Oh, wait. Am I not supposed to say things like this because I'm a pastor's wife? Well please bear with me. I'm a human. I would like to believe I'm entitled to some raw emotions. And don't think that I'm necessarily talking only about the people in our church...
There is such an overwhelming sense of "I love you... as long as you are meeting my expectations" and "I love you... if I feel like it" or my favorite: "I love you... as long as you never do ANYTHING to piss me off because if you do then I will forever keep a record of it in my mind and things will never be the same between us." Are you getting the picture? What happened to grace? What happened to preferring one another? [Zechariah 7:10-13: 'Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other. Don't take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don't plot and scheme against one another—that's evil.' "But did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God's revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons preached by the earlier prophets by order of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn't listen to a word he said.]
Grrr, of course I'm preaching to myself right now, too. And I know my husband is going to be like "Oh, Beth... why?" But I can't help it. I see these things and my heart cries out "NO!" If we have to walk on eggshells around each other and can't speak the truth in love, then what have we come to? [Luke 6:26: There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.]
Yes, it’s easier to just keep quiet. You don’t step on any toes like that…but that’s not the way God made me.
Anyway, here are some passages I’ve been studying and meditating on tonight. First is Philippians 2…
1-4 If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process.
14-15 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.
Next is in Luke 6…
31-34 "Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.”
And now I am very tired and must go to bed. I love God’s people. I really do. It’s just church people that exasperate me sometimes. ☺