Every family in its own way, at least on a somewhat ‘mild’ level if not drastic or extreme, is dysfunctional. We are all human beings and earthly parents do raise their children with their limited wisdom and what they believe is right or based on the values that were instilled in them growing up without giving a thought to the whys and whats and hows.
When people become Christians, other Christians who are legalistic and religious, expect perfect conduct from these ‘new’ Christians. They think it’s as easy as putting on a perfect robe of character. I guess the legalistic and religious Christians who point fingers at the new Christians believe they have got it all together.
This reminds me of the Parable that Jesus narrated…
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ – Luke 18:10-13
How did Jesus wind up this parable?
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
It’s also fascinating to note the recipients of this parable!
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable – vs 9
Obviously legalism and religious attitudes block the true meaning of being a believer – RELATIONSHIP.
It’s even worse when the new Christian has gone through extreme trauma in his/her life – whether it be enduring war or domestic violence or sexual abuse or exposure to drugs.. the list continues. This person is fighting so much within. This in itself is hard enough to cope with. Outsiders condemn the very one who has fallen victim to whatever the drastic circumstances that the society or the family has put them through. Outsiders fail to realise that these victims were raised without proper boundaries, that they become the push overs and hence easily become prey to the vices of the world or the evil doers around them – it’s not because these victims are ‘shrewd’.
(There are wicked people too who pretend and act well – for which we obviously need God’s discernment to be harmless as doves but shrewd as serpents as we are sent like sheep amidst the wolves!)
The very people who should be standing up against oppression, seeking justice and carrying out the ‘one another’ commandments are the very people who are pushing aside, labelling and rejecting – just like the Pharisee at the temple above. Each of these religious people overlook the fact that they have SINNED much and God in His love, grace and mercy is extending forgiveness and second chances. No sin is greater than the other – and sin isn’t about good or bad but rather not doing what God is calling you to do. There is only ONE unpardonable sin – and that is slandering the Holy Spirit! Everything else is pardonable.. and that’s what grace is all about! Grace leads us to yearn to walk on the narrow path.
Not loving one another and not building one another up is SIN! Hence rejecting the victim who is innocent and making them out as a sinner (when they are merely a victim), expecting perfectionism when they are desiring healing from all the inflicted wounds from their past let alone the legalistic Christians around them, is SIN in God’s eyes.
God gives us authority to build up, not tear down. It’s hypocrisy to expect God’s forgiveness and second chances for ourselves but to condemn and expect perfection from the wounded. Are we reaching out to help the wounded in any way or are we happily finding fault with their decisions?
God calls us to gently restore those who have been caught in sin. Assuming someone to be in sin is judging! So many Christians who are married will point fingers with suspicion and condemnation at the divorced, the victims of an adulterous or abusive spouse. Just because some who are divorced are being sexual immoral doesn’t mean all such people are. The married ought to remember, the ones who have been victimised and divorced may also see the married in the way the married people see them! There are so many who are married and yet being immoral behind the white washed walls of their marriages. God sees all what is going on inside and outside, our hypocrisies, our sincerities.. He sees it all. How we use our fears based on our values as an excuse to condemn instead of loving others – God sees that too!
As a member of the Body of Christ, we cannot be ‘outsiders’ to one another… We are parts of the Body that ought to suffer as one part suffers and ought to rejoice as the other rejoices. If we aren’t doing this, we seriously need to ask a question, are we truly loving God? If we are doing so, we will be connected to the Body – and by the Body I do not mean the physical building but rather the vessels of God in whom God lives!
If we are busy labelling and condemning, then we are surely not busy enough loving God and loving one another! When we love with the Father’s heart, we try to understand by HEARING them out, empathise and be the SAFE place to help them heal.. Having said that if our love is feeding into abuse or weaknesses, then we are not the ones called to help those particular people!
We are called to be Ambassadors of Christ!
How did Christ respond to the sinners who had contrite hearts and
how did He respond to the Pharisees, to those who were self righteous?
I’m grateful that God extends His grace and forgiveness to me as I am a work in progress.. and as I yearn more and more to be transformed into His image! What about you?
He embraced me for who I am, and despite all what I have experienced and despite the many mistakes I have made and despite the mistakes I make in the present.
Did He do that for you too?
Are we willing to extend that grace to others to see each other GROW in HIM?