WWJD? NOT what you might think...
Recently, I experienced what might be called, a falling out with a family member over something as trivial as swearing. I was in my own home, and I was in the middle of speaking when this family member chose to order me to shut up and stop swearing because they were offended by it.
My first reaction was one of fear that I had caused them grief, but was soon replaced by something even greater, anger. Anger at being ordered to stop speaking in my own home. Anger at not being allowed to be my true authentic self, in my own home. Anger at being condemned and judged, in my own home.
In the midst of this moment, which probably lasted a millisecond, I heard a calm, clear, authoritative voice say to me, “This is YOUR home, defend it.” Now, I don’t know where you stand on faith and God, but I will tell you, I have heard this voice before, and I know that I know that I know, it most certainly was God. I spoke up and informed this family member that no, this was my home and I was not going to be ordered to be silent in it. If they had a problem, they were welcome to leave. Of course, this only angered them more, but I found that though I was angry, I wasn’t fearful of being wrong any more.
Now, I know you may be asking me, “How can you believe that God would cause you to defend swearing?”
Well, I’ll tell you. Because NOTHING I do will ever shock Him. Before time began, He was fully aware and knew of this moment, knew I would swear, knew I would what some might call, sin. And He didn’t care. He didn’t care then and He doesn’t care now. He loved me then and He still loves me now.
I read an article today about how people are turning away from God and their faith and how wrong they are. I disagree. Completely. The God people meet in churches is quite often, not always, but more so than not, not the real Jesus. Jesus commanded us to, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12. He never said, shun sinners, run from them, condemn them for their sin, order them to stop, to behave differently around you because it makes you uncomfortable, tell them they will go to Hell if they don’t stop sinning, tell them they must clean themselves up before you will associate with them.
Yet, this is the very same attitude most churches portray today. No wonder people are leaving churches by the droves. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST (renewal, blessed quiet) FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified Version.
Jesus RAN to sinners. He EMBRACED them. He ASSOCIATED with them. He SAT DOWN AND BROKE BREAD with them. He LOVED them, UNCONDITIONALLY. He NEVER condemned them. He NEVER ordered them to stop sinning. He spoke to them of the Kingdom of God. He spoke to them of Grace. He spoke to them of FORGIVENESS. He LOVED them into the KINGDOM.
If we are to be LIKE HIM, should we not do the same? He chose to enter into their nightmare no matter how uncomfortable it made Him. Because He knew something that most Christians have failed to realize. It’s not about you! It’s about them! If it makes you uncomfortable, you’re doing it right.
WE are His hands. WE are His feet. WE are the tools he uses to reach the lost. If you have a compass that points to the wrong direction, would you use it? Too many Christians fight against the hands that are using them because it makes them uncomfortable to be around the very people he sent us to love.
I’m reminded of the popular bracelets everyone used to wear in the ‘90s, WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? I think if Jesus were walking the earth today as He did then, He would shock most people who claim to follow Him. I think He would call out those very same people and their ears would ring for a very long time. I think you would find Him in the places you would never find a zealous Christian frequenting. But, here’s the interesting part. Come close, because I want to whisper in your ear. He’s already in those places. Ya just can’t see Him. I’ll tell ya who’s NOT there. Yup, ya guessed it.
Now, I said all this, NOT TO PREACH. But to say this, I am a Christian, but I am NOT perfect and that’s perfectly OK. I DON’T have to be. I HAVE faults. I am AWARE of those faults. I ACCEPT those faults. I DO NOT condemn myself for those faults. I DON’T need to CHANGE those faults. Because here’s why. Grace COVERS them. I DON’T have a license to sin. I ABHOR sin. I, however, AM POWERLESS to change the fact that I STILL sin sometimes. Only Jesus can do that and until He does, I wait. I bear NO guilt, NO shame, NO condemnation for the sin. I am a new creation in Him. This does NOT, however, mean that I am magically perfect, sinless, never to commit another sin. What is DOES mean is this. When I do, IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE. There is NO record of it in Jesus’ eyes. I am perfect in His eyes and that’s ALL that matters. I don’t care anymore what people think of me. Which brings me back to the situation in my home.
Offense is a sin of pride. Nothing less. It’s where one person’s actions causes another to become uncomfortable because of their pride, how they expect the world around them to behave based on their perceptions of what is right and wrong. They expect everyone to behave how THEY want them to behave, instead of what’s best for that person. Sort of a controlling mindset. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say John and Bob decide to go fishing. John tosses his line out and Bob does the same. John gets a bite, but Bob doesn’t. When John reals in his catch, he exclaims, Holy Shit, look at the size of him, Bob, he’s huge! Bob immediately gets angry because John said the word, shit.
No crime has been committed. John did not attack Bob. John did not steal from Bob. John did not slander or lie about Bob. John did nothing other than to say a word that Bob finds personally vulgar. Yet, John is made to feel as though he did something wrong. THIS is offense. And John is not the guilty party. Bob is. Bob’s pride has accused and condemned John for invading Bob’s sense of what is right and what is wrong. Bob’s perception of how HE FEELS John should act has been revealed and Bob is angry because of it. Offense exposes pride and the person bearing it. Pride is the sin, not the unconsciously blurted out and excited exclamation John made. And this pride is NOT Christ-like.
If we are to be like Him, it’s time to STOP the HYPOCRISY. Stop the CONDEMNATION. Stop the BIGROTY. Stop the LEGALISM. Stop the JUDGING. Stop the SHUNNING. Stop the RELIGIOUSITY. Stop the PRIDE AND OFFENSE. Stop being TOOLS IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY.
This family member chose to leave my home and I wish them no ill will. In fact, I pray for them, that their eyes would be opened and their heart healed. In the meantime, I choose to go on, secure in the knowledge that I am still accepted and approved by God, in spite of my swearing. I also choose to not let their bitterness, anger, resentment, offense and pride change me. I choose to love as Jesus did, unconditionally, anyone who comes across my path. I choose to be my authentic self, not the plastic version, hiding all the pain and anguish. I choose to not live my life by the ridiculous standards set up by religious zealots who have no love, no compassion. I choose to be the light in the darkness, imperfect and riddled with faults, yet loved by my Creator.