I've got a good friend who's church is turning on him right now. I was told it happens, and can happen overnight. A few years ago, the church I was serving did the same to me, and I remember how painful it was. It took a couple years for the initial grief to wear off, but the after effects are still there and are the reason for my caution in relationships.
This friend of mine has been leading the church, get this, in doing church stuff. You know, reaching out to the outcasts, comforting the lonely, standing up for the underdog...the kind of stuff Jesus would have done. But, it just didn't fit well with the church's idea of who they were, and it scared them. So what do we do when we get scared? We remove the source of our fear.
Matthew 7 is a chapter just full of little tidbits of wisdom. Some of it is comforting. Some not so much. But in my bible, the whole chapter is in red, which means, tradition says these words came straight out of "his" mouth.
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
But that's not the way it works, is it? Lots of times we are all about getting the speck out of someone else's eyes, and can't wait to tell them it's there, but totally forget that they may be seeing the same thing in us. So in the church, we schedule meetings to let folks know about the speck in their eyes and just what we're going to do to get it out. I'm sorry, I have no patience for that.
Yet it is still there. I thank God that I haven't seen those attitudes in the church I'm serving now. This is a bunch of folks that, I believe, either looks past the specks in other's eyes, or recognizes the plank in their own. And I have to say, serving a church like this is a blessing.
I wonder though, in the church as a whole, and especially in the church as a family, when we become judgmental like so many congregations have, what will be the measure used against us? When we become so focused on the specks in others eyes that we can't see the plank in our own, what will be done to remove the planks from our eyes?
That's why I'm glad I'm Methodist. Not that these things aren't present in our churches, they are, and in some places with a cross and flame in the front yard, they are present en masse. But as a church as a whole, grace is the kleenex that we use to get stuff out of our eyes. And grace...is a good thing.