Friday, September 11, 2015
The texts were Ezekiel 38-39, Psalm 145, and Revelation 20. Ezekiel wears me out. I love the Psalms because they are actually quite calming. Revelation...well, I despise Revelation because it has been used for the sole purpose of scaring the hell out of folks. And it is Revelation, not Revelations...and it is Psalm when you're talking about one and Psalms when you're talking about the whole book. That was a little bible trivia just for fun.
But...this morning, reading the three together, something hit me. Ezekiel loves to talk about folks getting wiped out. I don't know if he just had a burr in his britches or if God really was that ticked off. Revelation is more of the same. It's all monsters and fire and death, except for a few chapters. But the Psalm for this morning said this; "The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. (Psalm 145:8-9) Then it goes on to say this; "The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. the LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down." (Psalm 145:13b-14)
What hit me was a question..."Well, which is it? Is God focused more on wiping folks out and scaring the hell out of them? Or is God truly a God of compassion and love for those who he created and One who lifts up all who are bowed down?"
Then I started thinking about all that has been going on lately.
Then I started thinking about the church in the midst of all that's been going on lately. (Since I'm a church leader, that's what I do.)
Then I started thinking about some conversations I've had this week...and posts from other church folk in my Facebook news feed... and comments on posts... and pictures with little captions... and videos people have posted... and comments on the videos... and opinions... and about how folks say the church is in decline... and about how some have even said that Christianity is dead... and...and...and... and I have come to the conclusion that the only one to blame for any real or perceived decline in church attendance is the church.
We can talk about consumer Christianity all we want, and that folks only come to see what they can get out of it. There may be some truth in that. We can talk about how the world is just going to hell and can blame any group we want to blame because they don't agree with us. We can blame it on a supreme court decision. We can blame it on the president if we want. We can say that it's because of racism, or sexuality, or immigration, or Islam, or whatever. But it hit me this morning that it's nobody's fault but our own.
We (the Church, and I'm including myself) have become so focused on beating down the ones who won't agree with our sometimes narrow minded, fundamentalist view of scripture, that we may have become unable to see that God is also a God of Psalm 145...a God of compassion...a God who lifts up those who are bowed down...a God who loves all of creation. Once we become blinded to that part of who God is, can we even see anything but hate? I'm starting to wonder. But it doesn't have to be that way.
I think, therefore I am. What if we started thinking about ways to love the ones we're so quick to condemn? What if we realized it actually has very little to do with supreme court decisions, county clerks, or protests, and did some deep reflection on how we see the other? What if we were intentional about showing compassion even when they don't agree with us? What if we focused more on the type of radical hospitality Jesus showed and less on the specks in our neighbors' eyes?
Here's what I think would happen...if the church actually started doing that instead of beating down those with whom we disagree, you'd have to sit on the front row during worship, if you got a seat at all.
So...instead of condemning this person or that person straight to the fires of hell because they're not me...I think I am going to look for ways to live out Psalm 145 as a leader and as a member of the church universal. Who knows the difference it could make?