Sometimes I feel like a crappy Christian. I judge Christians who judge other Christians for not being Christian enough, and then I say the person who first judged is not being Christian enough. I know, I suck. Big hypocrite!
Yesterday started out as a very inspiring day with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and also the second inauguration for Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States. After recently seeing Lincoln and Django Unchained (no matter how fictional and historically inaccurate some claim the latter film to be), thoughts of where we’ve been in this country and how far we’ve come in terms of civil rights were fresh in my mind. I almost started crying as I watched Michelle Obama walk down the hallway into the front of the Capitol, and again as the President spoke about Dr. King, Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall. So much progress, yet so much more to be had.
From the time I was a little girl, I’ve been interested in social justice, equality and justice for all. I played Mary Todd Lincoln in third grade when we all had to be famous people for some project. A boy named Neil Oliver, who had a crush on me, decided to be Abraham Lincoln and my teacher made us present together, making me furious! But it didn’t take away from the fact I knew slavery was wrong, and I’d much rather be Mrs. Lincoln than whoever Jefferson Davis’s wife was - do they even have her name in history books? Maybe it’s in Wikipedia. Ah yes, just checked. Her name was Varina Howell Davis.
Anyway, I digress...
Yesterday, my heart was full of pride for our nation and the progress we’ve made over the past 240 plus years, but especially the last 50. I thought of how Dr. King fought on the platform of faith, and our country was founded on the principle, if not in legislation just yet, that all men (and women) were created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I was also reminded about how much I want all individuals to know God’s love and to know they are loved. Love and forgiveness are necessary if we’re ever going to have true peace in this world.
But then an event took place that reminding me I also need to remember God’s love for all people even when I don’t feel so loving towards others myself. Yes, it happens… more often then I care to admit. It’s hard for me to love people sometimes. Especially when people who identify themselves as Christians say or do something that I would deem, well, stupid – and thus make me look bad. That’s right… it’s all about my selfish pride. But I think in some way it’s also about my desire to protect the name of Jesus - who of anyone in the history of the world, doesn’t need my protection. He’s got the Big Guy upstairs doing that for Him.
So here’s the deal. Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle tweeted the following on Monday:
Wow… Ok then…
Mark Driscoll, a prominent evangelical pastor and author – a man whose job it is to shepherd thousands of people in the greater Seattle area - is proclaiming that he knows the heart of President Obama, as well as whether or not God is going to save him. I thought that was God’s place to decide, not Mr. Driscoll’s.
Either way, I believe it was not only an irresponsible remark for a pastor to make, but also ignorant of the facts, and is offensive to me as a Christian based on what I know the Bible says about judging the hearts of others.
But I will admit that it’s hard for me not to judge Mr. Driscoll and where his heart lies in terms of his relationship with Christ. Therein lies my crappiness.
I could quote a ton of scripture about loving people, not judging, about God’s grace, about how we should let our yes’s be our yes’s and our no’s be our no’s, etc. but this blog is more of a confession to Mr. Driscoll than a condemnation.
Mr. Driscoll, even though I'm pretty sure you'll never read this, I just want to say I’m sorry that I judged you and for a brief moment thought you were not a true Christian because you judged the heart of another professing Christian. Yes, Barack Obama has professed publically several times that he is in fact a Christian and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, which are laid out in the Bible that he swore an oath on today.
I’m sorry that I cursed you to my husband, when I thought you were making me look bad, and misrepresenting the God that I’m trying so hard to get people to know. There are so many people in my life who disregard the teachings of Jesus because of Christians who have come off as self-righteous and judgmental. Yes, I know I am guilty of this as well. Usually it’s against Christians who I feel give us a bad name. I’m working on it. I can give you my therapist’s phone number as proof.
I’m also sorry that I didn’t feel compelled to pray for our president after your tweet. Of course we should all pray for the president. We should pray he is seeking God’s counsel, pray he and his family are protected, and pray he makes wise decisions. We should do that for all of our leaders.
Finally, I’m sorry that I’m a crappy Christian and judged you. Seriously. I’m sorry.
So what now? Let us reflect and ask what is the point in stating we believe someone is not a real Christian. How are we helping the Kingdom when we tear other believers down? I know some may argue I’m doing that with you. I’m really good at giving advice to others without taking it myself. But I’ll be honest - I think you do know Jesus, but just like me and every other Christian, you are imperfect when it comes to following him. None of us will get it right this side of heaven, which is why grace is so amazing and necessary, but that’s no excuse not to continue to renew our spirits through our relationship with Jesus. Being a Christian is all about being renewed continually, every single day I need to ask God for His power to be the person He has called me to be.
Let’s do this together, Mr. Driscoll. Let’s renew our hearts, and work harder at loving others and lifting them up, praying for their success. Let’s support our president and other Christians in their personal faith journey, even if we may disagree with their politics, ideology, and/or behavior. Let’s reflect on scripture together so we can stop judging the hearts of other believers, but instead begin uniting as the Church so we can do God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Romans 14:10-13 is a good place to start…
“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
I’m hoping this blog will allow for future conversations to take away the stumbling blocks, dig up the dirt, and open up the dialogue. This is just the beginning! Progress not perfection.
Thanks for listening.