In my last message I asked fellow Christians to share more of Christ and less of their religiosity during the Christmas season. Since publishing that post I've been struggling with a new topic but, as always, if I wait long enough life's events have a way of directing me.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that the foundational scripture for my website is John 3:16-17:
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him."
And that message of love without judgment lends itself to this post.
By now you have heard of the horrific 7.0 magnitude earthquake which has devastated the tiny country Haiti. Also by now you may have heard that a well known Christian fundamentalist leader has blamed this and the many other tragedies suffered by the people of Haiti on a "pact with the devil."
Friends, not only do I find that comment to be extremely callous and judgmental but in my humble opinion, comments like that are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. Recall this lesson from the Gospel of John:
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light." -- John 9:1-5 (MSG) The Message
Doesn't this suggest that instead of seeing natural disasters or other tragedies as God's punishment against people, we should consider that God is really watching us to see how we respond to the crisis. Instead of trying to assign blame shouldn't we be "energetically at work for the One who sent us", the One who we claim to represent? Aren't we warned against judging others?
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. -- Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG) The MessageI know that from time to time we're all tempted to judge the behaviors of others or try to make causal connections between events. Sometimes it may even be appropriate. However, as Christians, are we really reflecting the teachings of Jesus if we're always offering help to hurting souls with one hand while we're beating them over the head with judgment with the other hand.
Just a thought.
Visit CNN's "Impact Your World" site to learn how you can respond to the crisis in Haiti