I had originally said some things only in a comment last week, and then Sunday my experience confirmed this was more than just something a comment can hold. I try to be shy of over-spiritualizing, after all I’m possessed of the same nature as anyone else, or worse. But today, “hold on to your lug nuts, it’s time for an overhaul!”
The comments I made were about how frustrating it is, me being a really bad Christ follower but really trying, and watching other people who claim the title making it hard for people to join me in following, or worse, make them so mad they don’t WANT to join me in following. And there’s a disclaimer: if you think I’m full of shit, move on to the next blog. And if, by the end of the article you think I’m just a pain in your ass, let me know and I’ll pay the proctologist’s bill. If you want to see the original article and conversation, click here, at the risk of seeing the same ideas in my blog today.
People are so FUCKING JUDGEMENTAL, they’re MENTAL. Not just people, I used to be, a lot, and then I went on a journey called Everybody goes through shit in their lives and nobody is any better than anybody else no matter how superior they feel about themselves, and you, Deon, are just as big a fuck-up as anyone else so you have no room to tell anyone how much better you are than them. I can’t even judge the judgemental, because I used to be a bigger idiot. Now I’m proud to say, I’m just an idiot.
If the discovery that I’m cyclothymic has been worth anything, it’s the discovery that everybody with bipolar that I’ve met so far (except of course, me) are beautiful (more on that later this week if I can blog) awesome wonderful people, they’re nice, they’re friendly, and they’re supportive (except of course, me- I have a foul mouth and an foul temper and a bad attitude about everything. Because when black holes suck by their nature and gravity sucks by its nature and life sucks when you’re riding a random wave, and mean people suck on fucking purpose and just add to the general suckage, fuck all that and fuck them. “But I try. I try.”) And add to that the thought that we all have our things- habits, choices, stuff we do that makes us wonder if we even still have a conscience, or, makes us want to just give up on ourselves. I see a tremendous amount of surrender to the suckage among my fellow blogospherians. We see how it should be, we see how it could be, we try and try to make it better and it still sucks, we pray, we fight, we wrestle, we work, and it all goes to shit in spite of our best efforts. That SUCKS. And then we turn to whatever else we might turn to for help, and the worst offenders in my opinion are me and the rest of the Christ followers. What we do is we make grace (free gift offered to everyone by God, forgiveness and freedom from sin and hell) something hard to get. We tell people they can come when they turn away from whatever sin we don’t like that they do like. As if we didn’t have sin of our own that we still commit. Like judgement. Like hypocrisy. Like hatred. We pretend we’re better than regular normal non-Christ-Following people and everyone else is beneath us.
Fuck that. Fuck ME, whenever I act like that, I’m lower than whatever’s beneath the station of shit. That is the fucking diametric OPPOSITE of “grace.” It’s an epic failure to correctly represent Jesus. Why? Several reasons.
What I have discovered along my own journey of life (I didn’t call it fucking “normal,” now, did I?) is that this community does well supporting its’ injured. When we go through a low or a mixed episode that sucks, everyone else including people who are going through that at the same time, rallies around the person who’s suffering the suckage, and says words of encouragement and love. We don’t blame, we don’t judge, we don’t hate, we aren’t mean. That’s doing community right.
Outsiders point fingers. They don’t understand shit about shit. And they’re doing it wrong. Sadly, I believe that’s the human condition. The religious leaders did it, since the time when religious leaders came to lead. In the Old Testament the priests weren’t all always the most pure people you could meet, but the Israelites were supposed to go to them for spiritual guidance. In the New Testament the priests, scribes, pharisees and saducees were supposed to be all holy and guiding the people to God and they weren’t any better. And now we come to the modern era and you think it’s any better?
Disappointing but true, if I were called to be a pastor back when I was still an idiot about grace, I’d have been right up there with the pharisees, a big asshole. Shutting the doors of the kingdom of heaven right in your faces with my judgements and my expectations of how you ought to be. And I know there are pastors and so-called Christ followers who still do the same thing. I had to realize what the truth was before I could say any of these things, and now the respectable church wouldn’t want me to be their pastor because they’re looking for someone pious who looks like they think Jesus wants a pastor to look.
In the Old Testament, occasionally prophets would call those religious leaders out, or God just ended them. (See also I Samuel 2-4 for a few who were ended on a smaller scale). In the New Testament, Jesus and John the Baptist called them out, (as SNAKES) and later Stephen and Peter, in the book of Acts. (See Matthew 3 where John the Baptist tells it like it is, and later Matthew 23, where Jesus does it) If God ended evil “followers” like Korah and Eli’s kids, in the modern era, I’d be gone. Because I used to be like that.
I’ve learned a little bit about myself, about addiction, about my own potential to do evil, and I’ll let this be the limit of my self-confession for now: I know some of the things I do are wrong, but I still choose to do them. Through my struggle against my habits, I’ve learned to be more gracious, because I need more grace. And while I wouldn’t wish my experience of life on anyone, I do wish people would learn more about Jesus’ grace, how to talk about it with normal people, and what grace means to people who aren’t following.
I’d like to be more gracious to everyone, even to the hypocritical idiots who are deaf to Jesus’ words of grace, because they think they’re fine. Mark chapter 2 and Matthew chapter 9(:13) speaks to them, through a bullhorn, and they’re deaf. I bet it breaks God’s heart. They suck, and unless they wake up like I was awakened, they’re going to continue to suck. So being human, I just want to say, fuck them.
And finally the confirmation that I’m on a fucked up trajectory but in a relatively ok direction came Sunday, when I heard Hosea 6:6 that Jesus was preaching from.
“Learn what it means, where it says, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'”
It means, show a little grace. Be merciful. Offer the promise of forgiveness. Don’t kill the sinners for their sins, because, remember your own resumé. Not the one you show everyone. The one maybe only God knows about.
The opposite of grace is in Isaiah 65. These pompous, pious people live in the first part of the chapter. No, you can’t join my church (wait, I thought it was God’s church, built by Jesus (Matthew 16:18) out of us normal human people- until you get your life right with God, then you can come in. That’s ass backward. People go to a hospital when they’re sick, people come to church when they know they’re sinners and need a saviour.
It’s a contemporary demonstration of Isaiah 65:1-5. These people think they’re following God the right way- they’re hyper righteous and they know it. They’re the “good” people and they look around and see that everyone else is “bad” by comparison. In passing their judgement onto these who need grace, they’ve officially lost sight of their failure- failure to offer grace to anyone else, oblivious to the judgement coming to them in verses 6-15 and the penitent’s (our) acceptance by God in verses 16-25.
And I used to walk in that path, I know how easy it is to do. It’s on my old resumé, the one I’d rather throw out. For that old path, for my previous judgemental attitude, for the way I used to be so unloving, I am sorry.
And for any of you who are turned off to Christ because of people who say they’re following but they make it so hard to follow Him that you don’t want to bother trying, I’m sorry again. If any of you have ever been turned off by the self-righteous, high holy piety of the self-proclaimed saints, I want to express to you that if they stepped on your toes because you were or are some kind of sinner, without ever acknowledging or admitting that they are too, they did it wrong. The Good News is that grace isn’t for people who say they’re all righteous before God, it’s for us, the sinners who know we’re sinners in need of Jesus.
Today I read about how Jesus is building his church on the legacy of Peter (Matthew 16:18), and how Peter explained it, and I wanted to shout. It’s on people like me and you. And that made me celebrate. I don’t think I’m manic, but here- you have a look:
I Peter 2:2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Who’s the church? People who need mercy and grace, and who accept it. Only a hypocrite will shut the doors of grace and mercy in your faces, and if that’s happened to you, let me fucking OPEN IT TO YOU AGAIN. And I’m holding it open. Because God loves you. Sure, he wants us to resist sin, turn away from it, confess it, and so on. YES. I won’t deny that. Jesus’ first message, and his message to the woman at the well, and his message to us, is to turn away from sin and follow him. But those who understand addiction will know that’s a daily process, not something we can rid ourselves from, quitting “cold turkey.” Mostly I want to express that God knows we’re human and he knows we fail and he STILL wants us all to come to him (I Peter 2:4) (II Peter 3:9).
I’m not ashamed of the message. I’m ashamed of myself, and how I am sometimes, and really ashamed of how I used to be. I look at myself, present and historical, realistically, and I think, “really, what the fuck, God? I’m the one you sent? There are far better people out there you could have sent.” But in spite of myself I want you to know that God’s offer of mercy is to you.
I didn’t choose you, but I’m glad we were introduced. You are my kind of people. You already understand community. You already understand ministering to the sick. You already understand we’re all flawed. Like Jesus when he met Matthew (Levi) the tax collector, anyone sneering judgementally down their perfectly pious noses at me (or you) for hanging out together can either go fuck themselves, or learn what it means, when it says “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” If they think they’re all right, they don’t really need Jesus, and from what I read, until they really repent, he doesn’t much need them either. They’re pretending and some of them have pretended so long they don’t know they’re pretending. They only hear what they want to hear, the way they want to hear it. They’re deaf to the message God has for their hearts. So He wants you instead, because you’re real.
There. God has called you. Obviously He has a sense of humour because I’m the fucked up idiot he chose to send to offer the message. You think maybe differently of me, but if you do, that might be only because it’s on the publicly visible resume, not the one God and I know about. But then, he also sent the very judgemental Jonah once, and those people listened. If God cried when holier-than-thou Jonah wanted the people of Nineveh to still be wiped out even though they repented, He’s laughing now.
“…the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”