Love Your Neighbor As Yourself, Unless…

Today I can’t go to Starbucks. Yesterday I couldn’t vote for a democrat. Two days ago, I couldn’t be friends with a gay person. And tomorrow, well tomorrow, scripture will be changed from love your neighbor as yourself, to love your neighbor as yourself, unless…

It’s the direction we’re headed if we don’t get real, and preferably bury our heads face down in the dirt soon. Cause we’re dirty. Christians are dirty. Christianity is not clean. The dirt is on our hands.

I’m not sure what books we’re reading that lead us to believe we’re the judge, jury, and final verdict in others lives, but it’s not the Bible. Or C.S. Lewis, or Henry Nouwen, or Rob Bell <- threw him in there to cause an outburst. Elizabeth Elliott in all of her purity wouldn’t have condemned others or spent her hours on earth in the judgment seat, nor do the women I read today – Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Priscilla Shire, or Sarah Bessey, Ann Voskamp, Anne Lamott, or Sarah Young.

Yet countless men and women feel righteous enough within their own flesh to rally together congregants of churches to protest Starbuck’s red cups, all because they don’t say Merry Christmas? This is a Christian nation after all, and Starbucks is a flagship of the U.S. of A. Therefore, going forward, to remain loyal to our country, and to the faith in which it was founded upon, you must do as we say – signed the Christians.

The Problem
I mean what isn’t the problem here. But the main issue is, the one for whom the Christian religion was named for, would not have promoted a protest against Starbucks. He most likely would have reprimanded this behavior, and called out those claiming to be following his father as self-righteous hypocrites (in the vein of the Pharisees).

American Christianity is a construct of politics, economics, and Christ. None of us are free from this construct, and we’ve come to prosper in the United States, by being in the majority, with founding fathers (WASPs) that wrote the constitution, principally based on the wisdom of Holy Scriptures.

But principled and being are not the same thing. A constitution can no more be Christian than Starbucks itself.

An individual can believe and profess faith.

That individual may choose to carry their beliefs over into their workplace at some point, which is usually the case, since what ever lies within can’t remain hidden.

This can be carried out in a myriad of fashions. But no matter how we choose to carry our faith out in the public square, it first begins with our hearts, the motivation for the doing. And a good measure of the heart is found in logic. Will this action be received in love, is it helpful to the person, am I doing it to make myself known?

We’ve taken for granted something others across the world don’t have, the freedom to carry out the great commission without fear of death, imprisonment, or social ridicule (mostly). So it’s understandable that we often come off as self-righteous pricks, because there are no repercussions, sometimes we’re even rewarded for bad behavior…for now.

But it’s Not Bad Behavior, It’s Sin

And what if the consequences are dire, what if our actions are condemning and destructive, and what if we can’t see them now?

What if we get a pat on our back at church, or from the thought leaders we follow, and what if God is pissed off? This is something we should all consider. And what if our comfortable life is about to get turned upside down, because that God we claim to believe in and trust, wants to shake the proud right out of us.

It’s a shame really, that it has to come to this, but I’ve been self-righteous, too. I’ve had a plank in my eye. Maybe I didn’t protest at an abortion clinic, align myself with a certain political party that thinks Syrian Refugees are too much of a risk for our perfectly manicured neighborhoods, but I’ve had times where I was proud.

“I” was exhibiting great faith, doing something greater than myself, for the good of all, and especially Jesus (cause he needs me) and “I” thought someone else wasn’t working as hard on a certain project as she should be. To which she replied, “got something in your eye,” and so “I” checked. “No,” I answered. “I see a big log,” she said, and walked away.

“I” was shocked. All that “I” overcame to be where “I” was, how dare she rebuke me? The thing is, she was right. “I” had become too big for me, and not in the top heavy sense that I’d like to be in, my growing head was forcing my body to tumble over, and I didn’t even know it. Soon after this “come to Sherry” meeting (All names have been changed for the purpose of this lesson) “I” was brought low. Thank God, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

And I think we could all use a dose of Sherry, and not wine, for all of the minds that went there.

I leave you with music and questions: What if all we’re here to do is share our lives with others…in service, in community, in sickness, and in celebration? What if all we have to be is “real” about our sins, our weaknesses, and our struggles? What if it is simple and not the construct we’ve created?

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