The raw truth of our matters aren’t always what we desire to confront.
I sat in front of a pulpit today and listened to our old church pastor lay it out for us: the familiar talk about the love of Jesus accompanied by pastor’s personal bashing of how sinful everyone is. We were at a relative’s funeral service in a church, having to sit through the same type of production we had once tried to endure weekly. This pastor, at one time, had also been the man whom my wife and I would go and listen to on Sundays.
It was a nice service. There was so much talk about how loving and honest the one who’d passed was in his time here. I took the lovely parts of those hours away with me as we finished up the day around a dinner table with loved ones. Falling hard into a food-induced coma, and after a restless night before from having too much on my mind, I slept for most of the day. Upon waking, I sat down and began to think about some of the things that are certainly true.
You see, I had never been a fan of religion after–especially after–my first experiences with church and this same pastor, as well as a good portion of his congregation. And, unfortunately, the message the pastor had to share today started out well but quickly led to the same belittling it always had. Although, there were certain times within the service that had me thinking about the truths of Jesus. It gave me comfort, and it made me realize just how irrelevant a great deal of this life really is (although we tend to make this life relevant in our own personal ways). If made me think about the progress God has made within my heart. What didn’t give me comfort was how sinful pastor had to remind us all of being, while completely overlooking his arrogance. He had even addressed his own arrogance at one point. I thought to myself, “Oh, here we go again…”
I suppose that if you drink or smoke, you aren’t necessarily a Christian, according to this man. A large point was made using these two vices. He was quick to give a familiar word of faith without works of being dead, as it is outlined within the Bible. He began to point out the qualities that makes one qualified to be a child of the Lord. He will always start by saying that everyone has fallen short, and that only the blood of Jesus has cleansed us, etc., but this man’s message always ends in the same way:
He is much less of a sinner than his audience.
At least, that is what I had always taken away from his long-winded speeches. I took it the same way today.
I cannot judge this guy any more than I can judge the man who chain smokes, or the woman who sniffs her kid’s lunch money up her nose. I cannot even begin to know the heart of a man who sits in prison for making dozens of the wrong decisions. I cannot fathom just how hurt one must be after being so full of hate for themselves that they keep shooting Heroin into their bodies just to escape their pain. Unfortunately, I can see the pastor through his own words, and I know that something damaged him as well–just as severely as the drug addict or the scoffer. The arrogance that he upholds and pridefully embraces definitely stems from something. What I just can’t make myself do is agree with his repetitive messages. I cannot make myself agree, as his “church” does, that anyone is any different than the next. Why should I believe that one’s drinking and smoking is worse than being arrogantly proud? Why should I believe that being a, “member” of an establishment such as pastor’s would make me a better man?
Another pastor had talked about the meaning of the deceased loved one’s name. It had to do with the stars. He began to sculpt a narrative of how the light of stars illuminate the darkness. This pastor told a story about how the loved one had led him to Jesus many years ago, and how this man’s own light of love had encouraged him to become a pastor. I believe he was truly inspired by the love of God he knew, and my family and I knew, within this man. Unlike the pastor of judgment preceding, this pastor delivered the message of love.
We have no right to judge someone for their outward appearance. We have no idea just what made them the way that they are. But, we are obligated to love. That is what Jesus said. Unfortunately, none of us really know how to do it very well. Only God knows the ins and outs that make us.