Saturday, February 14, 2009

Let Go, Let God

Before you read on, I should warn you, this post is written whilst I'm feeling inspired, so it may lack even more clarity than usual. It is written based on my thoughts after doing something I don't usually do. I went outside to a nice spot tonight and just sat there with some music. While I was there, this post came into my mind and I felt the need to write it. I was pretty sure my next post was going to be on conscience, that is no longer the case. It features quite a lot of information from various different sources, some from a very long time ago and some more recent... here goes.

A very long time ago (by very long I mean a few months) I heard a comment on my scrupe forum that struck me. It struck me so much that it became a quote on my facebook page, that quote is the title of this post 'Let go, let God'. I thought it was a beautiful quote, something that would be a really good idea to do not only for scrupers but for people in general. I didn't think much more of this quote at the time and it seemed to pass from my memory.

Lets fast forward to just a few days ago, a close friend of mine said something along the lines of 'don't chase, wait for God', what she was referring to isn't important, the important point here is, I made a bit of a joke of this at the time and the thought passed from my mind fairly quickly.

Now lets get to today. If you ask my housemates they'll say I've acted strange today, I suspect I may get some questions on it at some point. I've been for a walk on my own and I've been to sit somewhere I haven't been despite living here for over 6 months. I can understand their questions, I would likely ask questions too. I can assure them however, if they read this, there is no problem! So what happened today, well I was sat outside just looking at the nice view and thinking and back into my mind came 'Let go, Let God'. This time however it came back as more than a nice saying, it came back with real meaning, back to my mind came the comment my friend made to me and this time it made complete sense. Further, to my mind came a song I've been listening to a lot recently by a group I highly recommend called Rush of Fools. The song in question is called Fame and some of the lyrics are:

I have tried to follow, I have tried to lead
I have failed at everything
I have been the culprit to my selfish needs, made everything but You my King

I couldn't be any less worthy
To spend one day much less forever with You

I lift my hands just as I am, I'm letting go of false control
I lift my voice, I have no choice
My life is Yours, use me for Your fame, Your fame

Letting go, as you can see was suddenly upon me from every angle, I now know clearly the situation. I know the song made sense, my friends comment was spot on, the quote from all those months back was important. As I sat there and looked around me I was reminded that my God is the creator God. That letting go to my God was letting go to the God who made all that was around me, the God that spoke the world into existence, the God that flung the stars into space. Letting go to God isn't putting my life into the hands of anybody, its putting my life into the safest place possible. Its putting my life where it should have been all along.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Christians and Judging

A few weeks ago I got into a conversation about whether it was right to speak out on a certain topic to other Christians. I won't give the full content here as that isn't important but suffice to say the situation involved various Christians acting in a way that was unbiblical, unacceptable and causing problems. At the time I suggested to the person that quite simply someone needed to tell them that what they were doing was unacceptable, now in this situation I was probably wrong for reasons I will explain later. The argument I was confronted with however was that to bring it up was to be judgemental and that Christians were not supposed to be judgemental. The main verse cited at the time was Matthew 7:1-5:

1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Now, the verse above clearly states that we shouldn't judge, however, like we see frequently, to take only one passage of the Bible does not give us a complete picture. We could read this to mean that we should never say anything to a fellow Christian who is doing something wrong unless we are perfect. Doing so would then be judging them after all wouldn't it? To hold this view completely would be to say we can never say or arguably even think anything about another Christians behaviour. Whilst most wouldn't go this far, taking the extreme example, if a Christian commits murder or child abuse for example should we ignore it so as to not be judgemental? I am sure people can see the problem here, but interpreting as described above actually necessitates such a conclusion.

Is this really what the Bible means by judging, does God really want us to never tell anyone what they are doing is wrong? Lets take a look at another few verses, firstly from Matthew 18

15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

Now this is interesting, just a few chapters later we are given the advice that if your brother sins against you, to go and tell him. We are given instructions here for the process of escalation we should follow in these situations, but that is a different topic. My point here is that we as Christians are not told just to keep quiet in these situations, so the question here is, how is this situation different? In what cases are we right to tell people when they have sinned and in what cases are we wrong?

Looking at the case in Matthew 18, we see that the brother has sinned against you. It seems from this verse at least that in the case where the sin is against you, you are allowed to bring it up. The next part of this is important however, 'if he listens to you, you have gained your brother' Now to me, this seems to give some guidance on when we should bring things up, it sounds like it should be brought up in serious cases. The implication here is that the sin against you is strong enough that, for it not to be brought up, means a breakdown in the relationship between you and the other Christian.

Is then this the only guidance we have biblically on the topic? Is it only right for us to speak out against sin when it is directly against us and enough to cause a breakdown between us and the other Christian? Well, lets look further, there are numerous references in the Bible to this topic, a few of them are:

John 7:24 - Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.

Luke 17:1-4 - And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."

Galatians 6:1 - 1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Proverbs 7:25 - Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

2 Timothy 4:2 - preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

As we can see, there seems to certainly be biblical instruction that we aren't always to keep silent. We see in the above several things however, what is described here is a world different to simply telling people they're wrong. Judging is telling people they are wrong for your benefit, it is belittling other people. Christians should not do this. What Christians should do is correct others with gentleness. We should tell others when they are doing something sinful when it is for their benefit. We should be correcting them to restore them. The over-riding rule in Christianity is to love. Before you correct the person ensure that you are acting in love.

I said at the start of this that in my situation I may have been wrong. I say this as my concern in the situation was perhaps impure, I was angry with the situation and whilst the situation was wrong, it was perhaps not my place to get involved. My intent would have been to simply angrily tell the people they were wrong, not lovingly and gently attempting to correct. The balance here is not easy and had I gone shouting my mouth off I would have been wrong. My being incorrect on this occasion however, in no way changes the biblical instruction, we should correct our fellow Christians, and doing so should be an act of love.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Wrong impressions

Every so often you speak to someone who makes quite an impression. Ordinarily for me, that person says something that rings with truth. Well that happened today, I was having a chat with someone I don't know very well and they were by their own admission rather blunt. I quite appreciate bluntness, I understand it, its too the point, there is no confusion with it, its not always nice but its something you can do something with.

So the person said to me (and I paraphrase slightly) to' be careful with the impression I give to girls by speaking to them'. I often speak to girls, one of my best friends is a girl and its probably fair to say that I can seem over friendly with girls to the point where it gives the impression that I am attracted to them. This isn't so much of an issue if its a girl you'd actually like to date, at least then you can't be giving them the wrong impression, they might not be interested but you're not leading them on in any way. The problem is when it is with someone you're not interested in. This is something that I've thought about myself over the last couple of weeks. I have even discussed it with a few people, however this was the first time it has been brought up by someone who didn't know me very well, I am quite impressed with them for doing so and the consequences of the small discussion is continued thought into the matter by me and this article.

So where is my thinking on the matter? Well, the first thing I know is that I'm more likely to give someone I'm not interested in the wrong impression than someone I am interested in the right impression. There is simple reasoning for this, one situation I am the one at risk of getting hurt, the other one I'm not and its nice to have someone like you.

This however, is not a nice attitude at all, in fact, its an awful attitude and it is this attitude that is the root cause of my problem. My focus is wrong, completely opposite to the attitude God would want me to have. It is another example of the old man winning the battle in me, the natural inclination of me is to look out for number 1. To focus on my own happiness, my own needs, my own desires. This is a polar opposite to the attitude of Christ, and opposite to the attitude of the new man in me. I'm selfish, God wants me to be selfless. There is a constant battle in the life of any Christian between the new and the old, between the sin that is so attractive to the flesh and the holiness which is so attractive to the Holy Spirit living in them.

The person who said this to me has done me a favour by doing so, her comments can be used by God to make me more and more Christ like. I'll never be perfect in this life but with God's help with taking advice on board when it is given, even when it is difficult, I can be better than I am now. For my imperfections I will rely on the grace of God to help me through. This is only the very beginning of this and there is much more for me to still accept with this - its difficult - its going against my natural impulses. I have overcome challenges in the past and this is just the next and I don't intend to fail.