Saturday, September 03, 2005

Learn perspective

Christians are often teased and looked down upon as inferior, uptight, closed minded, intolerant, immature, childish, arrogant goodie goodies.

People will tease if someone is a "goody-goody" and what they mean by it not that it's bad to do good but that you act as thought you can't relate with them. I believe there are many people who don't even give a chance, they look down on people who don't do bad things because they've been consumed in doing these things, in this case it's their fault and the innocent doesn't carry the burden of blame.

There is another and much more common situation, though. I've found that the people who do "bad things" can be some of the most understanding and open minded people around. I have a good friend here at APU who likes to drink. He’s the only one here who doesn’t profess to be a “hardcore Christian” and yet , ironically, is the nicest guy I know.

The "innocent" are often guilty of closed mindedness. They flee from "sin" and make no effort to understand or befriend the "bad" people.

If you hang out with people who use profanity and gasp at it you are doing nothing to help the situation. Your friends will probably tease you. I would probably tease you. Is it really such a big deal? this, by the way, is only valid example if you have a problem with people using profanity. I have lots of friends who use bad language. They have never heard me use it and probably never will but they would never consider me closed minded about it. I have had several conversations about the whole language issue. I try to understand it's justification and they try to understand it's potential harmfulness. I have enthusiastically decided it's not that big of a deal. Why should I gasp at the F word without even flinching at world hunger. There are much bigger problems in the world.

Now if you honestly see how something is messing up someone’s life and respond in authentic concern for their well being it's noble. We are called to act in compassion. but what must be understood is that you are their friend and you totally understand. If you don't understand ask them, converse, understand their justification and hopefully they will try to understand your concern as well. Going to them and saying "what you are doing is wrong and this is why..." gets you nowhere and they will never understand that life could be better for them.
Someone who is truly in touch with what's going on around them will have a sense of perspective.

saying "the F word" does not send you strait to Hell. Could it cause bigger problems? this post is not about that but maybe. Sleeping with someone before you are married is not the unforgivable sin but I will say it is highly destructive though, address this issue with utmost courtesy. A drink at a bar is not poison (though for some it's about the same).

Don't flee from sinful people because chances are you're fleeing from yourself.

It's ok, if you are a mature adult to hang out with people who don't share your moral standard. I find it much more important to love and be relational than to point out everyone's sin.

If people tease you for being uptight or closed minded or immature it may be true. Does it mean we should party and cuss and drink, of course not. God calls us to the best possible way to live. If you think drinking and cussing are essential to that way of life your deceived but if you think those things automatically keep you from it you might also be deceived. Someone who professes Christ may be pretty on the outside, they don’t do anything wrong, but may be “whitewashed tombs” filled with death. You must discern if something has become destructive in someone’s life and don't condemn until you know (even then don‘t condemn… but you know what I mean). Talk to people and learn why they do what they do. Learn perspective.
I'll leave you with a story I heard from a friend.

Tony Campolo was speaking at a pastors seminar. He was telling a story of a prostitute who'd felt rejected by the Church. her response to a man who'd invited her to church was "why should I go there? I already feel bad enough about myself." Tony went on a rant he said "how despicable is it that the church made her feel that way..." He went on "you know what? that's sh*t!" A pause and silence went through the crowd of pastors.. Tony waited... then he said "now I bet you are more appalled that I said the 's' word than you are at the way the Church made this woman feel."

Learn perspective.

9 comments:

Janette said...

Beautifully said- and a painful conviction too.
Lately Jesse's been talking a lot about a friend at APU who, from what I hear, is in the habit of partying a bit hard with the company of various women. Today when we spoke on the phone, I finally reacted negatively and made a comment about how I didn't think he was that great of a guy. Jesse called me on it and told me that yes- he did do things that we don't agree with and are harmful to the soul- BUT, he's a good friend, nice guy, and someone Jesse cares about.

I shut up real quick.

I failed to do the first thing that Jesus always did before sharing the message of the kingdom- love. I don't know this guy- I've never met him, and I immediately passed judgement.

hm. painful wake up call.

SimpleJoyofPain said...

Withholding judgment and extending love is indeed a difficult task. What about those that persist in mocking even when you have said nothing to them?

Maryellen said...

reminds me of a time when a first time visitor to our rather strait laced if not some what hippified united methodlist church decided to come to our church picnic and brought a case of beer as his "dish to pass"...our youth pastor shared a "cold one" with him - gasp...
that wasn't so bad as the time we participated in a chicken bar-b-que in a small town Church where Art had just been hired as assistant pastor...and all the guys cooking the chicken - church elders mostly - were sharing a keg under the table...
and then there is the whole smoking issue...
no dear, no one goes to hell for smoking cigerettes, or drinking beer, or saying the F...word.
good post Wes

WES ELLIS said...

Amanda,

Some people are just mean. they're mean and cold hearted.

" What about those that persist in mocking even when you have said nothing to them?"

Few things make me more angry than the shallow ignorance of a person like the one you dscribe. It really makes me angry.

You ask "what about those...?" Amanda, any answer I give hear is much more easily said than done. I say "love them," nice idea but what does that look like? How do you love someone like that? It's difficult. And honestly I just don't know.

I remember a time in my life where your question sounded alot like my life. In elementary school I was a dork to say the least. In high school I played football and I wrestled. I began to notice that the same people that mocked me suddenly became my "friends." My only value in life came from how hard I could hit someone or how fast I could pin someone. Why do they like me now? I didn't change...

What I discovered is there is a fine line between mocking and praise. They're both just as cheap, they come and go easily. they are more powerful than any sword, but they are cheap.

Where you find true friendship lies far benieth words. The praises and critiisms that really matter are brought forth from someone with geuine concern.

If people mock without giving a chance you might find that in the end they're not far from putting a crown on your head and pasadeing you around the city. Do not feel hurt by them. Your value is greater than that of fine jewels undernieth the cheap words.

Hold tightly to friendships that cut deep. God created us to live together because there is healing and wholeness in relationships that reveal what's undrnieth the surface. Words may be cheap but it's a heafty investment to go beyond words. Hold close to those who invest in you.

I know I didn't exactally answer your question but I hope I maybe added some perspective for you. I'd like to hear any other blogger's inshights.

simplejoysofpain said...

thank you

Jorge Pinheiro said...

Keep on, brother, questioning the established faith of the establishment (the redundancy is on purpose).
To be a Christian is no sin and does not mean to kiss good bye to intelligence.
Jesus is the living Logos, and as much as I know Logos is connected to the pure Reason, among other concepts. This means that if Jesus is the eternal Logos and came to save us, then he came to save us from stupidity.
The Christian should be the most provocative person in this world, never at rest questioning what everybody takes for sure. We seek the truth! It is true that we found it in Jesus (praise God for that). But the Truth goes beyond time and space, beyond our cultures and prejudices. So, let us not be afraid in this quest, because, according to the Book, it is the Truth that defends us, not the opposite.
And sometimes, we mix up everything taking as true (let it read bible) what indeed is nothing but culture.
Take the example of drinking alcohol. In the States, it is a terrible sin (maybe THE sin) to drink alcohol. In Portugal, where I live, it is a sin NOT to drink this excellent wine of ours. But (let us laugh) here in this sunny country, among some churches, makeup in the women is a capital sin.
Are those really sins? No, not at all. Sin is not to have fellowship with God. And as we say here, the rest is music…
Let us love God and be concerned with our standing before him, let us love our neighbors, no matter the way they live, they dress, they think and, above all, let us not condemn them, because Jesus did not invite us to condemn but to proclaim that God loves everyone and accepts each one of us the way we are and the way we come close to him.
I think you Americans commit a terrible mistake: in general, you take the American way of the thinking as THE way of thinking. Most of you should come out of the States for a while in order to be enriched by other cultures and other points of view. So, I invite you to come to Portugal and see by yourself if I am right or not and you will find a poor but warm people.
Sorry for any errors in the grammar, but English is not my first language.
Jorge Pinheiro ― Portugal

WES ELLIS said...

Thank you jorge!

I agree Americans often find themselves in a bubble. We forget that there are people in other places that think and have beliefs and ideals. Thank you for your insight.
-Wes

BruceD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
WES ELLIS said...

Bruced,

Painfully true... I agree.

I've said before that the most important question that stands before us is "what do you think God is like?"

Being like God is not the problem. the problem is what god are you trying to be like? Are you following the God of biggotry? Or are you following the God that's shown to us in the scriptures, the one who created everything good and whose plan is to reconcile everything back to good again? Is God love as it is said in the scriptures?

What do you think God is like?

The problem with us Christians is the same as that of everyone else. We don't get it. If we really understood Jesus message and lived it, the adjectives that came into people's minds would no longer be "religious, biggotted, intolerant, uptight, ect." The adjectives would be more like, "loving, compassionate, creative, hopeful, kind, humble..." Jesus message is beautiful. How it became something else? I just don't know.