I always try to be honest. Well, with the Lord's help I do my best to be honest or not to say anything. Recently, I've had the good fortune of reconnecting with an old friend of mine from years ago. Our "chance" meeting was one that really cheered me up that day. I found out that this dear brother had been through some of the same things I have been through in the past decade. This prologue brings me to the main subject matter.
I used to be a legalist. And to be fair, I still have to be careful not to fall into that trap again. While fighting legalism, a person can become a "legalist" by fighting legalism. Oh the paradox. While working at a CCM radio station back in the nineties I had another announcer named Dan L that worked along side me. As I think back on this man "now", I realize that I had really dropped the ball. He had tried so hard to get me to show him some attention. Well, I was too busy with my daily activities to give him "time of day." He even brought in a card with a painting by Renoir to give to me. I quickly looked at it, and tossed it aside. I brought this up for a very special reason.
This man was reaching out to me. But, I was too busy being caught up in my own life to show him the kindness he deserved. To this day, it still bothers me that I shunned him. It wasn't intentional, it was that I was too concerned about my own life to care about him. He needed a friend, and I failed to be there for him. If I could ever find him again, I would repent for my callous attitude towards him. God knows I've already repented to the Lord for the way I ignored this part-time announcer.
In Philippians 2:4 it says, "Do not be concerned about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others." ISV. Obviously that verse isn't dealing with being a busy-body or a gossip but clearly shows a poignant point. We all do look out for our own things which seems clear enough, but God would want us to care for others along the way. I have found out, the hard way, that if I become too busy to care for others, then I have become too busy!
We all know the old sayings too. "Christians are the only ones who shoot their own wounded" etc. You know something, that is really true. So, point one is clear, we should help others. Two, when you go through something horrible in your life, you find out very quickly who your real friends and who aren't. Michael English is a prime example. The world and especially the so-called "caring" Christian community dumped him like a hot potato when he failed. If you haven't read his book, you should. When a person stumbles, and it is their fault, they will have to live through consequences even though God forgives the sin. My friend Steve said that he hopes that Michael English won't go through the rest of his life apologizing all the time. When I talked with Michael in a pastor's office sometime back, he just hugged me and told me that he was glad I never rejected him.
The person that I had reconnected with had some similar issues in his life as I have in mine. He reassured me that the way he got through it was to "throw himself into the arms of Jesus." We have spent a lot of time recently talking over the way "organized religion" gets in the way of true believing. And...it does. So many treat others in the church as if they have leprosy. I want to make the next point clear though: I believe in church. However, I don't believe in a church that will abuse their gifts or talents and make you bow to a system of works that they think is biblical. My friend I mentioned above recommended one of the best books that has been around for years called, "The Subtle Power Of Spiritual Abuse." If Christians are getting tired of abuse in the church, why do you think non-believers don't want anything to do with it?
I know that I am learning to walk softly around hurting people. I say that I am "learning" for we never truly totally "learn" everything in this life. In hindsight I know that I'd do things a bit differently when it comes to the man I mentioned earlier that gave me the card. Below I attached a music clip from Gordon Jensen's song, "Back In My Jonah Days." I think it really goes along with what I've tried to say. I hope I always remain open to the hurts and needs of others. I have a lot of learning to do, but I think I've learned a little along the way. May the peace of Christ be with you all!
Back In My Jonah Days