Tuesday, February 16, 2010

#38 Condemning the Repenter

Condemning the repenter

It is just after midnight as I write this, I don’t know how long I will be up tonight, probably just another hour or so, will likely go to bed after I post this blog. But today I walked to the mall to see what was going on, just to get outside and get a little exercise.

I was talking with a guy working at a religious supply store, and while we were chatting another guy in the mall came in to talk. It was one of those situations where a third person gets into the chat, and then proceeds to talk more than anybody else.

But he said some things that did not go well with me, one was the idea that when people in prison say they didn’t do anything, we are all supposed to act like he’s lying. Ok, I know there are a LOT of people in prison who broke the law, but there ARE some situations where a man or woman is sent to prison and was innocent of those charges. There was a story a few weeks ago about a man who was released after 30 years when they found out the DNA that convicted him was wrong.

How do you apologize for sending a man to prison for 30 years?

The third man in our conversation also talked about how some guys who get locked up for child support aren’t just looking hard enough for a job. That isn’t true, yes there are a lot of guys that are just plain lazy and don’t care, but don’t tell me that a man with a negative past, which often times prevents him from getting a job is totally at fault. Times are hard everywhere, and many people are fighting for a job. In fact, we are getting a “Rose’s” Department store here, and I heard there was 1000 people here filling out an application for a job…you tell me the chances of an ex con getting that job, regardless of his experience.

But the third thing this guy mentioned (not knowing he was talking to an ex felon) was how some people who get sick or get in trouble look to the Lord for help. It really, REALLY disturbs me when people get so high and mighty where they think that a man or woman who is down on their fortune is guilty when they try to look to God for help.

He thinks that if a man has cancer, and “gets religious” is wrong, because he shoulda done that before he got sick. Or, if a man goes to jail or prison, it is foolish for him to “get religious” because he shoulda done that before, and maybe he won’t be in trouble.

Pardon me folks, but that is the biggest piece of bullcrap that could ever fall out of the mouth of a moron.

And that is directed at ANY man or woman, Christian or not.

For some stupid reason, some people have the belief that the only time it is good to praise God or to “get religious” is while things are good. But many people have a problem when a person with problems in their life go running to God, as if he or she is not worthy because they are perfect.

Hands up, how many people reading this blog is perfect….

I thought so.

This gets me pissed off when people are condemning those trying to repent. It does not matter whether they are genuine or not, that is not for us to say. Sometimes we act so damned holy that its pure demonic.

Did you get that….

It is so depressing when we try to think FOR God, as if He called us to do His work by condemning others. Now I say this in honesty, I am not very faithful right now, me and God got some issues about some matters in my life, and it frustrates me, but that is between me and Him.

But what I try not to do, if at all possible, is rob a person from his or her faith. Whether I believe God is as loving as the Bible says is my opinion, likely not a fact, but I try my best not to persuade you to think as I do on such issues…remember, I told you I would not sugarcoat my feelings on this blog.

But it really gets me angry when a person sits there and tries to condemn a man trying to repent. If you were in church and saw an ex felon going up to the altar to give his life to the Lord, would you tackle him from the side and say, “no, you don’t deserve to repent, you don’t deserve God”?

But yet we do this daily by spirit.

If you get the chance, look in the Bible about the story about the blind man on the side of the road, and what happened when he heard Jesus walking by. I am not in the mood to search for it myself…right now my faith in a loving God is in question, but I know the story is in that book.

As the scriptures go, there was a man on the side of the road, a blind man. He heard a bunch of people walking by and heard that Jesus was among them. Well, knowing that Jesus had healed many people, and wanting to receive his sight, he decided that this was as good a time as any to ask for help.

So the man gets up and calls out to Jesus, not knowing where he was since he was blind. He called loud, asking for Jesus to help him. But those people that were hanging around the man got upset and him and told him to be quiet.

Why would those people do that? Didn’t they know that this man is calling for help, didn’t they care that this man was looking for a solution to his problem? Didn’t they know that Jesus, who was healing all those other people, could do the same for him? So why then did these people try to prevent this man from receiving a miracle.

Because they didn’t think he deserved it. Now tell me this…

What gave them the right to condemn him?

It is not known if this man was a sinner or not, all we know is that he was blind, and was calling desperately for Jesus to help him. Often times, we try to connect an illness or tragedy in a person’s life to sin…kinda like some jerk did about what happened in Haiti…

Quick word on that…if that stupid pastor believed that what happened in Haiti was the result of their lifestyle…then what kinda problems are WE in for…remember the few hundred years of slavery…and how we treated Native Americans…and all the other stuff we did…and are doing…just something to think on…

But getting back to that scripture, those people who were hanging around Jesus apparently felt that this man did not deserve a miracle, based on nothing but foolish condemnation. And if the man had been any weaker in spirit, he might have just given up, thinking that Jesus didn’t care, since the people were apparently speaking for him.

But that man did not give up, in fact he yelled even louder, saying “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!”. He kept yelling and got the attention of Jesus. When that happened, Jesus called for that man. And the scriptures say that many of those people came to him and told him that Jesus wanted to see him. It is likely that some of the very same people that were preventing him from getting a miracle was now kissing his behind, because they see that he had found favor.

That man ended up getting his miracle, and getting his sight…despite what the self righteous people tried to do.

It’s a lesson we really need to pay attention to, and we sometimes show our foolishness when we condemn a man who is trying to get right with God. Who are YOU to say to anybody if a man deserves God’s mercy? It really bugs me when people do that. Even some of my friends say it from time to time, but I keep it inside about how I feel.

Lots of people get on ex felons when they try to get into scriptures and things like that. They say stuff like, “you shoulda done that before you got locked up”. We even say that about sick people. That same man at the mall was talking about an elderly man that was walking laps in the mall, saying that the man was very sick, and was getting in to the Bible. He said, “he shoulda thought about that before he got sick”.

That to me is one of the most ignorant things I have ever heard.

By saying that, that jerk believes that God only accepts the perfect….now I asked before, let me ask again…how many reading my blog is perfect….

I thought so!

One of the worst things we can do to another person is condemn them while they are trying to find God, or while they are studying the Bible. Even if I don’t quite see eye-to-eye with God right now, I try my very best not to break someone’s faith in God. I told you guys about the guy I saw a few weeks ago in the mall, who had just got out of jail because he could not pay child support. That is a whole story unto itself, you will have to bounce back several blogs to find it. But if you remember it, you also know that he was talking about how sooner or later God will make a way for him.

In my heart, I did not believe it, because as I said, I am having strong feelings about this so called God of love…of which I have not seen much of. But to say that to him, or to even imply any of the sort, would attack his faith…maybe destroy it. That I could not do to him, regardless of how I felt about God at that time.

But I blog those feelings here in an attempt to wrestle with those thoughts. I am not condemning that guy for his faith, nor will I condemn him in a foolish belief that “he should have been believing in God before he got locked up”. That is not wisdom, that is foolishness. Its that same line where we feel that “speaking our mind” is wise. It isn’t. It’s running your mouth based on your emotions, which are OFTEN wrong.

Yet we do this daily, to one another. That guy stood there and talked a little about every person he knew that walked by…and I was thinking, “note to self, don’t tell this dude nothing”. I kept my conversation calm with him, but I did point out to him that sometimes a guy doing jail time because of child support is a result of the system letting up on a man trying to get a job. That’s not everybody, but the law is blind in a guy who can’t pay child support because he does not care, and a guy trying as best he can to get a job, but keeps getting denied because of a stupid background check.

And the interesting thing is if I was asked about this issue after I graduated from college, I would have laughed at every ex felon and inmate who was trying to “find God”. It would not make sense to me. But because I have been on the other side of that, I understand what it is like to be a condemned man.

I am reminded of a kid I knew while I was in jail, he was about 16 and in jail for a federal charge. We had cells beside each other and got to chatting, and he told me that he was “trying to get right with God”. Now he wasn’t perfect, obviously, but in our talks I could tell that he was sincerely trying. Was it so he could get something from God, like a miracle? I don’t know, and if you think it was, you need to slap your lips for throwing condemnation on a kid you don’t even know. That’s not YOUR place to judge him, so leave him alone!

One night we were talking and he was asking me how to do it. He knew I read a lot of Christian books, I wrote letters to ministries and such, so he asked me how I did it. I told him that “getting right with God” is as simple as faith. Unlike mankind, we think you have to do 1000 good deeds and please man before God will “get right” with you. That is not true.

Your decision to follow God, and to believe in Him, and to believe that He has forgiven you is all that is required…it’s not up to any man or woman to approve. I told him that faith and confession of what you believe makes you right with God. Nothing else is necessary. He told me that he was about to cry when I told him that. For so long he was working on how to do something that really takes a few seconds to do.

Now I say all that because I had a choice to condemn him, but I did not, nor did I have the right. After all, I was in jail too, but even if I wasn’t, if I condemned him, I would be no better…in fact I would be worse. In condemning a person, you are also not forgiving him or her…the Bible says that if you do not forgive, neither will God forgive you.

Imagine how many people are sitting in church right now, praising God through lying lips, when they won’t give a stranger a helping hand if asked. How many people singing in the choir talk about other members of church. Lots of Christians aren’t as holy as they think.

Well anyway, that guy talked for the better part of 30 minutes, and I was actually happy when I left. I went to the store, bought me a candy bar and a soda and walked home. I thought about the things that guy said, and although he seemed like a good guy, it was those thoughts he shared that had me lacking in true respect of his person. Mind you, there is no halo around my head, and I don’t have a radiant glow about me, but I try my best to do what I can to help. In fact, I told the guy working in that religious supply store that I would write up some ads for him and the store, at no charge. I told him I would, so now I feel bound by my word to at least do that.

Consider what you say when you talk about other people. I know we all do it, but I say to you, think about if you condemn a person who is trying to find faith. Remember, that’s not your place, its not your business to push somebody out of their faith. If a person wants to seek God, regardless of the time or situation, that is what God wants them to do. Its not your place to stand before that person and God and try to turn them around. Heck, would you rather find God then…or not at all?

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