“Some people find fault like there’s a prize for it.” – Zig Ziglar
I’m baffled at the fervor with which people tell others what God wants for them. It reminds me of my kids.
Rob and I had a full house for many years: two boys and three girls. We regularly left the kids with a babysitter while we escaped, er, went out. It was for our own sanity, okay?? 🙂
When they were old enough, we let them stay at home on their own recognizance. We would put one child in charge, usually one of the older kids, but occasionally the youngest… just to shake things up.
And the stories they would tell when we got home! Whoever was in charge couldn’t wait to tell us of the grievous wrongs their siblings had done in our absence. We finally got a little notebook so the child-in-charge could keep track of the transgressions — really it was so they could let it go and not try to deal with the situation themselves. Not a single infraction escaped their notice, it seemed.
Power can be intoxicating, can’t it?
The hardest part of the whole event was helping the child–in–charge to surrender the grievance. We’re back, we got it, and that child could trust us to deal with the “transgressor” appropriately. Sometimes it took a while for them to make the adjustment. Often they thought severe consequences were in order, like loss of privileges or worse. They struggled if we chose a different route. Or if we decided that something they thought was a transgression was not a transgression at all. They did not understand that we had deep wisdom they did not have. And of course, we didn’t handle things perfectly. But all the kids were in our jurisdiction, not each other’s, and eventually they trusted us to be the parents … (for the most part).
Adults have an even harder time surrendering power. We like to make sure people (other people) are being held accountable. And really, it needs to be as we see fit. We don’t want them to just get a good talking to, when we think the punishment should be more severe.
Many Christians treat other people’s “transgressions” as a personal affront that we must personally remedy. Many Christians believe that being gay is wrong, or that loving, same-sex relationships are wrong, and they think they must speak up. And then not only speak up, but fight against it. Demand that society, or the church, or the workplace, or the family or even just the person take this situation seriously.
We are the child-in-charge who duly noted the transgression and is now plaintively appealing to the returning parents to handle it the way we feel is appropriate. And if that parent is not responding the way we think they should, we rebel, stop trusting, and take matters in our own hands — in our communities, in our families, in our churches.
Nevermind that the returning parent has said, “I got this. You don’t need to worry about it. I hear your plea for what looks right to you. But I have wisdom you don’t. I understand things you don’t. Your job is to trust me. Really — I got it!”
Unlike the returning parent, God never even left the building. Like our children, what we are sure is a terrible grievance God may see a different way. He is indeed sovereign and sees and knows and understands what we do not.
Didn’t God deal with people in surprising ways – even his enemies? Didn’t he deal with down-and-outers more generously than we expected? Did he deal with religious elite more harshly than we expected? We have gotten many social issues wrong, even though they were airtight from our own perspective.
As a society we must deal with certain things to maintain order, and especially to keep all of us safe. But those who feel justified to police others’ behavior, to “enforce God’s will,” have perpetrated brutal assault on the LGBTQ community — directly and indirectly. That whole mindset has caused external, violent attack on the gay community, and it’s caused internal, violent attack of judgment and rejection from those who claim to speak for God. We’re children taking a baseball bat to our siblings — all in the “name of Jesus” — because we don’t trust that God’s got this.
We were explicitly told not to do that.
When kids condemn their siblings and insist on their punishment, it’s not long before siblings treat them with suspicion and contempt.
Suddenly it puts Jesus’ words in a whole new light. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
It’s time to stop babysitting. It is time to trust God. It is time to love others as we have been loved.