Here’s a little quiz for you. When a Christian is caught doing something wrong, we should:
- Post it on Facebook
- Alert the press
- Talk to them gently, one on one
I wish the church was full of perfect people. I wish none of us ever did anything wrong—that no Christian ever had an affair, or watched pornography. Never cheated on their taxes or fiddled with the accounting. Never hated, or was slef-righteous, or ignored a person in need.
I recently heard a couple of comments that really bothered me:
- “I don’t like to read the Old Testament. It’s all about God’s wrath.”
- “Which one is true, the kind, loving Jesus or the mean God of the Old Testament? It can’t be both!”
While the person I’m quoting was patterning her image of God on her abusive earthly father, she pointed out a common belief—that God the Father is primarily an angry person—that while Jesus is our friend and brother, the Father has a big scowl on his face.
Monday was Labor Day, and I wanted to take it easy. It had been a packed week, it was time for a break, and I desperately wanted to collapse into a recliner for several hours with a good book. The only problem was, I couldn’t find one I wanted to read.
There are lots of non-fiction books out there and I have several that I’m currently wading through, but this was a holiday and I wanted to escape into an exciting, well-written page-turner. Since the library was closed, I turned to their online collection. (I love that you can choose and download a book from home!)
I was reading yet another article on the travails of Mark Driscoll (a whole separate topic) when I came across this statement:
It seems that these are the three areas where Christians most likely to fall into sin—pride, sex, and love of money.” … First John 2:15-17 calls them, “All that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [sex], the lust of the eyes [love of money], and the pride of life.” In other words—passions, possessions, pride.
It’s true that we tend to consider these the “Big Ones.” Most sins can be placed into one of these three categories. For example, we’re told not to covet our neighbors’ goodies. That would fall under “lust of the eyes.” We’re not to covet his wife either, lest we succumb to “lust of the flesh.”
I’d been feeling pretty good about myself. I haven’t been committing adultery, I wasn’t coveting my neighbor’s wife or donkey, nor had I murdered anyone, at least lately. I figured that God must be pretty pleased with how well I was obeying His instructions.
I was a bit less self-assured when I got to the part where Jesus takes the Ten Commandments and expounds on them. No, I hadn’t murdered anyone, but there was that time when that driver cut me off…. But calling him a fool was justified! Did you see what he did? Er, God?
So I was still fairly confident—until I came to Matthew 5:48. This is the verse where Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Perfect? You’ve got to be kidding! Nobody’s perfect!
And that, of course, was the point. God is perfect. We are not.
I was talking to my friend as she cleaned off the top of her dryer. As a large, flat surface in the room connecting her house to her garage, her dryer was a convenient dumping spot for all sorts of debris, a backwater where flotsam washes up and is left stranded by the ebbing tide.
At our house, our dryer just collects dust were-rabbits, but we have The Shelf that serves the same function. It’s also just inside the garage door. Currently it provides a temporary home for a semi-disposable plastic container a friend send home leftovers in, some cans of organic cat food our resident Cleopatra spurned, two dust masks, a nightlight, a monkeypod candy dish, an old wristwatch with the hands proclaiming 1:45, a green milk jug lid, and one tube of Crystal Lite “On the Go” lemonade. I’d sort through the pile but it’s easier to let it sit.
There was big news in the psychology world last week. Headlines proclaimed: “Telling fewer lies linked to better health and relationships.” Some psych professors at the University of Notre Dame actually did a study on lying, and concluded that their test subjects were healthier, both physically and emotionally, when they did not lie. The control group (who presumably went on telling lies) had no such benefits.
I always snicker when some study or other confirms what is obvious. Even people who’ve never cracked a Bible will admit that lying is a sin.
God is pretty straightforward about this one: “Do not lie. Do not deceive one another” (Leviticus 19:11).