This morning as I lay in bed, reflecting and praying, thinking of all the thoughts I should be avoiding, an amusing analogy came to me. Some of you may recall the story of the girl who was walking down the street texting when she fell into an open manhole. Well, as I considered my situation today, it seemed that I was walking down the street of life and needed to be alert and observant so as not to fall into any of the open manholes that unquestionably lay before me, holes of thought that would drop me suddenly into the sewer of my flesh, unpleasant, painful, and often difficult to find my way out of. I have to grope along in the dark for a while, it seems, until I find a not very obvious ladder to freedom.
I think it’s a matter of volition on some level. I can know the doctrine I need to confront the thoughts, recall it and even believe it so much as I’m able…and yet not seem to be able to turn off the negative thinking. Sometimes I think I only want to believe the doctrines, but am not yet totally convinced they are true. Oh, I’m convinced the Bible teaches them, but when I’m down there in the dark and the stink, they don’t seem so real and compelling as they do when I’m topside. [hmm. Could that be because when I’m in the sewer I’m not filled with the Spirit and the flesh is NEVER going to believe the truths of the word of God? Have to think on that… ]
Anyway, I do have to say that applying the concepts of being dead to the sin nature has helped a lot. So has recognizing a lot of the sins that start driving me. It’s only been recently that I’ve become aware of the subtle self-righteousness that lurks in being “right”. For the sake of argument here, assume I am right in a situation and the other person is wrong. Part of why some things/thoughts are so hard to let go is because “I’m right!” Thus I feel justified in the thoughts that I’m having. When really, I’m not. I’ve fallen into self-righteousness. It’s not up to me to make an issue of who’s right or wrong, only to make sure I remain in fellowship with my Lord.
More and more I’m seeing that for us as Christians it’s hands off. Hands off the details of life and hands off other peoples’ lives. Prior to the trip to San Diego, there were many, many uncertainties as to logistics, timing, how we were going to do some of the things we were being called upon to do. Just thinking of it would make my brain cramp, so I just put it all in God’s hands. He’d handle all the details, as He assured me through many different avenues last week. Of course on the trip everything continued to shift and change and I never really knew what was going to happen until it did. Trust Him to handle the details doesn’t mean handle them so that things work out the way I think they should. Trust Him to handle the details means He’ll handle them so that things work out as He’s decreed (which means all works out “perfectly”) and I’m not to obsess and fret about them. It’s a lesson I have to continually repeat.
But there are other ways we’re to be hands off as well, and that’s with regard to others’ lives. As I’ve grown more and more aware of this concept and the breadth of it, I’ve found in myself a certain resistance. It is so against the ways of the world. And the ways of man, I think… Many of us seem to be natural busybodies, looking at what others are doing and pronouncing a form of judgment on them. Our news does this, the entertainment industry, the sports world, politics… it’s everywhere. Being right seems very important, and making sure that we point out others’ wrongs is almost a duty. There are whole websites devoted to pointing out the errors of various pastors and teachings. We can tolerate maybe toning some of that down, not gossiping about others, trying not to be too critical or critical at all… but still, the idea of completely ignoring someone’s wrongdoing? That can’t be right, can it? Shouldn’t we go and help them? Point out their error?
Mostly I think not. Yeah, there’s the verse about the brother caught in a trespass and all that, but there are also the verses about “Who are you to judge another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls and stand he will for God is able to make him stand.” And, “But you there, why do you judge your brother? And you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God…so then each one of us shall give an account of himself to God.”
As believers we’re all royal priests, we all represent ourselves before God and need no one to stand between us. Not only that, even God Himself doesn’t judge us, having passed all judgment to His son. And the Son didn’t come to judge the world but to save it and will leave the judging to His Word. So it’s really the Word that does the judging. And even if there weren’t all those verses telling us to beware stepping into the role of judging another person’s life, it’s still pretty arrogant to think we really know what’s going on with a person or in a person’s life, seeing as how we don’t have all the facts. But it’s so easy to think we do. From just a few facts, we construct a narrative and voila: an explanation. Usually not a very complementary one to the victim.
I wrote about it, even constructed a scenario using this propensity in Return of the Guardian King. And still I want to think I really know. When more and more I think we all know very, very little about anything. Including ourselves…