Real Life and Walking On
Last week my 2 little ones and I went to Forest Home for a week of family camp, and it was wonderful! But the week before -- a week of getting ready to be gone and finishing up some stuff here -- and this week after family camp have been just "real life" in all its tedium and in all its joy. Today was fun -- I am typing this on my laptop that is about to expire, because I've used up most of the battery, and my home has been without electricity all day due to a scheduled outage for electric company work in the area.
So it has been a day of reading and praying and appreciating all I take for granted with my electricity -- like my washer, dryer, hot water, air conditioning, refrigerators, etc. And a day of assessing all that is wrong in my life as well: the ways I have allowed routines and priorities to be daily impediments to the movement of the Holy Spirit to make me whom He wants me to be and to use me daily in the ways He wants to use me.
The theme of "judgment" is on my mind again, through my Bible reading and meditations. The passage where Jesus talks about the judgment of the sheep and the goats is a big one, as is the 2 places where Paul talks about deferred judgment (let a person's works be judged by God alone, which will not be fully revealed until we are on the other side of the grave) and clear judgment by believers of others who call themselves believers (associate with unbelievers who are immoral, but do not even associate with one who claims to be a believer but lives in a way that is shameful.)
The church (that is, you and me) seems to pretty much make up the rules here as we go, and not do much consulting with the Holy Spirit but do lots of consulting with each other. And our motivation seems to be that we would please each other and experience community approval, not that we would prayerfully determine God's leading in each situation and minister His grace in obedience to Him, either by clearly deferring judgment to Him on that final day and leaving it to the conscience of the believer we examine, or by clearly speaking out against a behavior and stating why we are abandoning a relationship with the one we determine to ostracize out of obedience to God's clear leading to us as a community.
What we do instead is gossip and ostracize those who make us uncomfortable or who just don't "fit" or who are being ostracized by those that we see as the right group of friends to be associated with. We hear public prayers for comfort of those who are lonely from those who are stewarding their own lives in such as way that they are leading in creating a social community that clearly has its "haves" and "have nots". We have the idea that all those whom Jesus talked about us ministering to in some way in the judgment of the sheep and the goats -- where "in as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me" -- were strangers to us, but that those we know and find annoying or dispensable are clearly not people to whom that call to minister to Jesus Himself could apply.
Why is this? Isn't the story of God's loving kindness in the Old Testament and all Jesus' and the apostles words and examples of agape in the New Testament clear enough for us? Isn't the clear examples of the working of the Holy Spirit resulting in agape-filled lives throughout Church History and in our day clear enough? What teaching are we looking for?
Our church is in a "visioning process", and I have a high regard for those on the teams involved. I have a high regard for our program staff and session. We need to do all the analysis and planning and later the execution of those plans. This is good stewardship, executed in faithful obedience.
But let's not lose sight of Jesus clear teaching! The "stewardship" that He says separates the sheep from the goats were simple daily acts of ministering to others in His name. There is nothing to indicate that any of us are so gifted or powerful or useful in other ways that we are exempted from this way of being evaluated by our Lord and evaluated instead by standards of business or "real ministry".
All those annoyingly needy and broken people that just won't shut up and leave me alone to do my "real job" -- what if they are Jesus Himself asking for my love? What does that change in my day today? What does that change in how I judge them? What does that change in how He will judge me? Whose approval do I really want, anyway?