I went on a women’s retreat this weekend with my church. There were ladies of all ages, stages, sizes, and shapes; ladies who are married, ladies who aren’t. There were ladies with babies, with grown children, with no children. There were ladies with great means and ladies with little. The beauty of a group of ladies together for a weekend is that we could celebrate God’s love for us…all of us…and not have to worry about our differences.
The point of the retreat was to reconnect our hearts with the wonder, delight, and awe that God designed us to experience. Folks, to say we live in a delight deprived world would be putting in mildly and I feel that we are standing at a place in the path where we have two choices. We can choose to walk a path of gratitude, openness, creativity, and grace or we can choose to head in the direction we, as a society, seem to be barreling towards – one that is fear driven, over scheduled, tired, discontent, and very, very, very judgmental.
This morning during my prayer time I read the passage from Luke 7 about the woman who cried over Jesus’ feet. Jesus had gone to have dinner with a Pharisee and no sooner had he been seated, a woman came rushing in to be near him. In the presence of Jesus she began to weep, allowing her tears to pour over his feet. She poured precious oil on him as she cried.
The Pharisee was shocked. Surely if Jesus was who he said he was he would know this woman was wrong. She was doing it all wrong. The Pharisee, who knew the law well and had studied the scriptures back and forth, had lived a righteous life, was disgusted that Jesus would allow this sinner to fall at his feet. But Jesus replied,
“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
It’s easy for me to slide, unconsciously into judgement. I hate that about myself. I can look at people who might interpret scripture in a different light than I do, or worship in a different church than I do, or sing different songs and think, right of the bat, “They don’t know the right way.” I pass judgement that if they only knew my way, the right way, that they might live a fuller life.
Dear God, forgive me.
Dear God, forgive us.
I know I’m not alone in this because I see it all over social media. Fellow Christians, we look like complete and total asses when we spout anger and judgement at each other. We look ridiculous when we spout it at the world. When others, especially other Christians, are creating art, becoming leaders in our communities, and taking leaps for God’s Kingdom and we do our very best to shoot them down because it’s not the way we would have done it or said it or painted it we are no better than the Pharisee.
Of course we use the Bible as our guide. Of course we pray for truth to prevail. Of course. Of course. Of course.
But we have to stop the judging. It is not our job.
Our job is to love. Our job is to live in a way that every single thing we do and say brings glory to Jesus.
What if, today, instead of worrying about pointing out each other’s flaws in theology, we took time to notice each other’s gifts? What if we stopped to say, “Wow! It’s so amazing that God gave you a passion for writing!” or film, or painting, or singing, or baking….or whatever gift God has given your friends and neighbors?
What if, this week, instead of rushing to our phones and laptops to argue about books and movies we sat with a friend in a coffee shop and caught up on each other’s lives?
What if, this month, instead of using scripture as a weapon to point out the sins of others we sat down and prayed for God to forgive us our own sins?
What if we all just shut down Facebook and went for a walk? What if we spent some time in our gardens, tilling soil, planting herbs, watching for butterflies?
Yes, friends, we are at a crossroads, you and I. We are so very close to walking a path where we loose sight of God’s love, his mercy, grace, forgiveness, and all the wonderful beauty he has put on this planet. So let’s not go there, okay? Let’s take each other’s hand today and choose to walk a slower path. Let’s walk towards the beauty. Let’s bend down and smell the wild flowers. (They’re blooming particularly early this year. It’s almost like God sent them to calm us down.) Let’s listen to the birds singing and remember that God didn’t create all this beauty for only a few of us…He created it for all of us.