I’m a preacher’s kid. It’s taken me many years to be able to admit that, I don’t need to spend time analyzing why I’m not very proud of this title. That’s very clear to me. I’m often embarrassed by those who speak up in the name of God and the church. Saying I’m a kid of a preacher makes my association much closer than I would like. Six or seven degrees of separation from the modern church would be acceptable, but one or two feels just a little too close.
If church gave out frequent flyer miles for attendance, I could go back and forth to heaven several times and most likely take people with me. When I was young we didn’t have iPhones or iPads to keep us busy during services, we had to sit and listen. I sat next to mom in the first or second pew. She would pinch me if I crossed the line of irreverence; there were times I wanted to pinch her back and I think I may have.
When you spend the first twenty some years of your life being in church every time the doors are open you can’t help but pick up a few things. I love the Old Testament stories. In fact I’m writing a little series called The Plan that is roughly based on these stories. The gospels are the core; not sure why we need four of them but I wasn’t on that committee. Perhaps it’s because they tell the most important story and we humans forget easily. The rest of the New Testament, well I never really grasped it, seemed much too much like church.
My husband has on occasion told me that I have (or had) some bad theology. I wouldn’t say bad; perhaps skewed. You know, really lopsided, backwards and inverted; sort of a dyslexic theology. After all it was based on the belief that as long as you do everything God expects of you blessings will follow. Needless to say, I kept waiting for those blessings to appear.
In 2011 I said a little prayer; God, I want to know what I believe. I want to know it’s true and I want the words to express it. A little prayer – right! It was a slap me in the face, rock my core and strip me of years of lopsided, backwards and inverted beliefs. As for the last part of my prayer…these are the words!
Mark 12: 28-31 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered,“The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This is the first filter that everything we do, say or believe must be put though. Jesus connected these two commands. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. It’s impossible to justify standing on a soap box preaching condemnation as a way of loving God or others. I’ve heard it said that we should love people but hate sin. Now there’s a lopsided, backwards and inverted belief.
Loving people is accepting of them with sin. Loving ourselves is understanding that we are sinners – not were sinners – we are sinners. We are all equal in God’s eyes and He loves us anyway. Truth be told, it’s in our DNA; we can’t not sin and God loves us. We can’t love others until we can accept that in ourselves. We sin – God loves. For those that believe they are without fault – go ahead, cast the first stone. Let’s just see where it lands.