Wrestling with gray

graymy last post (and my last sermon) really bothers me.  the skeptic/doubter/rebellious/seeker/cynic side of  me sees the gray.

the disciple/logical/intellectual/legalistic/pharisaical/bible thumper side of me sees black and white.  what’s a boy to do?

from yesterday’s endless list of beliefs and behaviors that define our church family, here are some that i have been taught to call “sin” through the years:

  • doubting is a sin.
  • getting drunk is a sin.
  • anger is a sin.
  • being a political liberal is a sin.
  • killing animals for fun is a sin.
  • being gay is a sin.
  • getting an abortion is a sin.
  • looking at pornography is a sin.
  • smoking is a sin.
  • listening to music with ungodly lyrics is a sin.
  • getting a divorce is a sin.
  • being in debt is a sin.
  • thoughts of suicide is sin.
  • gossip is sin.
  • flirting is sin.
  • addiction to drugs is sin.
  • giving less than 10% of my income to the church is sin.
  • overeating is sin.
  • sex outside of marriage is sin.
  • believing in evolution is sin.
  • having a woman pastor is a sin.
  • any and all lies are sin.
  • to refuse to say the pledge of allegiance is sin.
  • to oppose u.s. military decisions is sin.
  • to be angry at god is sin.
  • to neglect bible reading is sin.
  • failure to confess our sins is sin.
  • judging others is sin.
  • fear of death is sin.
  • racism is sin.
  • cussing is a sin.
  • getting a tattoo is a sin.
  • dancing is a sin.
  • women speaking in a church service is a sin.
  • interracial dating or marriage is sin.
  • men wearing hats in a church service is sin.
  • being on welfare is sin.
  • breaking the speed limit is sin.
  • missing church on sundays is a sin.

the list could go on.

some of them i still call “sin”.  others i see very differently than i did when i was younger.  but the thing that is most different for me is my heart for people whose behavior does not line up with my understanding of god’s laws.

condemnation is gone.  patience and understanding has replaced quick judgment.  i’ve come to realize that there is usually a story (sometimes a very complicated one) that determines how other people view their own sin and the sin of others.

although there are some times that a firm “stop it. now!”  is in order,  i guess i’ve just grown more comfortable with the idea that most all of us need people who will help carry the burden, while they wrestle through their theological life journey.

since god is the one who will ultimately forgive, i figure my patience with their sin should be at least as long as god’s.  if he can wait for change, then so can i.

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3 thoughts on “Wrestling with gray

  1. Being in debt? Wow, I’ve been a sinner since the day I was born. Oh wait, I have anyway. It was definitely an enlightening sermon.

  2. As we age and gain understanding, our compassion for others grows. I love the story about the sinner who the pharisees call to stone. When Jesus asks which of you who has not sinned through the first stone, it is the elders who turn away first. I loved that!!!! Elderly people need our respect but that’s another blog.

  3. Hi Mike…Reading over your last 2 blogs…left me contemplating the human condition…again….Thru the course of my working with the homeless and financially disadvantaged….I was faced with many quandaries….how do you change someone’s circumstances? Put them up in a motel…give them food…find them a job…provide them with child care….and still tomorrow….nothing has changed for them….when the rent comes due…they have no money….when the table is bare, call on a food pantry….when the job is over….oh well….when their children suffer….who really cares….the counselor, the caseworker, the pastor?
    Ultimately I learned again….that PRAYER is what we are called to do….leading others to God in prayer for their circumstances….for all concerns…often I am looked at oddly when I tell someone I will pray for them….Many think…sure you will….maybe because they have given up…it is very easy to do when life hits you hard…so I sat down to read my daily devotionals and Max Lucado came to the rescue leading me back to my beliefs once again reaffirming our calling…..Blessings

    Have a Joyful 4th of July!

    As we celebrate our country’s freedom on this 4th of July, may you be encouraged by this level-headed instruction from the Bible:

    The Apostle Paul wants young Timothy to lead the church in a godly fashion. His first command? “pray for all people.” The flagship assignment of the church is prayer. Feed the hungry? Counsel the confused? Teach the lost? Absolutely. But first, we pray. The primary activity of a local church is intercession and worship.

    Specifically, we “pray for rulers and for all who have authority….” This includes our president, vice-president, all elected and appointed officials. We ask God to use them to facilitate a haven of quiet and peace where worship can abound. We pray so that “…we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God.”

    Remarkable. A peaceful society depends upon the prayers of the church. If we do not have a peaceful society–where worship and respect for God can flourish–what is the solution? Better government policy? A different president? New Congress? No, the first solution is a praying church.

    “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…then I will hear from heaven.” (II Chron. 7:14 NIV)
    ~ Max Lucado © 2012
    from “40 Days of Prayer”

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