15 August 2012

Walk with Him Wednesday ~ Quality relationship?

{I'm going to try something new here @ Our Wrighting Pad. Every week, a community of bloggers joins Ann for Walk with Him Wednesday, posting what God is teaching them regarding different spiritual practices that draw us nearer to His heart. This week and next we are thinking about "The Practice of Relationship."}

I've been noticing lately how often I "evaluate" the level of my relationship with and commitment to God...

...by comparing myself to others?

Pretty crazy, if you really stop to think about it.

When I was in high school, I used to swim competitively. It would be easy to assume that a good swim means making the finals or being in the top three or winning or setting a new record. True, achievements such as those were amazingly sweet and satisfying. However, as I look back (now over twenty years later), memories of those accomplishments aren't the most deeply gratifying moments of my swimming career. Rather, it was the less sensational, ubiquitous milestones achieved. It was those ones that happened at daily practices and workouts: completing a set at a faster time interval than I'd ever done before, actually "building" (getting faster) each 100 m when swimming a 1500 m, swimming further in butterfly (without any cheat strokes) than I'd ever done before, the time I hung on and finished a race with my shoulder out of socket just because I wasn't going to quit and because my team was counting on me. For me, nothing could compare with knowing I'd surpassed the best I'd thought I could do.

I've been thinking about that drive to always better self a lot lately... watching the Olympics, of course... but also as I've seen many references to Romans 1 in the blog world of late.

I'm not a trained biblical scholar. I don't know all of the theological ins and outs of biblical interpretation and application. I only know a minutely small smattering of genuine Greek and Hebrew words. Red flags have been waving, however, as I've seen this particular passage of Scripture applied over the past few months. And that's because I see people using it to point a finger of condemnation towards others. In doing so, I wonder... in fact I've been growing more and more convinced... if the true power and potential impact of this portion of Scripture is watered down or lost altogether. It becomes an ineffective, useless tool of comparison between people, when instead, it should prompt looking within and seeing if the seeker is allowing God to change and better him.

In Romans 1, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes boldly and passionately about a dangerous pattern of behavior as well as specific behaviors that are blatant affronts against the holiness of God. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness..." Only one man who has ever walked the earth who did not deserve God's wrath - Jesus. The most amazing part of the story is that He allowed the full force of the wrath everyone else deserves/d to fall on Him. At the end of Romans 1 is a whole list of sins. In my honest moments, I'm forced to acknowledge that I should be declared guilty of many... most... of them, particularly when one considers the intent of the heart. I'm figuring most are in the same boat.

So why is it that the prominent Pharisaical trend picks a couple of verses and a specific sin to then use God's Word to "clobber" others deemed guilty? As I continue reading in Romans 2, God sounds at least as angry (if not more) with that very behavior as He is with the specific sin we Pharisees gleefully point out.

I read these words these days and I cringe because it describes me, more often than I care to admit:
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God... (Rom 2.1-5)

If I truly want to walk in closer, deeper relationship with my God, I need to stop using Scripture to point a finger at someone else, and then patting myself on the back, effectively saying "I don't need to worry about my sin because it isn't as bad as that guy's." If I want truly want to walk in closer, deeper relationship with my God, I must let Scripture shed His brilliant light upon my heart, revealing any and all unrighteousness (as my kids call it, "yuck") that God wants changed... that He wants gone. This happens only when I shine that light at me, however. When I'm busy directing the beam towards others, I risk missing sin lurking in my life, I ooze arrogance and much worse? I act (and communicate to others) as though somehow I'm a part of the source of that revealing light. And that sounds to me like the very worst kind of idolotry...
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts...

1 comment:

  1. dropping in from Ann’s...Amen...If I see the log in my own eyes...when I see the speck in someone else...I can see it with compassion...because really we are all the same...same sin nature...and God told us...is we are angry than we murder...this puts us all on pretty even playing field...oh put how quickly I can forget...blessings to you~


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