'Be anxious for nothing..." ~Philippians 4:6

Sunday, January 8, 2017

SHORT STORIES: SAD, YOU SEE

Gloria was troubled by what she heard. She simply didn't understand how people so easily forget the content of their own lives.  Maybe she should remind them; shame them even. Maybe they'd find something wholesome to talk about. "Do they know that everyone who knew them "when" is not deceased or brain dead?" It occurred to her that the gossiping busybodies in her presence had no shame. Even the little she knew about them both was enough to prove that neither of them had any room at all to judge anyone's  moral fitness "They ought to be on their knees around the clock thanking God for his grace alone", she thought. She laughed. "Look at me. Now, I'm judging them. Sorry, Lord".
They were so comfortable in their merciless indictment of others, and didn't seem to even notice that she was even there. They were so smug, but the more they talked, the more their envy, fear, and insecurity showed itself. She realized their need to feel superior to others. It helped them deal with their own guilt. Every time either one of them brought up the Bible, Gloria wanted to slap them with the wet dishtowel she was using. "How do people with skeletons that still have meat on them, become so self-righteous?", she thought. "I know. The things they used to do, they CAN'T do anymore more...or nobody's interested...or it would kill them."
Gloria busied herself with the dishes. "When do they think they ought to get ready since they don't know when they're gonna die?" one of them asked. "Who knows what he's doing when he's not at the church? Where do you think he was that time of the morning when we called?" the other one asked. She shook her head. "Even if whoever they were talking about was a stark-raving, murderous, whoring crackhead, he'd be in no less deserving of a seat in Hell than those two loose-lipped Sadducees. If Jesus cracked the sky, they'd both still be glued to those chairs, too caught up in their speculation, and criticism to even notice he'd come and gone".

They both scowled when she'd had enough and asked, "And you don't think God is displeased with the gossiping you're doing right now?" They told Gloria that she was dipping in their conversation. "But you're holding that conversation in my presence, and talking about people that I know. In the last 9 minutes you've talked about 4 different people, and none of it was complimentary or encouraging. You're sitting here sharing information that you don't even know is true, but you think you're on your way to Heaven because you know a few scriptures by heart?"
She put the last dish in the drain and left the room. They dismissed her and continued reveling in their "holy boldness", and how they had no trouble telling people when they were wrong, or weren't "living right".

Gloria went to her room, closed the door, and wrote in her journal:
"Lifting up the name of Jesus takes boldness. Sharing one's own testimony of the depths of one's own iniquity takes boldness. It's not bold to point out the vices of others; to sit around and gossip and lament what a shame another person's actions are--past or present. That doesn't take boldness. All that requires is hypocrisy, ignorance, and amnesia about one's own transgressions. Condemning others is not boldness. It's sanctimonious delusion. Condemning others is not a responsibility. God doesn't need help identifying troubled, impaired, imperfect people. That's easy. That encompasses everyone. Pointing out the sins of others doesn't take boldness. It takes a lack of compassion, usually caused by the gigantic 2'X4" impairing the sight one's own eye, and keeping one from seeing one's own wretchedness. One's sense of spiritual superiority to others is often  based on the mastery of theatrics and sporadic adherence to oppressive rules taught in places masquerading as houses of God. How distressing to think that one is close to God, and yet hate, indict, and ridicule those he loves; those for whom he has demonstrated patience, great mercy and love. How do we forget that it is what Jesus did, not what we do that is the principal thing.

Jesus died for the Bible thumper, too. Religion and doctrine and denominational strangleholds have spawned a toxic, confused, rigid, pompous brand of Christian, who exalts him or herself , and his or her own habits and theology instead of the Living God and His Word. People in denial go through their Bibles with a magnifying glass and searchlight, looking for anything that will oppress or shame others. When it comes to themselves, they search the Bible with a Sharpie, white-out and a pair of scissors. A good way to get people to throw nets into your section of the Sea of Forgetfulness to dredge up your whales, is to feel justified and arrogant enough to constantly stock, display, and fish out other people's guppies from your own self-made lake.

ALL unrighteousness is sin. Yours may be presently covered under the blood of Jesus, but didn't he wait for you to answer the door? Didn't he give you time? Didn't he draw you? Didn't he give you rope when you were too far to drag your own self back? Why then, are we so impatient with others as if God has lost the ability to draw others to Him? It's more understandable than ever why some people will never enter a church.
Heaven (and Hell) will be quite a surprise! Jesus paid it all. HE said it is finished. He doesn't need us to embellish because we don't really believe that John 3:16 applies to everyone. Abstaining from sex, drugs, and alcohol--the big three--have some people thinking they're safe. God hates a lot of other stuff, too. What a pity it would be if one has spent one's whole life supposedly working for Jesus and he says to them, "Name please?".

Gloria closed her journal, sighed and prayed. "Even if it's not good, Lord let me always be able to see and examine myself in your light. Thanks for reminding me that my salvation has everything to do with your plan--what you did, and my acceptance of it. Even that was your doing! Stop me in my tracks if I ever bump my head and think I can embellish or eclipse your finished work with my words or actions".

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