Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Categories of Life

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I start to see things and people around me more clearly. I find it easier to let things go, and to not be offended by what people do, because I've come to realize that we're all just human.

I used to see people as Good or Bad. There were some people who were close to me that were somewhere in the middle but for the most part, I would categorize people into those two categories, without even realizing it completely.

People at my church were more than likely Good, while there were some people outside of church that I heard about that were Bad. Family was mostly Good, but some were Bad. And Bad people would switch categories depending on how I felt about them at the time.

Remember, I was doing this subconsciously without thinking it through. There was no logic or reason for any of it.

But then we started traveling. First we went on deputation and met many different varieties of people. I started having a tough time figuring out who was Good and who was Bad. Then someone who was in my Good category hurt me deeply, and that person was moved to Bad. This upset my world and made me view everyone I knew with new eyes, and I had to start re-categorizing everyone I knew, because I didn't know who was Good and who was Bad anymore.

I started really struggling with this when we started working in churches and would really get to know the Pastor and his family, and their church members. One Pastor in particular would rotate from Good to Bad to Good, back to Bad in a single day. It was very stressful for me and extremely confusing to my psyche.

Then I had another tragic thing happened, and another person who was high on my Good list suddenly became very Bad and my brain couldn't process it. How could this be? How could a person go from being Good to Bad after one single conversation? Could I trust anyone? Was everyone lying to me and pretending to be Good when they're really Bad? I even started to doubt my Salvation. Was I such a bad judge of character because I didn't have God's Spirit and wisdom inside of me to guide me?

I talked it over with my husband many, many times and he told me verses like Mark 10:8 "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God." and Psalm 14:3 "They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy: [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one."

These are verses that I had heard all growing up, and could quote with him. But God saved them for when I really needed them. I started seeing people from a new light. I put everyone in the Bad category and then changed the name to Human. Because that's all we really are anyway, is Human.

Now there are subcategories like: Kind-of Creepy; Untrustworthy; Probably Okay, But Don't Trust Yet; and other similar categories.

And then there are my favorite categories: Friend; Prayer Warrior; Gives Great Hugs; Great Sense of Humor; Strong, and others. These categories sometimes blend together, and sometimes the good categories and bad categories blend together.

But the main thing that helps me keep them all in focus is that they're all under Human. We're all just Human and sometimes we're good, sometimes we're bad, sometimes we're somewhere in the middle. But because of God's mercy, love, and grace He loves us anyway. And it isn't up to me to decide who is Good or Bad, it's only up to me to follow God's example of "Loving Anyway".

Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"

God doesn't judge our works and put us into Good or Bad categories. His only category is "Forgiven" with two subcategories: Saved or Unsaved. And we have that choice to accept His love and forgiveness, or to deny it. But either way we're forgiven and loved.

Have you accepted that forgiveness or are you still trying to fit yourself into a Good category that doesn't exist?

Are you stumbling through life not sure of whom you can trust, and always afraid of who will fail you? Only God can be a constant in your life, everyone else is just human. Give your expectations and works to God, and be free from the bondage of using works to earn favor.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mixing the World and God

The Bible is very clear about us keeping ourselves pure and separated from the World. We are to be the Light to the world, to show them the love of the Father.
Matthew 5:14 "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."
We are also supposed to be different from the world, set apart and different as a testimony to God.
Titus 2:14 "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Peculiar doesn't mean weird or strange, but different and unique. We should be a special prize that God would be proud to set apart and show off. I think of it as a peculiar vase you might find at an antique store. You're willing to pay more for it because it's different, not like the rest, and attracts attention for its good qualities.
This is a basic, easy concept to understand. And in Baptist circles we apply this concept to many things. We understand we should dress differently, we should listen to music that is holy and different from the world's music, we preach against bringing the world into our worship services, we even use these verses to purify our homes and provide a safe, nurturing environment for our children.
It's easy to understand that mixing unholy music with a Holy God does not please the Lord. It's easy to understand that Aaron and the Isrealites were wrong to make a golden calf and worship it, even though they said they were worshiping God. They thought they were doing what was right, they had good intentions. But it wasn't how God wanted to be worshiped. They had taken wrong worship and put God's name in it, and He wasn't pleased.
So why is it okay to take a pagan and worldly practice, put Jesus in it, and think it will please the Lord? Because our intentions are good? Were Aaron's intentions good enough? No, Moses had to beg God to not kill Aaron and the Isrealites. Is it okay to mix pagan practices and God's name because in our hearts we're sincere? No, the Bible says that our hearts are deceitful above ALL things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
Just because in our hearts we are sincerely trying to honor the Lord, does not make it okay to worship and honor the Lord with pagan practices.
Sincerity did not help Cain when he made a wrong sacrifice to the Lord. God was not pleased with fruits and vegetables when He had made it clear that a proper sacrifice was a meat offering.
God doesn't want our good intentions and what we think is right. He's already told us what He wants, and how He wants to be worshiped. And He makes it vividly clear that He does not appreciate it when we take worldly practices, and try to worship or honor Him with them. He hates it, and it does not please Him. I think it would be fitting to search and discover how God would want His birthday to be celebrated, or His resurrection, or how He would want to be worshiped with music, instead of adapting traditions that stem from a completely anti-God belief system. He is worthy of our time and consideration of how He would like things to be done, isn't He?