My to-do list is a mile long today...I'm sure we're all in the same boat there. Christmas is coming, and I don't know about you, but in order for *this* weary person to rejoice...there's a lot that needs to happen first. It's just the way of the game. There's presents to wrap, clothes to wash, toys to pick up...and about a week's worth of workouts to cram into the next two days. Meanwhile, there's tantruming toddlers, babies who won't sleep, and unexpected errands muddling it all up.
And yet, all day I've felt this tugging. To sit down, stop, and read a minute. I put myself into a mom-timeout after almost losing it with Lizzy earlier, and opened up my Bible. I won't tell you how long it has been since I opened it last, but it's been a long time.
I flipped open to 1 Corinthians, which is ironic because it's not my favorite book of the Bible, and also because a certain Duck Commander has been in the news and on my Facebook page quite a bit lately for his own reference and interpretation of a verse that comes from 1 Corinthians 6. Can I be honest? I'm tired of that conversation.What's on my mind and heart today comes from earlier in 1 Corinthians, and is related to that incident, I suppose, but I have no intention of rehashing it further (whew).
When I opened up to 1 Corinthians, my eyes first went to this verse:
"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man, do not even eat." (1 Corinthians 5:11)
Now, I don't know about you, but I've seen, on more than one occasion, this verse used as a weapon. As a sword to pierce through gays and lesbians, addicts, and women heading to the abortion clinic. I've seen it be used as a way to separate...to draw a line in the sand between US and THEM. A way to justify not cultivating relationships with those who we determine are "ungodly".
I think we forget sometimes that in Paul's letter to the
Corinthians, he is writing to members of the Christian church in
Corinth. So when he talks about sexual immorality, drunkenness,
idolatry-- he's writing to believers. He's not talking about 'those bad folk over there that we need to fix and show Jesus.' He's talking about US.
"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside." (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)
In the very next breath, Paul goes on to explicitly tell the believers in Corinth to stop worrying about everyone else, and start worrying about themselves. What business is it of mine to judge the behavior of those who do not identify themselves as Christian? It's none of my business. None at all.
Lately, one of the things that we've been working on with Lizzy is appropriate roles. So, for example, at school, it is her job to make sure that she is following the classroom rules. It is NOT her job to make sure that the other kids are following the classroom rules--that's her teacher's job.
The way I see it, it's just like that when it comes to the Christian faith. It's my job to do the best that I can to abide by the guidelines of our faith (not because I have to in order to go to heaven, but because I want to). I am NOT called to worry about the actions or behavior of those who don't identify themselves as Christians. I'm called to let God handle it. And that's the part that I think we forget sometimes.
"Be wise in the way that you act towards [unbelievers]; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:5-6)
Can we talk about salt for a minute? What is salt (other than very tasty)? It's a preservative. Back in the pioneer days, salt was a way to make food last for a very long time without refrigeration. I just think that's really interesting--our words towards unbelievers are to be full of grace, and to act as a preservative. To preserve the relationship rather than destroy it.
To love and care for one another, always.
(Merry Christmas, friends!)