Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Burning Lens

Often in these writings, I am reminded that I am fall-able, tainted, and stumbling.  I've often stated that the intent and purpose for these writings are less a sharing of my soul with others than a documented trail of directional markers for self as I pursue the One who draws my next breath and blesses the daily efforts of my hands.  From time to time I witness a bringing forth of that which I deem ugly and undesirable.  In this I witness a purging of the dross, so that of value can be purified by the Refiner and an instrument of worth can be brought forth.

I witnessed a picture the other day and it stirred my heart to anger.  It was not of some terrible occurrence.  It was not of an abuse against innocents.  It was not even of a neglect or harm towards "the least of these".  In fact, it was not an injustice at all by normally defined parameters.  It was a photo another had posted of themselves enjoying the camaraderie and friendship of their church family.  It was a photo of christian people doing what christian people are supposed to do - fellowshipping.

Why would such a thing trouble my heart to dark emotion?  What could possibly be wrong in this scenario that would kindle that sinking burning fire deep in my chest?  The answer - for me this picture represented betrayal, hurt, and indignant arrogance.  Petty?  Certainly.  Justified?  Never.  Explanation?  Every story has one.

The individual in the photos was someone my bride and I had stood along side on several occasions when the enemy of our souls was doing his best to destroy them, both from outside and inside of the church.  When temptation was upon them to fall away we encouraged.  When condemning judgement was heavy upon them from within the body, we endeavored to show love.  Years later, when friends and family began to turn away and during the loneliest and most isolating period of our lives where the enemy beset us continually on every side for trying to do the will of the Father in orphan care and adoption - this individual was one of many who turned from us. 

In witnessing the photos I was looking at, I was not seeing "christian fellowship".  I had narrowed the lens and was scrutinizing betrayal.  I was focused in on arrogant piety as church events and involvements were advertised for all to take note.  I was fixated on righteous entitlement for the manner in which they flaunted the circles in which they now ran, the after-church-lunch-crowds they now socialized with.   Identity was advertised in affiliation and activities.  This lens brought upon me a deepening anger for I knew this one when they were destitute and even shunned by the church in judgement and I witnessed them rise up to become one central to the defamation of my household among family and friends.  It was apparent in the numerous photos that life was good and that they had found their niche.

I continued to sharpen the lens and saw an image fill it's circumference.  What I saw was truly revolting.  It was filled with an arrogant forgetfulness of where one once came from and where one once stood.  A smug vanity and boastfulness was evident upon the face.  Humility was lost for influence and achievement.  A sadness crept in and I had to divert as my heart grew overwhelmed; for the image was no longer of another - it was of myself.

I had stumbled upon a very simple universal constant;  The lens through which we gaze to scrutinize another will often magnify the ugliness of the darkness within. 

I was guilty in greater and lesser measure of nearly every one of the sins for which I was judging.  My indictments upon this person were no more just than their judgement upon me or mine upon you because this individual has never walked my path, I have not walked theirs, and neither of us can be responsible for what God is doing in each of our lives.  Hence the very plain and unmistakable command

Judge not, neither pronouncing judgment nor subjecting to censure, and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty, and you will not be condemned and pronounced guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released.
Luke 6:37 AMP

My "right to wrath" was, at best, sin on my part and never justifiable as God has faithfully accompanied me through the worst storms of my life in recent years, protected and provided for my family, and performed according to His Word just as He always does.  He has restored multiple times over what was taken and lost and deepened our understanding of His love and grace towards us in the process.  However, in taking my eyes off of Him and placing them upon circumstances and others I can still erode my trust in the One who has promised to never leave us or forsake us and introduce a level of worry and concern upon my life and the outcomes and actions of others that God never desires for me or my family to carry.

Comparing the outcome of the fruit of another's life and my own is always a path fraught with snares regardless of personal history.  As Mark Twain put it "Comparison is the death of joy".  More potently Job 5:2 puts it this way:

Resentment kills a fool,
and envy slays the simple.

I am humbled as I continue and will ever continue to lap at this milk of the Word.  My mission, my family's mission, the church's mission is to love.  Plain and simple.  #1 God above all else.  #2 Your neighbor as yourself. 

Though this admonition has been repeated through the ages, it is profound in the fullness of its depth.  Where 1 Corinthians 13:13 states "the greatest of these is ____", unpacking this statement will require the length of eternity as we discover the God who is Love and who died to rescue not only each one of us, but also those we would turn our burning lenses upon.

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