I spent the weekend with the “Life of Brian”–once again reminded to “always look on the bright side of life.”
Yes, Brian is the pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Frostproof, Florida. Aside from being personable, gentle and caring, he has intelligently chosen to embrace the work that is set before him and enjoy it instead of complaining about the difficulties or lamenting its limitations.
That is remarkable. (So therefore, I did.)
Because of this spirit which radiates from him, the congregation allows itself to believe that they are not boxed in to either a social or a religious format that makes them run around in circles like gerbils looking for a wheel.
I must tell you–any church that advertises that it is presently on the path of righteous pursuits may very well be deluded. We are all intoxicated by an environment which challenges us to be rough and tumble instead of kind and merciful.
Very simply stated, that must change or nothing will happen.
If we truly go into a deeper study of the Word, we will end up as Paul did, proclaiming that the only commandment that’s necessary is “love your neighbor as yourself.”
If we pursue an existence of prayer, we will find, as Jesus taught, that our best supplications are done in the closet, without letting anyone know that we are seeking divine guidance.
It really comes down to a simple back-and-forth:
What should we slow?
What should become quick?
I use the word “slow” because none of us are without silliness and foolish iniquity, so we will occasionally slip up. Right now we are obsessed with the notion to be quick to judgment and slow to love. For some reason, we insist that this is a sign of maturity, caution or caring for our loved ones. Because of this, the people in our society sometimes look like they’re sniffing the room for nasty odors instead of including the inhabitants of the room.
We are quick to judge yet slow to love.
And no matter how much you learn about the Tabernacle of David, the death of Christ or the Apocalypse, you will make no progress in the Kingdom of God until you become quick to love and slow to judge.
Matter of fact, if I were pastoring a church, I would teach on that subject for at least six months–until everybody in the congregation, including the toddlers, was fully aware that the mantra of our mission was “quick to love and slow to judge.”
This does not mean that prayer, worship, fasting, giving and study have no merit–it just means they have no muscle. They do not bust through the cement of the walls we are building between each other. The only thing that will do that is love and a refusal on our part to judge others.
So the good news is this: if we can learn to be quick to love, even if it seems a little awkward at first, at least we will be stumbling in the right direction.
And the better news is, if we are slow to judgment, we can begin to tear down the dark image of the Christian faith, which has turned us into prudes instead of proof.
Published by Jonathan Cring