I promise that I will eventually get back to my discussion of the Restoration Movement. The reason I haven’t is that I am trying to address things that are happening in my life right now. Some of them are issues that I deal with as a pastor and some of them are issues that are affecting my family. A good number of them are just the result of getting older and (hopefully) more mature. All of the time I spend working on Bible lessons and sermons doesn’t do me a bit of good if I am not learning something about myself in the process. I haven’t been a “full time” preacher very long. In fact, I’m getting close to my second anniversary here at Granville Center Church of Christ. Before that my longest “ministry” was a weekend youth ministry that lasted for a little over a year while I was in Bible College. I did another weekend youth ministry for a very short time and then I served as interim minister for a congregation for about six months. Then I spent about eight months working with a church plant. That is the extent of my professional ministry experience prior to moving up here. Even though I am forty-five years old and have been serving in the church for the majority of my life, I am still a rookie when it comes to being one of the paid guys.
My post yesterday was prompted by a couple of things. The first is my daughter. For those of you who know my family, you know that she has been dealing with severe eczema for her entire life. When you look at her it is obvious that she has some serious skin issues. There are dry and discolored patches along with the places she sometimes scratches raw. Some of the medicines she has to take cause her to gain weight and have other issues on top of the skin problems. I have caught people staring at her and motioning towards her in public. It is only by the grace of God that I haven’t called them out yet. I usually stare back long enough to catch their eyes and let them know that I know what they are doing. It breaks my heart because she is my little girl and people are gawking and talking about her as if she can do anything about it. Not only does it break my heart, it makes me mad.
The second thing that set me off was seeing a Facebook friend (one who is supposed to be a Christian) call someone retarded after making a silly comment. I confess, in the past I have used that word in conversations without ever considering how others may have be affected. I have also used words like nigger and faggot when I was younger, without caring who might be offended. It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t using them in reference to African-Americans or homosexuals. The truth is, I usually wasn’t. However, that doesn’t excuse it. They are both ugly and hateful words REGARDLESS of the context in which they are being used. I feel the same way about the word retarded (or retard). I have dear friends who are the parents of children born with various disabilities. Those kids are some of the most beautiful and loving human beings I have ever met. To flippantly use a word like retard is one of the most hateful things I can think of.
I realize that these are just two possible situations where people say and think things about others without any concern for them. It’s kind of strange that in this politically correct world we live in, there are still certain groups of people who are openly targeted and mocked. The fact that there are sites out there which exist only to make fun of the way people look should tell us something about ourselves. I realize that some people try to justify their comments and write them off as joking. I’m not buying it any more. No joke is worth devaluing a human being created in the image of God. I know that there are people out there who are odd and who seem like they’re asking for it, but I want to ask you…is it worth it? I don’t expect everyone to understand where I’m coming from. However, I do expect those who claim to follow Christ to get it. Jesus went out of his way to help those who were unclean and oppressed. He was compassionate and had mercy on those who the world considered unlovable. I truly believe that a Christian should be defined by the love he/she has for God and for others. How in the world can we claim to love either if we participate in the intentional humiliation of those He loves?
Grace and peace