Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A Brutally Honest Confession

As I promised here is one of the emails that, uh, shall we say, raised an eyebrow or two amongst my compadres...

I have a confession to make. I lie. I am greedy and materialistic. I spend money on stupid trivial things and rationalize that if I buy stuff for other people that means I’m generous. I run up my credit cards without a care in the world as if I’m counting on dying before I ever have to pay it back. I worry about what people think more often than I worry about doing the right thing REGARDLESS of what they think. I find it easier to blindly follow my leaders than to question the clear lack of integrity they show and dark deeds that they do. I cringe when stereotypes and slurs of other races, genders, sexual orientations, political ideologies, religions and cultures struggle, barely restrained, at the tip of my tongue as they try to lunge forward into the world. My road rage makes me curse like a sailor 7 days a week even when I’m driving to church. I’d rather watch reruns of my favorite sitcoms than the evening news. My ethics and values are often pawns in the game of “What’s In It For Me?” If a minister (or anybody for that matter) peppers his speech with “hallelujah”s and “Praise God”s it’s unlikely I’ll question anything else he says or does; even when I know he’s taking bribes, cheating on his taxes and lying just as badly as I do. ‘Cause after all an anointed “Man of God” must be filled with the Holy Spirit so I should just do what he tells me and let him do my thinking, and if necessary my voting, for me. And all that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I hate all these things about myself and yet I can not overcome them.

I am a Christian. Saved by the blood of the lamb. Bible-reading. Daily praying. But obviously I have a problem. Faith without works is dead. It’s the work that I have trouble with. The work of telling the truth even if it gets me into trouble. Of being satisfied with and grateful for what I have. It is much harder to give the time, talents and loving care which people crave, than it is to buy trinkets for my friends that they don’t really need; and it’s pretty much just a weak attempt to buy their love and a little glory for myself. It is far simpler to give in to immediate gratification than it is to live modestly and save up for the things that really matter. I resist the labor of putting integrity before popularity. I shrink from the toil of realizing that citizenship doesn’t end in the voting booth, it STARTS there. It is a small struggle to hold back my own latent bigotry but the greater struggle is to look it in the eye again and again; and to deconstruct it bit by bit until I find and destroy the lie that gives it breath. Laziness and inertia are my personal demons and slaying them is a task that would give Hercules pause. My anger is a stumbling block and my vanity a crushing stone; neither of which I seam to have the strength to move. I think that sticking to the values gifted to me by Christ, even when they don’t serve my desires, will be the hardest thing I ever do, period. It takes near superhuman effort to actually take my guidance from the Holy Spirit rather than His “mouthpiece” in the pulpit who may (consciously or unconsciously) have his own agenda. Christ called his shepherds to be “servants” not puppet masters. And I am to be gentle as a lamb, not to be as gullible as one. It is a fearful undertaking to boldly declare that the words “thank you Jesus” in the mouth of a false prophet is a far worse blasphemy than an angry exclamation of “Jesus Christ!” in the mouth of a born-again believer who’s just stubbed his toe. And that, as I said, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Maybe you’ve read all the books I’ve read. Prayer of Jabez, Purpose Driven Life, the Bible... But though they lay out the work quite clearly, I think reading those books doesn’t make doing the work easier. Maybe that’s why I haven’t really started yet. I’m only just now realizing you can’t get out of DOING the HARD, HARD WORK of it no matter how many Bible Studies you go to and prayer journals you keep.

So here is the thing. The laborers are few. No matter how saved I am, I am not automatically one of them. That’s just the cold hard reality of it. I am praying for the mind of Christ. The heart and passion of a laborer. I have the soul of salvation but I need the work-worn hands of a carpenter. Else, am I not dead? So please. Pray for me.

Do me a favor. Don’t send me a thousand inspirational Christian emails promising me a miracle if I forward it to ten friends and the person who sent it within the next 30 seconds. Don’t make it a test of my faith or a sign that I’m secretly ashamed of Christ if I don’t. Quite frankly I’m not going to do that. Clicking “forward” and spamming everyone in my address book is not even remotely “work” for me. I put more effort into preparing my morning cup of coffee than that. And honestly, I don’t like the sputtering "halo of holier-than-thou smugness" I feel just after I hit “send.”

But please pray for me. Just because you do, it doesn’t mean you’ll get any big reward. And if you don’t, I sincerely doubt there will be some big whammie waiting for you around the corner, nor will it become some ugly black mark to keep you from your Heavenly reward. You don’t have to respond to tell me that you did it either. I don’t need proof of your love or faith. You don’t have forward it to all your Christian friends or your non-Christian friends for that matter. I don’t really care who sees this. Because there’s no real work to any of that.

I make this confession for two reasons. First, because I need all the help I can get to get me moving. And second, because I suspect I am not the only uncomfortably complacent Christian who’s trying to take an honest look at herself and doesn’t like what she’s seeing.

Well then, I guess my hand is on the plow now, isn’t it?
end of email.

See why some folks were wigged out? heheheh (nervous laughter) heheheh...

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