The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, 'Look, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.' But Micaiah said, 'As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, I will speak.' -- 1 Kings 22:13-14
As I have written in the past in this blog, there are times when I feel God asking me to give someone a message. And, more often than not, the message is critical. I wish things were different in that respect, but that is the way it is. (Please read, "The Word of God Came to Me," November 11, for the background story to what I am writing today.)
Now, today, it is clear to me that God is giving me another task. Really, it is the same task he gave me before, only now I have a new opponent: a fellow blogger whose primary purpose seems to be excluding people from the Kingdom of God (see, http://christian-with-a-view.blogspot.com/2011/11/judgment-of-john-doe.html). When I was first invited to follow this blogger, I said, "No, thanks. Why would I follow someone who thinks so differently than I do?" But then I felt that God wanted me to stay connected to this blogger for some reason. I thought it was so that I would learn how to "love my enemy". But now I think that I have just been slow to see God's real purpose in wanting me to follow this blogger.
For, Christian exclusion was the catalyst that pushed me forward along this particular journey. God has filled me with passionate anger at those who exclude others from His Kingdom. God gave me a voice, and the courage to "say what I need to say", even when it meant opposing friends, fellow church members, and even my previous pastor. No one gets to exclude anyone from God's Kingdom. That is God's job. We don't get to say who is going to heaven or hell, and we don't get to say who is not going to heaven or hell.
Now I have always felt that it is much more important to step in and put a stop to someone's actions when he or she is harming someone else, or neglecting someone else, than it is to step in and try to correct someone's beliefs. I have always felt that there were more important things to worry about, like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, teaching the children, etc. Which is one reason why it was so hard for me to learn to speak up in the first place. Who am I to tell someone they are wrong in their thinking?
At the same time, Christian unity, which ties the whole diverse body of Christ together with our common love for Jesus, is of paramount importance. So, I am not about to tell someone that their understanding of the meaning of Christ's Eucharist is wrong because it is different from mine. Or anything like that.
However, I see something else going on when people start proclaiming that they know who gets into God's Kingdom and who does not. I can no longer turn away, and merely shake my head at those who exclude. Nor am I meant to. I believe to the core of my being that I am called upon by God to actively oppose those who try to push people out of the Kingdom of God.
I know I am fighting against a very strong current here. I seriously doubt that my efforts will make any difference. However, to do nothing is not an option for me. Doing nothing to oppose evil only makes it louder and stronger. And, if I do not admonish those whom I am called to admonish, then I am a party to their crime. I become an accomplice to it.
My greatest worry is that I, too, will "lose the plot" and stop loving my "enemy" -- that I will return evil for evil. Perhaps that is why I spent so much time, after I was invited to follow this person's blog, struggling to know how to respond to him. Somehow, I have to respond with love. I have to keep the teachings of Jesus in my thoughts, words, and deeds.
A few days ago, a friend, who is a messenger of encouragement to me and many others, gave me a scripture passage -- just because she thought of me when she read it. It was Paul's words of advice to Timothy: "Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. ... focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers and teaching others. ... Give your complete attention to these matters. ... Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and on the salvation of those who hear you." (from Timothy 4:12-16) Thank you, my friend. For, I hear in these words not only much needed comfort, but also words of caution. I must not, in my effort to correct, go too far and be un-Christian. I must always approach people with the love of Christ.
I will try, dear Lord. And I will keep the 'eyes of my heart' and 'the ears of my heart' focused on your message. Love always, Pam