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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Judge Not

I am not a perfect Christian. In fact, that would be an oxymoron, for what then would be the need for Jesus’ saving grace? What would be the point of mercy? So why is it that Christians can be the most judgmental toward other Christians? Why do they seem to be sometimes the most unforgiving? Of all people, Christians should know what God expects of us…after all, we carry the name of His Son!
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1 NKJV)
“Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37 NLT)
“Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’" (Matthew 9:12-13 NIV)

My heart has been chipped away, if not downright broken, at some of the situations we have faced as parents of a child in trouble. Parents of his friends have forbid their children to spend time with our son, and while I understand their decision and their concerns, what I cannot understand is what they say to their children…”He’s a bad kid…We don’t want you near him…He’s the not the kind of person we want you spending time with.” Don’t people know their children almost always tell their friends what their parents say? Do they care? Would they care if they knew how these words have hurt my son and created more self doubt and despondency?

My son’s former Christian school has said and done things that are downright unbiblical. I understand their decision to disenroll him (and his four friends), but ways in which they treated these boys and information that has been shared with others are contrary to how Christ has told us to live and act.

Lest your mind take you to the extreme, I want you to know that my son and these friends have not caused physical harm, and their actions have not resulted in any irreparable damage. Out of respect and love for them, I desire to tread lightly in this “public forum” because it’s not my intent to dwell on what’s happened, but what we can learn from it. With my son, I don’t go back over the events that led us here, and I don’t need to remind him of his very real consequences – they impact his daily life already – but what I do strive for is that he knows none of this changes my love for him and my acceptance of him. Oh how I wish I could shield him from those who have chosen not to love and accept him. Or those that say they care for him but cast him into the “leper colony” of life (seemingly saying, “we love you, but only at a distance”). But Christ said to the apostles, “…Preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7 NIV)” Jesus didn’t hang out with the religious leaders of the day, he hung out at the homes of tax collectors, lepers and sinners.

I guess if I were really honest, I would have to say that I can be pretty judgmental myself…especially before entering this season of my family’s life. And, I guess I am being judgmental even now as I write this and consider those who disparage my son. However, I have come to learn that things are not always as they seem. What we may characterize as “bad” or “ugly” or “undesirable”, Jesus may characterize as “lost” or “hurting” or “in need of grace”. I have come to a place where I pray daily, often minute-by-minute, for my lost child, and others like him. But I know that the Lord does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance. And He will rejoice with me when my “prodigal” son “comes home”. Indeed, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the righteous who do not need to repent (Luke 15:7).

I have often prayed for God to break my heart with the things that break His. I had no idea what the answer to that prayer would be. I would not have chosen this situation to be what “broke my heart”, and it has been difficult for my husband and I to come to terms with it, but it has drawn me closer to God. It has further softened my heart toward my son, especially when he’s being “difficult”. It has pointed out where I have been prideful and even arrogant. It has led me to examine my life to see if it’s truly in line with God’s will (and I am finding where it is not). It has pointed out the weaknesses in our family as it has magnified the stress fractures that threaten to crack us wide open. It gives me an opportunity to Rock-bolt things back in place (with Christ, the Rock). It has also given me a new perspective for other not-perfect Christians and non-Christians alike. I will embrace this situation, and I will continue to learn from it. And God will use it for good, as He said He would. I pray He uses it to speak to others as well…

Oh, and it would be completely unfair and wrong of me to say all this and then neglect to mention how many others have come alongside our family and my son and shown us love and grace and concern. My church family at Red Rocks Church, my sister-in-law, our parents, my direct supervisor, our counselor, and others have been so gracious and good to us. They have been Christ’s hands and feet in this situation. If any of you are reading this…thank you, and we love you!


Alison said...

I saw your post on Barbara's blog and clicked to your blog. I haven't read everything (but I will!) but I've read enough to get an idea of what's going on.

I don't have experience with my children doing these things because they're only 4 and 2. But, I will say, I'm pretty sure i've heard parents say to watch out for our son :)

I DO have experience with being a trouble maker myself. My husband also. Lots of drugs, alcohol, sex, and run ins with the law. Thankfully, the Lord pulled us out of that without any permanent damage. But we are still dealing with legal problems from my husband from 10 years ago when he was 20. He's a successful professional and was arrested in January with our 4 year old in the car for an outstanding warrant on driving with a suspended liscence. From 1996! Tell your son that story. Seriously.

What I've learned is not to be silent. You go through trials to teach others, and yourself, so keeping quiet defeats the purpose. I'm certainly NOT saying you post all the grissly details on the blog but to do exactly what you're doing.

You've already effected one person--me! This will be something I remember when my children get older. Hopefully, fingers crossed, my kids will stay out of major trouble but I'll teach them to love kids who are having trouble. Don't necessarily join in but explain why you're NOT going to do what they do. Try to teach and offer them a safe place to land when they fall. Because we ALL fall. Even the 'good' kids. Like you said we all sin. But we love everyone unconditionally even when they're hurting themselves or others (usually mom and dad :( ).

My mom told me when I was in the midst of my turmoil that she always had faith I'd come back. She said she knew she raised me better than that. And you know what, I always knew there was something 'different' about me compared to the other addicts around me. I always believed and had faith in God even when I questioned and pushed ALL the limits. The seed had been planted.

I'll pray for you and your children. You've planted the seed now we'll all pray for God to help it grow. We plant, the Holy Spirit does the rest.

Sabrina said...

I am blessed that you shared your blog address with me.... I am even more blessed to see that you are a Christian. Saved by grace and not by works..... It is the gift of God.
I pray that you and your family will receive the healing and restoration that is sure to come.

1Peter 5:10 "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you."

God Bless,

Christal said...

Wow! What a prayer! I an only imagine how God's heart breaks for us! Thanks for the reminder of no one being perfect and how God still loves us... Good and bad! He holds no grudge!