This morning as I was driving off the mountain I punched the seek button on my radio because there was literally nothing playing worth listening to. It paused on an early morning 'message' from one of the local Christian radio stations. I must confess; I listen to radio preachers. it is like that wreck that is so awful that we cannot turn keep from staring at the carnage that lie on the side the road. This morning was one of those I cannot stop listening because of the carnage that will be left in the wake of what was being proclaimed.
The radio pastor was using the story of David and Bathsheba to talk about the validity of God's punishment upon us. For those of you who might not know the story I'll provide you with the cliff-note version. David, the very one that God chose to be king at a very young age oversteps his bounds and orders a man killed because he wants his wife. Yes, David orders an innocent man murdered because he wants what is not his; Bathsheba. Bathsheba becomes the King's wife and gets pregnant but within a week the baby became ill and died.
The pastor used this story to say that David needed to be punished because he had abused his power and the death of the child was the punishment. He went on to say that the thorn in Paul's side was because God wanted to remind him that he would be punished if he stepped out of God's purpose and will because he had been anointed with an important message. The longer I listened the sadder I felt.
I was stunned and yet I wasn't.
My heart sank as I listened and thought of my friends whom have lost children whether that be during their pregnancies or at some point after their birth. My heart skipped a beat thinking that any of my friends whom are unable to conceive a child would hear this and believe that this medical condition was a punishment for something that they had done; for a sin that they had committed.
I have sat in coffee shops watching the tears flow from both my male and female friends over the loss of a child. I have wrapped them in my arms as they merely slumped over on the side of the couches longing for a child in which they could call their own. I have listened with intensity over the phone as a friend found the words to say that their child had been found dead.
Really, are you seriously proclaiming that our God is a God that causes such heartache and devastation because the person needed to be punished for a sin that they had committed? Really....
As he spewed venom about the deserved punishment of David and connected Paul's thorn in his side as God's way of keeping him pure I thought I would scream.
So again, let me get this straight.....people have a thorn in their side because God is reminding them to be pure and blameless. I thought of the many I know who struggle with addiction; people who have a chemical imbalance that leaves their mind misfiring and leads them deep into depression. I listened through the ears of someone who has just lost their job, have years of experience and an income that unfortunately cannot be easily replaced in this economy. I was led back to a conversation in which a person just recently shared how they were shamed and guilted as a child; growing and living as if they were not worthy enough.
Today this pastor reminded me why I am so thankful to be and do what I do everyday. I have the opportunity to build relationships with people so that I can be a light in this dark and train wrecked world and help dispel the punishment that others have heaped upon innocent humans.
For anyone who has taken the time to fully read this rant this morning I want you to hear this:
following Jesus is not about shaming others......Jesus never shamed the 'sinner'
following Jesus is not about pronouncing human judgement upon others...Jesus always offered a new way of living.
following Jesus is not about trying to earn your way into an eternal peace or place....Jesus gave his life so that our junk, missteps, stupid decisions could be righted.
If you are listening to this believe me that the crazy, punish driven, guilt pouring, shame covering 'Christians' out there are not representatives of the God, Jesus and Holy Spirit that I believe in and seek to follow.
"Come to me, all who are weary and broken hearted and I will give you rest"
If you're still reading this today know that there is mercy and an every lasting God that believes in and loves and grieves with you.