This post is based on a topic I have briefly written about in the past, at least as a descriptive term, yet God keeps bringing this to my mind as I interact with people in my daily life. The topic is this: is God’s word a mirror in your life, or do you simply use it as a hammer over the lives of others?
Most of us have witnessed the extremes of the hammer position, whether in person or in the news. Westboro Baptist Church is just one group with the extreme hammer view…and I will add their method and view is completely unbiblical and from the pit of hell! They condemn and protest against the military (at the funerals of our fallen heroes no less) and against the LGBT community in ways that are an embarrassment to those of us who are truly trying to follow Jesus, as well as ridiculous and intolerable to those in which the hatred is being spewed. Apparently the whole “love God and love your neighbor” thing doesn’t show up in the translation of scripture they are using!
Before we get too used to pointing fingers at these extremists we must take a look at ourselves as well. When we judge others based on their sins, in a small way we are following a similar type of thought that the extreme positions follow. It may not look like it on the outside, and I am sure the actions do not equate those of Westboro or even the typical street “preacher” (or pharisaical condemner might be a better descriptor), however, when we condemn others based on their sin (either in our thoughts or by what we say) we are doing the same thing. In Romans 1, Paul lays out a barrage of descriptors of the unrighteous (those not “good enough” to be His children). But then he throws a twist at the readers in Romans 2 who were likely reading this and pointing the finger at those they deemed unworthy based on their sins:
Romans 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
He is showing us that we are all in the same boat! Without Jesus’ sacrifice none of us can live forever with God! We cannot be “good enough” no matter how much we try…we all need Jesus!
The thing is, the Bible was never meant to be used as something to morally and spiritually impress upon others…it is meant to be read as a mirror reflecting God into our lives as we grow to be more like Him. It’s His word to guide us, to help us become more like Jesus in our daily life and in the way we treat those around us. When we use God’s word as a hammer, beating down people around us because of their behavior, we are acting like the Pharisees…and you remember how Jesus responded to them:
Matthew 23:25-26 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Jesus was not impressed by the amount of knowledge the “religious” people (Pharisees) had, that they memorized much of the scriptures and had many laws trying to make other people follow the rules they deemed proper and biblical. Actually, Jesus, like many of us are today, was sickened by the religious groups, just like Westboro Baptist, and called them out on it often! Jesus spent a lot of time with people who the religious had already condemned to hell. And the incredible part to me is that those people who were the furthest from God really enjoyed being around Jesus and spending time with Him…many times taking their first real steps of faith with Him, but even if they chose not to take steps they truly liked spending time with Him. Relationship always trumps religion! Jesus knew fully how to build relationships and speak Truth with love and grace! So, the real question here is this: if we are becoming more like Jesus every day, then do people far from God even want to be around us, let alone like us? Are we spending time in places where people do not already follow Jesus, or do we stay comfortable in our little self-proclaimed holy huddles? Are we spending time with our Savior, building a relationship with Him and reading His word as a mirror that reflects who we truly are, or more importantly who He is in us, so that we can extend that same love and grace to those around us?
I’d love to say I sit behind this screen with no judgment of others, but that would be a lie. However, I do know what is True, as God defines Truth, and to not apply that Truth to my life, and share what God is pressing on my heart with you, would be in direct disobedience to God! The way we treat others is a direct representation of who we follow…like it or not! When Westboro spews their hatred in the name of God, it makes me sick to my stomach and angry because that is NOT who my Savior is by any stretch of the imagination and in no way reflects any attribute of His character! Our actions may not be as vocal or public as theirs, but they are still stemming from the same basic thought…we believe we are more righteous than many around us and we’ve decided it is somehow our job to point it out to them! As I grow older I continually see glimpses of how God wants me to grow in relationship with Him as well as in relationship with those He places in my path. Amazingly enough, when I see the reflection of God’s word in my life it brings unspeakable joy to me and extends out to everyone around me! Oh I wish those moments were more often than they are…however; it is so much easier (at times) to grab my hammer and shatter the mirror that God wants to use to reflect His Son instead of making the right choice by extending His love to those around me no matter how lost they may seem to be. Using God’s word as a hammer is simply saying that we are on the same plane as God…and that is a very dangerous place for a believer to think they belong! How amazing would life on this earth be if those who follow Jesus would simply stop hammering people and start paying attention to His reflection in all of us…loving God and then loving others in His name!
Hammers make great tools when you need to nail something to a wall, but they are not appropriate to use when we want to “fix” or change people! The only person we can change is ourselves, so we need to stop trying to change others! The mirror of God’s word is the way to grow (and change) as we reflect the image of the One who created each and every one of us! So start the habit now and begin to see every passage of scripture as a note written specifically to you and you alone…then and only then can God begin showing you how love really can change the world, one reflection at a time!