by Robin Alcala
What is wrong with this picture besides the obvious misspellings? After I read this post that a minister posted on social media, I was seeing red…and I don’t think it’s because the post was done in red either! Do you get my drift? My eyes were becoming blood shot. I could feel my blood vessels in my sockets expanding quickly! Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but, honestly, I wasn’t just seeing red, I was beginning to feel red.
I hope you don’t mind if I keep it real here. This is coming from a person who has nicknames like, Flower, Sunshine, and referred often times as a gentle lamb. Uh-huh. For real. But this is the same girl, who has a tiger in her tank. And the tiger was pacing. And then the tiger… well…pounced. Hey, before religious fingers start the pointing game, is not Jesus the Lamb that was slain, but yet He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Go figure that one. Jesus was “balance” in demonstration. He is gentle, yet He is the advocate for the oppressed, the outcast, the broken, the imperfect, the judged and criticized, those ostracized by the “perfect” religious ones.
In life, when you are being bullied, judged, criticized, slandered, lied on, shamed, it’s nice to have a gentle caring soul to empathize with you. But sometimes isn’t it nice when someone comes along who isn’t ashamed or fearful of their association with you, and they actually push back the bullying and the shaming? They become your advocate and they don’t merely pat you on your back like your grandma, but they bring back childhood memories when your big brother broke up a fight on the school playground by jumping in with all fours swinging, kicking and yelling.
Sometimes to be an advocate, it is not gentle, and it is not quiet. I am sure when Jesus took the keys of death and the grave from Satan, I bet it wasn’t a quiet and meek little wrestling match. I bet it got loud and I bet it got ugly. Satan is the “original bully”. Besides, that in-honorable title, he infamously holds another. He is also a “religious extremist”. He assumes it his duty to beat up people. He judges, criticizes, slanders, lies on, and reminds us of our past, and broadcasts it to others through willing and slandering fools, a/k/a as religious individuals. He knows no shame in shaming those created in God’s image, those whose hearts have been washed with the blood of the sacrificial Lamb. I wonder what caused the earth to quake the most? Was it the Lion’s roar or Satan’s trembling before our Big Brother? Imagine being a fly on the wall when it was all going down! I bet you are wondering what I was thinking as my blood was beginning to boil? Well, this was a public shaming and flogging, though Jesus took our flogging, and He suffered our beatings.
Possibly the minister that is responsible for this post should ask himself, “Why is this other person’s issue becoming an issue for me?” The wording reflected in this post, “Is this fair?” “That he makes an excuse.” “He enjoys cigarettes.” Let me ask, is this a nice or a critical comment here? Then for this man to speak as if he knows how this “smoker” thinks and feels is the utmost of arrogance. How would he know if the smoking pastor actually enjoys this costly habit? How would he know if smoking was an excuse and that it didn’t actually help his stomach and stress issues? We need to find empathy for those that have habits and issues, always remembering… that we do too.
Some commented that though it was okay for the laity to smoke, this man was unworthy to pastor. Holy smoke! I told myself, “Get down girl!” But the tiger in me pounced once again. Giving you the short of it, I asked, “So then, we can condemn this minister? Who made us his or anyone’s Judge? Besides, he is smoking; he is not drinking. So then, all the ministers that over eat, since they are gluttonous, are they “not worthy” to lead either?” If that is the case, then the ministry just eliminated about half of the ministers.
We all need to strive to control our outer person, but isn’t what’s inside the stuff that matters most? Didn’t Jesus say that the religious people clean the outside of the cup but leave the inside unclean? Like, having wrong motives for being in leadership. Is it for self-gratification and self-serving? Is it an opportunity to control others, or to prove they are a Somebody? Don’t those inner issues stink at least as foul as a pack of cigarettes, if not more?! Now if someone is beating his wife and children behind closed doors or beating the sheep from the pulpit, then it’s an entirely different matter. We all should strive to have our private life match our public image.
Unfortunately, this post is a poor example being displayed here to the laity that it’s ok to judge, criticize and publicly shame someone. The church then wonders why it may be hard to get unbelievers to visit. It’s because they are afraid they will be judged and talked about too! Instead of throwing a stone, let’s say a prayer instead.
Though I don’t know the pastor that was mentioned in the above post, my heart bled for him and I became his advocate. This painful injustice toward this brother changed this lamb into a lion. I fought with my words in his defense according to the Scriptures. Because religious bullies will beat a person up, because pride puffs up, while love will lift someone up instead. Jesus’s purpose was to lift people up and so should ours be. The world will not see Jesus because of our superficial perfectionism, but only because of the love that we show to one another.