Tag Archives: Jesus

How Dare You Judge Us!

Story of the Day for Wednesday August 22, 2012 

How Dare You Judge Us!

 

                    He was despised and forsaken by the people. A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. 

                                             Isaiah 53:3

 

On the great Judgment Day, when all stand before God, some in the teeming crowd began to raise their voices. They weren’t weeping with cries of shame or remorse. They were angry.

One of them shouted to those around him, “How can God judge us?”

“Yeah,” shouted a woman, “what does God know about the kind of life and suffering we had to go through?” The woman lifted her arm to reveal the brand of a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp.

“Our persecution was unimaginable. We endured beatings, torture, and death!”

A black man stepped forward. “What about this?” He lowered his collar to show an ugly rope burn around his neck.

“Lynched!  For the crime of having dark skin.” He spoke bitterly of the injustice he and his people had suffered: betrayed by Head Hunters, forced into slave ships, separated from family, and forced to live without recourse to justice.

 

Soon everyone had their story to tell. They spoke of the shame of being born an illegitimate child. Lepers painfully recounted what it was like to be an “untouchable” and to live isolated and lonely.  A businessman told his story of financial success – only to be betrayed and defrauded by his friend and business partner, and to die broke.

A movie star edged closer to the center of the complaints. The crowd sneered at her as one who didn’t know what it was like to suffer misfortune at the hands of God.

But the movie star won them over. Through tears, she recounted her life of celebrity. Everybody wanted to know her, but she could trust no one. Wherever she went, she was hounded by crowds pleading for autographs, paparazzi chasing her every move and selling every unflattering photo to the scandal magazines, who created false or misleading headlines of her personal life.

“How would you like it,” she asked, “if, whenever you try to sneak away for a short vacation, you are swarmed by those who could care less about invading your privacy?”

The crowd murmured their approval, and included her in the group.

 

The indignant crowd chose leaders to approach God’s throne and present their grievances. They chose a Jew, a leper, a black, and an untouchable from India. On behalf of the others they presented their case before God.

“How dare you judge us! You sit here removed from the temptations and sufferings we endured on earth, and now you have the gall to judge us for our anger and failure and retaliation against those who hurt us?” Another added, “You don’t know what it’s like to endure what we have on earth.”

There was silence while the leaders awaited God’s response. Then someone stood up before the throne. He stretched before them his nail-pierced hands.

And, in that moment, they realized that God had already served his sentence.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Two Pairs of Pants

Story of the Day for Friday June 17, 2011

Two Pairs of Pants

 

                 Be careful that you don’t practice your righteousness before people to be seen by them.  For if you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  

                                                                                  Matthew 6:1

 

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, has just finished saying we should let our light shine so that people “will SEE our good deeds” and praise the Father in heaven.  Now he says we must not practice our righteousness before people to be SEEN by them.

When you read both these verses side-by-side they seem to contradict each other, don’t they?   Well, not to take away the suspense or anything, but Jesus is not contradicting himself.

 

When Jesus says we should not do our righteous acts before others to be seen by them, he is talking about showing off.  Don’t be a religious show-off.

The Pharisees loved to be admired for their righteousness.  But it’s no fun being superior to other people if nobody notices.  So, they took pains to call attention to their incredible holiness.  When they gave to the needy, they announced their generosity withy trumpets.  When they prayed they just happened to be reciting their daily prayers on busy street corners.  When they fasted, they would screw up their faces funny so people could see they were fasting.  Not only that, but the early Christians talk about the Pharisees fasting twice a week: on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  In ancient Palestine, “market day” was – do you want to guess? – Tuesday and Thursday.

Hypocrites are not religious to serve God.  They are really serving themselves.  That is why Jesus is telling us that do the right things for the wrong reason doesn’t count.

But when Jesus tells us to let our light shine so that people will see our good deeds, the focus is not on us, but letting people see the amazing things God does in people.

 

Once I had to attend a religious meeting, a suit coat and tie kind of meeting.  I drove down to the area the night before.  Since my old car needed frequent care under the hood, I drove in grubby, oily jeans.

It wasn’t until the next morning as I put on my suit and tie that I realized my suit pants did not accompany me on the trip.  So, I raced through town looking for a clothing store.  I grabbed some nice slacks off the rack, paid for them, ran to my car, and put them on in the front seat. I strolled (out of breath) into the meeting looking cool and casual, a fine specimen of formal attire.

Not until after lunch did a brave soul approach me and asked if I realized there were price tags and stickers hanging from my butt.

Those two pairs of pants have become a metaphor of the extremes I need to avoid in life.  I don’t want to be grubby with sin and leave oil stains everywhere I sit.  On the other hand, I don’t want to be proud of how new and clean my pants are, and strut around with the tags on.

When you let your light shine, make sure people are looking to the source.

                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

“Quasimodo Complex”

Story of the Day for Monday May 30, 2011

 

“Quasimodo Complex”

 

                  “. . . Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  

             Then Jesus called a little child, stood him in their midst and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  

                                                                             Matthew 18:1-3

 

Have you noticed how children aren’t all that concerned about differences in other children?  They don’t care what race you are, your social or economic status, or whether you have physical imperfections.

Sadly, those years of acceptance don’t last. As we grow older, our attitude toward differences in others turns ugly.  It is not that we now notice differences in others – a three-year-old notices different skin colors, or a limp.  No, we change by assigning value to those differences.  We accept those who are like us, and mock and shun those who are different.

You know the pain that comes from being different, don’t you?

 

So, why do little children blithely ignore differences in race, wealth, or appearance, while those older use differences as a weapon?

Well, think about it: little children feel loved just because they are there.  They have no notion that you earn acceptance. Once you believe you must make yourself worthy of being loved, it means you must grub around for other people to be superior to.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see where this leads.  If you are poor, or a racial minority, or have physical blemishes, you are going to get hurt.

 

Have you heard of the “Quasimodo Complex”?   In the British Journal of Plastic Surgery, two physicians made a disturbing discovery.  They found that 20.2 percent of the adult population had facial deformities (protruding ears, bent noses, acne scars – that sort of thing).  Then they examined 11,000 prison inmates who were doing time for serious crimes.   They found that 60 percent of these criminals had these minor facial deformities!

What do you make of this?  It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the cruelty and rejection necessary to find others “inferior” is profoundly destructive to them.

 

When Jesus’ disciples got into arguments over who was greater (as they often did), Jesus loved to grab the closest little kid to plop in front of his disciples. Jesus used them as visual aids to show his disciples that you don’t need to be superior to anyone else.  God’s care for you cannot be earned.  We must learn to be like a little child, and simply accept God’s love without the slightest notion we are worthy of it.

 

Do you find yourself preoccupied with complaining about other people and their faults?  I’m not saying there aren’t times to criticize, but if you find that it is coupled with a feeling of superiority to them, take it as a warning sign that you probably still feel a need to earn your sense of worth.  Don’t fall into this trap.  You can’t raise yourself up by putting others down.

There’s a better way.  Go to a playground and watch the little kids. Ask yourself what those little beaners had to accomplish before their parents would love them. When you find the answer, you will know how your heavenly Father loves you.

                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)