Monday, February 29, 2016

Lenten Reflections: Invalidation

"They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” - Matthew 27:29

It's quite easy for us to put down another person, isn't it? We judge their thoughts. Ignore their feelings. Attack their very character. By our words, we invalidate. And when invalidated, we weaken the other. 

When someone is weak, they're vulnerable, and when they're vulnerable, they have no defense. In the line of fire, we target our opponent with precision, selecting just the right weapon. A dagger of words. A knife in the back. Lashing of the tongue. A kick in the proverbial crotch.  

We methodically weave our crowns of thorns, careful not to spill any of our own blood. We fasten our weapon to the head, making sure that each thorn is imbedded deep into the skull. We inflict as much pain as as possible, hearing the bone crack and skin tear. We see the blood trickle down and we laugh to ourselves with delight. Mockery is an added bonus.

"If it was good enough for Christ, it's good enough for my friend."

But something stops us in the midst of our persecution. We pause. We reflect. Who is the person that we just attacked? They look familiar. Too familiar. Same hair. Same devious smile. Same blood. Same crown. 

Because in the end, we're always the ones who stand accused. We're the ones that stand vulnerable. Weak. bloody. Naked. Invalidated.

Lent is a time for self examination. A time to reflect. When we do, we see our treatment of others, but realize that the judgment always falls back on us. We put ourselves down. We are sickened by our own thoughts. We reject our own feelings and we attack our own character. We stand as an open target. We prepare our heads for the crown we've created for ourselves. We mock that which is reflected in the mirror.

Self destruction. Self medication. Self mutilation. Attempted suicide.    

But in our reflection, we come to the realization that Christ bore the same crown. He bore the pain and mockery. He endured the shame, standing naked before his accusers. 

Lent reveals to us that we no longer have to see our own reflection in the mirror. Christ reflects back to us. 

"It is finished."    

Lord, as we examine ourselves during this Lenten season, enable us to accept the pain and mockery that we inflict on others. Enable us to see how we judge, accuse, ridicule and invalidate. But in the midst of our realization, help us also to humbly see our ways in light of You love, mercy and grace. For only then can we begin to reveal Your vision for the perfect Kingdom. Amen      

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lenten Reflections: Dredging

"....many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” - Matthew 26:60-61

"We've got to find some dirt on this guy!"  

"What kind of skeletons does he have hiding in his closet?"

Imagine how deep those witnesses had to dig in order to dredge up dirt on Jesus. How many people did they talk to? How many stories did they listen to in order to twist the words to fit their narrow minded agenda? And in the end, they didn't do a very good job when you think about it. A simple quote spoken years before, taken completely out of context and made to be "truth". The spiritual made literal.

"Do you think they'll believe it?"

"Are you kidding me? Those followers of his will believe anything we tell them. They're stupid, moronic and uneducated slobs! Filthy sheep!"

But.... "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

"Who said that?"

Maybe later, Jesus. But for now, your stupid sheep are going to reject you, spit in your face, stab you in the back and twist the knife as many times as possible.  

Truth flies out of the window when you're looking to falsely accuse someone. The only thing that matters is convincing everyone else that your story is "true". Truth becomes relative. We believe what we hear, not what we know. Groupthink. Crucify! Crucify!

What is truth?

We love to dredge up the past in order to wound others, don't we? It's one of our best defenses. Hurt others before we get hurt. DEFENSE!

Forgive and forget?

Stab and twist. 

What's in your closet? 

"You know, that pervert has a porn addiction, right?"

"She used to smoke pot with me back in the day! She's in church? Freaking hypocrite!"

"Married with two kids? And he's sleeping with another guy? Faggot sodomite!" 

"He's divorced, but they're letting him pastor this church? Let's get him out of here!"

"Was she drinking a beer? She is so busted!"

"I'm not saying anything, but I saw his financial statement and......" 
"That slut sleeps with anyone!  Now everyone is going to know!....Hmmm, wonder what my chances are?"

"He's different. He's looks different and dresses weird. He's a freak. Tried to kill himself. See the scars on his wrists?" 

And then we pride ourselves on cleansing the Kingdom of God of such filth.

"I'm only doing God's will. If it destroys her family, so be it! If he's fired, too bad! Screw him! He had it coming! Scum bag!" 

Are we any different? Jesus would have a tough time in 2016 America. He'd be screwed, and we'd make sure he got what's coming to him. We would just use a semi-automatic instead of the knife in his back. Lethal injection rather than a cross.  

Lord, we realize that we are no better than those that falsely accused You. We falsely accuse others all the time. And by our hypocrisy, we accuse ourselves and make ourselves liars. Help us Lord, to not bear false witness to you or anyone else in our lives. Teach us to forgive and truly forget. Amen