Once you’ve cut off a person’s nose, there is no point in giving him a rose to smell. ~ Indian proverb
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Romans chapter one details the decadence of humanity in a way not commonly found in other places of scripture. It’s just sin, sin, sin, sin, and then more sin. If you’re a human you just feel like lighting yourself on fire after reading it. Thank God Romans has a few more chapters to clarify!
Unfortunately, this rare chapter that overflows unceasingly on how rotten mankind can be is the lens through which many Christians view our world. It’s like they didn’t see chapter two, or the rest of the letter for that matter, at all! All they do see is how ugly people are and hence justify being ugly in their approach to them.
Can you see the picket signs and hear the cruel shouts? If not, I have provided many examples. Nothing is more heart wrenching than seeing the children.
I see one good sign here.
Question: Which is the ugly shame — a sinner living in his or her sin OR a saint hating on the world for being worldly? Is it natural for a person of the world to live like the world OR is it natural for me, a person redeemed by the ferocious, patient, undeserved love of God, to condemn and abuse those who still bear God’s image but do not agree with me? Why are some us so shocked when others live according to their nature?
Honestly, Christians, what we do we really expect from those who have never tasted the amazing grace of our God?!
SPOILER ALERT: Giving a bitter cup of judgment and rejection does not usher people to the throne of grace.
Much to my shame (and my Lord’s!), I used to be a “picket sign Christian.” I never really held a picket sign (I came close!), however, I found very quickly that the same judgment, anger, even hatred would run through my veins as those who did.
I was a brutal person to know back in the day! I lived to make people feel bad and it didn’t matter what it was about. Music, Santa Claus and Easter eggs, worship styles, tattoos and piercings, movies, and anything else that may have had a tinge of controversy, I was there to destroy, divide, and devastate…all in the name of Jesus! After all, I was the Holy Spirit for anyone who knew me.
It honestly makes me sick how I arrogantly sought out to tear people down, always seeing them as dirty, hypocritical failures who were beneath me.
Romans chapter two is a very sobering message for me and anyone else who stopped in chapter one. Have you ever met someone who just hangs their hats upon the hell, fire, and brimstone verses of scripture? All they can see is God’s hatred for sin.
Speaking from experience, when all you see is God’s hatred for sin, it is very easy to transfer that hatred from the act to the one acting.
Let me put it another way that will really throw a lot of us “righteous” Christians under the bus…when all we care about is the holiness of God, loveless condemnation is a subtle and easy stance to take towards those who are different, strange, immature, sinful, or whatever adjective you want to use.
DO NOT FORGET THE OTHER ATTRIBUTES OF GOD, CHURCH! Read verse four of Romans chapter two again. Do you want to see people repent, holy roller?!
Paul, the one who wrote Romans chapter one and so many other verses taken out of context, instructed believers in Rome (and everywhere I believe) that the path to repentance in people is: picket signs, shouting threats, exclusion and ultimatums, dangling people over hell, turn or burn messages with the pulpit being pounded, and abuse.
Wait a minute…the Brandon who thinks he is better than everyone else wrote that last sentence!!! Let me start over.
THE PATH TO REPENTANCE (according to the apostle Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) IS GOD’S KINDNESS! So here’s the question of your life if you are a Christian: Are you a conduit for this kindness? Without it, who really has a chance?
In closing, I want to take this moment to publicly apologize to every single person I ever condemned. Many of you know who you are; many of you ironically are so kind to read this blog. I went to school with you. I worked with you (or maybe still do!). I went to church with you (or maybe still do!). I’m your family. How ever we may know each other, please accept my apology!
My heart was so bad (and still is at times!) that basically if I knew you anywhere between my late teens through my early twenties, I proudly spewed this venom upon you. And if for some reason I didn’t get the chance to, trust me when I say I at least did in my mind.
Please forgive me for how deceived I was! I actually believed threats would get you into the kingdom and aid in your sanctification. I was so afraid of trusting the Holy Spirit to do this work in you! I was so scripturally twisted that I actually believed I was betraying God if I had not brought guilt into your life!
*** This is really the heart for HOPE4Hipsters. The Church, which biblically speaking is such a beautiful mystery, has really made a mess of things!
It is the reason, I believe, that the “nones” are on the rise. It is no wonder anymore to me why there is so much cynicism and hatred for God; they hate because we hated first.
When you spit in someone’s face what do you really expect in return? When you treat people like they are second-rate beings, do you really scratch your head when they distance themselves? ***
Remember, Pharisees kill. Just ask Jesus. It’s time to change, Church.
We need to take ownership for all the wrongs we have committed and by God’s grace make it right! I am seeking God to help me do my part, but what about you?
The answer for me has been to immerse myself in the love of God. When my cup overflows with the love of God, it naturally spills out on those who bear His image.
Another verse in Romans really captures what I mean:
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8
Please listen to the song below. It really seems to be turning into an anthem for a generation rising up in the Church that recognizes rule-keeping is not a friend but an enemy to the grace of God.
There are so many versions to this song so please don’t dismiss it if it is too “rough around the edges” for your taste (see John Mark McMillan or David Crowder Band).
More bass and distortion = more anointing from Holy Spirit anyways, right?
He is jealous for me,
And His love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are…
Oh, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
And we are His portion and He is our prize,
And we’re drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like a passionate kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…