this morning i have been the recipient of very unkind words. one from a stranger, and the other from an old, high school acquaintance --on my own FB page-- who in one breath called himself a Christian, and then called me a lying whore. i believe he was drunk, as he also posted horrible accusations and political comments beneath my post about the anniversary of my dad's suicide, which is tomorrow. i unfriended and blocked him after giving him many opportunities to stop his onslaught of ugly posts.
this is not the first time i have been judged and "corrected" by other Christians --or even by Christians in my own family! i will not say it does not hurt, because it does, but tonight while talking with Christ, he reminded me that i should rejoice and consider myself blessed, so with his help, i will do so, and pray he also gives me his heart to forgive and pray for those who have offended me.
In Matthew 5: 11-12, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
i do not want to deny that i am also guilty of hurting fellow Christians with my words, and i regret ever doing so, and pray they will (or have) been able to forgive me. recently, in a bible study i am blessed to be a part of, a friend read something from a book she is studying that read something along these lines: even if you are telling the truth, or correcting someone with the truth, if it is not done in love, then it is a sin. wow. that hit home.
it is hard for me to keep quiet though when i see fellow Christians acting like unloving, law-driven pharisees. i need to pray about how to react to these kinds of people. in scripture, these are the same people Jesus got REALLY ANGRY with, like rope-whipping, yelling-in-their-face angry!
i find it so easy and natural to have grace and love unbelievers, but someone being a hard-hearted, self-righteous, defensive, bible-verse-spouting pharisee just makes me want to grab a whip myself and do some yelling-in-the-face, "you idiot! you say you worship Christ --the God of Love-- and yet you are being the complete opposite! you are doing great harm! you are giving our faith a terrible name! stop it!"
it is funny though, or interesting, i should say --in a shockingly disgusting sort of way-- that the majority of opposition i have received in my walk with God has come from other Christians. maybe this is because i am an easy target as i open up my heart and life, reveal my struggles, questions, convictions and thoughts as i truly try to seek God, especially in these 18 years of chronic physical suffering, as well as deep emotional suffering.
now, i will be the first to admit that i am SCREWED-UP and in great need of God's grace and love and, well, everything! i know the self-destructive, selfish sinner that i am apart from him, and i am tremendously grateful for all he has done and IS doing in my life and in my family!
so, i'd like you to see below just one way i opened myself up, tried to encourage a brother, only to be the recipient of mean words from a fellow Christian. the morning after the election i wrote on a friend's page:
"i didn't vote. in fact, i've never voted, and my reasons are religious as well as personal. that being said, may i encourage you that our God is in control. His Word reminds us that anyone placed in government/worldly leadership is put there by His will. we don't know why, but our trust is in Him, our all-powerful and loving Father, not any human leader. i have been very encouraged by the following article a friend shared with me. i have read it many times over in the past few weeks. i hope you will be encouraged by it too: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2012/10/16/the-election-thoughts-from-a-christian-independent."
then a complete stranger posted in response, "Heather for you to forgo your right to vote for any reason makes me very sad!!! I am a veteran, but I am a Christian as well....nowhere in the teachings of my Church nor in my bible, I read the NIV...have I heard or read anything that would keep me from voting! I have always been a believer of God and Country...and to vote ensures that both are alive and well! The blood of men and women that you will never know was shed to insure you that right!! You have no right to feel encouraged or discouraged as you gave up that right by not voting..... In actuality you are more of a part of the problem then any encouragement you could ever offer as a consolation!! Just my humble opinion....."
his post was "liked" by 4 other strangers.
i responded, "[name withheld] you are judging me and accusing me of being part of the problem, and you say that is your "humble opinion"??? you do not know me in the slightest, brother, and i ask you not to judge my personal, God-led conviction. i completely respect Christians who feel led to vote, and with the love of Christ, i would appreciate the same. i forgive you for being so judgmental and harsh. i will obey what God tells me personally to do, no matter who i may disappoint or receive undue judgment from, even those who claim to follow the same Jesus. i hope in future situations, you are able to do the same...but with love and true humility.
P.S. [name withheld] and those who "liked" his judgmental post: i apologize that my conviction offends you. that was not my intent at all. i was only trying to encourage my friend and brother-in-Christ. God bless."
now, i do want to point out here, how thankful i am to those of you who truly know me, love me, and pray for me! i pray God will bless you. i am so grateful to have true brothers and sisters in Christ. God has been answering your prayers, and the last medical procedure i had is finally giving me a good deal of relief! my doctor, who preformed the procedure, is an incredible Christian, and he even prayed with me beforehand! it took about 3-4 weeks to kick in, but it is working so well that i was just able to go on vacation with my family to the mountains, and our time there was SO BLESSED by God! i have not been able to travel (or do much of anything) in over a year, so i am grateful to you, your prayers and encouragement, and to God for His grace and loving kindness!
I AM BLESSED!