13 August, 2010

Is It Condemnation or Love?

Yesterday, someone with whom I am acquainted made a comment on Facebook that they had stopped believing in God long ago. I sent this person a private message asking them why they chose to not to believe in God and this was the message they sent back to me:
"I could never have that bond that people said. I did everything I was supposed to; I knew all the stuff, I worked on my faults, I tried to trust, but I could never believe. I'd pray and pray and try to trust in god, but I could never see results. Plus, I went to school and church where I was surrounded by masochistic holier-than-thous and found large discrepancies in the Bible... A book that is supposedly perfect. I can't condemn people or believe that God condemns people for being a certain way, like homosexual or have a mental disorder. I cannot believe in any sort of organized religion, relationship or otherwise. If it's run by men, it's fallible and imperfect. I cannot let my life be dictated by someone's interpretation of a 2000+ yr old book. All in all, I've become skeptical of everything religious."

I responded with this: 
"What you are saying is that you want to set the rules to live by. It doesn't work that way. Take it first on a social level. I don't LIKE having to drive 35. I can choose to ignore that rule/law if I want to, but there is a consequence to it. Same in life. People don't like it because God set "rules", and God give us the choice to obey or not. Simply saying you don't believe does not negate his commands. It's your choice. He won't make you do anything. But, in the end, we all face up to the consequences. What you are saying in, "I cannot let my life be dicatated..." is that you want to set your own rules. God says you are free to do that, but don't blame him for the outcome."

The response I received back was:
"Please... I didn't answer your question to pick a fight. Please don't condemn me or tell me I'm doing something wrong... I've figured that out. I appreciate the concern you've shown for me. I was hoping, and honestly expecting, a little understanding and empathy. It's not like I haven't tried following God's commands. However, I don't feel like getting into a theological argument, as I appreciate what you've done for me and don't wish to offend you."

Now here is my question: Is it showing condemnation to point out to them that they are driving down a road that will take them over a cliff? Or is that love and concern?
I have to question how anyone could say that they would expect a born again believer and pastor to show "understanding and empathy" toward something said like this.  That is like someone with a rig of heroin cooked up and arm tied off and ready to run looking at a recovering addict and saying, "you understand why I'm doing this, right?" and expecting that person to tell them to go ahead because they have hurt enough and they have the right to run it. WRONG!

To that person, if you happen to read this... you need to know a few things: 
1) I love you. I really do. I care enough to warn you and do all I can to keep you from heading down a path of destruction. Love will speak up, not sit by with its mouth shut and watching that person crash and burn.

2) I'm terribly sorry you were raised in a church full of judgmental, bitter, religious people. But you need to know that that is not the Christianity of the Bible, that is the religion of the Pharisee.

3) Even if you are mad or upset at me, I still care, I'll still be praying, and I'm here for you. Nothing will change that. Again, I hate you've been brought up in religion, but I'd love the chance to show you who Jesus is and what he and his followers is all about. You've heard me speak of how my life once was and you see for yourself how it is today. I want you to know, the only way I've made these changes is because of the love and power of Jesus Christ in my life.
I pray you discover this for yourself.


Anonymous said...

There is a time to open unbelievers' eyes to God's wrath, but there is also a time to show them God's love. This person sounds like they know all about God's wrath, but they need someone to demonstrate God's love. Perhaps you should try to reach out to them and show them pure love. God has shown me that yes, there is love in his punishment. However, sometimes the best way to reach out to people who are hurting as this person seems to be, is to show them love and leave the consequences until later... Not much later; they need to know what's going down. But love first.

Darrell said...

You are assuming that I have not, correct?

Anonymous said...

I'm not making any assumptions on how you acted previously with this person, but I think you may have been able to handle this situation better.

Darrell said...

Kinda hard to make that snap judgment without being there, but you are entitled to your opinion.