Stepping Away From the Self-Righteous Abyss

I had a perfectly good post ready to go today. It was weighty, full of insight and self-assurance in calling out what, in my perception, was yet another folly of our community. There was only one problem: Before I posted it this morning I read Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 2 & 3. If you’re not familiar with it, Paul basically points out (in quite vivid detail) the difference between knowledge of the law and application of the law. In other words, just because you know the law (the will of God for our lives) doesn’t mean you are righteous, you actually have to DO it; to live it out. Daily.

And, what I was going to say that others in our community weren’t doing, I wasn’t doing either. In this case, I was upset at our community’s lack of outrage over the county government’s decision to pull funding for a “meals on wheels” program for some of the elderly shut-ins in our community. I wasn’t upset at our local government although I hate that the government is forced into a decision that does this to these elderly citizens. (Yes, I say forced, because ultimately it is only through our continued funding {read: taxes} that social programs such as this can exist. You want lower taxes—here’s the result! Not that I have an opinion on the subject.) I was upset at our community’s lack of response (read: astonishment, activism, outrage) whereas the very next day there was a huge outpouring of community support over an eleven-year-old boy who had his bike stolen on the very day that he’d purchased it with money he’d worked all summer to attain.

But this morning I thought, “What did Ido?” Did I rush down to donate to my local senior center? No. Did I call up my local government official and express my concern over the decision? No. Did I remove the plank from my own eye so I could see more clearly to remove the speck from my brother’s eye?

No.

So, where was my basis for judgment? And within this realization I believe is the root cause of friction between those who call themselves the “faithful” and those that have yet to cross the line of faith. What’s the difference? If we, who call ourselves Christians, aren’t living with an outward appearance of being somehow different, what then are we? Just because we spend an hour or so in a building together on the weekend, how can we claim to be any better than . . .

Different than . . .

Special . . .

Set apart.

I have a lot of work to do with the huge plank in my own eye, before I can call out anyone else for the speck in their own. I can start by donating to the new food bank that just opened beside my own church (how did I never see that before?) I can start by being an example rather than a bullhorn. One of my favorite religious quotes has always been by St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words.”

Maybe it’s time I listen to it.

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