“We stood in condemnation before God for our racist views (which our parents taught us, and theirs taught them, etc….)”

[Quote from a comment in 23 and Black Like Me]  It fits with something similar from Jesus:

Good News Translation
Jesus answered, “Moses gave you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like that at the time of creation. “

King James Bible
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so..

Matthew 19:8

File:Structure of the Eye (95737053).jpgToo often we look at something in the past and we conclude that it means that the past was (a) better and (b) the past shows us to be superior.  The truth is that the past only shows sins we (as a people) were guilty of a that time and that we were too hard hearted to turn away from then.  Not that God endorsed us in things we did or believed back then, but the things that we were too hardhearted to hear him tell us to turn away from those things.

There is also a real danger in looking at the past (or the present) in that it is easy to see the sins in other people, and conclude that because we see those sins, we are faultless.  Looking at the sins of others we tend to take freedom for ourselves and to justify ourselves in disdain towards them or outrage. Too often we want something or refuse to change, and like Balaam, when we get what we want, think that being allowed something is a reward or a sign of virtue when it is merely a sign that God cannot work with us.

Our self seeking is not a sign that we are in a position to tell everyone the right way and how to do things.

Which brings me to the next scripture.

King James Bible
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

GOD’S WORD® Translation
How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you have a beam in your own eye?

Matthew 7:4

Even when our knowledge is superior, when we really know as much as we think we know, the scriptures caution us:

Berean Study Bible
11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12By sinning against your brothers in this way and wounding their weak conscience, you sin against Christ

New International Version
So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. …

King James 2000 Bible
And through your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? …

1 Corinthians 8:11-12 — See also Romans 14:15 “you are no longer acting in love.”

I was reflecting on those scriptures after reading the comment I’ve quoted above on the earlier blog post, and it gave me thought. I then listened to an interview with Dr. Midgley. What was striking about it was the following;

  1. Dr. Midgley learned from the Maori in New Zealand just how much he was proof-texting scriptures and how blind he was to The conversion of the Maoris (1899) (14597949750).jpgwhat they were saying versus what he was assuming they were saying. He credits beginning to appreciate the Maori’s superior way of looking at things (and not proof texting everything) as being a significant change in his life and way of being and understanding.  Since then he has tried to avoid proof texting and approach the text to learn what it has to say and not what he reads into it.
  2. He learned from his father to challenge assumptions – folk beliefs – and conclusions drawn from scriptures that are really not in them but were instead just reading his own culture into the scripture. He credits that weekly reminder from his father as leading to a much more open and inquiring look at scripture and life.  You might notice that his father and the Maori’s both were trying to teach him the same lesson.
  3. He learned just how human people, both leaders and followers, are and to love and respect them in spite of their weaknesses, foibles and humanity. That realization that his father taught him again and again helped him love others and at the same time, not worship positions or the people in them and not despise people for their weaknesses.
  4. He learned to focus not on “knowledge” but on faith and on reasons for faith. It made him think on his own weaknesses and on the mercy of God toward him — that he was no better than any other person — but no less.  It also helped him when he started to think about testimonies and about what God was trying to teach him.

That is what I took away most from the interview after listening to it a second time — this time after reviewing the scriptures and thinking about the blog comment.  I thought about it in context with what was on my mind.

When I did that, it hit me that much of what we think of what we know and of the privileges we have learned that we have and think that we are entitled to are not things that we really know.  They are not signs of how blessed and holy we are.  Instead, these are signs of how far we have gone astray and how humble we need to become.

We are much like those in Christ’s day who saw discarding a spouse as a gift they had from Moses rather than a result of their hard heartedness and unwillingness to be taught.

The idea that much of what we take pride in is really just a beam or a log in our own eyes (while we focus on the mote or fleck of sawdust in someone else’s eyes) made me think.

It made me think that it is important to recognize that if I think I know something and condemn or harm others, or find myself not filled with love, I’m merely overbearing. That “Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love;” is the warning that if I am not filled with love and kindness, I am not acting to help those for whom Christ died.

It is a warning that perhaps that I am not following Christ when I do that.

File:Mote Lake, Mote Park - geograph.org.uk - 1610023.jpgIt gave me pause.

  • What of the things you have read, listened to, or thought about has given you pause?
  • Have you ever had someone else teach you that you were wrong in a way that helped you become better.
  • How do you seek charity, loving kindness and care, in your life?
  • Can you think of a time or a thing where you thought you were privileged to not have to follow rules or to not be limited to a “lower” understanding and you then realized that what was really going on was you were just unteachable about a better way?
  • Is the test of whether or not  you feel filled with love a generally good test to put yourself to?

What do you think?


All images are from the Wikimedia commons. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en