The Both/And Dilemma

I woke up this morning in an extra foul, negative mood (yay for my kids, right?) It's partly due to the cyclical mental agitation I feel about every four weeks, and the other part is due to some things I read last night. Lately I have really been feeling my heart stirred by the passage of scripture in Matthew 25 and by James. To keep it as short as possible Jesus said that we, Christians, will be judged by Him, based on this: did we, or did we not, do for the least of His brothers and sisters. Did we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, shelter for the homeless, etc?

James said faith without works is dead. You have no faith at all, if it isn't demonstrated with good works. I can say I believe the lights will come on if I flip the switch, but if I sit in the darkness complaining about the darkness, you might wonder if I really believe the light switch works? God has been raising the level of compassion in me and honestly I have been pretty raw, and crying a lot, and I don't really like it. It's a new place for me, and I have no idea what to do with any of it. I don't know how to respond or where to go.

Jen Hatmaker, the author of Interrupted, which I am currently reading/devouring, suggested I read a particular book(I don't know her personally, but I had emailed her and she responded with a few pieces of advice). Well, I don't buy anything unfamiliar without reading reviews first, so I read reviews of the book. And they were all over the place. From what I read I can tell that I may not agree with the authors' approach or theology 100%, so it might be one of those I would have to pull out just what was useful to me (or learn something new...imagne that).

Several reviewers said that the authors made light of the necessity for salvation and boiled the entire gospel down to love for people in a general sense. That the authors are critical of people who believe in absolute truth. If that's true then I would take issue with that. Who knows what the authors really said, though, because people hear things through their own filters most of the time. It's really beside the point.

The point is that all that negativity rubbed off on me, I think, but also it raises the question of balance. I hate the question of balance. I am a very black and white kind of thinker, and so when something is both/and, instead of either/or, I have a problem. The truth is that God is love, AND He is justice. People need food and shelter and water, but they also need a cure for their eternal condition. So how do we do both? On one side we have people who just love, love, love and don't want to preach the gospel, just live it. On the other side we have people who just want to be preachy and tell people what to do, but don't feel compassion or try to get on their level or understand or give dignity to them. We have to mature to the place that we are both compassionate and truth telling...wise, but always motivated by love.

I was so excited for what God has been showing me, then I read all those crappy reviews and I started thinking, maybe I'm getting off track into some liberal make people feel better thing, that is trying to completely deconstruct everything about Christianity to water it down...to hide the Holy God thing, and spotlight the Loving God thing. But BOTH are valid and both are true...and your teaching is nothing if it isn't true. So, after realizing that all the negative things I read were clouding my perspective, and of course recognizing where in the month I am, I am back to this from Matthew 25:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I will continue on this journey to see what it is God is doing in me and what He is calling me/us to, and trust Him to show me the balance in it all. People often debate about who we should be generous to, who is "my neighbor," will this person ever come to know Jesus and therefore is it good stewardship to give to him, will they waste it? On that issue I will stand on this quote from Interrupted (I LOVE this):

"He [Jesus] favors unmerited grace. To me, this is a wheat and weeds issue, and since that's not my call to make, I'll just err on the side of mercy and let Jesus sort it out at the harvest."

The end.

**I just got to a part in Interrupted where there is a quote from Mary DeMuth, that uses the very same language I used...the both/and versus the either/or. Funny. Should that be getting my attention? 1/8/2011

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