I wished that life were easier. One of the first things I want to do when I get to heaven is give Adam and Eve a piece of my mind. We live in a world that is fallen and jacked up. Of coarse God said that it would be this way from now until the whole mess is made right but it still ticks me off.
Last week I talked about how Millie changed my life and that her love for herself and for others changed me forever. She truly is a special person.
The second person that truly changed my life is Fred. Fred lives in the nursing facility that my wife works at as a speech therapist. I said in the first installment I call this place death row. People at the end of their lives waiting to die.
Fred is a 79-year-old pain in the butt. Very rarely is Fred in a good mood. You may know some people like this in your life. Some people see life as a glass half-full and others see it half-empty and yet we have others like Fred that can’t even see the damn glass.
Nothing is good enough. Fred rarely says something nice and he is suffering from dementia to boot. This means that he has NO filter! Whatever little zinger comes into Fred’s mind comes right out of his mouth.
The other day I was coming by to drop off some snacks for Britty and there Fred was telling another death row cohort that they shouldn’t chew tobacco and that if they didn’t get their life right they were going to hell. That was actually a little amusing when I would beg to make they point that they were in hell already. Anyways…Fred was really handing it to this guy, I mean like a Southern Baptist Preacher yelling at hookers on 11th street, when he directed his attention to me. I couldn’t help but smile but he then proceeded to tell me that I didn’t respect God and his authority, that he could tell by my long hair that I didn’t have respect for anyone or anything!
Of coarse he had no idea who I was. He had no idea that God means more to me than anything. As I am standing there listening to this angry diatribe I was wondering since I didn’t love God then maybe he could pay off the $100,000 I borrowed to go to seminary but I quickly rethought my rebuttal.
Now, you may be wondering how on earth did this guy change my life and change it forever? You see, I know people that are just like Fred personally and I see them standing on the corner of the Blue Dome District, downtown every Friday and Saturday night holding up signs condemning people as they walk by. One fact that can be counted on is that the religious and the abusive will always be with us. The reason that Fred impacted me so much is because he NEVER changed. I am sure that Fred was an abusive asshole before he came to death row and he will be one until the day he dies.
So what is the lesson? What is the take away? Well, as I get older I start to see connecting points that when you pull them all together you start to see specific behaviors. For starters we as humans create God in our image. I have NEVER read in the Bible or any other supplemental historical literature that portrayed Jesus as this kind of abrasive and unforgiving soul. If Jesus is the perfect image of WHO God is and God’s intentions towards mankind then “Christians” should never act like this. They should never act like Fred but the opposite is quiet true. I see people on a weekly basis that think badgering people with morality will bring about the change they desire to see in others. They think that if they scare them enough then they will change. God on the contrary says, “that perfect love casts out all fear”. What I see is Jesus loving others, encouraging others and telling them to stop doing the things that hurt them, but only when THEY ask! Perfection, or Jesus as I like to call him, doesn’t feel the compulsion to meddle in others lives yet the church does it on a daily basis. This is how we create God in our own image. We create a God that is built out of vein imaginations and we beat people with it.
So again, how did Fred change my life? When I see Fred I see a person that pursued “holiness” his entire life. I see a guy that can tell you five ways from Sunday how you are missing the mark and screwing up but he can’t stand to be in his own skin. He is so miserable that he makes everyone else around him miserable too. This is what the person who pursues “holiness” earns in his or her life.
Fred taught me that the pursuit of “holiness” is the wrong pursuit. The pursuit that Jesus called us to is to love. The pursuit of Fred’s vein imaginations about God led him to where he is today. Fred taught me that the pursuit of “holiness” in the end is frustration, anger and a ship wrecked faith, on the contrary, I see the pursuit of love leading us to a life that is “light”. Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Jesus shows us that if we pursue love then “holiness” is a natural byproduct. That we can’t help but be righteous when we love others and love ourselves the way God designed us to love.
My question to myself and to anyone reading this out there is this, “Are you pursuing holiness and if you are why?” Who told you to do this? What does the Bible really have to say about this topic? You can take any particular verse and get it to say what you want but what are the overarching themes of scripture? What was Jesus doing, modeling to his disciples and to us? I think that if you stop and read scripture for yourself and not through a particular filter you will see Jesus trying to lead us to LOVE and that this is the greatest pursuit. “The whole law can be summed up in this, to love God and love man” and don’t be a Fred.
Till next time,