Sunday, October 29, 2006

Elijah and Elisha

Some of my favorite stories are those of Elijah and Elisha. In many ways it’s because of how human they are. Yes, both of them work miracles, but they also have a couple of flaw. Elijah works a miracle of calling down fire on water-drenched oxen (I Kings 18) and then goes into the wilderness to complain to God (I Kings 19). This holy man is not a pietistic, uncomplaining example of a goody two-shoes, but a real live breathing human.

Christians, or anyone who seeks to follow God’s will, are not perfect beings, but beings seeking to be perfected. We are training for a race and seeking to run well. We are bits of ore going into the reefing fire. We are clay being shaped by the potters hand. We are not the finished product.

Yet too often we, who call ourselves Christian, act as though we are finished. We believe we know all there is to know about God. Or we act as if the fact that we are in church makes us better than someone else. Or we look down on someone giving thanks that we aren’t as sinful as is that other person in the corner.

The scripture messages is that we are loved and saved as we are. It is that we are works on the way to completion. It is that we are not to judge others. But words about hating the sin, while loving the sinner are voiced rather than acted upon. Our actions speak loudly condemning the one we call sinner and ignoring the sins that we ourselves love. In reading the greek testament I find more passages condemning greed and hypocrisy than all the so-called sexual sins put together. Yet the church, as a whole, seems to forge chains for those caught in the easily seen sexual activities while ignoring the greed that destroy corporations and takes away pensions or the hypocrisy that can claim someone else is a sinner while ignoring their own sin.

Dare I mention the gospel story about ignoring the log in one’s eye to take care of the speck in another person? Or another story that ends with judge not lest you be judged. Or the Romans passage that says when you condemn others you stand condemned yourself. The list of passages goes on.

We should expect each other to be on a journey. And in the journey we may stumble, lose our way, and make other mistakes. Our task is not to yell at the other, but to help pick them up and find their way.

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