Daily Post: Bitter
It tastes like the tart, acidic, bite of lemon. That moment when you realize the majority of people in your life don’t understand, can’t understand, wouldn’t fathom the depth of pain that caused your actions, even if you explained it to them. Even for the most transparent of people, there are parts of us that stay hidden, unveiled to no one. When these shadow driven areas determine our actions, there is almost always collateral damage. The resulting attitudes of those around us become jaundiced or sullen, resentful or bitter, and they lash out in anger at us for hurting them in some way. Collateral damage.
Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. Rancorous relationships abound in the world today, because people hurt each other. Everyone has a thought process that seems rational to them at times, which if shared generally even with their closest friends might seem to the friend as madness. If the thought process takes form, and becomes activated in behavior, the friend can sometimes be the one who reacts like a terrorist ready to tear your head off. Or worse, become the one who starts the rumors that ruins your reputation among others that don’t know you well. Is any of this ringing anyone else’s bell out there?
Imagine being Jewish in the first century city of Antioch, and hearing the narrative about Jesus for the first time. It’s a story so bold, and so brilliant you’re intrigued, but know that you can’t act like it, for fear of offending your friends and family. After all, you’re like one big family as Jews, and the Roman government is enemy enough. You don’t want your own people to turn on you. But you become convinced of the action you must take, to surrender to the truth of Jesus as Lord and Messiah. You know the moment that this comes out you will be like the others of “The Way” and you will become an outcast. Your parents will disown you and treat you as though you have died. The man you work for will fire you, and treat you as dead. Your brothers and sisters will ignore you and pretend they don’t see you on the street. Your life as you know it will be over, dead.
But you choose Jesus anyway.
You are dead, but alive.
Just like Jesus.
The bitter actions of the people in your life, who don’t understand you choices, do not determine whether the choice was right or wrong, good or bad, God does. Their harsh rumors and speculations of how you’ve gone mad, cannot determine your next steps.
Be careful in interpreting my words here. I’m not bitter. I’m pragmatic. I get that 90% of the people around me don’t understand my actions, or the reasons for my actions. My attempts at transparency can only go so far. That said, I’ve learned the hard way, that the very people who ought to be loving, forgiving, kind and accepting, are the ones who lash out bitterly in retribution, on a vengeful vendetta to judge and destroy those who they deem “unworthy” of grace (me). The church can be very unforgiving, and unloving, for those who need grace most.
I’m really struggling here to make sense of how bitter feelings wreck a church, and destroy people’s lives within the fellowship of believers. It really is this simple: either we believe Paul was writing with the authority of the Holy Spirit… or we should quit calling ourselves Christians and join the country club instead of giving our money to churches. Here’s what Paul says about it.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ – God forgave you.
The picture above is the epitome of this verse.
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