An open letter to the adult child that ended our relationship last summer:
In subsequent months since your e-mail, I realized that, although you were technically incorrect on those specific accusations against me, I have done FAR worse things than the ones accused. Since that is the case, if you believe that those things are enough to separate yourself from me, then you would no doubt do so emphatically if you knew of my other deeds. So, what I am saying is:
1) I miss you and I wish you would not discard me and that you would allow me to do whatever good I can, as minimal as that might be.
2) If you really believe that the sin in my life is too horrid to be an acceptable person, then I will probably never be acceptable to you, because I am more sinful than you know.
3) This is not how I want our relationship to be, but I am grateful for whatever access I have to you and my grandchildren. Truly grateful.
4) I understand the whole (denominational name) mentality to separate from people who are not like you. I do not think it is what Jesus did though. Followers of Jesus probably want to do as Jesus did, don’t you think? I am aware of a few scriptures that support that view, such as: 2Cor 6:17,which talks about not being close with unbelievers and not practicing idol worship. I am not an unbeliever and I do not worship idols, not do I want you to worship idols.
Another scripture that might be more applicable here is found in Proverb 22: 24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. Obviously, I am an angry person. I do not like being angry. I am not proud of it and I am trying to change it, but the bottom line is I am an angry person. So, if you want to scripturally reject me, do so with that passage. Of course there is a flip side to the whole scriptural issue too.
Jesus’ example was not to separate from sinners, but to separate from those who thought themselves better than sinners. Matthew 23: 23 to 39, Mark 12: 38-44. Additionally, Jesus called Matthew, (Mt 9:9-13) a tax collector to be a disciple, and Peter, Mt 4:18-22) who was eventually made the head of the church, was an undisciplined man. Peter followed Jesus immediately when called, but then had trouble staying on course, much like me. Jesus ate with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) who was a tax collector and a thief by profession. In John 8, Jesus saves a rightly accused woman from paying for her sin by writing in the dirt. Jesus even honored a prostitute over a Pharisee in Luke 7:36-50.
Jesus does not have a problem with sinners. He has a problem with sin. His life showed that everyone has sin, even those who think themselves holy. I guess what I am saying is this: I am sinful. I am saved. Jesus loves you and He loves me. I understand if you reject me because I am angry. I understand if you simply cannot tolerate being around me because my emotions are so intense. From my perspective, we humans are all in the same boat… and it is sinking. Whether I am a bigger sinner than you or you are a bigger sinner than me, what difference does it make? (BTW, no contest, I am the bigger sinner, I am sure.) We are family both by blood and by the Spirit and we are called to help one another. In addition to winning souls to Christ, we are to minster to one another in the body of Christ. That is the church; the body of Jesus. Jesus tells Peter, “If you love me, Feed my sheep.” 3 times. He does not say to Peter, “If you love me, feed the sheep that do things as you do and avoid the rest of them out of fear of contamination.” Not in there. Not even remotely in there.
So many people, [not just you or even (denominational name)s in general] have gotten so confused about what being a follower of Christ is. It is NOT about living a life of fear (which is, admittedly what I do ) it is NOT about condemning those unlike you, which is what most folks involved in church do.
That is one HUGE reason so many people have left the organized religious structure as it exists. We see the hate, the fear and the judgment, but there is very little honesty and love evident. There can be fake hugs in the aisles and shared meals in the fellowship hall, but do people really know each other in most churches? Or is all about putting on a mask of piety so fellow brothers and sisters don’t condemn you or gossip about you? How is that different from the Pharisees? How is that being honest? Is that fair to those who are sincerely trying to connect with others in order to “bear one another’s burdens?”
We are left here on earth to bring glory to God by winning souls and being a blessing to everyone we can, especially those in the faith. We cannot do that if we pretend we are not struggling and we insulate ourselves from those who might be more sinful than us. Sometimes, even those who are more sinful than us can bless us. Maybe they have some insights to share with us. Maybe they have learned some lessons through their sin, lesson worth sharing.
Maybe Jesus is not done with them yet. Not everyone is on the same level at the same time. So while my life might not meet your standards, I am grateful it meets Jesus’ standards. Jesus knows that we are ALL sinners in need of salvation and sanctification. Sometimes, lives change literally in minutes. But more often than not, most of us have to work through our issues, our sinful habits, and our innate evil sin nature. We give it to God as it is revealed to us and as we are able. Jesus understands that and He is merciful. If I have hurt you, I truly regret it. Please have mercy on me. Do not allow unforgiveness in your heart and mask it as piety. Do not allow unforgiveness for any length of time, lest you too become an angry person.
I know you do not understand my illness and my inability to control my emotions. It confuses me too. Even I have trouble figuring out the difference between my illness, and me. The illness intertwines with who I am and has such a large effect on me. If you must, in order to protect yourself, reject me for that, for the illness. I can accept that. I even desire you to reject me in order to protect you and your children, if necessary.
But please, do not reject me because you think I am too evil to accept. That cuts me to the core. I am not more (or less) evil than any other follower of Jesus. If I was, I could not love you enough to want you to protect yourself from me, if needed. I would selfishly only want the pleasure of your company, no matter what the cost to you or the children. I love you so much and I want you to be well, no matter what. That being the case, can I really be more evil than anyone else you associate with in the church building?
King James Version (KJV)
118 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
5 I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
7 The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.
11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
12 They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.
21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.
27 God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.