Posted in Bible Journaling, Church Unity, Grace, Leadership, Life Inspiration

Mind Your own Business

You can color me guilty. I most always have an opinion. But I thank God for the Holy Spirit that indwells within me and jerks a knot in my knickers when I begin to focus on the life or lifestyle of another person. When I begin to think that I need to do a running commentary. It’s usually just inside my head. It’s sometimes to those close to me. It’s seldom ever, if ever to the person for which I’m forming an opinion. I’m not that brazen, or stupid.

But it’s become quite obvious to me lately that not everyone has the ability to know when to keep their mouth shut. And no, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular. Just many, many, many people in general. It’s an epidemic! And because of social media, the world has a stage.

If you go to “The Jesus Chick” page or my own personal page for “Shari Hardway Johnson”, as well as my twitter feed and Instagram, you’ll note that it’s positive commentary and images. That’s not a holier than thou statement, it’s just truth. I don’t want to be in anyone’s drama, or a discouragement. So my posts are positive. I made that choice, and I’m pretty sure God agrees with me.

Proverbs 5:15

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

I read that this morning and thought, “there it is. What I’d like to tell every nosy, ne’er do well in the world. Mind your own business!”

Who makes these people judge and jury of the lives of someone else and what skeletons would come crawling out of their closet if the door was open?

Although it is far worse in the political arena, or at least it far more outspoken, it’s just as bad in the church. And I speak collectively, not of any in particular.

I think of an incident many, many years ago in my own church where a young woman with several children had the audacity to come to church without a slip under her dress. Oh my stars! And as she exited the ladies room a ne’er do well woman said to me, “can you believe she forgot her slip.” To which I responded, “With all those kids, I just praise God she gets here on Sunday morning.”

Where on earth was this woman’s mind? And why did she think she had the right to tear down a young mother trying to do the right thing?

Now, that may seem trivial. But a comment like that is what will discourage someone, who’s struggling anyway, to decide to leave the church. And that could be devastating to a family and Hell bound someone because of it.

The longer I travel this road with Jesus, the more I realize the focus of the church is so off kilter.

I personally love pretty clothes. And God has gifted me with several. But I don’t love them because I think they’re holy, I just love girly stuff. God made me that way. I also have a personal conviction that when I go into a church I dress in their common attire. If they’re casual, so am I. If they’re fancy, I try to be a fancy Nancy too and I enjoy it. But I don’t look at anyone who’s not in the common attire and think about their heart toward Christ. Clothes do not make the man. The Spirit of God does. And I’ve known people who looked like ragamuffins that I was in awe with the depth of their relationship with God.

I’ll not tell you that I am above judging. It’s human nature. Or that I don’t have other issues in life. But it’s something that makes me so nauseous because I’ve seen the damage it’s done, especially in the circles I travel of the Independent Baptist realm. Trust me, they’re not all the same. That’s why we’re “independent.” I’d probably be kicked out of some.

My faith is not in the denomination. It’s in God. But I agree with the doctrine of my church and so I’m there and I love my people. Mainly because the vast majority are not judgers. They love all people. Even if their knees are showing. Insert smile here. Even if they’re a girl who wears britches. Or a fella that’s a t-shirt, blue jean, work boot kind of guy. We love them.

So does Jesus. And this morning I think I’m delivering His message when I say. Mind your own business.

Insert smile here.

Posted in Life Inspiration

Repeat after me… I’m not God

I really shouldn’t be trusted with scripture. I can be somewhat of a smart aleck, so as I read John 1:47 this morning I had to back up and go off on a short (very short) study of what Jesus said. Because when I read it, I read it with attitude (surprising right?)  as if Jesus were poking fun at Nathanel. Because that would have likely been my response to Nathanael when he made fun of my hometown.

46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

But Jesus wasn’t poking fun of Nathanael. Nathanael could have meant, that according to what he had been taught, Moses said that He should come out of Judah and the prophets had assigned the city of Bethlehem as the place of his nativity. Jesus knew that Nathanael was sincere in his comment, not degrading. No guile, meaning there was no pretense but rather sincerity in his comment.

 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Jesus knew Nathanael’s heart and Nathanael knew Jesus. We’re not afforded the luxury of knowing another man (or woman’s heart) yet so often we assume we do. Color me guilty. As a baby Christian I was taught to take nothing as the gospel, except the gospel, to try everything I heard and read by the Holy Scripture and see if it lined up. What I often discovered is not even the good guys always line up with scripture. Well intentioned Christians, without guile, meaning they’re sincere in what they believe, often make assumptions about another person’s heart by how they speak, dress or behave. We label people as we see them approach, we hear them speak and red flags go up with warning signs “They don’t believe like you!” And so we turn them off.

What we should be saying is “I’m not God, I don’t know their heart.” And then we should spend time getting to know it. But we’re denominationally taught that our way is the right way and their way is wrong and we should tell them.

What if that had been Jesus’ response to Nathanael? What if He had said, “Nathanael you’re an idiot, I know what Moses said, and it’s true, but there’s more to the story.” If that had been His response, Nathanael would have turned Jesus off the way people turn off self-righteous Christians that think they’re right and in them there is no guile… which is usually not the case, because they usually have pride bubbling up and that’s full of guile. Just sayin’.

For the record, I know what I believe, and why I believe it; but I pray that when I meet folks that don’t believe exactly the way I do, that I won’t assume I know their heart. I pray I’ll take time to get to know them, and just maybe we can have sincere fellowship. If somebody new comes in to your midst today. Just shake their hand and say to yourself… I’m not God.