Hanging out with Jesus

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Sometimes my judgmental self and my good-person self pass one another in the hallway.  There, they have a good argument about what’s right and what is wrong. 

More often than not, my judgmental self gives up and thinks logically – at least for a few minutes.

If I were to be totally honest with you, I would tell you my judgmental self is in top gear most of the time, once in a while brought down a peg or two by my logical side. The logical, joyful, loving side of me usually comes to the top of the heap when everything is going well.  I’m well-fed, nothing is pressing, stress level is low and everything seems to be relaxed and manageable.

Now you can see why my judgemental side often rules the roost most of the time.

I started thinking about this a while back and jotted down some notes, thinking the whole time about where I’ve come from.

Since we started going to school and Sunday School and Vacation Bible School as kids, there was great emphasis placed on being “a good boy or girl.” 

Our parents, teachers and the adults around us would give us that look of disapproval when we were messing up. I remember our neighbor lady biting her bottom lip as if to say “Tsk Tsk Tsk” if we were acting up around her.  

It was just what adults did.

Church was the place I felt that we were done a bit of disservice. Early on, it seemed to most of us church kids there was a long list of “dos and don’ts” we were made to follow. We needed to make sure we did all the “dos” and avoided the “don’ts.”

If you didn’t avoid the “don’ts,” you were a bad boy. You were subject to bottom lip biting and finger wagging. 

“Good boys don’t act like that.”

I think that’s why some of us gave up. I know plenty of my friends who fell away from the church. It was too much pressure to be good all the time.

I don’t remember being taught about God’s forgiveness or loving one another enough. Sure, we heard Bible verses, stories and guidelines. We memorized verses.  

But as I said, most of the time we were reminded to be “good.” We weren’t told enough that everyone is a sinner and that sinners especially should spend time at church and with people who can support them.  We weren’t taught enough about loving one another.

I’ve been pretty tough on a group of people I call “the church ladies.” These are the people who are leftover from that era; people who still try to follow that “be good” mentality and at the same time turn up their judgmental nose. These are the people who sometimes feign caring and interest in order to get into your business.  These are the people who notice if ladies have skirts that are too short or if gentlemen are wearing dirty jeans or even (gasp) short pants to church service.  

These folks still focus on the “dos and don’ts.” They are the ones who are sarcastic. These are the people who fold their arms and shake their heads in church services or meetings. These are the people who spend most of their time complaining, negative joking, or being borderline “toxic” at times. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s their church family or not;  somewhere, in the hearts of these people, there is damage and a deep wound.  They deal with it by being a pain in the neck.

I should be fair (and not sexist) and rename this group “the church people.” It’s not fair that I call them “ladies,” as it is not just those of the female gender who are in this bunch.  The men just don’t talk as much as the ladies, as statistics have shown.

You may be wagging your finger at me right now.  Who do I think I am? I must have been paying very close attention to these terrible people to know so much about them.

Nope. I know so much about them because I AM one of them. Sure, I’m not always mean and nasty, but it’s pretty easy for me to get to that point. So, I list their flaws and misdeeds because they are my flaws and misdeeds, too.

As I said, my schizophrenic selves often have discussions. I think about how I get to the point where I want to crawl in a hole and hide from humanity.

I go back to Jesus. I think about who He was and I often wonder what it would have been like to have lived while Jesus walked the Earth.

Perhaps my thoughts are somewhat simple and juvenile, but I also see, in my mind’s eye, Jesus walking around our Earth today.

I see him going to the dirtiest and most hopeless places, sitting beside people who were never on the “good boy/girl” list.  

I think Jesus would have sat in bars with people. I think he would have hung out with folks who practice alternative lifestyles. Jesus would have undoubtedly been around as much despair as possible. He would have gone to the places where the “unlovely” hung out. 

Those people we find hard to be around? Jesus would have patiently sat and spent time with them.

He would have listened.  He would have hugged, patted hands or placed a hand on a shoulder. He would have nodded his head and made sure people were heard. He would have asked questions, standing his ground but not putting people on the defensive. I think He would have eventually won a lot of people over by just being there and loving them.

Jesus would have helped people move, taken food to people’s homes, given people money and sacrificed time for others. He would have forgotten all aspects of comfort zones.  

Jesus wouldn’t have looked down his nose. He would speak truth, but He would also soften any blows with an overwhelming love.

He would not have folded his arms. His would have been stretched open wide.

So, this is where I go when I become a “church people” person. I try to put my eyes on Jesus.

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