By Karen Swank
This week you had some newcomers in your class, and one of them is my friend. She is a truly beautiful lady, inside and out, who extends kindness and humor everywhere she goes. She is also a deeply spiritual person, and came to your class seeking to find what the Bible holds for her. She felt safe coming to your class because she’s been at your church a little while now, and it seems so alive – surely free of the poison of old, dead religion. She was excited to come, and I was excited for and with her.
But it seems that you didn’t really know who was in the room with you. Looking at her, you couldn’t have guessed that addiction has ever touched her life, and after all it was a closed room – “just us girls.” I guess that’s why you felt free to speak the way you did. I think you need to see the unlovely picture you have painted of how the Body of Christ behaves inside the Bible study classroom, in her words:
“I am simply grateful that I did NOT walk out in disgust at their inventory taking and put-downs (nice way of saying vicious judging) of everyone from drug users, not to mention addicts, men, women, young people, pastors, the World, ‘gay people’ who they’d mistakenly prayed for… and also their own loved ones who, because they struggle with mental illness, youth, or simple Human Pain, just need hands laid upon them to be healed. Just need to Do It Our Way. Think Like Us. And truly, there is not one thing they have that I want. If I wasn’t pursuing this because I Want To Know God Better, and find Fellowship in Studying the Bible with others, I’d say Save me from the Saved.”
Since she was new to your room, you had no way really of knowing whether or not she was one of those “gay people” you bashed along the way. Apparently you made your own assumptions, and I don’t suppose that even now you realize what lingering trail of condemnation is left by your careless words.
Another friend of mine was in the room that day too, though it seems you didn’t recognize Him there. While I’ve never known Him to engage in the kind of conversation you enjoyed among yourselves, I do recall something He said to some religious folks along the way:
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37
Ladies, I want you to know today that I am praying for you. My prayer: that you will see your own hearts even more clearly than you see what’s wrong with the world around you.
And while I’m at it, I think I’ll pray that prayer for me, too.
If you liked this article, check out: Kindness to Strangers: Getting to the Source
Karen is from Aledo, IL. She went to Monmouth College and studied Latin and English. She is a biological mom of two children and surrogate mom/friend/advocate for a whole host of children. She would like to meet every wounded soul that I’ve she’s ever known… as a child, before the “damage was done” so she could tell them how much they are loved.