Christians Are Like Drunken Idiots

A drunk driver drove off the road and landed in a ditch about ten feet from my neighbors house last night.  Several minutes after the wreck his vehicle erupted in flames and our hero barely made it out before getting any serious burns . . . All of this excitement took place a couple of minutes before I arrived home.  As I got out of my car, I couldn’t help but notice the enormous flames lighting up the night sky from the church parking-lot (we live in the parsonage).  Upon closer inspection, it became clear that this was not a bonfire.  I immediately called 911 and alerted the local fire department who had, thankfully, already been dispatched.  Within five minutes the volunteer fire department, an ambulance, and a couple of sheriffs pulled up and began to contain the fire and assess the drivers wounds.

As I stood watching all of this I suddenly noticed a group of guys across the street filming the event with their iPhones.  Out of curiosity, I wandered over to their side of the road and struck up a conversation.  Before long, I realized the entire group was drunk out of their minds.  The gentleman recording the event was especially hammered.  I asked him if he had witnessed the accident?  In his, rather comical, state of inebriation, he was elated to recount the nights events with excitement and gusto.  His concluding remark (which he shouted while standing next to his truck) was perhaps the best part of his vivid account: “Annnnnd dis is why you sh-should NEVER EVER . . . DRINK and DRIVE!”

It took everything in me not to burst out laughing.  The expression on my face must have given this fact away because a minute after this exclamation he looked at me and said, “Well . . . I-I mean, I’ve been drinken tonight . . . but I’m on f—n eight acres of land . . . ya know?”

I think Christians are often a lot like my drunk iPhone videographer friend.  We stand on the side lines, guilty of all manor of sin, and chastise others for their mistakes.  This is why so many people think Christianity is a joke.  This is why they don’t take anything we say seriously . . . we seem just as absurd and hypocritical as a drunken fool lecturing on and on about not drinking and driving; or like someone with a plank in their eye trying to remove the speck from their neighbors.

Jesus teaches that we should be careful not to judge — i.e. look down in condescension upon — others.  He says:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get”  (Matt. 7:1-2).  

Ironically, Christians are some of the most judgmental people on the planet.  We rail on and on about traditional marriage and sexual ethics and yet, statistically, there is no difference in our rate of divorce or in the number of men and women watching pornography or having affairs, than with the rest of society.  The pastor of a mega church teaches that homosexuality is an abomination and is caught paying for gay prostitutes at a seedy hotel.  Another pastor preaches passionately about good stewardship while absconding with church funds.  One could go on and on explicating example after example . . .

The problem is, in our fervent desire to proclaim God’s law, we have forgotten one of Christ’s most profound teachings:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. 5:3-7).

Humility should be the default attitude of the true follower of Christ.  For it is only when we are “poor in spirit” and when we “mourn” and when we are “meek” that we can recognize our own failures and limitations as a fallen human beings.  It is only then that we are able to understand that we, like everyone, are in desperate need of a savior.  It is only when we look at the other drunk drivers with pity and brokenness of heart that we are able to obtain mercy and forgiveness for our sins.

When we look upon others with pity and meekness of heart – when we recognize our own failures and our own finite nature – we are then and only then in a position to stop looking like drunken idiots and start looking like Christ.

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Anguish, Despair and Comfort in the Incarnation . . .

There are times when I feel that life is too difficult to bear.  When death and darkness and pain and suffering and listlessness force themselves upon my soul.  I cry out to the Lord in utter desperation:  “Father, please!  Why is this happening?  Please save me, please have mercy . . . I can hardly bear it anymore.”  I wait for a response but I hear nothing.  Am I alone?  Days and nights blur together as each week presents another challenge, another tragedy, another heartbreak . . . “O God!”, I cry, “I’m so afraid!”  I turn to the Psalmist for comfort only to find despair:

“O Lord God of my salvation, I cry day and night before You.  Let my prayer come before You; incline Your ear to my supplication, O Lord.  For my soul is filled with sorrows, and my soul draws near to Hades; I am counted among those who go down  into the pit; I am like a helpless man, free among the dead, like slain men thrown down and sleeping in a grave, whom You remember no more . . . Why, O Lord, do You reject my soul, and turn away Your face from me?”

It feels as if my heart is in constant anguish.  I weep bitterly as the people I love suffer.  I look on as my beloved wrestles with deep wounds from her past and unending physical maladies.  I feel helpless.  I feel lost and out of control.  I feel unable to provide.  Why must life be this way?  Why are there so many sorrows?  Why is there so much pain? O God do you hear me?  Do You understand me?  . . .

I stare at the icon of the Theotokos holding her child.  There is sadness in her eyes as she clings tightly to the boy of promise – the One born of the Holy Spirit.  I remember that the first Christian, my spiritual mother, the one who gave birth to God in the flesh, struggled and suffered.  My eyes fixate on the little boy in her arms, so small and fragile . . . I remember that his mother could find no place to sleep, no rest, and no safety on the night of his birth.  I remember how she was forced to have her baby in a stable surrounded by animals, hay, and the fresh cent of manure.  I recall her fleeing to Egypt to rescue her son from the hands of a mass murderer.  I remember how He experienced the limitations, temptations, and futility of human existence growing up in a small town in the desert.  Everything flashes forward.  I remember Jesus languishing in the garden . . . the blood dripping, the agony, and the resolve.  I remember the guards lashing out at Him; tearing open his flesh.  I remember the crown of thorns and the intense mockery.  I remember how He carried the cross and was nailed upon it; how He died.  I envision Mary weeping at His feet . . .

Then in the midst of the storm I hear the still soft voice, “I love you Josh . . .”