Well friends, I have come to the harsh reality that everything in this life is not black and white. Yes, I have come to realize that the same action cannot be applied 100% of the time to everything. My initial response to this revelation was, "WHYYY?? But life would be so much easier!!!"
Alas, I have now come to terms with it and have developed a new, clearer outlook on life.
Everybody wants freedom, but I'm not sure everybody understands what that comes with. Iironically it comes with a responsibility and that is that you must now decide what to do and when to do it for everything in life.
A lot of what we do and how we react is a direct effect of society, government, media and so on. We come up with the answers to our many questions that stem from our insatiable desire to be accepted, loved and proper. (I hear the rebel in the back yelling, "not me!" Yes you too, sit down.) By whatever code we live by we want to be accepted for it and we want to be successful in it.
We come up with ways to do things "right" for every situation. One good answer is usually all we need. As humans, we seem to like the idealistic idea of everything being black and white. It has order, it has structure, it's reliable but unfortunately life is made up of many other colors besides just black and white.
There is a song by the Byrds that all you classic lovers may know called "Turn, Turn, Turn"..."there is a season, turn, turn, turn and a time to every purpose under heaven..." Sorry, musical break.
This song has some of the wisest of lyrics, and for those who don't already know, it is actually an almost direct quote from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.
This verse paints the perfect picture of the colorful life we live, no black and white answer but a colorful one giving us the freedom to decide what will we do in it's season.
Wait, just a sec, can you imagine the back and white version of this song?
"To every everything, stop, stop, stop. There is only one thing to do for every season and purpose under heaven."
Ok, that would be a lame song, and we would all be lame people with lame lives. Thank God we're not! What I want to express to you is that there are no absolutes when it comes to way we live our lives out everyday.
Now wait! I hear the pharisee in the back saying, "No absolutes huh? But what about God's ways?" Well thanks for bringing that up. If you read these verses in Ecclesiastes again, you'll see a lot of different opposing ways, all of which are of God. Let's take "a time to weep, and a time to laugh". Each one is appropriate but not always.
For example: When hearing the news of a death in your friends family the incorrect response is to laugh. When hearing the news of that friend's promotion at work, the inappropriate response is to weep.
Let's take "a time to kill and a time to heal". When you see someone fall down the stairs (don't laugh here either) the appropriate thing to do would be to offer healing. An appropriate time to kill? Well I am going to say that would be anytime I come into contact with a cockroach. Show NO MERCY (die roach dieeee!!). This is grade school stuff here I'm sure no one will disagree with me, so far. Where this simple logic seems to get skewed is when it comes to religious situations.
There are verses in the bible that say to rebuke and punish all of the evil people in the world, and then there are verses that say turn the other cheek and show mercy, forgiveness and love. What on earth are we to do we do then?? Well children, you see, you have simply been given options.
Some people say there are contradictions in the bible I say, no, there are options. There is a time and place for both of these scenarios. The problem is that most people take one of these stances and try to apply it to every situation. You know how some people accuse certain Christians of being judgmental? Well, I'm actually gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they, unfortunately, just have really bad timing. In other words, they keep choosing the wrong time and the wrong place for their specific responses.
This is important. We need to teach people and believers that there are so many different scenarios that require their discernment or else they are going to produce an opposite effect of what they want and potentially hurt someone badly in the process.
For example: If you see a homeless person begging on the side of the road for food, an appropriate response would be compassion and charity. If you see a homeless man abusing a homeless woman, an appropriate response would be rebuke and punishment.
The problem is when people try to apply the black and white effect to all homeless people. Take these two opposing views.
Example 1: If you see any homeless person, show kindness and give charity, it is our duty to take care of the poor.
Example 2. If you see a homeless person, don't help them, they are lazy people who don't want to work and will use anything you give them to buy drugs and booze.
One says always give one says never give. I don't see the world in black and white so I don't discredit either of these stances, what I am simply trying to express is that there is a time and a place to give and to cease from giving but you must discern for yourself and you cannot apply the same response to every situation without a fresh evaluation.
A big problem, I see, is, I believe, a direct effect of social media and our obsession with high drama reactions to the things we post. I believe we are losing our ability to discern between a major offense and a minor one. Everything we are bombarded with in the media receives the reaction of a major offense whether it is worthy or not.
People get just as mad about a school shooting as they do about an American Idol decision. There is no discernment being taught to them by amount of media they consume, and so, with this mentality, believers are learning to react with the same offense to everything.
This is where the "Judgmental Christian Stereotype" I mentioned earlier is bred and raised. Usually our intention is just to share our faith with someone and show them how amazing our God is. Aw, that's nice...so where do we go wrong? If we go into it with the disposition we should have when going into war, we're probably going to create an unfavorable situation.
There is a time and a place for that kind of tone and usually the appropriate time and place for that is an actual war scenario. An aggressive, bombarding, combative nature is usually going to make the other person react by wanting to either run away or fight, but stay, listen and consider what you say is probably not going to be the outcome.
Listen, it is good to stand up for your faith, it is good to be zealous and passionate. I want you to walk away knowing that the way you are isn't wrong. All I want you to consider is that every reaction in life is a different color and in order to paint a masterpiece, you must learn when and where to use each color. An artist considers every brush stoke he makes and so must we as we paint the portrait of our lives.