Climbers in the Surf

9 12 2005

Climbers in the Surf

Scripture:
1 Timothy 5:9,24 (NIV) 9Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.

24The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.

Titus 1:15-16 (NIV) 15To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Titus 2:7-8 (NIV) 7In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Titus 3:9-11 (NIV) 9But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Observations:
These texts have certainly been forgotten by many who profess to be followers of Christ.  It is quite common to accuse not just elders in the church, but almost anyone with whom we don’t agree.  We think it is our duty and right to point out any and all errors in other people.

Of course we are aiming for purity.  Of course we want to be more like Christ.  Of course we want others to see that being Christians has made a difference in our lives – this is important and necessary.  But the fact of the matter remains, we are broken and defective people.  We come from dysfunctional family systems, we are wounded, and we have a tendency to sin.  And, unfortunately, a change of character is the most difficult undertaking imaginable.

To make up for this, we tend to clean up our exteriors.  We stop doing the things that used to identify us as unbelievers.  We stop swearing, drinking, smoking, and we attend a church at least 2-3 times a month.  But Jesus said, it isn’t what is outside of a person that makes them unclean, it is what is inside.  It is our pride, greed, envy, malice, anger, addictions, depressions, lying, cheating, slander, and gossip that corrupts us.  But society doesn’t “police” these things.  We look upon others with the eyes of humanity and fail to see people the way God sees them.

In reality, we have set the standard too low.  We look at membership standards, but don’t really encourage people to have the character of Christ.

Do I sin?  Yes.  Do I make mistakes?  Yes.  Do I have dysfunctions?  Of course.  Do I offend others?  Unfortunately.  Do I have the character of Christ?  Nope.  Do I look much different than the average person on the street?  A little, but not significantly.  So, how would one know I am a Christian?  How would anyone see Christ in me?  How do I tell the world about Christ without being preachy?  How do I walk the walk and not just talk the talk?

I am on a journey of discovery, growth, and opportunity.  Judging a person based on where they are currently on the path does not determine who they are, or what they cherish.  

If I see a man standing on the beach, his feet in the surf, I wouldn’t think he was a mountain climber.  If he were wearing a backpack and had an ice axe, I would just think he looked out of place.  Even if he were walking inland, I wouldn’t imagine he were climbing a mountain.  But if I saw the same man standing at timberline, his feet buried in the snow, I might envision a different image of him.  But still, he may just be a hiker, or a wannabe climber.  But if I met him at the summit of Mt. Rainier, ice clinging to his mustache, and a rope tied around his waste, I’d say he’s a mountain climber.

Some of us don’t look like good Christians.  We haven’t traversed very far from our roots.  We may wear the garb, talk the lingo, but our feet are still in the surf.  But that doesn’t mean we’re not climbers – that doesn’t mean we’re not followers of Christ.  It only means we haven’t arrived yet.  In fact, if Christ is the summit of Mt Everest, most of us are still down in the valleys trying to get further up the mountain.  Some are still selecting their gear, packing their packs, and hiring sherpas.  

Some Christians are at the base camp, some are selecting their routes, and some are beginning the ascent.  But it is a difficult climb.  It takes a long time and many stages.  Just because the summit hasn’t been reached, it doesn’t mean we aren’t climbers (er, Christians).  It only means we are on the journey.

Application:
It is easy to criticize others.  But we need to look at people through God’s eyes and keep our criticism at bay.

Prayer:
Father God, teach me to see people with your vision.

Amen.

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