Would you have Crucified Christ?

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I have often said that it our own insecurities that fuel our need to judge others.These insecurities when combined with other insecure individuals can hit a fever pitch within communities who share a similar belief.  Communities wherein are found a dominant religion are more subject to this fever pitch than others.  My comments are centered around the state of Utah and the LDS faith that are dominant in that area, yet I know that the same holds true in other communities where any religion is dominant.

I have wrestled with this post much over the past months.  I have been prompted many times to write regarding this subject yet have great trepidation in doing so.  I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I live in the Salt Lake Valley.  My faith in the teachings of the Church are secure and firm as I deeply understand the principle teachings of our church, yet I find tremendous disappointment in the vast insecurities of both the members and former members and their incessant need to judge, shame and ostracize others.

One rule in this post, there will be no toleration for any negative attacks towards this church or any other religion in the comments of this post, they will be removed.  This is about individuals and their own insecurities, not a church.

I have heard it said that we should treat others as we would treat our Savior Jesus Christ.  That we should love one another, serve one another and lift one anothers burdens. If that being so, if we cause harm in any way to another are we not guilty of violating this?  Would we have also participated in the crucifixion of Christ if our actions today towards others hurt and destroy?

In a society with a dominant religion, many people feel that in order to fit in that they must belong to that particular faith.   While many would argue that is not the case and that those members are warm, loving and welcoming people, I disagree.  As a member of that dominant religion, this is simply untrue.

Anyone reading this blog knows and understands that my life simply does not fit with the ideal Mormon home and family.  I have personally experienced and felt the cruel, harsh and painful comments, actions, and judgements of those with “holier than thou” attitudes towards others.  If it were not for my deep testimony and belief in the teachings, I would have left this church years ago based upon the actions of those in the community.

I see this happen regularly within our community, where those who struggle in life due to circumstances created either by others, fate or themselves, who have trials sometimes too much too bear are ostracized by the very people whom you would think would practice what their church teaches and “love one another” even as Jesus Christ loves each of us.

My experiences from coming home from my mission onward to today have created empathy within me to see others for who they are, not who anyone thinks they should be!  The church teaches that one of its missions on earth is the perfecting of the saints.  Perfecting is a process as no one on this earth is or ever will be perfect.  That one perfect individual, our Savior has already come and no one else will ever be perfect.  Perfecting requires work and time, not the here and now.

So with that clear principle, why do others in communities with dominant religions judge those who are not perfect?  Why are so many ostracized, criticized, shamed or belittled for not being perfect?  For being different?  For not believing? and why is it that those who choose to leave the church become worse than those within in their attacks and persecution of others?

The answer is personal insecurity.  Those who shame, judge, criticize or ostracize others are deeply insecure that others may find that they too are not perfect and therefore find themselves subject to the same unrealistic standards they force upon others.  Ones they know they cannot possibly live up to.  They misdirect the attention from themselves towards those who are different or struggling in some way to avoid the self reflection within themselves, as they most certainly would be repulsed by what they see staring back at them when their own standards are applied.

So if you are one who finds the need to comment, avoid, shame or judge others who are different, look in the mirror and see what true hatred and animosity looks like,  If you stop your kids from playing with someone who is of a different religion, avoid those with tattoos, smokers, coffee drinkers or drinkers of alcohol; if you invite one family and not another to the neighborhood barbeque because they are different or not a member, if you wave to one neighbor who attends church but look away at the one who doesn’t then STOP IT! Stop crucifying others and start living what you profess and begin to replace your own personal insecurities with love and compassion.

Are you the Pharisee or Sadducee within the church who pressed for Christ’s crucifixion or the sinner believing in Christ and his redemptive power to heal?  Would you have crucified Christ?  What do your personal actions in how you treat, talk, and respond to others say about you?

The person you are directing your judgment towards, avoiding, shaming or ostracizing more than likely understands love, empathy, compassion and service greater than you ever could.  All Christlike qualities.  I for one stand with those who have felt betrayed, scorned, ridiculed, shamed and judged within a community for a life given and not chosen.

As we find our path and choose our way in life we do so within our own abilities and control.  We accept and move forward in life with those things we cannot control, such as illness and other peoples choices.

What we see in others is a reflection of what we see in ourselves.

 

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A moment to ponder; Facing the Judgements

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Moments spent pondering creates opportunities for us to learn and be taught by the spirit.  Many times these quiet moments of reflection allow me the ability to resolve issues and challenges I may be facing.  Recently I dealt with someone from my past that has been extremely judgmental of me and the issues I have faced in my life.  A moment to ponder this morning provided extreme clarity on the issue.

A judgmental individual is a stigma that is difficult at best to overcome, especially for individuals whose holier than thou attitudes have created extreme duress and difficulty for others along the way.  Try as one might to move beyond that reputation, every future encounter with someone who was on the receiving end of a judgment views that person with extreme prejudice, and almost certainly never to trust again.

This weekend I had to opportunity to bump into a local dentist of ours who lives in the neighborhood and at one point we attended church together. Just over ten years ago while my family was being torn apart from some repeated affairs of my ex, this individual assisted my ex in hiding the affairs and in preventing me from seeing my son for some time.  During this extremely difficult and challenging time, as i dealt with the heartache of another affair, the desire to see my son and the desire to keep our family together which we did for another 3 years, this neighbor became very judgmental of me as I fought to keep our family together,  I watched as I would walk down the hall at church to see him notice me and walk to other way.  He was my dentist for a short time prior to this and I soon found it impossible to get an appointment with him.  I noticed that he became indifferent with many people around him and began to treat others equally as poor as I was being treated.  I watched him as his anger got out of control in a basketball game and he picked another player up by the throat and choked him, while pinning him against the wall.  It appeared that this man’s world too was falling apart.

I struggled with this for some time.  I wondered what I had done to this person, whom I considered a friend both in and out of church.  Someone whom I had respected over the years.  I am certain that he too may have been facing his own demons.  Over the years, this has bothered me greatly.  I must admit that at times I wondered if he too may have been having an affair with my wife. Maybe he hoped that she would leave me and he could step in.  Over time I dismissed these ideas and attempted to move on.  I stopped by his office once or twice, trying to open doors again.  He would have nothing to do with me.  I still have no idea what I may have done that so deeply offended this individual.  I could think of nothing.

Sunday I bumped into him again.  A decade has passed and I am no closer to understanding this than I was when it was fresh and he and my ex were close friends.  I had personally thought that I had moved past it, then he did the same cold calculated move as always in the past.  He looked at me, said hello to my mother and without a word to me turned and walked out the door. The coldness towards me that came from this man would refreeze the polar ice caps.

I have thought much about this encounter this week.  At first I was angry with the arrogance and judgmental nature this man has and continues to  display towards me.  Then I took a moment to ponder and pray.

On my drive into work this morning, after I had said my prayers to forgive again and move on, in the quiet moments in the car a thought entered my mind.   Maybe he is not being arrogant or judgmental at all.  Could it be that he is so deeply ashamed of his actions  over all these years that he does not know how to react and his shame drives him from my presence?  Maybe this man is carrying a burden from past events that prevents him from being able to face someone he has wronged?  Maybe facing me brings back unresolved and possibly unrepentant issues from his past?  I do not know.

I do know that what I felt today was significant.  I was able to see someone whom has judged and treated me poorly for all these years in a different light. One where maybe what i interpreted as him being judgmental was actually his sorrow and shame for the past.  There are always two sides.  I in fact over the years began judging him based upon the judgements I felt coming from him.

My eyes were opened this morning.   I wonder when we stand before God, how many of us will feel the shame of our unrepentant actions and be like my friend, unable to stay in the same room or look upon him, as my friend was with me.  How much heartache  will that shame bring when we face our God and not some neighbor, or some stranger.  “For inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me.”  We will have a sudden knowledge of all our past actions towards others.

I know I see the world differently today after a moment to ponder.