|Difficult Feeding Goats|
How shall those called to His glory live while on the earth?
Is one's example portrayed by force, by boasting, by intrigue?
Or is representing one's truth done in honesty, honor and always staying at peace while proclaiming the truth in love?
The truth is relative for everyone, since every person's perception of the truth depends on their understanding of what is or isn't true, their perception being formed by their identity, their upbringing, their dogmas and so on.
So how can truth be reached, or discussed with another human being, when truth is mostly understood based on one's limited understanding of all things?
Recently while traveling on public transit, I overheard a man mention to another man that his mother had passed away.
I waited until the two were finished talking until I mentioned my mother had also recently passed away.
In attempting to reach another human being via commiserating, or at least by reflecting on death as much as two adult strangers can, I did my best.
The conversation started out innocently enough.
I thought perhaps, not knowing his disposition or views of life and death, I could encourage him regarding the death of his mother and perhaps reflect some light on his own mortality.
My effort to be loving and kind unfortunately backfired.
Early on he mentioned how he doesn't deal with religion but instead is spiritual.
So after a few questions from me for him to elaborate, he expressed how many things are free for him to do, while religion controls others and keeps them from realizing who they are.
He was speaking of the freedom to do what is typically considered sin, or immoral.
When he went as far as saying “I am god” after asking him what his view of God was... something inside of me told me to end the conversation on that note and stay at peace.
But my pride was stirred, and this is where my love for this person began to battle with my for God.
Without going into further details of what turned into a debate, although I tried to keep it as a friendly discussion and perhaps a test of wits, the man shared that his heritage had been stolen and that what I believed to be true was an outright lie.
He was quite firm and vigorous in expressing this, stating that anything a man has written is not to be trusted.
Yet when asking him about his beliefs, he claimed his studies in Egypt and India brought him the 'truth' regarding spiritualism, God and all the rest of it.
I called him on this hypocrisy and illogical conclusion.
So the cursing began and loud expressions that brought the attention of others onto our private conversation.
And, of course, I was being looked at as the problem, although I wasn't the one raising my voice or making a scene.
What turned into a heated moment, now turned into a sad experience, for two other individuals began to also denounce Christ and the Gospel's message with their apparent distaste of the Christian religion and poor examples of Christians.
I was asked repeatedly what my religion was, so when I answered “Jesus is Lord”, this was enough for them to conclude with what their prejudices already were.
Now came the attacks about doctrine, about accuracy of what was written, about motives, and many misunderstood issues that are easily found and disseminated in too many conspiratorial youtube videos.
These videos usually have a religious person dressed in religious attire denouncing the message of Christ and proclaiming their specific brand of spiritualism, or 'truth', something that they've come up with after reading some obscure information also gleaned from the internet.
Usually these messages reinforce hateful racial positions, faulty national identities, and broaden the division between people according to labels and external judgments.
My heart hurt, thinking these people have swallowed the propaganda so prevalent online and on the street.
I also realized how so many people, having rejected the Gospel and the testimonies they've heard, are now ripe for something false and based on human motivation.
Sadly, too many people are ripe for the response that comes from rejecting love, pursuing instead their desire to interpret love on their own terms and according to their personal perceptions.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My Name, for they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates Me hates My Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both Me and My Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated Me without reason.’
- John 15: 18-25