This past week I spent about 20 minutes on the Interstate behind one specific truck. No room to pass him, just stuck there. On the back of the truck was the logo for the company that owned it. It was a tree in a beautifully manicured plot of land. The truck was owned by a casket company! In my mind I thought “Fitting. We’re all just chasing our caskets to the grave. Might as well follow them on the Interstate too!”
58 years is a long time on this earth, although it’s not as long as it used to be. Still, I’ve developed my beliefs, my way of thinking, to the point that I don’t need to apologize if someone believes or thinks differently. I’ve done that, a lot. And at 58, no more. I will no longer apologize for thinking or believing differently. While I will honor anyone’s basic right to believe or feel what they wish (no matter how wrong they are-I’m always right, right?), I’ll stand firm on my own unless persuaded otherwise by logical argument. (Then again, if it’s based on MY logic…well you get the picture!)
I remember, when I was directing, getting the chance to have my old piano teacher to play for me. We were “discussing” a particular song that I wanted to do one way, and she kept playing differently. Finally, she said, “Mark, I’m old enough to play this my way. If you don’t like it, I don’t have to play!” Needless to say, she played it her way!
We spend a lot of time as Christians, it seems, apologizing as well. Sometimes, we should. When things we do are fueled by hate, or oppression, or anything other than Love, then we should not only apologize to the person hurt, but to God for being so far out of His will. This happens WAY too often. But we should never be ashamed to stand up for our faith. Never be ashamed to do what is right in God’s eyes. Never be afraid to live our lives so that we are a “light of the world.”
“You are a light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” Matt. 5:14-16
You see, our job is not to condemn, only God is allowed to judge, or exact revenge. (Matt. 7:1-2) (Rom. 12:19-21) Our job isn’t even to convert, only God can give salvation, God alone. (Eph. 2:8-9) Our task is live so that we are a beacon for others to see what God can do for us, and to us, warts and all. To show how much He loves and cares for not just us, but all men and women everywhere. (John 3:16-17 – yeah you know it, but read it anyway!) We who know His light must walk in that light, so that His light can shine for others. There is a difference between being a light and being a flame thrower. When our actions are fueled by fear, or hate or even just a sense of “judgementalism”, we cover God’s light, put it under a basket, and no one can be drawn to Him. No one can know the inexpressible beauty of His love, His joy, His peace, His security. And that would be the greatest tragedy of all. If our religion were to stand in the way of His salvation.
Back to the casket. We are only given a short time here on earth. I resolve to stand firm in what I believe, and not apologize. I resolve to try to love others as unconditionally as I can, so that God’s love can be seen. I resolve to leave judgement to God, so that He can show compassion, just like He did for me. I will not apologize for loving others as I love myself, and am loved by Him. Call me a stubborn old man (you’d by right!), but as a dear pastor friend once said “There it is if you like it. There it is if you don’t. Anyway, there it is!” (Thanks, Bro. Rock Hardaway – miss you!)