I find excuses not to help people.
I don’t help the poor when they ask because I don’t trust them, or I think it will just be enabling them. I’ve figured out a systematic logic that allows me not actually to give to them.
But I was thinking tonight about what is good religion and bad religion. I think about how we have a tendency to establish this unwritten rule book by interpreting the Bible to say what I want it to say. And then we take pride in our spiritual performance measured against that book, and we take pride in having written that little book of ours.
We build these little safe palaces with our reasons. No one really in need can reach us because we have logically worked them out of how we will apply our faith.
I was thinking about this when I saw someone making a fool of themselves, lifting and moving their hands around during praise and worship time at church. It just felt so foolish, like they didn’t know it wasn’t supposed to be done like that.
And this proved to me that I was judging people against the model of how I had concluded things should be done.
Am I more proud of how I’ve justified not worshipping with heart on sleeve, or justified not giving to the poor, or spending most of my time doing art, or proud of my decades of learning what church should be like, or my self-developed doctrine? Am I more worried about these than I am about the true interior measured against God’s heart for sincere, humble heart, mercy-for-the-poor type of living? Have I forgotten God’s basic wishes for us.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Honestly God, I don’t really know how to get around these reasons. I don’t know if I will be able to free myself from my palace. My castle of excuses has a very big wall, and very heavy doors. 37 years worth of fortifying myself. I don’t want to leave this castle I have built, because I have tried so hard to built it.
But maybe I can give to one more person than I usually do, tomorrow. Help me to surrender my bricks and mortar to the power of your ancient wind. Drive me out of my castle so that I may find you again. In the needy and vulnerable.
And I want to believe that there I will find more freedom and trust, than in my house of stone.
Raw Spoon, 12-8-16