“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.” ~ Henri J. M. Nouwen
Walking the circuit comprised mainly of Horseshoe Bend is as close to an evening ritual as we get. Heading back home, my wife and I walked up on a woman gesticulating animatedly near the intersection with Rock Creek Road. Wary of a disturbed mental state, I moved between her and my wife. On closer observation, we saw that she was in her right mind and merely pointing excitedly across the road in the direction of dense vegetation and two towering elms. We heard them before seeing them. Mature owls were attempting to distract from young offspring in the trees. A family of barred owls calls our neighborhood home, and I’ll be the first to admit that their monkey calls to one another and stealth sightings are a pretty big deal. Still, the woman who first spotted them near the Bend was giddy to the point of appearing odd, and I said as much to me wife when we made our way around the S curve near the private lane we call home. I dismissed the strange woman’s worth and sanity with a sweeping statement something to the effect of, “That woman is crazy.” I stopped mid-sentence and remarked, “I’m judging aren’t I? Please forgive me.” Of all people, I have no right to judge anyone else, especially someone simply expressing enthusiasm over a seldom seen owl encounter.
I am offended by the world, largely because I see far too much of myself reflected in it. My heart rages at injustice, yet I detect my own prejudices staring back at me. I rant against liberal leanings and aberrant morality, but turn away in shame from the hypocrisy of my conservative theological and political stance juxtaposed against leniency toward sin in my own life. I cry out for light in a darkened world while refusing to be that light in fear it may cost too much, or anything for that matter. While proudly declaring myself Christian, all too often I fail to behave like Christ. Thank God there is hope for hypocrites like me. Recognizing our penchant for being spiritually two-faced is a first step toward singular devotion to Jesus Christ that transforms thought, behavior, and allegiance. Lower your head in confession, then raise it with your jaw set to live as Christ among a fallen humanity still waiting for someone to offer a hand up.
“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian” (Brennan Manning).