Not A One Size Fits All

"...there is no deeper pathos in the spiritual life of man than the cruelty of righteous people."  - Reinhold Niebuhr

When I was fifteen years old, I didn't really stop believing in God per se... I just stopped caring. 

There were a thousand little moments that contributed to my agnosticism, but there was one in particular that has stuck with me for years.

It was on a Sunday night and as was our custom in Baptist-world, we were in church.  I was sitting in a whole row of teenagers that night, right behind one of the church elders (deacons, for all you non-Baptist types). 

We were a giggly bunch that evening.  The services were mind-numbingly boring, so we amused ourselves by passing notes, flirting--you know, just kids being kids. 

I wasn't even all that talkative, but for some reason, that elder singled me out.  It was probably because I was the outsider in the group---the only kid in the pew who hadn't been raised in the church, and whose parents he wasn't friends with. 

He berated me harshly, during one of the hymns, called me a few derogatory names, and dressed me down pretty good in front of everyone within earshot.

I've thought about that officious fellow from time to time, and he has served as a cautionary tale for me. 

I kind of feel like if religion makes you angry, judgmental, self-righteous, abusive and intolerant---it's not true religion. 

Which is why it's so important that we pay attention to our offhand comments, the ways we conduct ourselves in public, the ways we act when we gather to worship---because people are paying attention. 

And we don't want to be one of those thousand little moments that drives someone away from the abundance of a real relationship with God. 

I read this amazing poem by Tiffany Aurora this morning, and it spoke right into this for me: 
This is not a'one size fits all,'&that is why we mustmake room,for each other. 
Today, practice making room for each other.  Measure your words, and speak life into the world.  Open yourself up to the possibility that you might not be as righteous as you imagine, and let that be a comfort to you. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.


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