I spent this last week on vacation and while away I consumed a lot of media, listened to many lectures, read through some blogs and skimmed a book. One of the movies I watched has been haunting me personally and has triggered some follow up thoughts regarding the church and the direction she might be heading in.
The movie, Shot Caller is about a successful businessman who has it all. He makes good money, has a beautiful wife, kind son, and good friends. After a night of fun and drinking with his wife and friends, he runs a red light and accidentally kills his best friend. It is an accident, but the letter of law is a DUI manslaughter and he pleads to reduce his sentence from 10 years down to 2.
His wife says that "You don't go to prison for an accident." Oh, how we long for that to be true!
The rest of the film is the spiraling out of the lead character's life. Every intersection there is an impossible choice to be made. I tried to put myself in his shoes and found it easy to judge each and every decision. And where do all these decisions end up taking him? Life in prison, without parole, and total estrangement from his family.
From my comfortable suburban couch on vacation, I found how easy it was to dismiss this man and his awful choices and the people he ended up surrounding himself with. You see, I am a good, kind, and generous person. I love God, love others, care for the poor, and have a strong sense of my own moral virtue.
But this is the problem. My problem and, I think, the problem with many in the church. We are all so quick to judge the decisions and character of others while not questioning our own virtue or our own motives. The group we associate with, whatever group that is, is the right group, the virtuous group, the righteous group. And it is the other groups who have evil and selfish motives and actions.
But this is not the picture we get in scripture or the teaching we get from Jesus. That old skool doctrine of total depravity is far from our conscious, along with the need for personal reflection and confession. We have forgotten to take the log out of our own eye, and then get to the speck in the other's eye.
It might serve you and me, and the church a whole lot better if we recognize our frailty and the power of our own sin, pride and rebellion. We need to come to terms with the power of resentment and the way that it rules our hearts. It is only when we realize how sinful and corrupt we are, can we truly experience the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers.
Plus, when our sin and depravity is close to us, we are compelled to walk with more humility and grace, for we all know that we are one or two poor choices from ruining our lives!