...life is very much like this car rental contract...confusing as heck...and dammit...I keep losing the number...Point number three of the car rental contract reads: "The expenses arising from the accident or damage to the vehicle must be paid by the hirer."and point five said: "The company will pay for any damage to the vehicle under hire."This was to be symbolic of our golden trip to Spain. At the bottom of the contract was written in bold In CASE OF TROUBLE [sic] PLEASE PHONE 27 (I wish I had kept that number handy.)
I've often read that little re-quoting of a rental contract and thought how closely that resembles life. We all try so hard to do the best we can, and yet, in classic style, our instructions often leave us conflicted. I've been thinking about this particularly in light of how we, as children of God, treat those around us who are not believers. It seems to me that as Christians, we're becoming more and more intollerant of those who don't line up to our way of thinking. Instead of showcasing the love and mercies of God, we are too busy telling people how they are screwing up God's plan for their lives.
Is Christian intollerance of "sin" Biblical? Some people think so and point to a God of wrath, who has these great lists of sins that He abhors. But then there are scriptures that seem to point out about God's love for all creation. In fact, we are told that He loved the world SO much that He gave His own son as a sacrifice for all. To me, that would indicate a God who loves with an endless love.
As I read the provisions in the rental contract, I began to think that perhaps we act so dogmatic because we are really afraid that we might get our instructions wrong. Maybe the instruction manual has been written so that it is open for interpretation. Maybe somewhere in the back of our mind we really do think of God as this angry being. Sure, we know He loved us and sent His son, but perhaps we tend to think that He's still peeking over the balconey of Heaven waiting for us to screw up so that He can shoot us down.
Since we are trying so hard to get it right, we take the most hard-line approach in the Bible, because only by being hardlined will we for sure get it right. Then I start to look at the life of Jesus Christ. Particularly some of the parables that He told. One was of the Good Samaritan. If you know much about the world at that time, the Samaritans were not the religious people of the day. In fact, they didn't even worship the same god. As the story goes, a guy is traveling between cities on business, when he is jumped, beaten, robbed and left for dead. Along came the religious leaders who preached about God's wrath. The quickly gathered their collective robes, crossed to the other side of the street, and maybe, just maybe they offered a prayer.
Soon, along came this guy from Samaria. He sees someone beaten and left for dead. He picks him up and took him to the best place he could afford...then he took care of the bill. I wonder if Jesus wasn't trying to tell people that there is another way to react to those around us that we don't particularly like or approve of. Perhaps we are to show love to people and then let God deal with their sin. We all have pet sins we love to harp on. Maybe that's not really supposed to be our job.
I guess the best thing we can do is become really familiar with our "contract" and do the best we can. Life will be full of contradictions and confusing contracts. I think though, as long as our heart is in the right place, we are doing all right. I've pretty much made up my mind that I'm not everyone else's judge. God does a much better job of that. I'm just going to show His love (and try to remember not to loose the number).