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To Forgive, and Not to Judge

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (Galatians 6:1-3, The Message)

Events in the news have spurred several quick and harsh opinions lately. Brittany Maynard took her own life in a doctor assisted suicide over the weekend because she was terminally ill. A 14-year-old boy decided he would kill his friends and then himself during lunch at school in Marysville. A woman threw her severely autistic six-year-old son over a bridge in Oregon for reasons we have yet to know or understand. Protests and occasionally riots persist in Ferguson, Missouri over the shooting death of an 18-year-old over alleged racial profiling. The entire Mars Hill organization is disbanding at the beginning of 2015 as a result of Mark Driscoll’s resignation. ISIS continues to perform “jihad” and alleges to “convert” many to Islam. Judgment comes so quickly, action comes quicker, and the subsequent reactions have the power to make things either better or worse.

We all have our opinions – dare I say critical comments – on these matters. Suicide, murder, dishonest marketing, violence… these are all harsh acts. As far as I know, no one at Creekside is alleged to have done these kinds of acts. But perhaps, some of us have lied to others. Or had that one drink that sent us over the edge. Or said that one thing that drove another away. Or stole a Creekside pen off a chair. Do you need forgiveness for something?

We are called to forgive and restore. That doesn’t mean we are called to forget that folks have done wrong. Oh no! We are encouraged to hit a “reset” button in our relationships, and begin to re-form bonds of trust between each other. I may not agree with some of these events that have happened all over the news, but who am I to cast the first stone? We are told in the story of the adulterous woman that Jesus simply drew in the dirt and then suggested that the person who is without sin should cast the first stone at her. Everyone walked away.

More than forgiveness, we are encouraged to help those in need and share their burdens. I don’t believe that means I need to get rid of my stuff and go live in Tent City 4…but there are ways that I can be attentive to the world around me. For instance, I volunteer my time, spending the night at the Genesis Project every once in a while. The girls who come to the Genesis Project are down and out. They’ve hit rock bottom and don’t know if they can get any lower…and they don’t want to do that. Not long ago while I was spending the night there, a woman knocked on the door at 10:30 PM, cold and hoping someone was there. What a surprise she had when I opened the door! All she wanted was some warmer clothes, which we were happy to set her up with. All that I was expected to do (the only way I needed to help) was to be present, be available, and possibly cook up some food if anyone was hungry. I am constantly reminded that the women I serve at GP have led difficult lives. There is no way I could ever conceivably call one of those ladies cruel names and tell them they’re better off dead. It is my place to not only keep that in mind, but to remember that the time may come when my own circumstances are compromised.

So many of us live our lives thinking or at least hoping they are better than those around us. What if we were to live our lives thinking or hoping we could help make the lives around us better? Creekside has been so generous this year, donating money and time to the Oso recovery, giving Manto de Amor a place to meet and worship, housing Young Live Capernaum, and so many other things. It is my prayer that we can continue this habit and perhaps find a few more things as well!

Nicole can be reached via email here.

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