It’s Sunday morning, September 6, 2015. I have just read the response to questions I asked privately of a candidate for public office in our small Indiana community. My heart races and anger wells in my gut. If I were impetuous, I would fire back with both barrels.
Fortunately I am not!
What the response has given me is the subject of this morning’s post. I hope my personal experience and reflections upon it will be helpful to those of you who choose to read it.
I came to a personal relationship with the Lord on May 2, 1981. Immediately I began to unlearn things that were not from Heavenly PAPA’s perspective and learn those that are. At times I felt like I was a bit schizophrenic. One foot in the old and the other in new that seemed contradictory to all I had known thus far. It certainly was paradoxical. I asked questions because I have been blessed with an inquiring mind; a gift from PAPA indeed.
In the ensuing years, I have come to learn the gifts with which I’ve been blessed. They serve me well, and I think they serve well those He has brought across my path. Women (and some men) seeking to grow spiritually, as well as personally and professionally. One of those gifts is deep discernment. I have often mused that it is both blessing and curse. To know the innermost dealings of others that they may not recognize themselves is a daunting place to be – to say the least.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that “all that glitters is not necessarily gold“. Just because someone says they are a believer may not in reality be factual. Not that they don’t have faith and have a relationship with the Lord as well – but that they don’t discern the things in their own lives that belie such an experience. Their actions in the pursuit of life are contradictory the Gospel as Jesus intended the Gospel to be understood. Understood and practiced. In other words, they don’t understand and acknowledge the motivations beneath what they do and how they do it!
Just because another says “I’m a Christian” does not mean they are in the full sense of the word. Yet we tend to take it for granted they will behave in certain ways because they acknowledge a belief in all things “Christian”. It’s a disconcerting experience to learn that what they present as “gold” is nothing more than tarnished brass.
A few days ago at a meeting of fantastic local women, the discussion turned to a sense of cynicism. The question was do we become more so as we grow more vintage? The women involved are all truly believing women so the discussion took on a spiritual bent. I raised the question as to whether Jesus became cynical at the end of His earthly ministry? Answers were not readily forthcoming as that was not the subject of our meeting.
But I’ve been contemplating the question. Did He? Or did He not?
There are Scripture passages that would indicate He maintained a slightly cynical stance throughout the 3 years He brought the Kingdom message to those who had ears to hear. So what are those?
He noted that He knew the heart of men (used in the generic sense of the word). And He knew how twisted human nature could be. That without what we now call conversion; mankind would remain twisted, perverse and without hope. He knew the heart of the Sadducees and Pharisees. He knew how twisted they were in their thinking.
One might say Jesus was a bit cynical about the religious authorities of His day!
Immediately prior to His arrest, conviction and crucifixion; He sat on the hillside overlooking Jerusalem and wept. He wept because what He sought to do appeared to be hopeless. So many He hoped to positively impact with the message of the Kingdom turned a deaf ear and blind eye.
He would soon learn how fickle human nature can be. Just a few short days earlier, the crowds greeted him in the streets with palms and cheers of Hail to the King. They were all for Him – and His message. But they didn’t understand His message. Therefore their hearts turned against Him because of their own gullibility easily exploited by the powers that be to accomplish their nefarious end game.
Was that cynicism? Was He bereft because although He knew the hearts of folks, He assumed they would capture what He was saying and be on his side no matter what came? Only to learn that when the chips were down – they would shout “Crucify Him-Crucify Him“?
Jesus had all knowledge given Him by His Father. Yet He seemed to be surprised by the circumstances in which He found himself. And His reaction a bit on the cynical side. He was certainly desolate that all He had tried to accomplish appeared to have accomplished little. And that in the end, He would be required to drink the full cup that had been handed Him as the Anointed of PAPA. He was after all, both human and divine, and his humanity appears to have been grieved to tears. . .
I don’t know that we’ll ever know for certain. Nor do I think it’s imperative we have such knowledge. What I do know is that what is truly imperative is the wisdom to recognize all that glitters may not be gold. All who say they are with Him may depart from His ways when it’s expedient to do so. That when the glitter of earthly life dangles attractive spoils; our humanity can invent a million ways to justify stepping off the path called narrow and hard.
Call it cynicism if you choose. I call it wisdom – discernment. I call it being open to the wisdom of PAPA Who knows the hearts of us humans better than we know it ourselves. It may not sit well with folks in general – especially those who believe. It may seem paradoxical. It certainly may not be what we learned in Sunday School or religious teachings.
But it just may be the truth. Heavenly facts. That the labels we place on ourselves may be nothing more than a tattoo barely scratching the surface of our understanding.
It has been said that by their fruits you shall know them. Galatians does not mention the fruit of integrity, strong character or Godly ethics; but Peter does. He says to “compliment our basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness and generous love, each dimension fitting into developing the others. (2 Peter from The Message).
I have rambled on. The sting of the response lingers as well. But I thank PAPA that it has given rise to this post. If it brings about a hesitation on one woman’s part to examine the words of others before leaping to assume what glitters is real gold – then it has accomplished that for which it is meant.
In the end, a little suspicion and cynicism may help us avoid unpleasant circumstances down the road in relationships with others. Test and try. Get to know. Let the character of others reveal who they are on the bad days of life – not just those on which little to no rain has fallen.
Then the genuine love of which Peter speaks will fill us with the joy of authentic relationships tested over time and through the tough stuff as well as that which brings about rejoicing!
Linda S. Fitzgerald, Visionary Partner & CEO
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://affiliatedwomeninternational.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/05/linda-google-NB-profile-pic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]I have a ‘fiery’ passion to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]
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