Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Forgive My Older Brother? Ha!

by Goy Ben-Yahweh (The Prodigal)

I hope you saw my big brother’s ugly letter from yesterday.  Isn't that just like him?  He’s such a Pharisee.  He’s always been “the good one,” always wise, always making good choices, and always looking down his nose at people like me.  His joy is in my suffering, because he knows I deserve it – and he loves it when people get what they deserve.  When I repent and receive mercy, he is unhappy.  Even though he’s obedient to our Father, he is nothing like Dad. 

He has no passion, no feelings, no real affection – and crazy discipline.  He has few temptations in life because he doesn't really want to do anything “bad.”  Heck, he hardly wants to do anything good, even. 

He reads 2 Samuel 11 and says, “I would never skip the battle, sleep with Bathsheba and murder Uriah.”  Of course what he fails to say is that he also would never be a zealous warrior-king like David.  He never would have danced or played music or written poetry or been a man after God’s own heart.  He’s just a rule-following robot. 

A friend sent me this note in response to my big brother’s letter from yesterday:
Gives me a stomach ache just thinking about not forgiving, particularly when a person has come home in great humility, asking for forgiveness and willing to be a servant.  "Your" older brother is in big trouble, what a miserable sad person he is, that needs a big hug and to be reassured that he is loved.  The family needs some lessons in our Father's love.  If he would listen, I know Jesus could help him!  He needs our prayers!
She reminds me of another friend asking me at church if I was going to forgive Israel (my brother).  The answer I gave was, “Of course!”  But I wasn't sincere.  I’m sick of being judged by this guy.  For whatever reason, he (like much of our family), is judgmental and self-righteous.  How can I forgive a person who prays like this?
“God, I thank You that I’m not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or like my little brother, Goy.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.”  Luke 18:11-12
They don’t like people like me.  We are disgusting to them.  Dad wants them to go looking for us and rescue us with joy – to leave the 99 sheep at home and go to the faraway land and find us before we fall all the way down to be with the pigs.  He wants them to tear the house apart looking for us, and party when we’re found [Luke 15]. 

But they know we use bad language, we’re dirty, and do disgusting things; and they want nothing to do with us.  They know we’re liars, adulterers, weak, gluttonous partiers who have many vile habits. They hate us more than Jonah hated Assyrians, and run in the opposite direction from us.

They not only won’t come looking for us, they aren’t even happy when we repent.  Like my brother’s letter yesterday, or Jonah’s response to God’s forgiveness:
When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He didn't do it.
But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.
 He prayed to Yahweh and said,
Yahweh, wasn't this what I said while I was still at home? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.
 Therefore now, Yahweh, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”  Jonah 3:10-4:3
I remember once a young server who was learning a new job.  She had been a server before and had been very upset with newbies because they were so stupid, and now she was one of the stupid new people and she sickened herself.  When I suggested she show more mercy/grace/forgiveness to herself and then remember to be kind to other new people in the future, she accepted it with her head, but I could tell her heart wasn't in it.  You see, she’s one of those strong, disciplined people who don’t understand us weaker souls and finds us repugnant.  They thank God they’re not like us.

Another was trying to get members of God’s house to be more obedient and faithful, but his patience was always pushed to the limit as he saw their shallowness and it made him sick. 

Shoot, I've done the same thing myself! 
Once I get cleaned up and get home and things are going well, I often wonder why others don’t come along and join the party at Dad’s house.  It’s an invitation to a banquet, for crying out loud.  All Father asks is that you clean up and obey!  And then I remember my own wrong-headedness, and I’m ashamed of myself.  Yes, I forget what I've been, and how far the grace of God has carried me, and not me carrying myself. 

But big brother and those like him (it seems to me) are never ashamed of themselves.  I don’t think they know how hard it is.  They don’t know my circumstances or anything else, and yet they are so judgmental and impatient – even while claiming to be in Yahweh’s household?  I'm glad I'm not like them. 

So my friends think I should forgive my older brother who is angry that I've come home.  But here’s the thing: I don’t understand him, and - he isn't asking for any forgiveness or offering fellowship.  Shoot, he doesn't think he’s done anything wrong!  And … he makes it almost impossible for any of the rest of us to come home, because we all know we’ll have to face the self-righteous jerk. 

As he said himself, if Dad forces him to pretend to be welcoming he will, but he never will from the heart – just his discipline.  He will never, ever actually be happy that I’m home.  He will never, ever forget my mistakes and hold them against me.  He’ll make me spend the rest of my life in his service, trying to force me to “prove” myself – to prove that I’m really faithful this time and can be trusted. 

Well, of course I can’t be trusted; who can be trusted, but God? 
I can only be forgiven, loved, and welcomed home when I repent.

Ahh,,,what do I know?  
I’m just a sinner who wants to be a servant in the household. 
Fortunately for me, that’s Father’s decision and not my so-called “brother’s.” 

So … should I forgive the self-righteous jerk?  Maybe later.  Right now I think I’ll call him a few more names and taunt him a while.  After all, he’s not following Dad’s rule to accept me after I've repented, so really he doesn't deserve it – does he? 

Now that I think of it, the jerk is right about one thing: forgiveness is stupid.

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