Our church just finished up a series on Life’s Healing Choices.  We’re starting a new sermon series on the Purpose of Christmas.  Both of these come from Rick Warren‘s Saddleback Church, and include a small group component.  We attended the first series of meetings, and last night we went to the first session of the second one.

One of the discussion points was that as Christians, we should not be pointing a “bony finger” at anybody, telling them how bad and wrong they are.  One of the reasons is that for the one finger pointed out, we have three pointed back at us.  Somebody mis-remembered it as four fingers.  Jeff joked that she must have gotten the same advice he heard in college: “when you’re taking the count at church, add one for somebody the deacon missed counting”.

We had not heard that before, and the group (not so small at 18) laughed a lot.

But there’s a boatload of truth in the original idea.  As Christians, we are to emulate Christ.  And more – not just act like, but be like.  Internalize Christ as much as possible.  To have the mind of Christ.  John 3:17 says (in KJV and The Message):

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

(there’s that finger thing again . . .)

So we’re supposed to break out of the “poor me” victimization that points an accusing finger at those who do wrong – the pornographers and the abortionists, the people pushing the country toward socialism and the welfare frauds, the cop-killers and the Ponzi schemers.  The world will take care of some of them.  God will take care of them all, in His time.

Now what about those extra fingers pointed back at yours truly?  Surely we who have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior are exempt from, um, you know, badness and stuff.  Guilt.  Wrong-doing.  Finger-pointing.

The Times of London asked people to write in, explaining what was wrong with the world.  One response was:

Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

Some people see that as humorous, which it is.  I also see it as true.  Mark 10:18:

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

and Paul, from 1 Tim 1:15

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief

Am.  Not was.  Like an alcoholic who recognizes that he is recovering but never recovered, we remain sinners in need of a Savior as long as we breathe in and out.  Even while writing up this blog entry, I was tempted to get bothered at Bettie and unload a bunch of frustration at the world on the woman I love.  I almost laughed when I recognized the disconnect between what I was writing and the action I was drawn to.  And I was reminded of 1 John 2:1:

I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus.

And I am so grateful for that Friend and Brother.  Eternally grateful, as a matter of fact.