Last week I stayed late at school to answer questions about the final exam. Like every single study session I've ever been to, this one evolved into a big chatfest. I didn't mind, though, because I hardly ever get a chance to know my students well. It's interesting finding out about all their different backgrounds.
All three of the last remaining students married young. Melissa and Dana married their husbands at age 20, while Andrew married his prom date because she got pregnant. Years later (10 for Andrew), they're all going strong. Take that, divorce statisticians!
I don't know how the subject came up, but - oh wait, I remember now. Melissa was talking about how her religiously conservative parents gave her grief when she eloped with her non-Christian husband. They wrote horrible letters to her, made her cry, practically disowned her. Thanks to them, she now equates all religion with her parents, which is to say she utterly loathes it. Andrew is also scornful of religion, possibly due to his wife's Catholicism. He thinks it's only good to help his kids have a moral foundation. But he thinks pretty much all Christians are hypocrites. He can't understand why they've come down so hard on gays and oppose welfare increases. They summarized their opinions of Christians as "judgmental bigots."
Now that hurts. I didn't tell them I was one of those so-called bigots because I didn't want them to feel bad and then try to kiss up to me afterward. But it's distressing to see what an impact our failures have on people we never even knew. We have distorted Jesus and God so much that they see us in place of Him. Jesus was all about love and forgiveness; we're all about criticism and strong-arming. Jesus protected, helped, and changed a prostitute instead of putting her in jail or kicking her out of town.
Now, thanks to us, people who need Him most don't even want to take a fair glance at Him. Usually it doesn't register with us because we don't know them. But when they're sitting in front of you expressing their hurts, you realize just how much more we need to do through Him and for Him. And there are many more out there just like them. Forgive us, Father, for we know not what we do.