We occasionally see Christians being shrewd. I remember when there was to be a huge Promise Keepers meeting in Washington D.C. one of the organizers was asked by an interviewer why Christian men should be trusted by women, be they Christian or not. His response was something to the effect, "You shouldn't trust us." The interviewers were surprised. "You should test what we say by what we do, by our actions." They were expecting some self righteous justification, he agreed with them and as a result, he scored points with them and the audience listening.
As I listened to the sermon, though, I must admit I got caught up in verse 15 of the passage. It says,
You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows
your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.
Its true. We justify ourselves in the eyes of people, we look to the community for our approval too often, and at the very least, we look to the community for the methods we use in churches. There are too many business principles being applied to churches for my liking. Church growth can be come a formula. Finance campaigns can be slick. People are judged and valued on the basis of what they can contribute to the church. Jesus says that what is valued among men is detestable in God's sight.
So I should step back and look at my church to see the things that are valued by men as they might actually be detestable things. I might also reverse the proposition and step back and look at the things which we think are "detestable" or at least less desirable, or problem causing, or whatever our negative feelings are, and ask whether they might be something that God delights in.
Is the exclusion of people with minor social skill deficits (or major ones for that matter) something that is valued by men? Is is something that people typically do? Do churches, and pastors, and adults, and teens, and children reject people on the basis of social skills? Is this accepted practice in the church setting? It is definately accepted practice in the world of business or women's groups, or colleges, or high schools, or junior high schools, or elementary schools, or any other group. Social skills are definately something that is highly valued by people in the world.
But I want to be shrewd, by God's standards.
You know I have related this before in this blog, but I often wonder why I see the things that I do relative to people with disabilities and the church. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed as the saying goes, and I also guarantee you that I am not a particularly shrewd person. I amaze myself quite often with how clueless I often am. But I feel like I am an investor in the 1970's who has heard about this thing called Microsoft (I might have my years wrong, but stick with me). So I see this amazing opportunity. In this case it is not an opportunity to make money. It is an amazing opportunity to correct the course of a Christian church which has not been going in the right direction. It has been "off course" in many ways. I see this opportunity to be obedient to God in ways that the Church percieves as entirely new ways. I see this opportunity to really learn what love means through loving people who some consider difficult to love. I see this opportunity to serve people who haven't been served, and provide wonderful opportunities for service.
If you are shrewd perhaps you will see it too.