My grandson is four years old, and he has epilepsy. When hooked up to an EEG last year the data showed that my little buddy at times experiences as many as three seizures per minute. Granted, they are not the grand mal, big-daddy-of-them-all kind of seizures. Nevertheless, they are still seizures. The doctors at the best pediatric facility in the Midwest for this kind of thing tell us that, well, they are stumped. Kolten has experienced up to seven different kinds of seizures, and he has defied any kind of solid diagnosis as to the nature of the epilepsy, let alone even thinking about a prognosis. Yes, he is on medication – lots of it. Without it he would be having literally hundreds of seizures in any given day. Yet, even on a good day Kolten will have dozens. And even though most of his seizures last only a few seconds, each and every seizure damages the brain, if only a little bit. Add up the thousands of seizures over the span of a four year old life, and factor the tens of thousands of them he will yet have in the next several years and it, in my puny limited understanding, doesn’t look promising no matter how you examine it.
So, why in the world am I talking about this in a blog about church ministry? Because when well-meaning Christians and churches rant about the ethics and morality of ungodly “potheads” having a legal avenue for their recreational smoking, what gets lost in the mix is a little boy who could potentially be helped by legalizing marijuana – not by taking a toke of a reefer, but by a carefully genetically engineered strain administered medically and safely. In this grandfather’s mind, the greater risk is to keep doing what we’ve always done and hope that all will work out okay someday. When it pertains to a small boy’s life - that kind of thinking doesn’t cut it for me.
Unfortunately, this kind of ignorant proclamation is nothing new for many “believers” in Jesus. Just this week I attended a local denominational meeting in which a man stood up and rather angrily proclaimed as unquestioned fact that our current U.S. President is trampling our Constitution and that we are being judged as a nation for killing babies. Without me even attempting to deal with any rightness or wrongness to that statement, the only kind of good that that kind of proclamation did was personal to the proclaimer – he just got something off his chest, and maybe he felt better for it. But I was left wondering: What about the supporters of the President in the room? Instantly demonizing others and polarizing on a position only shuts down what they really think and feel about our country. What about women who have had an abortion? I cannot even begin to imagine that if there was a woman in the room who had an abortion in the past having to sit and listen to a guy put a label on her as a murderer. There is enough cutting regret and grief in many a woman’s own heart without having someone twist the knife for her.
There is a reason why many people in many churches often do not want others to know what they really think about certain issues, and why they want to keep all their skeletons in the closet. They do not want to be judged and condemned, and they have every reason to think that they will be when they hear the raving of fellow Christians who believe they are doing God a favor by effecting holiness through noise. It behooves us as the church of Jesus to do the best we possibly can to create and sustain a culture of compassion and care through continual monitoring of what actually comes out of our mouths. When there are oft mentions of the sin of homosexuality peppered with defaming names; when there is a stream of hateful references to particular politicians; when there is anger about certain persons and people groups; and, when there is a blanket denunciation of marijuana as always being linked with persons getting high; then there is not an atmosphere of grace that leads to life, but a culture of fear that leads to death.
Where some see the “issue” of gays and lesbians, I see people created in the image of God who have the same need of a Savior that I do. Where some see governmental “issues,” I see persons in need of God’s justice and peace and basic human rights and decency. Where some see the “issues” of poor lower class people versus upper class wealthy people; Hispanic concerns versus Black concerns; blue collar people’s agenda versus white collar people’s agenda; plain Americans versus hyphenated Americans; instead, I see people, just people – people in need of Jesus Christ and His continuing presence on earth: the church.
My daughter needs support with her special needs son who happens to have epilepsy. I am glad I can be there for her and for him. I am glad I am a pastor of a church who cares about them. This old sinful world has enough sin and pain in it without adding to the pile through ignorance and strife. Before we use our tongues, let’s have some working knowledge and some basic education about what we are talking about. Most of all, let’s have some basic decorum and some working knowledge of God’s grace. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly” is a statement that applies to us all. So, roll that one together and smoke it daily.