Mea Culpa by Kathy Carmichael

One of the complaints my family makes about me is that I’m too literal. Essentially, it’s part of my nature and try as I might, I can’t seem to change this leaning toward the literal. And the exact. And facts. And how it works. You see my point.

It doesn’t always get me in trouble, but when it does, it’s often a doozy. 

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@bethlaird?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Bethany Laird</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/bible?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

In general, all I want, besides our Heavenly Father and my family and friends, is either a good book read or writing materials so I can write my own good book. I’m not deep enough to sit and plot anything other than stories, and I’m shallow enough that my internal thoughts are mostly all about me or all about the Lord. Sometimes they focus on worry over a loved one, but that’s about who I am in a nutshell.

And because of this self focus and my literal attitudes, I made a pretty bad misstep recently. Mea culpa. Or, as my son would say, “My bad.”

If someone’s religious doctrine differs from what you believe, who is right? Does it matter?

I once told a friend that I thought the Bible (or God in inspiring the Bible) was intentionally vague in places, thus allowing it to resonate with more people, leading them to becoming believers. We need a little flexibility.

My friend told me that I was wrong. The Bible was consistent and specific. Okay. She’s allowed to believe that, but I think I’m allowed to believe as I do. I didn’t argue with her but I still think there is some give, especially when it comes to certain details — often lost to history and the passage of time.

An example for me is that we are commanded to remember the Sabbath and to keep it holy. Yet it doesn’t specify the day of the week nor does it specify exactly how. I personally believe the Sabbath is the day we designate to keep it. Some people believe it must be Sunday and others believe it’s Saturday. Yet, one size doesn’t fit all.

If you choose Wednesday as your Sabbath, then you would rest that day in Honor of all the Lord created. (After all, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. — read Matthew 12.) You might elect to find a worship service on that night, or you might attend a Bible study that day. You may honor it with hymns, worship or prayer. How you honor it is up to you, but the fact you are honoring God’s labors, and how Great He Is, is what it is about. In my humble opinion.

This is what I mean by doctrinal differences. You may believe completely differently, and that is good with me.

So based on my core belief I was recently shocked to find that I was judging one of my sisters for not believing exactly what and how I believe.

Thankfully Holy Spirit stepped in and corrected me. (I’m so grateful He stepped in, but it makes me flinch to realize I need that sort of correction — yes, I’m a sinner.) Holy Spirit reminded me of what a Godly and devout Christian my sister is. She is so much better than me! And He reminded me it’s not my place to force my beliefs on others. God loves her as well as me and these small differences aren’t important in the big scheme.

The next day I apologized to her and thanked her for bringing up a subject I found to be controversial. I honestly don’t remember exactly what our disagreement was, but I needed to hear and learn that someone can be devout and not endorse the exact same things as I believe. They are beloved by God because they sincere believers. They are good and Christian. I don’t need to attempt to argue them around to my way of believing.

This was an extremely important, and timely, lesson for me. Let’s just say that I’ve been living this and receiving barbs for not believing the exact way as some others. I found that hurtful, and now I’m over being literal. God loves us all. And we need to love one another. That’s all we need to know and do.

I so very much needed the reminder. Now I’m including a request in my prayers to open my eyes and ears so that I can welcome learning, and loving those who differ from me. It’s what our Heavenly Father and Jesus asks of each of us. I’m just a little later getting on board than I had thought.

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