A Tale of Two Crabs or "It Is Me O Lord, Standing in the Need of Prayer"

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

 “Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a mother crab to her son one day.  She had seen him do this his whole life.  “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”  “Okay, mom, show me how to walk correctly.  I want to do it right,” replied the little crab.  So, the mother crab tried and tried, and tried again to walk straight forward.  But of course, like her son, she could only walk sideways.  When she did try and turn her toes out, she then tripped and fell.

There is no shortage, it seems, of people telling others how to live and seeking to justify a point of view.  I was reading this week about the ongoing investigation of the late Ravi Zacharias’s ministry and how it concealed and enabled his abuses.

(https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/you-are-one-step-away-from-complete).  It is, of course, one more reason for people to dismiss Christianity and most certainly hastens the collapse of the evangelical moniker of the church.  It has been “par for the course” for Christianity for centuries has it not?  

What are we to make of this?

As we come to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, the words echo from the ye-olde-english: “Rend your hearts and not your garments... (Joel 2:13).”  It is time for the Church Universal to come to grips with its many failings and faults.  More importantly, it is time for you and me to do the same. 

I think it is most easy for us to do just what I did...hide in “group” and make “straw-Groups” as opposed to “strawmen.”  I do it when I write many times and have to check myself.  It is easy to cast stones at “Those people,” or “them,” or “they.”  I can right about “us” and “we” and that tends to be easier than saying what is really at the crux of the problem…

Me.  Just me.  I did.  I did it.  I do it.  I fail.  I fall.  I sin.  

The words of Jesus apply to me, first.  When I read them.  When I reflect on them.  As I prepare to preach them...

17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:17-20, ESV

But how do I really handle it?  I think we have to go back to some of the other ancients of the early centuries.  As Dr. Roberta Bondi, who has written extensively on the Desert Fathers and Mothers, “they saw judgementalism as just about the greatest sin.”  Bringing the ideas of cancel culture into the church is so deadly.  There is no justification for it in the Church and both the so-called “left” and “right” should be listening.  Classical Christianity as John Wesley saw it, could not pick sides in these arguments. The idea such division was abhorrent to Jesus in his mind. 

Like the mother crab, it starts with me - I cannot tell another to do something unless I can set the example.  And, we must also listen to the words from the mouths, even from Balaam’s donkeys (those unlikely prophetic voices) that challenge us to “rend our hearts,” for you and I are sinners.


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