Where Dr. Pepper Meets Jesus…

Where Dr. Pepper meets Jesus

Have you ever had a taste or smell remind you of something from your past, triggering all of the feelings and emotions of that experience?

While leaving the grocery store today, I saw a Dr. Pepper in the refrigerator at the beginning of the check out line…I’m usually a Pepsi man, but today I had a craving and bought a cold fresh Dr. Pepper from the refrigerator…After placing my groceries in the car, I popped the top of that Dr. Pepper Bottle and took a sip…As I did a flood of memories and emotions engrossed my mind and for a moment I was 10 years old again, at the park with my parents and sisters on a warm, sunny, Michigan summers day playing and drinking an ice cold Dr. Pepper…

Seems strange that this memory was triggered…I’ve had Dr. Pepper many times since I lived the memory I was now recalling but today, apparently the totality of the circumstances triggered the fond memory dating back some 20 plus years…and I smiled…

This memory for me is a fond one…but not everyone ponders their past with the association of the “warm fuzzy” feeling…
For many, their childhood lacks the nostalgia associated with happy childhood memories and instead theirs is a blur of negative emotions coupled with memories of agonizing abuse and/or neglect…and virtually anything in daily life can trigger the remembrance of these horrible events and the pain associated with those memories…

People who, now years later are still responding in their own way emotionally to the daily tormenting memories of yesteryear…Memories that they wish they could erase but are burned on the hard drive of their mind and seemingly seared onto the backs of their eyes as daily visuals of events passed are relived…Memories robbing them of life, stealing from them destiny and deceiving them to believe that they are unworthy of being who God has created them to be because of experiences that have left them feeling tarnished, unlovable or unforgivable…

When you begin to consider that people are products of their environments, you have to ask yourself when dealing with them, “what about that persons experiences molded them into who they are today or has influenced their decisions and the way they interrelate with others… good-bad-or indifferent”?  As easy as it is to become frustrated with those around us who seemingly make repetitive “bad choices” often times there is more at the root of the story than meets the eye…I am attempting to see people and experiences through different lenses than I have previously viewed them through and I am feeling less “judgment and more compassion” for who they are and why…

I have pondered these types of “more than meets the eye” questions many times when considering things that I have read in the bible as well…Analyzing someone’s actions in the bible and wondering what in their lives triggered their responses or personality characteristics that were being conveyed in what I was reading…

I could site many instances, but today I was considering one person in particular… What about the woman in John chapter 8 who is eternally branded with the scarlet letter as “the woman caught in the act of adultery”?  Apart from the sexual act for which she was being condemned, what lead her there to that mans bed that day?  What was her family life like as a child?  Was she abused or molested?  Was her father killed in battle resulting in her having “sexual addictions” or longing for the attention from men that she was robbed of by an absent father? Was she abused by a husband who chose to “put her away”, leaving her tarnished and destined to be alone by Hebrew laws and customs?  We don’t know…One thing is for certain, she was certainly MORE than just a woman who was caught in sin…and I’m curious who that person really was and why she was that way…You might say, “You’re making the story more complicated than it has to be, Aaron” but I actually think that this perspective makes the story that much more powerful and relational…because hers is a common and relevant story for today…

Like her accusers with their stones in hand, I too have our made own judgments of her without really knowing who she was or why she was even there that day… She has often been, in my estimation, the “dirty one” who I find reassurance in seeing as “worse than me” but still forgivable by Jesus… and I have hidden behind that self-righteous perception of somehow being better that her because I have not “done what she was accused of doing”…and many who have read the story and are honest with themselves would agree that they too have had similar feelings…we judged her without even knowing who she was…and entertained an attitude that is very “Anti-Christs” teachings…

Jesus did know who she was…Like the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at a water well in John chapter 4 who he told “everything she had ever done”…Jesus knew who this woman that was caught in the act of adultery was and he knew why she was that way…and with the ultimate display of humility and grace, he disarmed her accusers and when he addressed her, he did so with love and compassion, modeling the way that all who call themselves followers of Christ should respond to those who have struggled with sin and fallen in life…

verse 10. Woman where are your accusers, has no one condemned you” and she said no one Lord. And Jesus replied, neither do I condemn you…go and sin no more…

We ALL have life experiences that we need the grace of God to cover…Just as Jesus modeled when He said to the crowd, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”, each of us are presented opportunities in life where we can be a true Christian, exemplifying the character of Christ, or we can be a member of the hypocritical crowd with a stone in our hands and hatred in our hearts pretending to be “better than” the accused woman while in reality, fully aware that justice would mandate our own “judgment day”…

Isn’t it strange how we feel somehow “justified” when we point out another’s faults…as if agreeing with the crowd and wielding our own stone somehow takes the focus away from our own “stoneable” offense and diverts the target of the crowds attention away from us to another who is NO more OR less worthy of judgment than we ourselves…

Mark Chironna said in his book, Stepping Into Greatness, “Isn’t it strange that the One who said “judge not” has a multitude of followers who claim allegiance to him while they disobey that edict, making carnally minded judgments regarding one another over and over again?”  He goes on to say, “Making value judgments of others’ unmet needs deepens the rut of refined legalism that is killing the effectiveness of the church in society”…

This statement in light of the rest of what has been written above is why I believe that the world looks at the “church” as a “has been” religion overrun with anger, bitterness and hypocrisy…

I am convinced that we are not hated by non-christians because of our belief in Christ (as many would self-righteously speculate) but, at least at this point in history, mainly because of our unwillingness to follow the most foundational of Christian teachings of Loving the Lord your God with all your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself…

If God is Love (as the bible says He is) and those who call themselves Christians do not reflect His loving nature then people within our spheres of influence are not rejecting the Christ and the truth that would set them free, they are rejecting US and the poor example of God’s love that we have displayed to them…To put it another way, they don’t see Christ and His love, they see US and our inconsistencies and then we call ourselves a Christian and they think “well if that’s what it is to be a Christian… NO THANK YOU”…

Think of the impact that the church could and SHOULD have if they would just love people like Jesus exampled and left the judgment up to “someone” more qualified and less guilty of the same offenses…(smirk)

Back to Dr. Pepper (who might as well have been Dr. Freud for me today)…In reality, we who are ALL so flawed with memories of our own experiences, insecurities and imperfections are PERSONALLY incapable of loving people as Christ exampled… BUT when we submit ourselves to the love of God (allowing Him to love us despite our own imperfections) and allow the love OF Christ that we have received from Him to flow through us to others, we are MORE than capable of being and doing all that God has destined for us…because at that point we are not doing things in our own power but in His…

I love ya’ll (and I’m learning more and more daily what that means)

Aaron

Aka-the tattooed preacher

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