Monday, July 6, 2009

the righteousness rat race

Today in New Testament we discussed the clean/unclean aspects of the miracles Jesus performed and some of the stories that are told in Matthew. We talked about how the Law of Moses compartmentalized everything into being either clean or unclean and if you touched something that was unclean (lepers, dead people, things having to do with death, bodily fluids, etc.), that impurity was then transferred to you and you would have to then purify yourself. But despite all this, Jesus went out of his way to touch unclean people and spend time with those who were seen as unclean or sinners.

So then, if Jesus focused his time and efforts on the "sinners" and unclean, what does it really mean to be Christlike? Do we get too caught up in being righteous and following the letter of the law that we forget to love and embrace the people who could most use it? I think too often we reach out to people because it's what we're supposed to do, not because we actually care. There were many times as a teenager that I felt like I was the Young Women's service project but there were also times when certain people reached out to me and made a difference, all because I felt like they genuinely cared about me; I wasn't just a good deed to cross off their to do list. Religion shouldn't be a rat race to see who is the most righteous. We shouldn't avoid people who are "unclean" for fear they'll rub off on us.

I see things like this a lot with addicts. We tend to do bad things and we'll be the first to admit that, but I can pretty much guarantee you that if you try to spend time with us, we're not going to hold you down and inject heroin into your veins or make you smoke a crack pipe. The thing that most helps me when I'm dealing with someone who has issues is to realize that events in their lives helped make them that way. No one just decides one day to start doing drugs or randomly sleep around or go steal a car. Chances are they've spent a good part of their lives feeling like they weren't good enough in some way (not to mention, of course, serious issues like abuse, addicted parents, etc.). So why on earth would you treat someone like a project or look down on them when all they want is to be loved? Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love! (Sorry, Moulin Rouge was just on t.v.)

Don't worry that I'm completely horrible at this. I think my motives for doing things are suspect a good bit of the time and I'm sure that comes across in my actions. So I guess my question would be is this a case where you fake it til you make it, despite the fact that people can see right through you? Or should you not do certain things because because they're fake? I know that feeling like I was being treated like a service project did a whole lot more harm than good, but would I rather have just been ignored? There's got to be a balance in there somewhere, right? If you can figure out where that balance lies, please let me know!


Traci said...

I took a class in college that basically made the argument that we are not capable of truly altruistic acts of kindness to others. They said no matter what we always do things for ourselves - wehther it be for recognition from others or to make us feel good or whatever. Interesting concept, but I felt like it was a little pessimistic.

Basically, my take on your question is if you are trying to do good for someone else, then you should act on it (regardless of your motive). There are clearly LOTS of acts of goodness/kindness that are done out of duty (think visiting teaching, relief society, bishopric, etc), but whatever. It still takes effort and time for people to do their kind acts regardless of how "genuine" their motive is. So I guess I think that at some level every act has a little fakeness to it but also some genuineness to it too. So might as well do those nice things for others. ;)

Wow, did you like my rambling comment??? haha.

Kim said...

Yes, I did like your rambling comment. I also love that you're the only person who ever actually comments . . . thank you!

Traci said...

But what are my motives in commenting??? Pure love? Wanting you to like me? Wanting you to comment on my blog? Guilt?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA one could go crazy with all this psycho babble!

Kim said...

Oh no, why did you have to say "wanting you to comment on my blog"? Now I feel guilty that I never comment on your blog! Now I'm going to have to go leave a completely insincere comment just because you said that, and then I'll probably get all bitter because I feel like I have to leave you a comment. Geez! It's all so tiring!

Traci said...

lol. just save us both and dont comment on my blog. haha.

Kim said...