Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Only God Can Judge Me

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

“Only God can judge me.” –Tupac Shakur

Recently a pastor that I really really like stepped down due to a “moral failure”.


Something similar happened when I was in high school. The church that we went to at my dad’s house had this really great pastor. It was the first time I found church to be interesting. He had great points, approached each message intellectually instead of trying to emote his way to more tithes. He was legit. Then the bombshell came…


Sigh… In the 10+ years since then I have grown up a little, lived a little, and watched folk make mistakes, made mistakes of my own and now as an adult I see what seems to be the same thing happening to another dope cat. And it made me wonder.

Why in the hell would anyone want to be a preacher?

I actually had this conversation with several people. I think about all the good that these folk do (the good ones of course), and all of the pressure they are under. When they screw up does it all become meaningless? The church of my teen years totally fell apart after that revelation. I have no idea what will happen to the church of the man who recently did whatever it was that he did but I’m sure a lot of folk will stop attending.

Random but related thought: What if the civil rights movement of the 60s happened in today’s media climate? Would MLKs alleged philandering have derailed the movement? Probably so…

Double yikes. That just doesn’t seem right.

But after thinking about this pastor some more I was just like… well… he did put in 20 years for the squad. He touched the lives of thousands of people. He did a pretty damn good job.

But then there is the issue of responsibility right? I mean won’t there be all kinds of folk who fall away from their faith because of this man. Just look at the public image of Christianity… with the issues of the catholic priests, the history of slavery, wars and atrocities, and the recent right wing hijacking of the definition of Christianity… the public perception of what it means to be a Christian does not seem to resemble what Jesus stood for.

But there in lies the problem. All too often we look to other human beings to define ourselves, to shape what we believe.


When it comes to shining our light we can’t don the lampshades of judgment, pressure, and a perceived need to be as perfect as Jesus.

We are not perfect and never will be.

What we have to do, in whatever capacity that is provided for by our purpose and dreams, is do the best that we can to be the best people that we can be; knowing that there will be times that we fall short. And it is in those times that we have the best opportunities to become even better people through faith, humility, and grace.

It’s better to burn as hot and bright as you can and flame out then to never strike the match.


  1. Nobody is perfect, but then again, what is perfection? You're right that we look too often to others to define ourselves, which is why perfection will never be attainable: perfection is always a standard set outside of ourselves, I think. If perfection is a universal notion that we all can or should achieve, then how can it possibly be fitting to each of our own circumstances? Isn't that limiting?

    Great post, Clarence.

  2. Exactly! It's so limiting. That's why I love the concept of grace. It means that we can be forgiven no matter what. I think that once we realize that perfection isn't the standard, it becomes easier to take action; and in that action work toward becoming our best selves. Perfection can be very paralyzing.


Creative Commons License
A Convo With God by Clarence Mitchell III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at AConvoWithGod.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://AConvoWithGod.com/