Thursday, December 11, 2014


We'd watched Veil of Tears,  us girls curled up on couches. Orange flames in the wood stove warmed the room and we sipped tea thanking God for our comfort and safety.

The movie was pain-filled. This documentary about India laid out the consequences of the caste system, the camera’s lens merciless in exposing the devalued, rejected citizens of a broken country. Dark eyes cast down as the shadow of shame covered their lives, condemned just because they had been born to this lot. And for the women, the sentence was a living hell.

We shed tears and I couldn’t justify eating during the movie because who can eat when you’re watching women, sisters being sold, raped and murdered just for being there, for being inconveniently alive.  We were horrified that a belief system exists to categorize humans into worthy, less worthy and completely, irrevocably undesirable. Who decided this? By what merit does a human get assigned wealth, esteem and opportunity, while down on the same street the untouchable one lies, sick on a mat with hand outstretched, hoping for just a little comfort. How does such a person hope at all? Suicide is rampant in such peoples and one does not wonder why.

It’s a system of pride and prejudice, of lofty eyes and pointing fingers, of hanging low heads and resignation.

What hit me today is that this belief system is everywhere! It’s here, and in me!

I didn’t work today, instead staying cozy at home, eating left over chicken cordon bleu and rice for breakfast with a sweet clementine to top off the feast and a glass of almond milk beside. Phillip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace had captivated me this morning. He peels back the layers of life and takes a deep look at that elusive quality that God so brashly put down in the middle of His Word.

“For by GRACE you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)

I’ve been asking God lately why there’s a hitch in my prayers and a dark side lingering even when I worship Him. What’s the specter looming that keeps me back from the throne of grace? And in His kindness this morning He brought my mind back to India, to the place of prejudice and condemnation to favorites and undesirables. He showed me the hierarchy in my heart and the ungrace that keeps me from Him. He pointed out my finger outstretched and my words unleashed. I thought the Pharisee was gone but He unveiled the sinner and I’m aghast to see that I support a subtle caste system in my heart. It’s a preference given to those who look me in the eyes and speak well, and encouraging words really stoke my pride. It’s obedient children and people who like me lots, who understand and accept me completely. Those ones happily dwell in my presence. It’s when I’m offended, or disrespected or when I’m left out that I turn the tables and write CONDEMNED across a name in my book. “It’s just a little judgment Lord, just a bit of unforgiveness staining my heart.”

Now I’m the one ashamed for I confess the greatest Name in heaven and on earth and yet my heart speaks a different language still.?! Still?  After all these years and the ugly is exposed and then the reminder comes again “It is by GRACE you are saved…”.  There is nothing I can do.

He. Has. Done. Everything!   It is finished! So why do I keep living in an economy of ungrace and heart hierarchies when He has bought me at the greatest cost? “It is by GRACE…”
It is by grace that He hears me today. It is by grace that He hearkens my heart back to India. It is by grace that He reminds and corrects me. It is by grace that I repent and start anew.

I read Romans 9:13 in the Amplified Bible.“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (held in relative disregard in comparison with My feeling for Jacob).
God chose Jacob, gave him favor in his father’s eyes and in all his circumstances. He called forth a nation through this man. And Esau was left out, yet restored at a later time.

The Word “hate” according to Strong’s Concordance in the Hebrew and Greek means to despise and persecute, but can also mean to “love less”.

God alone can give preference to one over another and has told us so clearly in His word that we are not to judge (Matthew 7:1-3). For isn’t that the same as hating; loving less? Isn’t that where caste systems and hierarchies arise from. Our beliefs about ourselves and each other undergird our thoughts, attitudes and actions.
1 John 3:14-15 reads “We know that we have passed over out of death into Life by the fact that we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding within him.”

Is it possible that there’s a continuum? That one end of the continuum is mere dislike and less preference for certain people while the far end is murder and death. Yet perhaps in God’s eyes it’s all the same, because hatred of the mere dislike variety, or the murderous type is all our attempt to consign people, God’s crowning creation into a caste system. I’m deciding who gets to be included, who I like, who is valuable enough to speak life over and accept and who is worthy of death, even just heart death. Devaluing is judging, is playing God and only He is the One with the wisdom and complete knowledge to be this role.

And I wonder if this is why He commanded us not to call anyone a ‘fool’ or ‘idiot’. For whether I think this about myself or assign the label to another, I’m calling forth condemnation, speaking death and a graceless future over one of God’s creations.

There are times when each of us are at the lower end of someone else's caste system too. Yet when we find ourselves in Christ He resolves both erring chambers of the heart.

The movie resolves with a glorious turn as the love of Christ touches the untouchable, brings hope to the despairing and gives vision to the hopeless.

I need forgiveness… for loving less, for judging and hating, even just a little bit. I need to understand the grace that saves me continuously. That renders me happily nothing and Him everything.

Only then is the hierarchy demolished.