Sunday, April 26, 2009

This probably won't make much sense...

So many thoughts have been going through my head and heart since I wrote the previous entry. I want to put this into practice. Making a way for those who struggle or have even fallen away to reconnect. But even since I wrote it, I too have struggled. Not with God, but with how to put something together. I so want people to stay connected and yet so many have fallen away, or don’t know where they belong, or are just plain frustrated with the “church” today. I even worry that they won’t trust my intentions, or me. A friend of mine told me that she is not even sure she believes in God. That made me mad. Not at her, but at us, believers. Here’s the thing - We were never meant to do it on our own. We were not created to be separate, but to be together. It was never supposed to be about a building or a place of worship. However, today we have turned Christianity into a religion, a set of rules. And we have made the church about a building, about how well a pastor can speak, about children’s ministry, about what “we” have to offer. And when the “stuff” fails us or the people fail us, we decide it isn’t worth it. Many even decide to no longer fellowship with other believers. Some turn away from God, deciding he cannot be that real. That’s not ok! Especially when most of the reasons for not fellowshipping any longer stems from something a person, human and not perfect, did. I have yet to hear that it was God who embezzled; God who cheated; God who manipulated; God who brainwashed; God who…fill in your reason here.
This is not to say people haven’t been hurt. This is not to say that people don’t ever have a legitimate reason to be angry. It’s just that, isn’t God worth more than that? Isn’t my reason for loving Him simply because He first loved me? I’m not trying to get preachy here. But lets just get down to it for a minute. My whole relationship with Christ is supposed to be about me loving Him. And in return for loving Him, I will then love others. In loving others, I will forgive, I will serve, I will pray and I will do all I can to become more like Christ. That is, after all, what Christian means – “little Christ.” Does that mean we simply ignore what some people have done? Does it mean we don’t tell others that a certain pastor or congregation or gathering is wrong? I don’t have an answer that everyone will like or agree with. As you read what Jesus did, there certainly were times he pointed out what the Pharisees did wrong. But that same man LOVED the one who would turn him over to the people who would crucify him! That same man washed the disciples feet while THEY argued over who was best. That same man had the ability to call down 10,000 angels to come take him back home (those angles by the way were WAITING to rescue him!). That same man asked God to forgive those who nailed him to the cross. And that same man chose God’s will over his own. That same man died for me, for you, for all of us. Why? Because he loved us seems so cliché. We’ve said it so many times that it has apparently lost its meaning. So why did he? How about a different question. Why should we STILL believe in Him? Why should we STILL obey His commands? Because He brings freedom. He brings peace. He brings joy. He brings life. But these things come at a cost. A cost that REQUIRES that I do not respond the way the world does. A cost that DEMANDS I forgive. A cost that says love your enemies. A cost that says regardless of what happens to me, I will still love the Lord, I will still follow Him, I will still look to him for all the answers because he truly is all I need.
It is not easy. It will hurt. It will require faith beyond what we know. It will not make sense. It will challenge everything we know and when we learn that, it will challenge us again. So, how do I explain this in such a way that people hear what my heart so wants to convey? Because sometimes I know what I say does not come out the way I want it to. Sometimes what I want people to understand sounds like I am preaching, and sometimes it even sounds as if I am saying to people that what they went through is no big deal and that they should get over it. But I am not. I just want people to love Jesus. I just want people to understand what my heart feels, what my mind senses. Only, I don’t always explain it well. And even as I type this and think maybe this makes sense (if only a little bit), I still know it won’t come across the way I want it to and I’m even wondering if it makes any sense at all. So why bother? I hear about people (believers) being suicidal, not fellowshipping, not believing, slandering, harboring unforgiveness, gossiping, being so angry they would like to see people fail and so much more. That is not how Jesus was. It is not how we are supposed to be either. But we are human, sinful and we will mess up. I am not asking for people to be perfect. But I am asking that we start being more like Jesus. Then maybe, just maybe we will be, …be, well, maybe be is the wrong word. Ok… then, maybe we will do what Jesus did.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12, 2009, Resurrection Sunday

Last night I was thinking about some things, about how the whole situation with the church, not just RLC, but us, THE church, is just messed up at times. And then I thought about the song “If We Are the Body” and a specific line – “A traveler is far away from home. He sheds his coat, and quietly sinks into the back row. The weight of their judgmental glances tells him that his chances are better out on the road.” And I started to wonder, how many people fit this persons? Being judged by the way they look, by what they wear, by how they talk. And how many others simply go unnoticed? Their pain quietly hiding behind their smile. We are supposed to be the body, Christ IN us. Yet, how many of us have been the one who didn’t notice someone because we were so busy with US? So consumed with the current gossip that we don’t even realize the person next to us is crying. This is me, being very open at the moment, but please don’t take this wrong – I have been married for just about 20 years now, yet at “church,” I am in fact single. Or as I like to say, too married to be single, too single to be married. In other words, I don’t “fit” in a category. There is no “single in marriage” bible study. I say that VERY lightheartedly because I think that title would be TERRIBLE! But my point is, although people know that, they don’t know me or what it is like. And there have been times I have been the one who was crying sitting next to you and no one noticed. Knowing that I have experienced that, I wonder how many others there are? You know, the kid who dresses in black and people judge them as gothic, or even suicidal or worse, demonic. And the woman whose husband hits her, did anyone see her bruise? What about the husband whose wife just left him, did you see him? Did you see the family who just lost everything? Did you talk to the lady whose kids are in so much trouble she just doesn’t know where they could end up? And what about the couple who just lost their child? Or the young adult who just wants to hear truth and be trusted? Or the teenager who so wants to find out who they are, but they are failing in school. What about the young lady who doesn’t think she is beautiful? Or the dad who can’t provide for his family any longer? Or the pastor who did something that has caused him to loose everything? Did you see them?
There is another part of the song, the chorus: “But if we are the Body, Why aren't His arms reaching Why aren't His hands healing Why aren't His words teaching And if we are the Body Why aren't His feet going Why is His love not showing them there is a way?” And it makes me wonder, when are we going to BE Jesus? When will we finally look so much like we say we are that people return to Jesus? There was a time that those who were in need knew they could turn to the body of Christ, the church, and find what they need. Yes, they need Jesus and yes, people are sharing the gospel, but then what? The worst part about this is that it is often other believers that we don’t notice. The ones who are supposed to already belong to the body, after all, that is what we are, the body. And, just like in our physical body, if a part of our body is hurting, the rest of it feels the hurt and does what needs to be done to fix it. So it is supposed to be for the spiritual body, even more so. In the book of Acts it speaks of the body meeting together in such a way that NO ONE WAS IN NEED. It wasn’t that no one had needs; it was that when the need came up, it was taken care of by the church!
When are we going to be the body? When are we going to be the church? When are we going to be Jesus to the world, you know, like we are supposed to be? It’s time we stopped making sure everyone knows we are Christians and just start BEING Christian.