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Posts Tagged ‘church’

My spirit longs for connection. I long to have a circle of friends in my life with whom we can discuss anything and everything, whether we disagree or not. I envision this group of friends to see each other regularly, be committed to each other in helping and supporting one another, and occasionally gathering around the table for some good food and conversation. I am not particularly social, but this idealistic vision of close friends seems to be the answer to fulfilling a desire deep within to connect with others in a way I can not at this place in my life. The first reason being that those friends I do have live states away and the second being that the ones around me that have that potential are either very busy or simply do not have the capability of viewing things in an open-minded way. These people, of course, happen to be Christians.

I am a Christian. I love Jesus. I believe the Bible is the Word of God and I believe that God speaks to us and has a relationship with us on a very personal level. So naturally I meet people who also believe these things and happen to be Christians too, mostly we meet at a place we call “church”. They are nice enough folks who can have wonderful surface level conversations. We can be civil with one another when we stay on the surface because it is assumed that, as a fellow Christian, I believe everything they believe too. This level is easy and it makes us happy. A lot of people choose to stay on this level because we can avoid drama that way. This level also makes me, personally, feel very lonely. I need real connection.
Enter deeper level conversations. These conversations happen a lot more frequently in our day and age because the internet gives us plenty of opportunities to see other’s posts on articles and see a little bit into their worldview. They happen in a way that can sometimes be sneaky, an opinion is posted in conjunction with an article and it seems friendly and open enough that it makes you feel comfortable to engage in the topic. Here is the problem: we don’t talk this way in person so our tone of voice and understanding of our background is completely left out. These things matter when engaging in deeper level conversations because it creates context. So, this kind of conversation cannot only make one feel lonely, but it can also make one feel misunderstood and frustrated.
There is another problem that happens when conversing with Christians, and this is perhaps the most irritating. Christians, despite their effort to make you believe otherwise, are extremely closed-minded. Add self-righteous to that list, and you have an incredibly irritating situation on your hands. So as much as we try to engage in an open, deeper-level, enriching conversation with most people who call themselves Christians, we end up feeling angry and irritated at their extreme blindness and general lack of self-awareness.
This is the situation I have been finding myself in since my recent plunge back into the church scene. I try to make deep-level connections with other Christians and instead I get angry and want to avoid being around Christians all together. This isn’t because we disagree on many religious and political topics, but rather how their responses completely misuse bible verses, have a lack of empathy, and have a reverence for the law rather than Jesus’ example. When you say something they disagree with all of a sudden you have left the civility of the conversation and it turns towards a feeling of being judged. Personally, I can not fathom how someone can deeply know Christ and follow the example that Jesus set when He was walking on this earth and act the way I see most Christians act. To me the answer is simple, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:36-40).

Everything else falls under the umbrella of love, or rather “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When we talk about morality and judgment, we should be concerned only with how those people are receiving the love of Jesus.

If our actions aren’t displaying the kind of love Jesus showed the “sinners” of that day then we aren’t doing our job as Christians. I used to be excited when I met another Christian but now my feeling is more on the “oh great, here we go” side. Christians focus on words like “rebuke” and “sin” instead of “love” and “sacrifice”. Everything about religion changed the minute Jesus died on the cross, showing us the truest meaning of love and sacrifice. As Christians we don’t have to be so afraid of “being right” and arguing with others, pride doesn’t get us very far. It doesn’t show the world the power of the cross.

I love being able to talk openly about many controversial issues, and it is okay to disagree with each other. What I do not like to do is talk with someone who has a completely closed mind, full of pride who is misusing the Bible. I do not like to talk with someone who is not even hearing a word I’m saying because they are too busy repeating whatever it is they have heard in church their whole life, and I am not alone. What a lot of Christians don’t understand is that this kind of behavior turns people away. Hearing others speak “Christianese” gets pretty old, it would be nice to hear some original thoughts every once and a while.

I feel pity for Christians like these, mainly because I used to be one. The last few years have been quite a spiritual journey for me and I never imagined I would be in the place I am now. I fought God tooth and nail when it came to some of things I learned in church but never questioned or asked God about it for myself. Once I started seeking God and digging in to the Bible, truly seeking and asking with an open heart, well that is when things started to change for me.

This verse really sums up this journey for me:

“Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

 So, when it comes to going to church and actually being a part of it rather than walking in and leaving, I feel discouraged.  It is a struggle and a frustration to be around Christians who only know how to speak Christianese, yet I hang on to the fact that encountering Jesus the way I do there is worth it.
Anyone else understand the way I feel?

 

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Yesterday I was once again forced to say goodbye to a group of people that I love with all my heart. I thought my heart wasn’t big enough for all this love until I met this family. This month has involved a lot of loss. a lot of events this month revealed I was on a different path than I thought I was on, or that the path looks a lot different than what I imagined it to look. This time last year I was embraced by a church’s loving arms and immersed in what felt like an ocean of love, a newly found family, a reason to celebrate. This year I’m already saying goodbye. This month holds a lot of new beginnings as well. Emotions have run wild as the roller coaster of life has been giving me quite a ride this month. I suppose as it is also the end of the year then it would be a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned and what I can see now that I look back. I can’t stop thinking about how my life would be if I hadn’t found my church and gotten to know and love all the people there. I never understood what the bible meant when it talked about the church being the body of Christ and while I understood it wasn’t the building that made the church, my understanding didn’t go beyond that. Now I get it. I get how the people that make up the church, the community, is the body of Christ. I get that it’s not about the music or the sermons or the events, the heart of the church is every individual beating heart inside of each person, it’s every one of us that together create community. I can honestly say that every single moment I have spent with these people, whether individually or as a group, have been moments filled with warmth and joy even amidst sadness. The church, I’ve also learned, is made up of people that unfortunately are called and sent out. (Unfortunately only for me.) We are brought together for a time, a very important time, and for a very important reason. We learn from each other, we inspire each other, we love each other, we encourage each other, we pray for each other, we walk alongside each other through our struggles and our joys, we come to love each other more than we love ourselves, and then that time is done. The season is passed and a new season begins. I selfishly want to hold on to my minuscule dreams of always being near each other, but the kingdom of God is bigger than me. The needs of this world are bigger than my needs. And these people, these precious people, are a part of that hope that we believe to be out there. So we get sent out to other parts of the world and there might not ever be a time on this earth that we meet up again. But we carry with us that piece of love, that piece of life that beats within us and is forever changed because of this season. So as this season of my life comes to an end and a new season begins, I look toward the heavens. I count on God’s promises and I hang on to His words that tell me it is all worth it and it is all for a greater purpose filled with glory and hope. And when I imagine heaven, I imagine it will look a lot like hanging out with this group of folks.

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Fall is a time of changing leaves, the weather gets colder,nature is preparing for the bitter winter ahead. What we don’t often think about is that the beauty of the changing leaves is actually a tree preparing to go into hibernation, the leaves die and fall off, and the roots dig deep into the soil where it’s warm. This is the season of life Micah and I had entered. On the surface everything was dying. But our roots were finding a peace that was a refreshing shelter from the bitter cold. Our apartment was beyond dreadful. Not only was it quickly eating up our savings but it was overrun with mold and incredibly loud neighbors. We also started church hunting. We realized that the time in our current church wasn’t producing any fruit in us, we weren’t excited about going and just about never did, when we did go we would leave before the message started. But I was hungry. I needed to be filled. So the hunt began. During the week Micah was hunting for jobs, on the weekends we hunted for churches. I didn’t see then how this was truly our old life ending and a new one beginning. Everything was starting over. Searching is an interesting phenomenon. We had an idea of what we wanted to find but we had only switched churches once in our adult life which happened right after high school ended. One church specifically began true healing in our lives. It was a simple message, a guest speaker was giving his testimony. Which is just a really big word for his life up until that point. It shook us up. Afterwords there was a call to go to the front to receive healing. this isn’t something we were used to in church, it was something we only ever saw on those crazy evangelical tv shows. Micah rose from his seat and walked forward…

2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

 

 

read more Budget Worthy episodes here:

Budget Worthy. Episode 2

Budget Worthy. Episode 1

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