I have been struggling lately with the idea of church. This is a new thing for me. After all, I grew up an integral part of the church, where Sunday mornings and evenings were a normal occurrence. And most Wednesday night services were just a part of our week. And yet, I now find myself unable to walk into a church without feeling anger.
I’ll be honest and say I am not fully sure why I am at this intersection. But I think love has a lot to do with it.
I have fear even expressing this truth. After all, to put it out there is to throw myself into a place where judgement may well be cast. And yet their is a side of me that says, go ahead and throw your stones. But the truth is, I live in a world where the church tells me what I am to do and not to do. And in this, I feel a tragic pull that teaches me to judge those who don’t fall in line with what I am being told.
But this isn’t me.
One must understand, first, from where it is that I am speaking. As the mom of a child with special needs, I see the real-life travesty of mean people. I see the glances, recognize the whispers, and watch the shunning. And for what? Because she’s different from what our society deems “normal.”
Explain to me, how this is good for anyone? And then understand this. She is who she is because of another’s choice. She is the product of another’s sin. Hear me, and understand, that my intentions in pointing out this truth, is to simply make a point. I am stating the facts that she is not to blame for who she is – just as so many in our world are not to blame for who they are. After all, are we not all flailing around in the dark looking for a light that might get us from point A to point B? Why must we fake that we have it all together? We don’t.
In many ways, I am grateful to have a child that has opened my eyes to see the world the way I do today. For in knowing her as I do, I know love and grace and forgiveness. For she gives of it freely and holds no offense to those who are impartial to her. She shows me the very essence of Jesus. And through her I am able to see what it is to be who I am without fear of what others think. She is a gift. A gift given to me by one who knew I needed a Savior.
And in this I see so clearly that sin did not win. Love won.
I wonder how the church could turn this around and teach more about the affects of love. After all love is transforming and it changes people from the inside out. It is what sets us free to be fully who we are without shame or condemnation. I wish they would teach about the reality that at the time of creation God’s words in creating man were, “…and it is good.”
When we look to Genesis, we see that though man does have to pay the consequence of the sin committed, God did not hold man accountable for the sin. He instead places the blame on the slithering snake. Yes. Satan. The one who made man’s foot stumble in the first place, is where God places the blame. God never spoke of man as being bad.
And yet this is what separates us from God. For we view man and sin as one. He views man and sin as two separate parts.
For one moment, place man here.
And then, place sin here.
The Church, in one breath, teaches that our battle is not against flesh and blood. And then in another tell us, it is those who don’t live by the rules of the book that are lost in sin.
It’s maddening to me. And this is why.
I know my own story. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And I know that though I blamed myself for years and years, it was never mine to take. I was the product of another’s sin. And guess what, they were the product of another’s sin. And on and on and on it goes. Yet we still fight each other. We still turn against one another. God’s Word says that the thief came to kill, steal, and destroy. And guess what. He is doing that and He is doing it among us “Christians.” How? One word. Fear.
The book I am reading, The Forgotten Way, says it perfectly when it states that it is as though the church has fallen into a deep sleep following the death of the apostles. I couldn’t help but write, “YES” in all caps out to the side of this statement. For I think this is where I am coming from and why I am struggling with what it means to be a Christian in todays world. While I do count myself as a Christian, I find it is hard to identify with – on many levels – the way the church defines what a Christian is and is not.
After all, I don’t want to grow in my spirituality if it means I am going to grow in fear of those who live differently from me or who are different from me. I want to grow knowing that I can trust that God is bigger than the sins that entangle who a person may display themselves to be. For the truth is, most of us live covered with fig leaves because of our sins. Thus, we hide our true identities. I want my trust and faith in Him to be bigger, however than what I see in front of me. I want to know that just as He loves me when I wear the figs and when I strip them from the surface of my being, that He, too, shares that same love for those I encounter along the journey in this life.
For when God looks me in the face and ask me if I loved the least of these, I want to be able to say without abandon, “Yes!” And when he asks me if I put my faith in Him, the One who paid it all, so that I could love without fear, and love with that childlike faith that is accepting of all, I want to be like my daughter, and say 100%.
Currently, I see a world that is desperate to know this kind of love. Oh how I pray our churches – be them physical building or individuals, – would rise up to the task of teaching us to love without fear. For love transforms lives, brings about hope, and restores brokenness.
Where might you step out in faith, extend a hand, and love? The results may astound you.
Till next time,
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