My heart has been so heavy lately. I’ve been wanting to write and until now didn’t know what to write about. I knew I wanted to write, but I was tired. Emotionally tired. I had been debating an issue on Facebook that I should have never gotten into AGAIN. I generally will lend my time to situations if I feel it “could” make a difference, but this was like beating a dead horse and I should have quit way earlier. Then after that/during that people around me were hurting. My previous blog was about passion. I’m a passionate person, so these people may or may not know it but I have been in my room crying over them. Down on my knees just pouring out my heart to the God I know could comfort them. Then there are two situations in which precious children are involved. One I know personally, the other I have not met but follow on Facebook. It’s so difficult sometimes to pray to God and beg him to intervene, and to know all He would have to do is say something and these two little people would be healed, but to know also that He is sovereign and it may not be His will. But you beg, HOW is it not your will you know? HOW and WHY. I know all the answers, trust me. I know sin, I know because of the fall. I can explain them, but it doesn’t change reality of what people are dealing with in their lives. It doesn’t change hurt, pain, and suffering. This is why Jesus was a “man of sorrows.” He CARED. He was very aware of death, pain, suffering, hate, self righteousness, piety, and so much more. It turned his stomach that rules were placed on people by self righteous men who wouldn’t know what the love of God was if it hit them in the face. I’m not making this up, Jesus was angry a few times in the Bible and most of the time it was at the most “righteous” of men. This isn’t a blog about proving my points though, so as much as I struggle against it I’m not going to back up all of my points with scripture. If you are reading this and you are a Christian you should know what I’m talking about. If you are reading this and you are not a Christian open the Bible, it is full of beautiful truth. The point above is that Jesus cared about all of these things, and so should we. God allows things to happen that we might not be able to understand, but he expects us as Christians to show compassion for these situations, to mourn with them if there is a reason, and to seek Him. Without hardships in our lives it is hard to imagine needing compassion so much from others. It is hard to imagine the need to seek Him and His wisdom and grace.
This is the first time since writing this blog that I’ve ever just sat down and really didn’t know what to write, but here I go. I’m a recluse of a person. I often hide in a shell when things are swirling around me, like the situations I mentioned in the above paragraph. So I’ve been praying that God give me the ability to love people. To see people and to love them. I feel like I’ve always done this to an extent. I never ever turned my back on someone because they didn’t seem wealthy, because they were crippled, because they weren’t “perfect” in the book of man. But there is more. I also didn’t reach out when a loved one was sick. I’ve never been the type to jump and buy gifts to show love to someone when they were in affliction. It isn’t that I didn’t care, it isn’t that I wasn’t praying for them, but I just have a really really difficult time SHOWING that care in a tangible way. I’ve been praying about this and through many conversations, and learning experiences, I believe God is showing me a few things. There is a verse that resonates in my head. I dwell on it. I ask myself exactly what it means. I know when I list it you will think to yourself, “that is so easy, what is the problem?” but the problem is that it is NOT easy. Not for me at least. Maybe for others it is, but not me. I don’t know why, but it’s not. I’m a cold person. I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to work with me in this area and He has been. This blog is fruits of that working. But, before I bunny trail, the verse is 1 Corinthians 13:1, ” If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” I hear it at weddings, people throw it around in debate like it’s meaningless, and I often turn reclusive when I hear it. I look into my soul. What does it mean? What does showing LOVE mean. It’s not always acceptance of behavior, it’s not always keeping your mouth shut, it’s not always unoffensive. BUT it’s always “patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”-1 Corinthians 13:4-7. So again the questions, “how does one apply this” pop up.
I have a few inclinations as to how this is applied. I can debate. I can be cold and calculated. I can tear a person apart with my words because I have a very unique gift to throw all of the “extra” out of an argument and get to the very root. I can get the very root and rip it apart, but then I leave the person I’m debating open, vulnerable, and bleeding. Is this right? No. It is without love. It is without hope. It is pointless, hurtful, terrible. I feel good about it at times. I won the debate, I’m smarter! WRONG. LOVE is not prideful Sarah. Stop it! I beat myself up. I sometimes apologize to the person and sometimes I don’t. God is working on me, trust me. He puts a hurt on me worse than I could ever inflict on anyone else. There is more to this though. How then if reason, if logic, if debate, doesn’t work in changing someones mind, HOW THEN? This is a lot of background just to get to my point and I’m sorry if it is turning boring, but this has taken many years of observation of myself, of others, and of the church. I’m upset at myself but I’m also upset at the church. We are all broken people I know, but we attack each other and we make up rules that make us prideful, arrogant, and conceited. I heard a pastor once, and I won’t mention any names, but he was asked, “what is a key indicator that a person is becoming more mature in Christ?” He says, “we see them at church more, they go to more services.” I about dropped out of my chair. Are you kidding me? Not, we see more love in their life, more of a servant like nature, more “like Jesus” if you will. So we exchange helping the needy, reaching out to the broken, and loving a neighbor for pew warming. It makes me sick.
So what is love? It isn’t warming a pew although I feel this is necessary in learning. The Bible teaches us that we should be knowledgeable, so there is a place for this for sure. Jesus taught, the disciples taught, we are to teach, so I am not saying meeting on Sunday morning is wrong in the least. I’m saying the conceit in our hearts because we are “good Christians” and go to church is wrong. As a matter of fact the more services we go to the better we are! NOT. NOT. NOT!!!!!! HOW then can we reach people? How then are you more “Christ Like?” You are more “Christ like” when you are helping a neighbor, you are volunteering your time, you are talking to the broken, you are in the community helping PEOPLE. People are who Christ died for. PEOPLE are who Christ loves. Like a friend of mine said, it doesn’t matter WHO you are or what you are caught up in, Jesus loves people right where they are at. I’m not saying they don’t change once the spirit comes in, don’t get me wrong, but I’m saying that God wouldn’t want you to turn up your nose and walk by a prostitute. So don’t do it. If you do I hope you feel ashamed for being so pious. And I’m not talking about works here, so don’t go down the path of works to me. I’m not talking about salvation here at all, I’m talking about once you are saved how are you going to make in impact and be the light of the world? You aren’t going to do it by going to church more and heaping more rules on yourself and other people. YOU are JUST as dirty as that prostitute I can guarantee it. If it isn’t sexual sin like hers, it’s another problem. You are saved ONLY because of God’s mercy, so although we are to strive for righteousness, we must also remember that it isn’t OUR doing but the Spirit who dwells in us. 1 Corinthians 15:10, ““But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
Let me give you another scenario, you attack other Christians because they aren’t “doing it right,” but I can guarantee you that none of us are doing it right! So stop attacking your brother in Christ. Jesus said in John 13, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love is an action, just as Jesus washed his disciples feet in the previous verses. So if you want to change the mind of Christians you need to learn how to do it in love. If you want to change the church, and want to make in impact, you need to act. Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The above verses tell us that the meek, the pure at heart, the merciful, the ones who mourn, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for their righteousness are the ones that will inherit Heaven. So we should be the ones who are merciful to each other, who mourn with each other, who want to make peace and come to agreements with one another, and who want to teach one another how to walk in righteousness without becoming “self righteous.” This means we will exhort each other, but this should be done with the goal of building the other person up, and not tearing them down. Being sorrowful when you see another in sin and not rejoicing in the opportunity to go knock them down. The world will take note of this, I am positive of that.
How do you impact a certain community beyond the body of Christ/believers? Well I can tell you it isn’t by being a part of it. The Bible is clear about being in the world but not “OF” the world. But you can impact a community by 1. Letting your light shine among men and 2. Loving each other and letting your love for one another show. How do you do this? Well you DO strive for righteousness as the Bible teaches, but the Holy Spirit will lead in this primarily. He works in his own time and of course I don’t expect a new believer to be in the same place as someone who was saved years prior. So lets be patient and understanding of this. The best way I’ve learned, through much failure of my own, is to live like you are called to live and let others see that in you. For example, if God is working on your modesty don’t be harsh with others in their walk. Yes, if they call themselves believers and they walk out of the house in something clearly absurd you should probably let them know what the Bible teaches about modesty, but don’t tell them they aren’t saved because they are dressed “inappropriately.” You don’t know that they aren’t saved and we all have different “measures” of modestly. Same goes with many other “issues” in the Bible like tattoos, body piercings, etc.. We are all in different walks, but lets remember IF we are truly converted we are all running the same race. So lets not kick a person if they stumble over a rock on the track. Instead go back, lift them up, and walk to the finish line if you have to. If they are converted I can promise you that they will see your point when the Holy Spirit reveals it to them. This generally happens after He uses you to point it out in love. Then number two, go to the hospital if someone is sick, bring up your neighbors trash cans if they can’t, rake a yard if your neighbor can’t, go help out in the community at a soup kitchen, at a woman’s shelter, at an orphanage. If you have a love for hurting women go talk to one. If you have a love for the homosexual community I can promise you the way to get something done IS NOT attacking the church. You are attacking the wrong people instead of showing love to your brother. Instead you can go serve that community and show the church humanity, love, and compassion. People respond to you when they know you care for them and their needs. They don’t respond to you when you are attacking them or others you claim to be brothers with! If you attack your brother how much more will you attack someone who isn’t?! The goal is not to divide the church once again. “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
So what is love? It’s complicated and I’m still learning, but we are in this together, so let’s be more compassionate towards one another. “What do you do” is my title because love is an action. Let’s love with our actions instead of warming a pew and calling ourselves righteous for doing so. You can sit in a pew to learn, but then you must act on what you have learned. Let’s not get “stuck” in that pew and render ourselves useless in our knowledge. USE that knowledge wisely and with much humility!!! You must show others love, compassion, grace, and care. We must give to the needy, shelter the homeless, help in the nursery, and so much more. There are limitations to what each person can do, and I don’t feel like we should neglect our own families to do these things, but it’s the little things that make a big difference. Start with your neighbors closest to you. Did you know your family are your closest neighbors? Then reach out to the body of christ (these might be your family and hopefully are), your friends, and then the community. It’s not about works, it’s about love!