Saturday, December 4, 2010
The most startling thing about them is that they are often lobbed by fellow, well-meaning Christians. Perhaps they thought they were simply "speaking the truth in love" but instead shot an arrow unaware. What's the expression? A church hurt is the worst hurt? Reeling, I struggle to makes sense of it all. My mind races as I wonder if the lies I've been fed are really truth and I've been duped by my own complacency. I question everything in my haste to stem the pain.
The most recent arrow came in the form of a question: Are you good enough to be the wife of a deacon? I was found wanting. The question alone was proof of that, but, in case I'd missed it, more evidence was heaped on the wound. Every sin and character flaw I'd ever committed or exhibited was freshly reviewed to prove my inadequacy. I don't think the arrow would've hurt quite so much if I hadn't been married to said deacon for over seventeen years. It's who I am. In questioning my qualifications, they were questioning my worth. "Are you good enough to be who you are?" resounded in my brain.
It hurt. It was messy. I was misunderstood and I hate to be misunderstood. I tried to explain, to be heard, to no avail. I wanted to stand up to the anonymous person who first posed the question. I wanted to flee, perhaps find a nice cave with internet access to live in. It consumed my thoughts for several days, until I finally asked the question: What is a fiery dart designed to do?
The answer is simple - to move my attention from God's business to myself...my wounds, my pain, my ego, my response, etc. I have said before,
"I think that we, American Christians, have too much time on our hands. If we have time to nurse our petty offenses, to think of shoulds that even God missed, to put people in their rightful places, then we are missing out on the glory and the intent of the gospel."
And here I was, nursing my petty offense, completely oblivious to the hurting world around me. For a brief period, one dart rendered me completely ineffective for the kingdom of God. This life is short. Eternity is not. I want my life to count more for eternity than it does for the here and now. I have no time to waste on my own minor wounds.
Does it still hurt? Absolutely. Do I still want to flee? To leave the church never to return? You betcha. I'd like to think I would do fine, just me and Jesus. The problem with that thinking is that Jesus really loves His bride, the church. He is passionate about her. How can I claim to love Jesus and shun His bride? How can I turn inward and ignore the pain around me?
I can't. That's not who I was created to be. All I can do is work on pleasing Jesus and trust Him to heal my hurt and guard my heart. He is faithful to do just that.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Republishing something I wrote a long time ago, but needed to hear again.
Many years ago, the Lord ministered His grace to me and I was set free from legalism. I’d been saved since I was only four years old and grew up in the church. Somewhere along the way, I bought into the lie that I had to follow a set of rules to earn the favor of God. If I did everything right, I would have smooth sailing. When He set me free, my whole world changed. Reading the Word became a delight instead of a drudgery.
Recently, the Lord in His mercy, showed me that, gradually, I had retreated back into the legalistic cell He’d rescued me from. I’d adopted a "Jesus-plus" doctrine:
- Jesus + daily devotions
- Jesus + a clean house
- Jesus + well-behaved children
- Jesus + being on time for church
These would make me righteous and earn me the blessings/favor that I don’t deserve. I don’t think I’m the only convert of this doctrine. I think that we are attracted to legalism because we like to check boxes. It’s familiar, it’s visible, and it’s easy to apply it to everyone else. If I hold my "what not to do list" up to your life, I might find that you don’t measure up and that would make me feel sooo much better. It’s comfortable. But it’s nowhere near the abundant life that Jesus offers in John 10:10.
The problem with Jesus-plus doctrine is that Jesus plus anything equals bondage; it’s a death sentence. (Gal. 3:10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse,) Paul said it best, "Oh foolish Galations! Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?!" You can almost here him saying, "REALLY?! How’s that working out for you?" The Word is also clear that "there is no one righteous. No, not one."
It’s Jesus alone that makes me righteous. It’s Jesus alone that gives me life. It’s Jesus alone that sets me free. I don’t have to do anything to earn it. He doesn’t require me to do anything. He just wants me to be. To be, in Him, the woman He’s created me to be. Here’s the kicker: He’s the ONLY one who gets to decide who that is. My fellow box-checkers out there don’t get a vote. My foolish pride doesn’t get to weigh in. Even my dim, limited view of the future doesn’t limit Him.It’s time to stop doing ………………………. and start being!