This post, y’all.
I’ve been putting it off – sometimes it’s tough to write without sounding like a bossy know-it-all. Especially when you’re writing about controversial things.
Those of you who know me well know there are plenty of things I don’t know. Trust me, the list is long. The bossy thing though… I’m working on it.
2020 has been a mess, and from where I’m watching, the church* isn’t handling it well.
(*disclaimer: when I say “the church” I’m always referring to God’s people – the church as a whole – never any one church in particular)
In October 2016 the Lord dropped something in my lap. I was just driving to Walmart, minding my own business, when He told me that our story was about to get interesting. I had been flailing a bit, dealing with frustration with some self-righteous Pharisee types (wow, things just took a brutally honest turn) and He told me that things were going to get hard, that it was going to be okay, and that He would use it all for our good and His glory.
I can attest that all of that happened. It did get interesting, it was hard, and God was indeed faithful.
We didn’t come out of that experience without some scars, but it was worth it. One thing I carried with me out of the whole ordeal was a renewed determination to be transparent when talking about my walk with the Lord, what ministry is like, and our purpose as Christians. And while the vast majority of the time I love everything about life in ministry, there are times when we get things wrong, and I can’t turn a blind eye anymore.
Maybe it’s time our feelings get hurt a little bit.
Do you know what the greatest obstacle is to lost people becoming followers of Jesus?
Yes. It’s us. We are turning people off in droves.
And if that’s not bad enough (it is), we’re also running off good, honest, Jesus-loving people. People who were once wholly committed to serving at church have now opted to just stay home.
Why do you think that is?
Guys, it’s weird out there. I’m usually pretty positive about life in general, believing that a strange phase will pass soon enough, that truth typically prevails, and all will be well in the end.
I’m not really feeling that way as much these days. Or at least, not as easily as I once did.
As believers and followers of Christ, we have no need to be rattled by our current events.
How is that possible, you ask? Our current events are very much temporary, and when we remember this it becomes a little easier to keep our perspectives in check.
We have no need to rant our strong opinions on Facebook. I promise you, it’s not helping matters in the least. I would argue that it is making things worse.
We have no need to insult others who have a different opinion than ours. Again, it’s not helping.
We have no need to merely focus on our own wants and desires and to broadly (and by broadly, I mean assume all of each group are the same) criticize school teachers and administrators, coaches, store managers, business owners, police officers, medical professionals, church staff, etc. who might be doing things differently than we think is best.
Do I agree with how everything has been handled these pasts 8 months?
Not even a little bit.
Do I want to be in charge of making those hard decisions?
It’s the answer to that second question that has driven my actions throughout this pandemic. Or most of them, anyway. I’ve gotten caught up in the emotions of it all plenty and have had to delete a FB post or apologize to someone I offended with my thoughts.
Something had to change.
I’m opinionated, often speaking first and thinking later. I spend more time with my foot in my mouth than I’d like to admit. I’m passionate and can be quick-tempered.
My husband, on the other hand, is calm and methodical. It takes a lot to rattle him, so when he does get worked up, there’s no doubt he has a good reason for it. He is excellent at stepping back and looking at things from all sides before making any judgments. He is a wise listener.
I’ve learned a lot from him in our 25+ years together. In these past 8-9 months, I’ve gotten a crash course in diffusing difficult situations, pausing before reacting, and seeing the benefits of taking breaks from social media.
I can honestly say I’m the most chill I’ve been in a very long time. It’s been glorious, but it was a process.
How did I get here?
Basically, it came down to this: if I normally trust that God is in control of all things, but somehow can’t bring myself to trust Him in our current climate, the problem isn’t Him. It’s me.
In order to remedy this, I have physically removed myself from situations that keep me from looking like Jesus. The Facebook app has been deleted off my phone (yes, I still get on now and then, but only from my laptop). I do not watch the news, and won’t until they go back to actually reporting facts instead of opinions. So, likely never. I refuse to get caught up in political debates. I’m making a concerted effort to listen to people who have a different opinion than mine without any preconceived notions.
Is it foolproof? Nope. But it’s a start.
I think the thing that has gotten my attention the most is watching people I care about a lot be hurt by others and their super strong opinions. It’s like suddenly we’re inundated with experts on all things healthcare, government, and education. And running a church. That one hits particularly close to home.
The people I care about who have been affected by this can handle themselves and are perfectly fine, I can assure you. But I wish I could say the same for our reputation. And by “our,” I mean Christ-followers, church people, etc.
We have a responsibility here, and I don’t think screaming louder than the person next to us in an effort to be heard is it.
Our responsibility is to give people hope, and that hope can only be found in Jesus.
Not in Trump.
Not in Biden.
Not in the decisions your school district makes.
Not in masks.
Friends, it’s understandable to be frustrated right now. Nothing is going the way we planned. We can choose to join in the fighting and debates or we could do something completely different.
We could make decisions that are best for ourselves and individual families without demanding everyone else agree with us and follow suit.
We could look for the good. I guarantee we’ll find it.
We could be kind and loving in a world that feels cold and hateful. There’s good chance this method is so opposite of most of what we’re experiencing that someone just might stop what they’re doing to see what makes us different.
And there’s our opportunity.
For the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
It’s time we start acting like the church Jesus has called us to be.
I’m not suggesting we stop caring about what’s going on around us. Not at all. I’m just asking you to remember what’s most important here. Get involved with your political party. Join the PTA and let your voice be heard at your children’s schools. Please vote every chance you get. If something is being handled horribly wrong, do your best to right it. But whatever you do, remember Who you belong to and represent Him well.
Pray for the people in charge of making big decisions. Love your family well. Seek out opportunities to encourage people. Saturate yourself in God’s Word.
It’s not too late to turn this around. We can do this.