I get it. Some of us who claim to know Jesus are so mean that you'd never invite us into your kitchens to share a meal, let alone into your hearts to talk about relationships. I used to think the same thing when I worked in the restaurant. Unfortunately, the church crowd wasn't always the kindest on Sunday mornings. Neither were some of the other customers, but we tend to hold the "spiritual" patrons to a higher standard.
I remember this one minister in particular. He always wore a suit and tie. His beard was neatly trimmed and his midsection was round. He'd come directly from church to eat with either his family or leadership crew. With barely a look in the eye and little thanks, he'd chat with his company right up until the end of his meal. A little tract card with a scripture would be tucked beneath his plate. Every time. I needed to pay my bills and began to dread serving him. I hoped he'd be seated in somebody else's section.
You know, it's a strange thing. Back then it was hard to keep a perspective about that guy. I never thought of him as a sincere Christ-follower, but I did wonder if I could "win" him. I thought that if I were just cheery enough, I might get his kindness and attention - that if I served impeccably, he might find me worthy of a tip. He never did. Not a single server in that place was ever "worthy" of a tip. So, we all gave up trying.
Do you ever feel like you've given up trying to win the acceptance of Christians? Maybe you've wanted nothing to do with us at all.
If so, I can't describe the weight of failure that weighs on my soul. You, dear reader - God is wild about you. He watched as you grew in the womb, bursting forth into the world thinking, "Once again! My creation is good."
Many of His followers believe that too, but their voices aren't the ones who receive all the press.
There are other complications as well. Our churches have remained largely quiet on the topic of sexuality and I believe it's for a couple of reasons:
1. We take for granted that the Christians making the news are the minority. We roll our eyes, shake our heads, and go on with our day - overlooking the deep wounding that comes from their behavior.
2. We've been conditioned by society to believe that standing up for people who are being shamed in the public arena is the same as agreeing with every belief the individual holds. It's a "guilt by association" mentality.
There's somebody I love who didn't mess around with public shaming. His name was and still is, Jesus. I think about the time a woman laid vulnerable and accused in the dirt, encircled by mockers with words of hate being spewed from all directions. The stones were about to fly when He stepped in and silenced the crowd with His authority. The world went quiet, and as she looked up through plumes of dust and light, she saw His face. He knew her story. He fought for her anyway.
The same crowds exist today, loud and punishing. So many want to shout the Bible from the street corners without having earned the right to speak intimately into a life to begin with. Certainly it's easier to be a "Christian" at a distance, with the power of platform on the tips of our computer-typing fingers.
But Jesus didn't operate like that at all. He told the truth and then died for it - so that the church could exist. It was His idea to gather the original group together that He called the "church". He told them, "Follow me. Tell others about me. Meet together." It was that simple but we tend to overcomplicate it.
Relationships get sticky, but there's an even greater risk in remaining isolated. We should be scared to death at the exact moment we wake up and think that we have nothing to learn from people who are different than us. In my experience, your community has done well to extend hands to the hurt and questioning. We can take a lesson from your compassion.
Don't question for a second if you're welcome at this blog - come with all of your questions, life stories, and successes. You're safe here -
Even when we don't agree on everything. Even should we ruffle feathers and grow one another. Even should we have to agree to disagree.
Silent no more,
I'd love to hear from all of you regarding this tender topic. Feel free to leave kind words of encouragement, questions, and cares for one another.
Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved." Acts 2:42-47