So I am one of those who how you communicate something will determine how I react or if I react at all to what you are communicating.
This is even more heightened if it is something about me that you’d like me to change. I may even agree with your comments but I will fight with nail and all if I do not believe in the intent. Some call it being stubborn, others being sensitive, but it is very true to my character so more often than not I am unapologetic of my reaction. Okay I know sometimes I should be apologetic.
This season God is teaching me this is exactly the same way many others react to my ‘correctings’. He is teaching me that sometimes I am not any better in how I communicate stuff. Nothing is harder than that, seeing yourself in the things you hate, seeing yourself in the things you think others should not do! I am also seeing this in the church; I am seeing a society react to the church in the same way I react.
Holier than thou
We live in a society that often thinks of us as the ‘holier than thous’ or the people who have ‘run away’ from their lives and are hiding behind the curtain called Church. Our world, my generation especially will often feel the need to rebel the Church label. And God is teaching me part of the reason this will be is exactly the same reason I will rebel. It is in the way we communicate.
See God has blessed many of us with discernment. The kind of discernment that easily picks what is right or wrong, thank God for that. However, we have often used this gifting in such a wrong way. We discern, we judge and are quick to point it out as something that needs to be changed. Then quickly we alienate ourselves as ‘those ones’. Why, because more often than not, the people we asking to change already know what they are doing is wrong.
They’d just make me feel worse
So I am going through this discipleship course that has quoted the following experience that Philip Yancey went through and has written about it in the book ‘What’s so amazing about grace’:
“A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless sick, unable to buy food for her two year old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter – 2 year old daughter – to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it she said to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story….I had no idea what to say to this woman. At last I asked her if she had ever thought of going to church for help. I will never forget the look of pure naïve shock that crossed her face. “Church” she cried. Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”
Everytime I have read this extract, my heart breaks at the last statements on the church. ‘Why would I go to church for them to make me feel even worse than I already feel!” This totally breaks my heart. If this prostitute cannot go to the church, where can she go? Have we sanitized the church so much that we have no room for such as this? What happened to the church being the hospital that all run to?
And before I feel holier, before you think, no I would not judge her, be honest, search your soul, and you will be amazed at the honest reaction you’d have. And maybe partly understandable, I mean this woman is getting a 2 year old molested. Surely there must be a book somewhere that says this is a bigger sin than my lying or my pride. Surely this is unforgivable. Surely this woman deserves to be stoned.
A friend of mine a couple of years back told me of how her church would not agree to baptize her son because he was born out of wedlock – they gave her the story of how he needs a father figure, which he does, but refusing to baptize, really!
The love problem
I have found that the above statements truly reflect the state of my heart, not the ‘praise God’ statements you will often find me doing.
I have forgotten that the reason I am not that woman who has given out her daughter into prostitution is truly JUST BY THE GRACE OF GOD. I have forgotten that I have been forgiven so much more. I have forgotten the grace that has been extended to me by God. I have forgotten the pit He got me from. I have forgotten I was the least but He chose me. Oh how I have forgotten.
And so my heart does not ache for this woman. No my heart wants to stone her. My heart wants to point to her all that’s wrong with her. My heart wants to make her feel worse.
How you may ask? It is in the way I will treat her. It is in the way I will look at her.
See one of the things God is painfully teaching me (painfully because the process has been nothing but interesting) is LOVE. You see anything I will ever do, anything I will ever tell this woman, if it is not from a place of love, it’s from a place of judgement. If it is from a place of fixing her, then I will definitely wound her all the more.
The fixing problem
Yes fixing. We Christians have a commission; go ye make disciples of the nations. And we take this commissioning very seriously, and we should. But we forget the greatest commandment of them all was love – Love the Lord Your God with all you heart, soul and mind; Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
You see any commissioning, any ministry, any healing that’s not from a place of love it is so nothing.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. …
But we so often forget this. As a result we try to fix brokenness, we want to change people, not because we love them but often more often for my own personal selfish reasons. Oh the folly of fixing. Oh the folly of imagining others need fixing – they need love. Yes I can fix the prostitute, but unless I do it from a place of love, I promise you have created another wound.
I need to learn
Christ loved. His ministry was one of love through and through. Exhibit one is in the story of how He fed the 5000 with 2 fish 5 loaves. You see He had gone to this place to rest but the crowds followed Him. When He SAW the people, how they were like sheep without shepherd (lost), He had compassion over them. Oh how that challenges me. That Jesus had compassion over them first and so He chose to feed them. The feeding then was not from a fix them point of view but from a compassionate view.
I live in a world full of sheep without shepherd. I am one of those sheep. And it is easy to see this and try to fix the problem but what I learn from Jesus is this, I must have compassion over the sheep. I must love them enough to walk with them. Only then can they trust me. Only then can I genuinely serve.
Exhibit 2, is the woman caught red handed in adultery. Jesus defends this woman – He tells the Pharisees if any of them is without sin that they should stone her. Jesus loved on this woman. And so thereafter when He tells this woman to go and sin no more, I tell u she will sin no more with such ease. She’s a woman whose been loved on. Heck if Jesus told her to go jumping she would. You see Jesus knew the heart of man, more than the fixing we want to be loved. The fixing when loved comes so easily.
But we seem to have gotten this wrong. We fix first. Sometimes that’s all we do. But this passage is teaching me just how I must reach out and love first. That’s not to mean I tolerate what is wrong, or encourage it. We must never be fearful to call out sin, but it must always start from a place of love.
I once in a while serve in prisons and I am always amazed how God can reach to the worst criminal by my standard. So yes that woman who is so promiscuous, I must choose to walk with her; that lady who has aborted her child, walk with her; that man that has his offsprings all over the nation, walk with him; that man whose day is made up of gallons of alcohol, he needs you. As you love on them, healing will come. It’s the strangest thing yet the surest thing.
God is asking me to get in the mess; to not stand outside calling out the mess and giving instructions on how to clean the mess. I need to get in the mess, heck I am the mess. I need to love.
I am learning above all else LOVE.