I’ve been wanting to write this blog for a while, but I just couldn’t find the right words to say. My heart has been breaking. My heart breaks every time I see videos and/or posts on social media about people’s negative experiences in churches or with “Christians”. Somewhere along the way, it became more important to speak the harsh truth than to love your neighbor. The idea of you need to get your life right before you step into the doors became the norm instead of come as you are and let God work in your life as only he can. We lost the focus of letting people see Jesus and became so consumed with the “rules”. It became “come to our church” instead of let us meet you where you are. Scripture was twisted and parts left out so that it could fit the topic of the person speaking, instead of actually preaching scripture in context and the list could go on and on.
Is any human perfect? NOPE! Well, Jesus was but no one else has ever been. People will fail us but God never fails. My prayer is that I continue to look more and more like Jesus every day to everyone around me. The people I’m closest to and people I don’t know, I want to show the love of God to them even if it’s only through a smile when they are having a bad day.
As I look back over my life, I know for a big part of it I was too consumed with the rules. So much so that I handled some situations with no grace and I lost friendships that I really cared about because I thought I was doing the “right” thing. It’s something I think about a lot and wish I could have a do-over and change my response, but I can’t change the past I can only change how I handle situations like that in the future. If by some miracle the person I’m talking about is reading this, and you know who you are, I want to say I’m sorry for the way I handled the moment you were open and honest with me, because that took courage and I want you to know how proud of you I am. I hope one day our paths cross again, but if not I pray you know I am truly sorry.
Just as I want to tell my friend how sorry I am, I wish everyone could hear an apology from the people who hurt them. I’m sorry. I’m sorry if someone misrepresented Jesus to you. I’m sorry if someone said Jesus doesn’t love you. I’m sorry if someone said you were going to hell because of what you’ve done. I’m sorry if someone said you have to earn God’s love. I’m sorry if someone said your feelings aren’t valid. I’m sorry if someone told you to pray harder or have more faith in relation to your mental health. I’m sorry if you were judged for having tattoos. I’m sorry if you were judged for your past or the way you look. I’m sorry if you were judged for what you said in confidence. I’m sorry if you felt like an outcast. I’m sorry if you saw that traditions were more important than knowing Jesus. I’m sorry if you felt like the church only wanted your money. I’m sorry if the church gave you programs instead of Jesus. I’m sorry if people made you feel like trash or worthless because of purity culture.
Saying I’m sorry doesn’t just fix the problem and it goes away. It’s going to take a lot of work to turn this ship. I know that myself and others around me have been talking about wanting to make this commitment; to not make the same mistakes of the past and move forward becoming more like Jesus every day. This takes intentionality and realizing that God’s grace is a lot bigger than we give him credit for sometimes. We also have to realize that we are not the judge, God is and we can’t change people, only God can. When we as Christians turn our eyes toward Jesus and truly center our life on him the result should be love.
When Jesus was being asked by the religious leaders of his day “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40
This all boils down to loving God and loving people. Jesus’ whole ministry was based on relationships. I can’t think of a better way to show love to someone than to actually spend time with them and build a relationship. Lead with love in everything you do. Don’t get me wrong truth has a place in our lives but God can develop his truth within us just as he can do with those around us when they develop a relationship with him. We don’t have to stand with a megaphone on the corner shouting at those passing by that they are sinning. Ok, maybe that’s to old school for you and you would never do that. How about this, we don’t have to post on social media all the things we dislike about someone’s lifestyle in an effort to make them change their opinion (yeah, because that’s worked so well in the past, she says sarcastically).
To be a disciple of Jesus and desire to be more like him every day we have to make relationships a priority and lead with love to all those around us. We need to take accountability for decisions we made in the past and sometimes we need to apologize for our “spiritual family” and the way they behaved or treated someone. It is time that we shift our thinking from grading sins and getting our life together before coming to Christ to loving people unconditionally, even if they have a different perspective than us. In everything you do lead with love!
I pray that this blog today was an encouragement to you. Always know I am available to pray with you or just be someone to talk to when life gets hard and if you are someone who has been hurt by the church I’m here for you if you need a listing ear. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need prayer!
Talk to you soon!