God

Not Hating Someone Isn’t Loving Them

I was talking to Eric today about how many of us don’t know there is a difference between “not hating” someone and actively loving them.  I’m struggling to write this blog post, because I am personally going through a situation where there are people who are “not hating” me, but they aren’t actively loving me either.  I really don’t want to make this about me and my situation, because I think that this is a world-wide problem with the church.  So, please understand that I am trying to keep this general, and non-specific.

I’ve heard many people talk about an upcoming move of God where many people are going to come to Christ.  What I find strikingly odd about this is that many Christians believe that there is going to be some sort of mass entrance into church buildings, like some sort of world-wide miracle where God is going to lead a bunch of zombie-faced non-believers through church doors.  This concept is delusional.

Let’s look at this from a “normal” perspective.  Say there is a gardener who wants to grow tomatoes in his garden.  Unless he plants a seed in the ground, or someone else plants a seed in a starter pot that he transplants somewhere, he WILL NOT HAVE TOMATOES in his garden.  They won’t miraculously grow.  Someone has to plant the seed.  Someone has to water it, care for the seedling, and watch over it until it bears fruit.  This example brings to my mind Paul’s words.

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)

I have planted

A mass entrance into the church without work is highly unlikely, and honestly I hope that it doesn’t happen.  I believe that there are a couple of perspectives that the body of Christ maintains, in general, that are actually detrimental to growth.  One is that for years I’ve watched church-after-church, time-and-time again, try to gather people “to Christ” under the name of their specific church.  Jesus Himself, always pointed to the Father.  We should be directing people to Christ, who leads us to God, not lighting the pathway to our churches.

The second issue is that the church universal is better at “actively hating” or “not hating” people than they are “ACTIVELY LOVING” them.  What I mean by this is that I feel that the church is way too inbred, too self-involved.  They have adopted the mentality of “come to our church, and you will be loved”.  However, if you go to a church, and leave, they will either actively hate you, or passively “not hate” you.  In my experiences, the disconnect happens because they disagree with your stance or are too afraid to “actively love” by maintaining community.  I am a Christian.  If they can’t “actively love” me, because of my reasons, how are they going to be able to “actively love” someone who isn’t a Christian at all?

What do I think “actively love” means?  It means to put yourself out there at the expense of your reputation for someone else.  To “actively love” someone is to be there for them, whether or not you agree with everything that they do or say.  It means biting your tongue at the right time, or boldly speaking truth when the time is right.  To “actively love” is to not let fear of losing face dictate your actions.  “Actively loving” means getting outside the four walls of the church.  It says to meet unbelievers where they are at, being honest about our own mistakes, sharing a meal with them, and just loving them.  It definitely doesn’t mean you start spending time with them in order for them to become your pet project.  It means you love them and appreciate the good qualities in them, right where they are at AT THAT MOMENT.  It means that you don’t have all of your shizzle together, like you might think you do.  (Just sayin’.) “Actively loving” someone means admitting mistakes, and eating humble pie.  You can’t love someone if you think you have it all together. News flash: You don’t. I don’t.  None of us do.  

“Not hating” someone is a passive stance.  It actually is a lazy one too.

“Not hating” someone is a passive stance.  It actually is a lazy one too.  It is usually based in fear.  You can “not hate” someone into never going to church again.   When we left a certain church in 2009, we didn’t attend regularly again until 2017.  I honestly think that is where God had us at, but at the same time, I know 100% that my healing process would have went years faster if more Christians would have spent time “actively loving” on me.

Sadly, I don’t think that the church knows how to “actively love”.  Until they do, the mass entrance in the church won’t happen.  There are at least two reasons why.  One, they aren’t doing the work.  They are either hating unbelievers by trying to hold them to a Christian standard that the unbelievers haven’t ever lived by or understand, or they are passively “not hating” them by not being involved in their communities AS A HUMAN BEING.  (Not under a church name, or under the name of Christianity… just being a LOVING human being.)  Secondly, even if God would miraculously direct masses into the church doors, why would He want to with the church like it is in the state of passively “not hating”?  We aren’t mature enough for that yet.  Gulp.

by-your-love

How many more would be saved?

It isn’t our “awesome” praise service, or our extracurricular church activities, or our “righteousness” or how pretty we look in our Sunday outfit, or how big our building is, or how many people attend our church, that draws people to God.  In fact, I think these things are deterrents.  How many more would be saved if we would stop going to so many church activities and spent the time asking our neighbors or co-workers over for a meal just because we honestly want to get to know them?  I think quite a bit more, actually.

Human Like That

Many times my opinion has alienated me from fellow believers. It used to be that I would blast people with my opinion and it obviously had poor results. However, I’ve found that people in general are uncomfortable with being disagreed with.

Here is how God made me:

– no-nonsense
– honest
– strong sense of justice
– desiring truth
– a propensity towards getting into the nitty-gritty of the faith
– big heart for God and people

Here is how God has changed me:

– moved me from a romanticized idealism to a realistic viewpoint of humanity
– bringing me to the realization that the lost won’t miraculously be reached by attending church
– showing me that mercy is a good balance to truth. (Mercy and truth have kissed.)
– not every battle is one that should be fought
– manymanymorethingstoomanytocount

Through the things I’ve been through, and my honesty about them in my songs, hurting believers and non-believers have been touched by my story, or in Christian terms, my “testimony”. And I didn’t have to wrap it up in a pretty, perfect package with verbiage that makes people comfortable.

My gift doesn’t come wrapped up. It is what it is. There is no pretension. There is no guessing. It’s more like a holding it behind my back until the right time and giving it to someone, as I got it. There aren’t pretty ribbons, but it isn’t a “chocolate pie” either. 😉 I used to feel a lot of shame concerning this. Not guilt. SHAME. I allowed people’s judgmental attitudes to make me feel bad for doing and saying what God told me to. It caused a lot of vacillating for me.

Recently I watched a documentary on Johnny Cash. When I think of Johnny, I think of the man at the end of his life, who through honesty spoke/sang what he felt was the truth, whose American recordings have touched MILLIONS of people. He’s gotten a lot of flack through the years from judgmental Christians who thought he did “devil music” and thought it was a shame that he didn’t do “just Gospel”.

I wonder how many people those judgmental Christians touched with their ridiculous standards and lack of grace. Even with all of Johnny Cash’s mistakes, he reached millions. He told millions of people about God. And I can guarantee that his mistakes and humanity made his listeners more open to the Gospel of Christ.

Why? Because he wasn’t afraid to bare his heart and say, “I’m just a man with a story to tell,” and it happened to include God. I’m not the crying type and I wept watching interviews of Cash’s last few years. What a legacy, even if flawed.

I’m tired of romanticized ideals- ones that I used to also have. I don’t want to be a GD princess or one of “God’s royalty”. I want to be His servant. I want my humanity: my blindness, my mistakes, my idiocy, my weaknesses, my SIN to be “out there”. To me God doesn’t accept me because I’m perfect or “made perfect”, He accepts me as I am, DESPITE these human flaws.

It is what it is. I am what I am. Some people appreciate that. Some don’t, because it challenges their lofty ideals. I won’t change this about myself. EVER AGAIN. I won’t put a pretty bow on something, but I also try not to throw truth at people too often or too hard. I’m not always successful.

I’m human like that.

What Would You Do?

Oftentimes we, as humans, make things more complicated than they should be.  I’m the master at this.  My tendency to examine and ponder about various aspects of my internal goings-on can be called tedious, at best.  Allowing simplicity to pour over each situation would definitely save me a lot of tossing and turning emotionally.  However, handing over that trust to God is exactly what our faith walk is.  For me, it is something that I have to do on a daily basis, multiple times a day.  It’s so easy to put my fingerprints all over everything in my life.  Part of that is being a mother or a woman, I think.  Another part is because of the old battle scars.  I’m happy that I have them, because the situations I went through made me a stronger person.  However, I have no wish to revisit the pain that accompanied them.

So with all of this touching, messing with, and overthinking, sometimes I have to force myself to stop and ask myself the following question:

What would I do if I knew that God’s hand would provide the means to accomplish it?

The answer is so simple, but the acting out of this answer is what is difficult.  Fear really gets in the way.  Fear and its accompanying “what if’s” too often keep me from stepping out with confidence.  On the other side of that, I’m impatient and once solid in a direction, I get where I want to get the ball rolling sooner than I need to.

WWYD_

How about you?  What would you do if you knew that God would provide the means to accomplish that which your heart desires to do?  Do you let fear sidetrack you?  Or impatience push you before the right time?