This video of Henri Nouwen speaking is wonderful. We are eternally loved, and we need each other. ❤
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.
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.8 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)
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.
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.
This is on my heart. There is someone out there who has been taking verbal abuse from a loved one. You feel that somehow you deserve their words. You feel that you can change it, if only you keep trying and keep praying. You hope that God can change the situation.
He can, but there is a stipulation. That person has to WANT to change. Their remorse has to go deeper than just being caught. Repentance can’t be shallow, or it is just a band-aid on a festering wound.
If this touches anyone today, please read this next paragraph carefully:
You have value. You are beautiful. You are worth good things. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of healthy relationships. You are enough- RIGHT NOW. You are enough- JUST AS YOU ARE. You are loved.