Sometimes I just wish we could be honest and truly open with each other. It sure would save a lot of heartache and confusion at times, wouldn't it? Other times it may cause MORE heartache and confusion. That's the thing with relationships. They really do need to be REAL to make them worth anything. But it's HARD to do! Oh there's also MANY levels to relationship, but I don't have time to try to explore that right now.
I love my relationship with my husband, my family and my very close friends. I KNOW they LOVE me, no matter what and I love them the same! I know that sometimes when we have a falling out or disagree or get angry with each other... LOVE covers a multitude of sins. "Above ALL, LOVE each other DEEPLY, because Love covers a MULTITUDE of sins." 1 Peter 4:8 I think if my family had a Family Crest... THAT would be it!
Many of you who KNOW me, who read this, will think... "Oh yeah... I REALLY have put up with her crap a few times!!" (you know who you are) To this, I say, THANK YOU!!! We do work through it and past it, don't we?? It's a BLESSING to have relationships like that. It's a tiny picture of how Father Loves us!
I have to take some time to beef about a few things my Friends, and I hope you don't mind. One thing that really bothers me... Is how churches and people often times pretend to be something they're not. For instance, many churches will say they "welcome and love everyone". But what they DON'T say is that they feel they reserve the right to let people know when they're "out of line" and really NOT welcome. Their Love, is conditional.
I HATE "unwritten rules" Because you DON'T know what's really expected of you! I tend to try to let people know what I'm thinking and feeling, which OFTEN gets me into trouble. I guess I just wish they would do the same to me. No one can really follow unwritten rules. They're confusing and sneaky.
For instance. If you are a church that believes that homosexuality is a "BAD sin"... FAR WORSE than other "sin", like arrogance, for instance. (Note Sarcasm) If you really have no intention of being "tolerant" of that (because you hate that word and think it's evil).
Could you then please put that on your church doctrinal statement or at least on your website??
Like you could say in your bulletin, "We welcome ALL people, you matter to God, but there are a certain type of people who will ONLY be truly welcomed if they realize they need to feel ashamed of themselves when in our presence."
Oh, also could you PLEASE take out that part about believing that the bible is the word of God and without error and should be followed... because you are TOTALLY ignoring this passage in James: For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at JUST ONE POINT, is GUILTY of breaking ALL OF IT. James 2:10
But instead, many churches put things like THIS on their website...
"Because every person "matters to God", we will HELP all people grow in Christ centered faith, OBEDIENCE, service and witness."
or things like this,
"Because godly, effective leadership is VITAL in pursuit of OUR VISION, we will plan for and invest in the development of leaders at ALL LEVELS of church life."
This of course will insure that WHATEVER the main "leaders" at that church have to say is EXACTLY what God has to say and you should NOT question it EVER. AND, if for any reason a "lower leader" doesn't fit in with your club, you don't have to feel guilty when you shove them out.
These type of statements are very common among mega-churches today in America. They need to have a list of vague rules that protects their actions when they run people over with the bus to keep their big corporations going. Peoples' livelihood depends on it!! The scary thing is, that this type of behavior can also resemble cults. Although it is very veiled when presented in this way and the danger is slower and more sinister.
PLEASE do not feel I am picking on any one church or type of church. I DO see that MANY institutional churches do VERY good things, even when they have so many flaws!! It's because MOST of them are made up of VERY loving people!! Human peoples, and God has ALWAYS worked through flawed people!
Heck, I GO to church in a building!! But I have said it before and I will say it again. I have NEVER believed that the "Church" resides in any one denomination or "set doctrine" or even a building. I sort of feel that Jesus is in charge of what is really the church.
We don't get to decide. Sorry.
"I will build MY Church and the gates of HELL will NOT overcome it." ~Jesus (Mat 6:18) I guess, as a PART of that church, I feel I have the right to address some of these things. I've paid my dues. In more ways than one!
I have a friend who had gone to a church for quite some time. She made many friends and had a lot of support there. She struggled with making ends meet. One time, she came to church and someone left a $100 on her windshield when she got out!! (I LOVE stories like this!!)
But she ended up getting divorced and moved away and later she was in a Lesbian relationship after realizing that she had been gay all her life.
She then returned to this church after moving back and brought her girlfriend with her. When she introduced her girlfriend to some long time "friends" from there, she got the "stink eye" and rather snubbed by many who used to be very friendly to her before. She shared with me that she even made an effort NOT to show any public physical affection while she was there.
Then, she was called into a meeting with TWO Pastors. They told her that her girlfriend was NOT allowed to come to this meeting. Two against one. Please tell me how this is NOT bullying?? The gist of the meeting was that they told her she was rebellious and needed counseling. Translation: "You're evil and crazy"...
Now, granted, this story is "my version" from what I have been told by the person who endured it. I know what you may be thinking... "there are many sides to every story." You are very right. But let's just say that I have experienced a similar story in my own life and so have many, many people that I have come across in the Church.
People who have been cast off as "rebellious" or "prideful" or "bitter" or "not right in the head" and other shame inducing, belittling words. Words that Father does NOT speak over us. This is not just ONE story. It is a pattern in the Church that I personally believe Jesus' heart is very grieved over. I know that people will make judgements of ME just because I choose to share my thoughts on this. That's okay, I have taken all this up with the only One to whom I must give account.
The ramifications of being treated with that kind of rejection are more than MOST people can comprehend if you haven't gone through it. And you won't go through it when you're living in obedience to your "religion".
In society, these Pastors, strongly represent "God" to people. So if THEY reject you, it means that God has rejected you as well. It's why many people who have been treated like this lose their faith in God and completely give up Hope that He is Good and Loving. Have you any CLUE how many people have been damaged by THAT god?
There is a saying I read once that makes a lot of sense to me. "You shape your god... and your god shapes you." If you believe that the Heavenly Father can ONLY have relationship with you and love you based on your behavior, then you REALLY didn't read the Gospels. I dare to say you don't have a clue what Grace truly is! (HOW judgmental of me! Sorry!!)
Jesus, was NOTHING like that. He was called a GLUTTON, a DRUNKARD, a FRIEND of tax collectors, prostitutes and "sinners". That's the label Jesus got from the "Church Leaders" of His day. He always stood up for the outcasts that the religious self-righteous would not.
Having a conditional view of God's Love will ALSO affect how you treat others. Because then your relationships with others will also be very CONDITIONAL. "I will be your friend and love you... IF... you don't screw up, you don't turn to drugs, you don't have sex outside of marriage, you don't lose your temper with people, you don't become gay, you don't start entertaining doctrines *I* don't like, you don't have differing political views, you don't...
I have Hope that Jesus is NOT a friend like that. He said, "Greater Love has no one than this; to lay down one's life for one's friend! YOU are my friends if you do what I command. I NO LONGER call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. INSTEAD I have called you FRIENDS, for everything that I learned from my Father I HAVE made known to you." John 15:13-15 Now, Law Followers, please don't get too cozy with that part that says... "IF you do what I command..." because Jesus goes on to say...
vs. 17 THIS is my command: LOVE EACH OTHER. I want to TRY to love with THAT kind of Love.
You see, I think Jesus KNEW that if we really, REALLY loved one another, we would UNDERSTAND and KNOW what it was like to truly be loved by God! We would be SO blown away by THAT kind of Love... that we would want to love others the same way and the Kingdom WOULD come! "To lay down your life for another!"... That does NOT mean casting them off because they aren't "good" enough for you or your corporation!!!
I have Hope... that one day all relationships WILL be REAL and "Acceptance" will only have to do with the fact that Father HAS accepted us AS WE ARE... because HE laid down His life for us and proclaimed, "It is Finished"!
"But God demonstrates His OWN LOVE for us in this, while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us."