WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2014
We had a group discussion with some church friends recently and this question was presented..
Do you all feel that Christians are known more for what they stand against or what they stand for?
Everyone agreed that for the most part- Christians are known for what they stand against.
As someone who has lived well over half of her life scared to death of Christians and especially the infamous "church lady" - I remember vividly what it was like to be unchurched and unsaved and un- everything.
Like it was yesterday.
I wanted nothing to do with Christianity and the church and their Jesus.
And I had a long list of reasons but they made it abundantly clear that there was a series of events I
had to go through before He would ever be mine.
It seemed as though I was living in the land of "you have sinned and you are going to burn in hell" - where I belonged mind you, and all of the church ladies were living life high on the hog by way of the front row and never having sex before their wedding night.
I can remember pulling into church parking lots again and again and sitting there bawling my eyes out as I watched married couple after married couple walk inside the holy doors of we have it all together -sorry about your luck.
I never had the courage to actually go inside.
Then finally, I can remember it taking everything I had to walk in those dreaded doors one Sunday morning with my baby girl in my arms. I was an unwed single mama raising a baby on about $6.00 an hour and no support of any kind. I left the trailer that morning and looked at the gift that I didn't deserve and told her we were going to give this Jesus a try. I cried the entire way there and wondered if I looked nice enough, good enough, clean enough, churchy-enough.
I wondered if all of the perfect people would be able to see me past the missing wedding ring and the beautiful baby girl on my hip.
I wondered if they would embrace me. Accept me. Allow me in- in spite of my circumstances and in spite of my mistakes.
I'm sorry to share that I walked into a sea of judgement and condemnation during that season of my life.
And unfortunately it caused me to leave the church for nearly a decade.
Because when you are struggling with the lie that is "there is no way that a holy God could love a girl like me." And you are hanging on by a thread because life has just been too much....
Every moment counts.
The way you are received and welcomed or not.
The way the caregivers receive your child with kindness or not.
The way a seat is made available for you or not.
The way you are looked down upon, questioned or interrogated by church members or hopefully not.
The way someone took the time to speak with you or not.
The way you are shamed and condemned or accepted and loved.
All of those things and so much more are some of the reasons that people will give church and ultimately Jesus another chance.
But one of the biggest reasons I walked away was this. I didn't want what they had.
They made it loud and clear to me what they were against.
But they failed to demonstrate what they were for.
I didn't want to be judgmental and critical and look down my nose at folks.
I didn't want to spend my time pointing out other peoples sin and making them feel worse than and less than the thousand ways they already felt like a failure.
I've spent lots of time and lots of years with unsaved folks.
I've spent lots of time over the years listening to the hearts of the brokenhearted and the downcast and the overlooked and the shamed and those who have been cast aside by society.
And I've listened.
And learned so much.
Mainly I've learned what I want to stand for.
I believe that God is raising up a new "church lady" in this generation.
The following words are beautiful truths that I have seen shifting in the hearts of women who want to be known for following Jesus.
She will truly have His heart and His eyes to see sons and daughters when she looks at His people.
She will be a doer of the word and not a hearer only.
She will refuse to judge and condemn and do her best to love people back to wholeness.
She will be a fountain of mercy and grace and one who will breathe life back into dry bones.
She will know that it is the love of God that breaks every yoke.
She will be a living epistle of love and humility and will demonstrate the scriptures with kindness and gentleness and compassion.
She will give credit where credit is due.
She will point others to Him. She will give Him all the glory. All of the honor. All of the credit.
She will understand fully- the truth that is this. If it were not for the grace of God- there go I.
She will reach to the back row and encourage and minister to the hearts of the women who can't get past the grief and sorrow of their own life.
She will look past circumstances and situations and appearances that look different than her own to see daughters of the living God who have yet to discover their worth.
The new church lady is looking for opportunities to be a blessing- instead of looking for her own opportunities.
The new church lady knows that the only way up is down. She knows that "humility isn't thinking less of yourself but it is thinking of yourself less."
Graciousness is her hallmark.
Gratitude is her beauty treatment.
She is a woman of her word.
She is a worshipper. In spirit and in truth.
She is a prayer warrior and holds trust from others as sacred.
She is supportive of others and is not an opportunist.
She understands that to become the Proverbs 31 woman- you can't skip chapters 1-30.
She is fully aware of her own shortcomings and seeks Him daily for His love and guidance.
She recognizes hopelessness and worthlessness in others and speaks life.
She is an excellent listener. She listens with her head and her heart. She hears what is not being said.
She is a lifter. An encourager. A hope giver.
She forgives- fully.
She knows that the same grace that was made available to her- is also available to everyone else.
She does not gossip. She does not constantly brag or boast. She speaks blessing.
She sees the best. Believes the best. Hopes the best.
She places a high value on God's people.
She invests in the greatest investment in the world.
She is known for what she stands for.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, good fruit, impartial and sincere. ~ James 3:17
Challenging to me and made me think. Am I known by what I stand for or what I stand against?