What We Should Be Fighting For

Dear Bride of Christ (aka the North American Church),

The church is the beloved Bride of Christ.  God’s plan to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Yet here in North America, you make me sad. As the world continues to get more confounding, I find you do too.
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I don’t understand all the fighting. In case you aren’t active on social media, with Christmas Day falling on a Sunday this year, there has been a growing disagreement amongst believers in North America over going to church on Christmas Day.  In one corner, we have the Go To Church or You are Bad. In the other corner are the If You Don’t Go to Church You Love Your Family More. Does it really matter?

Is there a right or wrong here? You do what’s best for your family. If you’ve got twenty dinners to attend on Christmas Day and going to church is going to wipe you out, is it sinful to skip it? If going to church will make the day even better, does that mean you love your family less?

I admit, I started to get swept up in it too. It’s so easy to make swift judgements and proclamations. But why does it matter what someone else is doing? Why are we fighting about this? Is it really going to matter when we stand before God whether we went to church on Christmas?

It got me to thinking as I thought about this more…The fighting might be an issue. It’s a stupid thing to fight about and the joke’s on us. There are people who look at the church and chalk it up to one more thing Christians do that makes absolutely no sense. Especially at Christmas! Why would they want to come among a group of people to celebrate love and peace when those same people can’t seem to get along and aren’t very nice in the process? It makes me sad because the church was meant to be so much more. We are the Bride of Christ. Instead it seems in North America we tend to fight and judge and turn on each other too much of the time.

Now I’ve been in ministry long enough to know that this is not every church or every Christian. Some are doing it really well. But others….

If we are in a fighting mood then here’s what I think we as the church should be fighting for:

– all the children who are starving in the world. The children who forage in the dumps for a crust of bread. It might be the only meal for the day. If they’re lucky.
– the widows and orphans who are fighting to stay alive. Every. Single. Day.
– those who are alone, depressed, alienated and lost.
– those who are suffering because someone they loved is no longer here.
– those who are sick and hurting.
– all the people who live in nursing homes and never have a visitor.
– those who have so much stuff they can’t see what they really need.

Who’s fighting for them?

Beloved, we are the ones who have been given the task of bringing the Good News of God’s love for his people, to those around us. It’s inside us to give that gift not in a pushy, self-righteous, I’m right you’re wrong way. It’s inside us to give that gift in love, in relationship, in humility.

Christ left his Father in Heaven to come down and be here with us. This is astoundingly good news and yet we are fighting about whether it’s right or wrong to go to church on Christmas Day, among other things?

We are given the task to be the hands and feet of Christ. What would happen if we as the church actually did that on Christmas Day and on into the new year?

It doesn’t have to be much. Maybe it’s a kind smile along with helping to shovel snow for an elderly neighbour. Or some extra cash given without strings or a tax receipt to someone who needs it more than we do. What if it’s being kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it but probably needs a good dose of love right about now? Or putting down our phones, or work or books, and being engaged with our children? How ‘bout seeing someone who feels invisible?

Maybe, just maybe, could we set aside ourselves for a minute, and go, be the Bride of Christ to those around us? Mirror Jesus to those who are begging for just a glimpse of hope this Christmas and new year.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 NIV

My 2016 OneWord Fail

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This is not a blog I really wanted to write. It’s an admission of failure. Wait, that doesn’t seem like the right word. More of an I didn’t try all that hard, maybe.

I did that whole one word thing this year, remember? My word has been TURN for 2016. Its a good word and one I felt was chosen for me. There was a promise of hope attached to it. I believed it was a good way to filter the year.

Except I didn’t do that.

Honestly? I got good at writing about turning and figuring how it should play out but then I would back away. Turn away. TURN was supposed to be about change for the better. It was supposed to be about growth. An opportunity to TURN and open myself to a few things I found difficult. I ran from it, taking giant steps backwards instead of moving ahead. I didn’t really want to change.

I wasn’t just running from those difficult turns, I was running away from the One asking me to TURN to these hard things. I wasn’t sure I trusted Him anymore.

Back in January, I read these lines from Louie Giglio’s book, I Am Not But I Know I Am, which I’ve gone back to on and off over the year. He writes, “No matter how crazy the plot line of our sinful choices, God twists our turns into an occasion to show that He is better still.” (p. 83) I had underlined the word” turns.” That was my focus. Looking at that quote again it’s the last part of the sentence that stands out to me today.

I think I should have underlined “He is better still.”

We can only run for so long and then we hit a wall. We can’t outrun God. We think we can but really do we want to? Being able to outrun God would signify we were lost, never to be found. Thankfully nothing is hidden from God. Ever. We can try and hide but we won’t succeed. He knows our comings and goings, our every thought. Psalm 139

TURN has been narrowed down to this one question for me: Do I believe “He is better still?”

Giglio is talking about how God redeems our mistakes, redeems us and through it all shows the world, He is more than our messes, more than us. He is God Almighty, I AM. But more than that, He is the best gift we’ll ever receive.

I know that He is I AM. I have a solid Sunday school background behind me after all. My question is more personal. Do I trust him enough in my own heart, in our relationship, to be I AM in my life? To trust him with the crap, the suffering, the hurts, the joys, the adventure? Do I think “He is better still” than all the sins I love to hang on to? Because if I did, I’d let them go, wouldn’t I? Do I think “He is better still”, than all the successes and achievements I can garner? They would mean little if I did. Do I think “He is better still” than the wounds I like to nurse? I’d let Him heal them if I did.

I know what the answers should be to those questions. We all do. The question is, are we willing to live them out? And there it is. Free will. He won’t make us. It’s up to us.

Will we choose to TURN to the difficult and hard places or will we run? For me it’s not a one time answer, this is a daily thing. I have to choose everyday, which is why my answer to the question has to be Yes, “He is better still.” If it’s not, I will always choose me.

And that friends, has been my ongoing battle with the word TURN.  Obviously I’m not done with this word.  It’s going with me into 2017 although I’d love to kick it to the curb!  Instead I can see it morphing into something else.  I’ll guess I’ll have to wait and see.

If you chose a word for 2016 how did it go for you? What were your battles and your successes?  I’d love to hear about them!