Sunday, January 16, 2011

Steppin' on toes, my own as well...

The last couple of months I've had many of these thoughts percolating... These seemed to all spill out when I was at a youth conference (Mark Matlock's Planet Wisdom) with our youth group. I scribbled frantically in any spare space in my conference notebook trying to get what has been burdening my heart out on paper. While although I haven't blogged in a year and a half, I was compelled to try to capture my thoughts.

Loving and ministering to people is messy.
People are messy.
We, the church, need to love people even in the mess, despite the mess... love them where they are - mess and all...
Are we accepting / welcoming people into our family as the people they are currently, or are we expecting / demanding them to clean up first, meet certain standards; or get left out?
We need to meet people with open arms where they are, as they are.
Are we willing to open the doors, open our arms, open our hearts to them? Or are we preferring our own ease, our own comfort, over their uncomfortable mess?
Are we so prideful that we don't see that Jesus loves US in OUR MESS?
Are we rationalizing our pride?
Is it that we are lazy, only caring for ourselves?
Are we willing to DO LIFE TOGETHER with messy, imperfect people, or are we demanding that they leave their mess at home before they come?
Doing life together with those around us is messy!

God doesn't NEED our help to love these people! He CHOOSES us, He CALLS us... NOT only to love these people; but to CHANGE US in the process! To CONFORM us more into His image. Are we missing out because we are choosing to pursue our own comfort instead?
Are we missing out on a blessing because we don't want to get messy?

God is PASSIONATE about you! God is PASSIONATE about people - messy, quirky people.
Are we going to love them, even become passionate about them; as true followers and imitators of CHRIST? Or are we going to be comfortable?
Are we conveying that truth through our attitudes, actions, love, deeds to other people? What do others assume about God through watching how we react to them?
Are we busy being offended, or are we extending God's grace?
Are we busy arguing because we are offended, or are we busy arguing for those who are defenseless?

I love the sound and voice of John Mayer, but when I hear his song "Waiting on the World to Change", the lyrics infuriate me a little bit more each time. Now I wonder (maybe I don't want Mayer and his friends acting to change the world), but could these lyrics be about me? Could they be about CrossRidge Church? Could they be describing the apathetic American / Western / Commercialized brand of Christianity that is prevalent?

Me and all my friends
We're all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There's no way we ever could

Now we see everything that's going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it
(but the Bible says we have the same power in us that raised Christ)

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It's hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Instead of standing at a distance, we need to BE the change we want to see! Even in a small way, step out and follow God even in baby steps.

1 John 3:18 "...let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

John 13:35 "Your love for one another will PROVE to the world that you are my disciples."

Are we proving that we are disciples of ease, comfort, selfishness? Or are we proving we are disciples of Jesus, the God who came down and got messy!?
Are we living in the very Presence of The Living God? Or are we living in our own presence?

Ephesians 5:1&2 "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

It all boils down to this: Who will we imitate and exalt in our lives? God or ourselves?