They Weren’t Hypocrites When They Got Here

A common objection to the Gospel of Christ is:

CHURCH IS FULL OF HYPOCRITES.

I wish there were another word, because this one makes me thing of Cockroaches.  Don’t ask me why. It has since I was little.

I digress.

Cockroaches.  I mean, hypocrites.

Yes, the church is full of them.  Because, as with every place you go, your business there is not necessarily about your “business”.  Meaning, say, you are a hiker.  And your dry cleaner is a hiker. When you go into the dry cleaners, he knows you’re there to pick up your pants.  You do business for years without ever finding out that you have the interest in common.  Unless you see him on the trail. Because you aren’t there to discuss your hobbies, you are there to do business.

When you are in church, you are there to worship, God, fellowship with others, be equipped to live out your faith.

Not air your dirty laundry.

We are ordinary human beings, no more able to attain to our ideals, than to leap off the roof and fly.

When someone objects to consorting with people who are not living what they believe, they are rejecting the man in the mirror.

Who does Jesus love more?  The guy who never makes a mistake?  Or the guy who can own his @#$%?  The sinner?  Or the guy who thinks he isn’t one?

The Bible is conclusive.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  He died for our sins.  Not our excuses, not our rationalizations,or good reasons.  My children will put me in an early grave telling me the ‘good reasons’ they don’t need to do what I say, the way I say to freaking do it. How God must feel when we do the same to Him?

The church is called the Body of Christ.  The body, at least where I live, is sick.  It’s members are plagued.  Living lives of pain and degradation, while showing up every Sunday and making fashionable, interesting, competitive, Christian chatter.

We’re shaving, showing up, and shmiling.  Sitting the pew.  Dying on the inside.

I’m an oddball.  My business is usually out there.  I’m constitutionally unable to act fine when I’m crumbling. Dealing with stuff head on.    People don’t like that.

2013 sucked. I found out about a lot of hurting people.

A.  Lot.

Not just the messy public ones.

Lots of men.  Who are supposed to be initiators, protectors, leaders.

Lots of kids.  Who we’re supposed to be loving and teaching the way to go.

We didn’t start out as hypocrites, but somewhere along the line, we forgot Jesus, like Billy Joel, preferred the sinners for dinner companions.*

That the prodigal’s dad was waiting for him to come home.  To party.

That the prodigal guy was sick of his sin.  A real hypocrite isn’t.

At our house, we don’t act like it didn’t happen.  If I yelled at Mickey, I yelled.  If I threw a book, I threw it.  If they told me they hated me, I said, “I know, but we’re talking about chores, right now.”

I get the impression that isn’t what’s going on around the community.

Kids are feeling like it’s burdensome and uncool to do what Jesus did.  Act out of love for the Father and others.  All the time.

Hypocrite?  That’s God’s call.

Sinner.  Yeah.*

The fault line is under pressure.  The tremors are coming.

We are about to get shook.

Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Up

Growing up is when you stop expecting people to already know what you are thinking.

Growing up is when you realize the laundry not being done is as much your problem as anyone else’s in the house.

Growing up is when you can admit you don’t know something.

Growing up is when you ask someone who knows better than you do.

Growing up is when you can trust their answer and use it.

Growing up is when you know what you like and don’t let your friends talk you into something else.

Whether that’s fashion or boys or food or colleges.

Growing up is when you can clean up another person’s vomit without having a holiday named in your honor.  Some people do this.  Some never ever do.

Growing up is when you take personal responsibility for turning off lights and water and closing doors and putting the leftovers away before they become a biohazard.

Growing up is when you realize that if you shouldn’t complain about a mess you aren’t willing to clean up.

Growing up is when you realize that if you aren’t willing to clean it up, you don’t really care.  You are a bitchy slob.

Growing up is when you realize that life isn’t a contest to see who can do the least.

Growing up is when you stop needing your mom to nag you to feel like you have permission to do the tasks that belong to you.

Growing up is when you keep loving someone who doesn’t love you back.

Just because God gave them to you.

Growing up is when you know that love doesn’t mean hanging out.

Growing up is when you have been lied to and lied about and you don’t demand apologies.

Growing up is when you are willing to wait to let the truth come out.  The easy way or the hard way.  The other person gets to choose.

Growing up is when you live with the hurt and pray for the other person to heal and have the best life God can make for them.  Without you.

And you let God be God while the pain sizzles, knowing He wastes nothing.  He’s growing something beautiful in you.

Growing up is when you get that Christmas isn’t presents and love isn’t kisses.

Growing up is when you learn to wait your turn.

Because it’s coming.

 

 

 

 

I’m Not Gonna Lie

I’m offended.

Those are really hard words to say.  I don’t know why, but I realized day before yesterday, that I had been trying to fight it out with myself.  Taking both sides (I don’t know the other person’s side).  I think it’s been so long, since I was able to admit I had been treated disrespectfully by someone I cared about, that I don’t know how to approach it.  Call it what it is.  Deal with it appropriately.

Move on.

I am a doofus.  Incredibly awkward.  Probably an acquired taste.  In my usual style, I thought, “This is not a big deal.  All I have to do is quick state my position. And be done.” In my haste, and because I wasn’t more judicious in my behavior, this person proceeded to shut me down.

Only I didn’t even realize it.

At first.

I could make a lot of excuses here.

There’s a 99.9% chance that I said something other than I meant.

But the other person said some things that were illogical to the most simple mind.  Some unbiblical things.  Some legalistic things.  Some shockingly insulting-by-implication things.

Pleasantly, to be sure.  Not like a friend.  Like a person who knows they are talking to someone with less understanding.

There are a lot of things I’d like to say back. But it wouldn’t do any good.

I mean, it might.  But based on the way it was handled, I don’t think I would be heard.

If I had waited on God before, it would have mattered.

But I went against the still, small voice and with an audible one.

So now, I am retreating.  Letting the wound wait.  Seeing if it will heal on its own.  Struggling with the idea that when you mess a beautiful thing up, rushing in to cover it may not be the best idea.  Maybe, you need to step back and see if it can become part of the work.  Intervening only in the least measure.  Using a delicate touch.

I get to do the hurting.  I hope the other party isn’t hurt.

!@#$%

I don’t have a right to be acknowledged.  I don’t have a right to be understood or to have my agenda be met.  Those are privileges.  Luxuries even.

I want to see great things from God.  And that always means to “seek peace and pursue it.”  To seek healthy relationships.

I have no idea what to do.  Letting go doesn’t always mean walking away.  Sometimes it means walking back into the line of fire.

 

 

The Heartbreak Imperative

I imagine Adam and Eve must have discussed  news, weather, and sports, before they began hiding from God and each other and speaking in vaguenesses and riddles.  No cooking or cleaning or who’s going to take the kids to practice.  Just how many goats were born and how many peaches in a pie.

*yawn*

I can’t imagine a world without conflict.  A job to do; no problems to solve.  How would that even work?

It’s immaterial.

Adam ate the fruit.  (Eve was deceived.  Adam went willingly.  No Buick necessary.)  The world and the human race were altered forever.

What we have now is a broken world full of people who, while created in the image of God, hunger and thirst and grasp for things that are not offered. Refusing the bounty before them, they seek more.  More power. More pleasure. More promise.  Just more.

It isn’t ugly most of the time.  Often it’s pitiful.  Sometimes it’s poetic. Mainly, it is a pedestrian pursuit of equality or “fairness”in comparison with our peers.  Ick.

Once we were broken.  Once we were ashamed.  Once we were isolated from God and each other, life became a battle to reclaim the unbroken and unashamed.  To know and be fully known.  To rest satisfied and to trust intimately.

More frightening and thrilling than extreme sports or stalking celebrities, is the practice of some odd souls to seek a deeply satisfying everyday existence.  Working to live…not living to work.  Being present for their kids.  Teaching those kids what they believe.  Telling them what’s right and wrong.  Trying to set an example of living graciously and by grace.  Loving their spouses–dare I say, sacrificially.

The risk is not, typically, being dashed on the rocks below or a felony conviction.

The risk is heartbreak.

From the cradle to the grave.  There are those who seem always to be doing it right and getting handed both ends of a too short stick.

Too much pain.  Too much loss.  Too much grief.

Too much.

There are those who are fearlessly, bravely, recklessly, deliberately, obediently walking onto the battlefield.

We look at them and wonder if we could handle that kind of heartbreak.

There have been times in my life, I’ve wondered if God creates certain people to be vessels to carry pain.  They grieve on behalf of many. They are to feel the pain, so that those who couldn’t handle it can pass by unscathed.

It’s been clear to me for many years, that God also trusts some of us with trials that would crush another.

He trusts me with these trials.  No need to be jealous of another’s…I couldn’t handle them.  In reality, there isn’t anyone else’s I know well enough to make that kind of call anyway.

Rambling?  Sorry.

We have hearts.

Before the fall, no biggie. Unbroken fellowship.  Nekkid intimacy.

After the fall, an eternal quest to plug into an ever-craving heart, anything and everything that doesn’t satisfy. It feels good and slowly kills us (like me and a nice Rx).  When we do figure out it’s only relational intimacy that will do, we then face the challenge of behaving for the other’s best without getting hurt.  A version of football’s “Prevent Defense”.

Eventually, we find that doesn’t work.

We have hearts.  If we are to be obedient stewards of them, we must step into life without our armor.  In order to fully live, we must have our eyes open.  Follow the rules of the game, no matter how hard it gets.  When we suffer a break, we know we are moving towards victory.

Yes, you heard me.

When we do right and get hurt, it’s a sign we’re using this heart, created in God’s image, the way it was designed to be used.

God doesn’t let on much about His heartbreaks.  His kids are a continual source of pain.  We throw his gifts in His face.  We disobey and get hurt.   He wants more for us. He wants unbroken intimacy with us and gets foolishness from us instead. He doesn’t put the focus on His desire, but on our safety, quite frankly. Even, more, on the security and satisfaction of our souls.

There is not a heartbreak we bear that doesn’t display His image on us.  His plan from the beginning has been for us to illustrate Him to those around us.

Remember photo negatives?  When you held them to the light, you could see a distorted vision of the actual.  After the developing process, the real picture was revealed.

One moment in time held up to the light.  Still, indistinct until the process is complete.

Ugly, until then.

Potentially exquisite.

What do they call it then?

Proof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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