Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saturday Morning Soapbox

Yes, I said I was done posting on this blog.  And I really thought I was!  I've been maintaining my Thinking Positive blog, but there's something that's on my mind and heart that I just can't be quiet about.  And this Caribbean Daydreaming blog is the only appropriate place to write about it.  If for no other reason than the fact that it's a lesson I began learning in the Caribbean and continue to learn FROM some of my fellow Caribbean spouses...

If you know me at all, you know I am a Christian.  I love God, I love serving His people, I love living my life following His plan (or at least trying desperately to).  But people, sadly I frequently find myself shaking my head and having to pick my jaw up off the floor because of the things that my fellow Christians do and say.  Y'all...in the last 2 years I have been both wholly blessed by and also sickeningly slandered by...yes you guess it...CHRISTIANS!  I don't want what I'm about to write to offend any of my brothers and sisters who have been so very supportive and prayerful for me and Jonathan lately and always.  We love you...the way you exhibit God's love is how it should be done!  And we feel His warmth and His comfort each time we remember you!  So please don't read this and think that I in any way resent your love and friendship.  On the contrary, it's refreshing to interact with Christians like you.  Restores my hope that there might still be some hope for the Christian community to flippin' snap out of it...

In the interest of keeping myself from getting on my soap box and ranting for pages and pages, let me break this down into a few key points.  I have to keep this thing organized otherwise it will turn into a novel (which honestly, maybe it should be...).  Since there was a particular event that specifically set me off yesterday (I went to bed mad about it and woke up madder about it this morning), let me first start with:
SERVING

As Christians, we grow up in the church being taught about serving "the least of these".  About being the "hands and feet of Jesus".  We read about the ministry of Jesus.  We point out that Jesus sat with the lepers, had conversations with prostitutes, loved thieves, etc.  We go on mission trips, run food drives, etc.  And yet...and yet when the rubber meets the road, I find Christians almost always unwilling to step out of their comfort zone and really SERVE.  Y'all...it's not enough to get in the comfy church van, drive to a mission site, do a little mild work, eat a fabulous home cooked meal, say some prayers, and walk away.  IT'S NOT ENOUGH.  When God called Jonathan and I to Dominica, He did so to literally RIP us out of our comfort zones.  I wasn't happy about it at first.  But I decided there had to be a reason that I was being plucked from my perfect little suburban America life and placed in a 3rd world country.  There was a reason why God had me encountering 20+ people in need and in poverty on my way to and from my apartment each day.  And it wasn't just to "stretch" ME, guys.  It was because those people...are HIS PEOPLE.  I certainly don't serve His people perfectly.  I mess up and I choose comfort over serving way more than I should.  But it bugs the HECK out of me that Christians love sitting in their silly little circles and TALKING about Jesus and His ministry...but they rarely if EVER put themselves out there the way He did. How often do we go down to the city mission, scoop up a homeless child who is filthy, put them in our laps and tell them they are loved?  How often do we roll down the window for those panhandlers and offer to buy them dinner?  How often do we step outside of the walls of our beloved churches and actually live out what we talk about??  Gosh, y'all.  We are MISSING IT!!!  We are reaping only the fringe benefits of our Christianity.  Of our faith.  Because God dwells IN His world.  He is among those impoverished, those imprisoned, those in abusive relationships.  And I'll tell you, those people wading through those life situations don't give two craps about your Women's Bible Study group.  They don't care about your prayers either, frankly.  What they are thinking is, "If you're a Christian and you love God, where the heck are you???".  And seriously...WHERE THE HECK ARE WE???  If I'm telling the truth, we are in one of our 3 weekly Bible studies or being a pew jockey on Sundays...while the people of God suffer right outside our doors!  And we pray for them...and that's about it...

GIVING

I could get on my high horse for HOURS about this one.  Especially today since what has set me off deals partly with serving but mostly with giving.  We have sermons about "tithing".  How it is our responsibility to give our 10% to the church or to "God's work".  It's our responsibility...really...our obligation.  We tithe...because we have to.  So we can check that box on the "How to Be a Good Christian" checklist.  We give our money only after we "know" that it's going to a "worthy cause".  As if our freaking money is ANYTHING!  As if that money is not given by God anyway.  And somehow we have this death grip on it like our "discernment" in how to "give" it means anything at all.  Y'all...God calls us to GIVE.  Not to nit pick the giving and decide whether it's a worthy cause.  You give...let Him do the discerning.  When He says, "Daughter, hand that $20 out the window", just flippin' do it!  Who cares if they turn around and buy a carton of cigarettes?  God didn't say "serve the least of these as long as they don't buy booze".  Jesus didn't withhold His healing of prostitutes and lepers contingent upon...well really anything.  He just did it because He loves them.  And so should we.  Have you ever wondered what the beggar thinks when you smile at them, hand them money or food or things, and tell them "God Bless You"?  Or even just "Hope you have a good day!"?   Even if they turn around and spend it on something you don't think they should buy, even if they turn around and throw that sack of burgers in the garbage,  it was the intention that mattered.  It was the LOVE that you gave that mattered.  And your freaking money is nothing.  Really.  Likewise, if your heart is not in the right place when you give whatever it is that you're giving, you might as well not give it at all.  Don't give it.  Seriously.  They don't need your stuff or your money if you give it with a twisted heart or mindset.  You might as well be handing them out a handful of sawdust.  You don't get a flippin' "high five" from God because you "gave" if you gave without a giving heart.  He shakes His head and scoffs at your giving when you decide you need to put the endeavor under the microscope and micromanage your "gift".  It's like giving a kid a Barbie doll but making sure they never make her wear red.  At that point, the giving is about you.  And it's selfish.  And it's lukewarm.  And we know what God does with lukewarm faith...

ATTACKING EACH OTHER

I end here.  Because THIS, my friends, makes my stomach turn.  It lights my fire so intensely that I can't possibly be quiet about it any longer.  Do you know that some of the nastiest people I've ever known in my life are Christians?  In my life, the people who have hurt me the most deeply were...yes...Christians!  And many times they've done it under the auspice of "spurring on their fellow Christians".  Or even worse, they've abandoned completely what God says about community and love, and they've attacked me as if I'm the enemy.  Discouraged me.  Despised me.  Judged me.  "Rachel, you are going to hell"...from a Christian.  "You should have offered me a refund on my donation to that cause because you spent the money on school uniforms and food for that family instead of what I thought it should be spent on"...from a Christian.  "How can you in good conscious support that family's adoption?"...from a Christian.  "You shouldn't be with Jonathan...he's an instrument of the devil"...FROM A CHRISTIAN!!!!  I've watched Christians attack each other with so much "conviction" over these past few years that it literally makes me sick.  I have friends who are atheists who were raised in a faith community and walked away from it completely because of who they believe Christians (and then subsequently Christ) to be.  For them, it's easier to believe that God doesn't even exist at all than to believe He does and watch Christians live their lives the way they do "in God's name". It sickens them...and it sickens me.  And it doesn't matter what kind of "good witnesses" they see in Christians...because the minute they see the majority of us being hateful, judgmental, exclusive, stingy, or just plain ugly they say, "See.  And THAT'S why I can't stand Christians."    So many Christians have abandoned Christ's message.  LOVE your neighbor.  LOVE never fails.  LOVE, y'all.  Unadulterated love without question, without stipulation, with abandon.  And we should love EACH OTHER.  Love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  If we can't love each other...if we slander each other, throw our brethren under the bus every chance we get, question their integrity publicly, murder their reputation...how in the WORLD do we think we can love the least of these??  Loving each other is easy.  It's SO easy.  It's safe to love another Christian...or at least it should be.  Funny I should say that after some of the Christians I've encountered who have been some of the most unsafe people in the world for me to put my trust in.  It's been unsafe for me to be vulnerable around some of these people because they've turned right around and burned me worse than anyone ever has.  To heck with all your talk of loving orphans and feeding the hungry and supporting those in crisis...to heck with all that...while you talk about your brothers and sisters like they're garbage.  Again with that lukewarmness.  Your "giving", your "serving"...it's sawdust...if you don't first LOVE.  And love well.  When it's easy and when it isn't.  God doesn't want your stupid checklists.  He doesn't want to see you shut yourself up in the church in your Bible study groups while His world is dying, hurting, needing...and you do nothing.  And He hates it even more when someone who proclaims His name...speaks about His goodness...doesn't display that in their own lives.  It's not a wonder atheism and agnostics are on the rise in the US.  It's become easier to claim God doesn't exist than it is to trust Christians.  Ew.  Makes my heart hurt, y'all...

In closing...as my pulse and my blood pressure are elevated ;)...let me say this.  God calls us to radical faith that tests us.  He calls us to SACRIFICIAL giving that challenges us.  He calls us to serve His people untiringly...most ESPECIALLY when it's uncomfortable.  He's dwelling right outside our comfort zones...and we are MISSING it.  While we are so intrinsically motivated that we can't even SEE where He really is.  If we don't first love, it's all in vain.  Give, serve, love.  Not micromanage, judge, manipulate.  And until we snap out of this as Christians, I'm afraid we're missing God's purpose entirely...


"Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me." -Matthew 25:45

"Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." -Ephesians 5:1-2

"Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another." -Ephesians 5:21


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