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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Just a thought or two...What have we done with the love of Christ?

Just a thought or two...What have we done with the love of Christ?

I recently left a church service where we were admonished to spend some time with old friends and make new ones. But we did not.

We circle our wagons and crowd together with people we know well or with whom we feel the most comfortable. That’s human nature. We continue, against our teachings, declarations of our covenants and creeds, and professions of our faith, to continue to build fences and make distinctions; we continue in a spirit of divisiveness, superiority and non-forgiveness.

How is it that we allow others to continue to feel alone and isolated in a room full of people? How is it that we have people falling over themselves worshiping God, but never speak to the person sitting next to them? What I find interesting is that the love and care we can clearly show to each other while we are actively engaged in the service, glorifying God and raising our holy hands, does not extend beyond the sanctuary door or beyond the last chord played by the organist for that unified "Amen." The warmth, benevolence and unity we proclaim to share, we do not.

Is it truly with the heart of God that we serve Him and ostensibly others during our formal worship time, and completely lose sight of immediately after? Or more sadly and I fear more correctly, I do not think we really understand God’s heart during the process and therefore are incapable of sharing it once the service is over. Despite our claims to the contrary, we just don’t get it. We don’t get God’s unwavering love. We don’t get God’s grace. So, we can’t give it. We are repeatedly inundated with the message that the love and grace of God / Christ should be shared with all and shown toward all. But we do not.

Could it be the difference in our fundamental tenets of faith or are we really that afraid to reach out and extend ourselves to the "little people," the not-so-famous, the not-so-attractive, the not-so-popular, the not-so-important, the not-so-clean...or to paraphrase Christ, to the least of these? The hurting? The lost?

Is this not who the love of God is given to us for? It should break our hearts as we look around our sanctuaries, and we should be searching that same place and asking, "How do we fix this?"

It is no small wonder that those who are not firmly attached to the Body of Christ and / or do not have good self-esteem, make little or no attempt at reaching into the Christian family. They may lose a hand. They know, even if we cannot admit it to ourselves, that we eat our young; we destroy our "baby" Christians.

We have people we see every day, who sit in our midst and share our spaces that have been set adrift in the tumultuous sea of life. They are waiting for those of us who live in the lighthouse, those of us who are quick to assert that we are the hands and feet of Jesus to offer them comfort and sanctuary. And we give them none.

They must work to get our attention. They must strive to conform to our ideas and mores even before they can cross our threshold.

I submit that we have not the love of Christ. And if we had it at one time, we have lost it. So, where do we find it? And, after we find it, how do we give it away? Because that is what the love of Christ and the lives that we have been given are for. To squander them unashamedly and without reserve on others. To sow positive deeds, words and thoughts into other peoples live, to encourage them, to prop them up, to help them. To show them the way.

I know you want to say, “Well, I belong to a community of believers?” What does that mean? What makes people into a community, and not just a bunch of people who show up in the same place every week? Coming to worship should not feel like stumbling into a subway car with the same strangers every day. But too often it does. Does a community require physically touching other people? Or is it just the emotional attachment? Do we need to rub up against other people's lives to make us a community? What is missing in our churches is not just physical touch. Nor is it emotional outpouring. We have people who cry and confess every week. What binds us together? Who cares if I don't show up? If I don't reach out? If I never share my story? Who knows if I am at home alone, heartbroken, sad or just lost? The computer can't help me; I don’t have to log on. How will anyone know? Are my cyber-friends going to come to my house and lift me from my gloom? The people sitting in the pew next don’t want to know my pain and don’t really want to hear my story. They want to go to service and go home, back to their own lives.

I think what may be missing, whether we are talking about a physical structure or an online church is emotional accountability. We must be linked to people with whom we share some emotional currency. Most of us just are not built for isolation and anonymity. We all want to feel that we matter to someone.

Where is the love we are to have for each other?

Everyone wants change, but no one wants to change.

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Have you thought about making some changes in yourself lately?

Just thinking out loud. Maybe it’s just me…


Michelle said...

What a powerful thought that has challenged me to do better at showing Christ love in everything that I do and everwhere I go. So many times I go to church and only conversate with the people I already know. What about the stranger that is sitting next to me that may not even know of the love of Christ? We do take a few minutes in the beginning of service to say hello and welcome 4 people to church but in those few minutes do I really show Christ love to those that need it the most? I have also challanged myself to show Christ love not only at church but the grocery store, school functions, work, and even right here in my own neighborhood.

"In the same way, let your light shine before people in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Doc said...

Thanks for leaving the comment. One of the things I have found interesting about thinking and writing this blog is that it convicts my own heart as well. We all need to do better and try harder.