Good Friday Wrecking

3.29.2013

I love Jen Hatmaker.  From 7 to the Makeover study I recently did with some amazing gals (internet friends turned real-life friends, we did Bible study via skype...so cool!) to her blog, I just love reading her thoughts.  She's eloquent and her heart is rock-solid.  There are a handful of strong, Christian women I am so blessed to get to try to emulate.  A few friends I met online, a few friends in my circle here, a few bloggers I don't "know," but I get to know through the internet, and my sister-in-law: they are such inspirations to me.  They really are a light to the world shining brightly, reflecting God's love.

All that to say, basically, that Jen Hatmaker wrecked me last night with this blog post.  I'm grateful, but wrecked.  That's one of those churchy words, sorry.  But she totally opened my eyes to something I've heard before, but never heard.  Americans have commercialized and, in turn, bastardized holy holidays.  I'm resistant to  drop the "commercialized" version of holidays entirely because my memories of Christmas and Easter from childhood are so magical.  I also know that I cannot shelter my children from the world entirely, nor am I supposed to, and I'm not sure I want them to be total outcasts. I'm  not sure I know the right words to explain to my children why their friends get easter eggs filled with candy and stockings filled with goodies and they don't.  I don't want my children to resent holy holidays because it represents something they see all around them that they don't get, but instead to understand the true meaning.  I am really seeking out a way to do this.  I'm always learning; I'm a work in progress.

This year, I really tried to make Christmas more about Christ and less about Santa and stuff.  I probably halfway succeeded.  Most presents were handmade and we nudged Ben to give Santa a toy of his to take to children in need with the plate of cookies and cup of milk.  We read from The Jesus Storybook Bible each day of the month of December and watched a few movies together as a family.  None of it felt like enough at all.  I have even greater plans for this year.

But when I read the aforementioned blog post and the two other posts she linked to within that post, I felt slapped upside the head.  In a good way.  Sort of.
This is the week Jesus rose to his task and split history in two. This is the week he rode on a donkey, cried in the garden, suffered on the cross, rose into glory. This is the week that sinful, broken humans were granted a pardon, justified to perfection and set free. It is too miraculous for words. Songs and sermons fail us; we huddle at the cross, overwhelmed by the punishment that brought us peace.

 
Family, what does worship look like in light of this miracle? How do awe and wonder and gratitude and humility mark our lives as we honor the cross? As I’ve said before here and here, it seems barely worth mentioning that chocolate bunnies and fancy new dresses not only miss the gravity, but miss the point. I daresay the American response to Easter is insulting, devastating even."

I don't know about you, but the words she chose pierced my heart.  Everything clicked.  It all made sense.  Here we are, spending money on eggs and candy and fancy clothes we'll wear one time in a year, and for what?  It's actually appalling.  And, yeah, devastating.  We really are bastardizing this holy holiday.  I know that's a little vulgar, but, well, so is what we've been doing.  Jesus Christ went to the cross for US!  For a giant population of sinners spitting in His face.  Literally.  He suffered tremendously and died so that we could be free.  And then He rose again.  And we celebrate this with fluffy bunnies, frilly outfits and chocolate.  Where along the way did we lose sight of the truth of this holiday?  What are we teaching our children when they get excited about Easter because they get to slip into sugar comas and bounce around the yard in bunny ears searching for eggs?

Sigh.

Jen Hatmaker, you changed my heart today.  Completely and irrevocably.  I will not be able to go out and buy us outfits this weekend to wear one time.  Luckily, I've been a slacker mom who hasn't done this yet.  Nor have I bought our Easter eggs or chocolate yet, thank goodness.  Or maybe thank God?  Maybe He's been working in my heart.  I can't read her story of how their church did Easter smack dab in the middle of the homeless community and feel satisfied to dress up, go to church Sunday, come home, eat ham, throw some chocolate eggs on the lawn and go to bed.  I don't know what Easter is going to look like for us from now on, but I know it's going to be different.  And I am determined to find a way to make my kids love it and get it.  I am ready to be radical.

God made the most unbelievable sacrifice.  Let us spend this weekend thinking about that.  Asking Him to show us how He would like us to honor this.
What if we calculated the money we’d spend on new clothes, anything having to do with a bunny and chocolate, and used that investment for great good, pouring out for someone in need of mercy? Maybe instead of matching outfits from Dillards, we invest in family t-shirts benefiting someone’s adoption, someone's mission for Christ. Perhaps rather than time and energy spent on ourselves, we ask: “Who can our family serve? Where can we put our hands and hearts to use in Jesus’ name?”  Who in your city desperately needs hope but won’t find their way to the sanctuary Sunday filled by people dressed to the nines?" - Jen Hatmaker

Oh boy. Here I go again.

3.28.2013

...and I should probably disable comments.  Heh.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you probably already know the Supreme Court conducted hearings on same-sex marriage this week. And if you're on social media, watch the news or read the paper (or maybe, you know, you just have a pulse and breathe in and out), you probably also know, or can imagine, the division that has come along with this week's events.

I've never pretended to be a conservative. Well, maybe in my very newborn Christian days, but once I learned to think for myself and gained some confidence in my own place in Christianity, I decided to come out of hiding and admit that I'm a liberal Christian. And ever since doing so, I've felt more and more confident in my beliefs, as I watch those around me fight and push away those who don't believe.

On facebook, it's easy to throw out mean words at people, because you aren't witnessing their facial expressions, their tone - nothing.  It is so easy to forget there are living, breathing human beings on the other side of the screen who feel emotions in the same way you do.  It's really easy to share a facebook page that says, "Hey, I shouldn't have to redefine marriage just because 3% of the country is homosexual.  I'm one of the 98%,"  and other  sad sentiments I saw all over facebook this week (I was really envying my hubby's social media hiatus).  But behind the screen, seeing this, is a teenage girl who is already grappling with society's clear disgust over what she desperately wants to get rid of but can't.  Sadly, the rate of suicide among teenage and young adult homosexuals is high.  And what you may not understand because you were born in a body that is attracted to those of opposite sex is the feeling that must come along with the whole world fighting against you, calling you disgusting, telling you that you, as a human being, are not equal to me, because I am "good."  I am heterosexual.  I am going to heaven and you will burn in hell.

I could write a whole post on why I'm not ready to say I believe homosexuality is a sin.  I've researched the bejeez out of it and downright begged God to show me His truth, because I can't wrap my mind around it.  But that's a post for another day...or, more likely, never.  Luckily I don't have to explain myself to anyone but my Savior.  Luckily He is the only one whose judgment matters.  I'm not a Biblical scholar.  There are plenty of those, and there are plenty of people who hold what seem to be some pretty sound arguments against the idea that homosexuality is so clearly defined as sinful today.

But the real point I'm trying to make here is that if you want to change a heart - if you are truly after changing a heart because you love someone and want to see that person turn away from their sin, repent, and receive the glorious gift of Heaven and Jesus Christ, then it's time to change course.  You might not realize it, but you're actually accomplish the complete opposite.  Taking to facebook to share hateful little quips and toddler-esque whiney ecards will never, ever, EVER change a heart.  Never. Ever.   Ever.  Using the cross that was created as a spin-off of the red and pink equal sign plastered across facebook screens all over the world this week is downright appalling.  You're sending a message you probably don't even know you're sending.  And you're talking in a language that those who don't believe can hear.  No, what they see is "Oh, look at that religious person being all judgey and bigoted with their pink and red cross."

There is nothing loving, nothing gracious about the behavior I've seen emanating from Christians in my circle this week.  Aside from a very small handful, I've been so shocked and saddened.  It is so ironic, isn't it?  Those who claim to have the power of Jesus Christ inside of them - a man who loved so purely and perfectly - are the ones who so often use this same man to justify being mean and hateful.  I don't get it.  I never will.  In the last year, as I grew in my confidence as a Christian and began to get a little more vocal, push back a little harder against my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I started to see a beautiful thing happen.  I started receiving requests to learn more.  I started getting more questions, getting thanks.  It has become so clear to me this year that collectively, we've gone about this thing all wrong.  We're pushing people away, guys!  We're pushing them away.  How sad.

I told a friend this week that I really do believe the intentions are (mostly) good.  And I really believe that in my core.  There are bad apples; there always are.  But I think most of those tearing down homosexuals are coming from a place of love.  In their own warped ways.  Once you submerge yourself in Christian culture, you start to talk in an entirely different language.  And to those who don't believe, it makes no sense.  We're dunking people in a freezing cold pool of, "Here's Jesus Christ!  Take it all now or take nothing!" rather than allowing them to slowly submerge themselves into the most beautiful waters, toe-by-toe.

I feel a certain qualification here in that I was an adult before I was "born again" and I know exactly what turned me off and pushed me away, and it was only by coming to Christ again slowly, on my own terms, and learning little by little, that I began to desire a relationship with Him, and then my heart began to change, and then I began to see and accept so many things I used to find unpalatable about the Christian religion.  The Lord changed me at my core, but it didn't happen because someone shoved a cross in my face and said, "You sinner!  You aren't worthy of the Kingdom and you are going to burn in hell if you continue on this path you're on!  Accept Jesus now or be damned!"  This is an exaggeration, obviously, but I've no doubt that similar sentiments have been spoken, and as I said above, so often we think we're sending a message that we aren't.  And instead, we're sending the opposite message, and we're pushing people away.

I'm not saying cover up the truth in an attempt to win people over.  Please, no.  Let's never stoop to that level.  But we are Christians, and our laws don't apply to everyone, and they never should.  Provided no one is being harmed, there is literally no solid or sane reason to continue to tell a whole segment of our population that they don't deserve the same rights afforded to us simply because they were born differently.  I'll be the millionth person to say this, but there was a time not so long ago when people used their Bibles to condone slavery and all sorts of other bigotry.  Let's not continue on this journey, telling the rest of the world they're not good enough for Jesus, as though we are worthy to declare such things anyway.

If you are really coming from a place of love and your true intention is to save a loved one...do it already.  Get off facebook, don't "like" another bigoted or hateful meme, and pick up the freaking phone.  Go make a visit.  Get face-to-face with the person you love.  If you love them, you owe them that.  And if you don't have a homosexual in your life you love, then please...stay out of it.  It doesn't impact you anyway.

Let's be like Jesus, who made a habit of hugging sinners, not throwing stones.

I beg you, stay off facebook with your hate. You're giving Jesus a bad name.
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