There have been some things spinning around in my brain…
For some time now.
I have giving these thoughts time to marinate, before writing about them. Last weeks post for Finish The Sentence Friday, seemed to bring things to the forefront, and I cannot stop thinking about them. So…I am going to throw my thoughts out to the world and attempt to tie them all together. When I write I am not trying to tell you how to think, or what to think, but maybe, just maybe, it will cause us all to think a little bit deeper.
These thoughts will take several posts to tie together, I hope that you can with-hold judgement until the end, stick with me over the next several articles and maybe you will understand where I am “coming from” and where I am trying to “get to”. These topics are controversial hot topics in today’s society, polarizing, I hesitated to write about my beliefs but I could not get them out of my mind. I researched and read and prayed.
To begin, let me tell you a bit more about myself, so you can see where I am coming from. I am a Christian. I was raised in a small Methodist Church. My grand-parents were members, as well as my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles and many others who we call family.
I grew up believing in God, and I still do.
In fact, I was in the church choir, a teacher for Sunday and Bible school, an acolyte, and the custodian for the church. As you can see, I spent a lot of my youth in church.
Until recently, I had spent quite a bit of my time as an adult in church also.
One Sunday morning my husband and I were seated in church awaiting the service, the band played some incredible gospel music, getting us ready to open our hearts to hear the word. I loved this point of the service, watching everyone sing and raise their hands to the heavens. Creating a bond between the hundreds gathered, In His Name.
We were eager to hear the sermon, the topic was marriage, my husband is my mate as well as my best-friend. We are always open to ways to strengthen our marriage.
The pastor started speaking about Adam and Eve. Begin at the beginning, right? But then the topic of emphasis became apparent. We had come excited to hear about developing our marriage, and were sadly disappointed. The topic stressed was not what we were expecting.
Differences. How Adam and Eve were mates because they were different. One was male and the other female.
The entire sermon was about differences.
Before the sermon we greeted those around us, shaking hands and wishing them a good morning. It is a nice way in a large church, to get to know those you share space with, while you open your heart to the Word of God. There were 2 young men seated directly in front of us. They were in their late teens, early 20’s. My heart was happy to see them, and greet them.
Two young men, without parents in tow, who chose to spend Sunday morning in church. They were not sleeping off a party from Saturday night. These two young men were dressed nicely, friendly and respectful to us old folk around them. How nice.
I did not think anymore about them. I sat back to listen to the pastor. As the sermon topic became evident I saw one of the boys move closer to the other, sliding into the chair that had separated them earlier. They listened to the pastor speak, but their posture became stiff, rigid.
Leaning over slightly to whisper into his friend’s ear, one of the young men got up and walked out of the sanctuary, into the lobby.
I began to think a bit more about these young men. Realizing that they were more than friends.
The young man in front of us stayed in his seat but kept turning his head to see if his seatmate was returning. I listened to the pastor and watched the scene enfold in front of me. I was a bit sick to my stomach, feeling like a voyeur to a sea of emotions and feelings laid out before my eyes.
The second young man returned, whispering once again to his friend, touching his shoulder, looking into his eyes, and they got up and left.
I do not know that my interpretation of their relationship was correct, but my husband saw it all play out and came up with the same conclusion. These young men, clean cut, handsome, well dressed, pleasant, respectful young men-the future of our church and the disciples of our faith-were a couple.
They chose to come to our church, to soak in the Word of God, to be a part of our Church Family. Instead of finding love and acceptance, they found judgement. It broke my heart.
At this point
You may stop reading, I may have lost you. And if so, I am sorry that you cannot put yourself in my chair that Sunday morning, witness to that heartbreaking moment. But the God that I believe in, follow, and worship, He includes each and every one of us. He loves each and every one of us. No matter what.
In fact, the greatest commandment is followed by a second…
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
We are all sinners…
Each and every single one of us.
Getting up early is not something I am joyous about. Even on Sunday mornings. I grumble, I am grumpy, I complain. I don’t believe that God finds my complaining about getting up and going to church as a loving gesture. Still He welcomes me into His family. On the way to church, running late-as usual, I grumble about the traffic, the lack of parking, the fact that it is cold and rainy.
Christ-like? Definitely not.
I probably yelled at my kids, who were taking their sweet time getting into the car. Praying for the chair beside mine to remain empty during the service, so I do not have to share my “space” with another one of God’s children, what a great Believer I am! Or the envious feelings that I have over the gorgeous, expensive purse (or shoes, or jewelry, or outfit, or hair) belonging to the woman who does end up sitting beside me…oh, I am sure that God is warmed by my Christ-like behavior.
Sound familiar? I know that I cannot be the only one stumbling my way through life as a sinner. Church is for the sick, just like a hospital, we are all there to be healed. We each have our own sins. So when did it become a competition? When did we get to decide that our sins are less than others? That we deserve our seat in the congregation more than someone else, more than God’s other child.
There are 10 other Commandments…
And I am sure that I break them all. In fact I broke most of them in the paragraph above. I coveted someone else’s physical being or belongs. In church I put my thoughts of myself above my thoughts for the Lord, thoughts of things. I may not have wanted to Kill the other drivers on my way to church, but I was not having kind thoughts for them either. And the OMG that I spoke in disdain of the inclement weather…taking the Lord’s name in vain.
The Lord asks us to love thy neighbor as thyself. Each and every one of us are His children. Even when we are not lovable, kind, or judgmental.
Each one of us sins. It is inevitable. He knows each thought that we think, every urge we attempt to push under the surface, each and every thing that we try to hide from others around us. And through His Grace, we are always loved. We do not have to earn His love, it is just there, always.
If we had to earn our way into God’s good graces, how many of us could?
More thoughts will follow this post, if you find fault with what I have written-stay tuned. I am not judging the young men in front of me, they may have been just friends, they may have a relationship, either way-I am not judging them. This interaction is the starting point for this installment of posts-just the starting point. Many of you may attend or belong to the same church or a church that is similar, I am not telling you that you are wrong to go there or to belong, I am not judging. I am questioning, and searching, while attempting to love my neighbor as myself.
“But … God put a brain in our heads for a reason. So we can think, and learn, and teach. So we can understand and do what is right, just and fair. So we can have insight and discernment. So our lives will be ordered, productive and we can sometimes make wise choices.” Timothy T. Henry
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”