Wednesday, May 8, 2013

our failings

I've been struggling a lot lately with how a Christian community should look. It's not so much what it should look like, but what it usually looks like. In a perfect world, I believe a Christian community would be welcoming, nonjudgmental, and selfless. Its members would constantly strive to put the needs of others before their own. They would be encouraging but also rooted in the Word--so much so that they would know exactly how to lovingly point out anything you may be struggling with and walk with you until you find your way again. If you felt wronged by someone in the community, they would be empathetic and explain their true motives while still owning up to the fact that something they did directly affected you. If you had a need, they would enthusiastically step in, offering to serve you in whatever way they could, no matter the sacrifice--financial, time, resources, etc.--required.

On the whole, most Christians have good intentions. A lot of the time, we blow the execution. A desire to help someone find their way may come off as incredibly judgmental and can actually be detrimental to the healing or searching process. Stepping in to help others comes on our own terms--I will bring you a meal when it is convenient for me and since I'm doing you this great favor I know you're not going to complain about the fact that I am bringing it to you four weeks after you could really use it. We get caught up in the details, in our presuppositions, in the ways we think life should look and be lived out. We lose sight of the grace that can be found in God, in the sacrifices that were made for us. We get sucked into the 'you do you, I'll do me' culture with nary a concern for the greater good. Our leaders will take lessons from the Bible and misconstrue them based on human wisdom instead of what is written because they either know what the congregation wants to hear or what the heart tends towards. We feel this inherent desire to "save" unbelievers--but that isn't our place. Sure, we should share the gospel and live it out, but at the end of the day, we're not in the business of changing hearts. Yet we take it so personally when our efforts to share Christ's story with others don't yield that mental end goal of another soul saved all because of what we did to get that person to God.

We are selfish, greedy, jealous, and self-serving. We just happen to disguise ourselves with good intentions. Have you ever noticed how awesome Christians can be at guilt trips? I sure have...

I'm not trying to come off as a super Christian who has never done anything wrong (true story: I initially wrote that I was a Christian who had never done anything right--Freudian slip much?). Trust me when I tell you that my heart tends towards greed and vindictiveness moreso than the average Christian--moreso than the average non-Christian. I am constantly seeing ways I have failed not only my Christian community but more importantly those in my non-Christian community. I am one of the most broken people you will probably encounter. I'm a constant work in progress who usually takes one step forward and two steps back. I fail at least one person in my life on the daily--my husband, my son, friends, coworkers, etc. I also usually lash out at those around me for my shortcomings until I let my pride go and accept that it was actually me who messed up.

--

On multiple occasions I've heard mention of not associating with unbelievers (refer to 1 and 2 Corinthians, for instance) because we have been called to "live radically." I've been made to feel guilty about different things I enjoy by some of my Christian community under the guise that I was indulging in desires of the flesh, when in actuality, I think these judgments were entirely off base (and so does Jon, who is one of the most wise and educated Christians I know and respect). If Christians do not engage with non-Christians and form real, loving friendships with them, how are we supposed to form a relationship that will encourage real consideration of our attempts to share the love of Christ? If a stranger approached you and started spewing things that you tended to believe were unrealistic or impossible, you would entirely write them off.

It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Luke 5:31, among others)

So why is it we avoid all association? Sure, we can behave less than ideally with people who don't follow the same moral doctrine as us. But not always. I have several friends who do not identify as Christian. They know I do. They don't pressure me to do things I'm not comfortable with. Some of them are far better people than most of my Christian friends. We learn from each other. Unbelievers are some of the best individuals to challenge your faith, to force you to seek out answers and, by default, seek out God. Their perspective may help you to realize that perhaps you had been looking at something in the Bible from your emotions but not the context in which it was written.

--

I don't have any tangible ways to fix our communities and the way we interact with them. I think we should really work on fixing our own hearts before we try to fix those of others. To be vigilant of the words we speak and the thoughts we entertain, especially if we don't have personal or professional experience in dealing with certain sensitive issues. To cling to the God who can radically change us and lovingly guide or correct us. To put serving our communities more at the forefront of our priorities. To love wholeheartedly, non-judgmentally, and unconditionally.  

2 comments:

  1. its interesting you write this...im just finishing up a blog on community. We have been disappointed with our "community of believers" to say the LEAST.

    I could go on....but ill stop myself as to not become a flipin "B"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry to hear that :( Perhaps it's the changing of the seasons and the desire to start tackling outdoor to do lists, but I've noticed this time of year is pretty common to lose sight of helping those around us

      Delete