A Glimpse of Mi Vida...

It started with a missions trip to Camden, where my life and perspective were changed and where this blog began. Life has been a roller coaster filled with its ups and downs and I'm excited for the adventure and discovering what God has in store, even though I really dislike roller coasters... I am a Lady in Waiting...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sticks and Stones- Part Two: Actions

Three weeks ago, I left you with part one of my Sticks and Stones Series, I discussed the damaging effects that words can have on each other. Our words, not only harm us when we mindless say them, but they also can hurt and damage those around us. Do you remember being teased as a kid or being called names, didn’t that stick with you more than one or two days, some of the words that have stuck with us have lasted years and some, even a lifetime.
Part two, I would like to explore our actions (Which has taken me about three weeks to write, in hopes of getting it right). Another sticks and stones is our actions. Our actions can cause harm to others and often times we don’t even realize it. Our whispered words are one thing, but our actions can bring harm to a whole new level.
We cannot love just by our words. How many times have we been told we were loved, only to have that love never fulfilled or broken? How many times have we had promises broken, whether as a child or as an adult? Didn’t that hurt?
One of my life verses is: “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 NLT).
Our actions must back up our love, our actions exemplify the words or promises that we may say or leave behind.
I really also love The Message’s translation:
“My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love.”
Practicing is all action. As Christians, we are called to love each other… everyone. The people within the church walls and the people outside the church walls, but sometimes I think we fall short of shining and showing God’s glory and love.

Before I want to dig deeper in the topic of showing God’s love, I want to put a DISCLAIMER.
My disclaimer that this subject of our actions and the effect of them in the church as well as the transition of cliques, is in no way to point fingers at any specific group, person, or the like. I simply hope to raise questions, answer questions for myself, and even get some responses from readers.

I think as Christians, we often fall into the stereotype of hypocrites because we say one thing, preach one thing, speak of love but then lack the actions to back that up. It is sad when I think of that and for me, even sadder that I have to write this blog…
We are all guilty of it, we all fall short of being and living God’s best, but I want to question a few things…
I love my church; I would not be where I am if it weren’t for the faithful, God-fearing leaders in my church. I have become a better person, better Christian, and more faithful follower because of my church, but there are people who do not like my church. Some say my church is acting out being the hands and feet of Christ, they say we are the church that truly loves people. But then others find it too big or not intimate, or more times than not they accuse my church of having too many cliques.
After speaking and consulting many friends and mentors on this topic, they all confirmed that cliques do exist. But how can we fix them? How are they formed?

Read this blog of a friend of their experience of a clique…

We talk of going out and serving those outside of our church walls, of loving the orphan and the widow. We deliver turkeys on Thanksgiving, presents at Christmas, and we walk across the room and the world to preach the good news. I think sometimes that we get so wrapped up in serving those outside of the church walls, that we fail to look within. We fail to see the hurting and broken people within our church walls. We fail to see that person who is sitting alone. We fail to see the person that doesn’t have friends they sit with or friends that they make plans with after church to go out. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own group of friends, that we fail to be inviting to others. We speak of love, but then we are exclusive when we spend time together. We need to look inwards, within the wall of the church and within ourselves and begin to be Inclusive.
We are called to be uncomfortable. How can we say we love people and we can go out and be in Peru, or Africa, or India and our walls are broken down and we are made uncomfortable, but sometimes, for some there still resides that fear of meeting someone new. In those far distant countries, we can never see them again and sometimes they don’t know who Jesus is and so if we fail to “bring Him” there, then no harm no fowl?! I don’t think so. Are we scared? Are we afraid to include others, to make new friends? What is it?

To quote a friend, I asked them about community in the church. I asked, “Are we too cliquey or do we honestly include others and build deep and sincere relationships? Are we representing God in those circles by our actions and conversations and including others?”
Their response was shattering, “Yes, we are too cliquey and we don’t include others enough or build deep relationship because some leaders don’t have a genuine love for others and it comes down to the whole ‘comfortable’ issue. People don’t want to establish a relationship unless they know the person better. It doesn’t make sense, but its what people do.”

The response makes me sad because we see the cliques, we see it take place but we ignore it because we haven't learned our lesson in it or because if we're in the clique then everything is fine and dandy. I don't know about you, but I'm confused. Do you move on and find new friends because you're not being accepted?

I'm not even going to bat the issue of insecurities, but I want to just honestly talk about how can we be more inclusive. How can our actions truly back up the words that we preach? We cannot take parts or pieces of the gospel that we agree with, God is all or nothing.
Do these friendships and cliques need to be broken by me or you reaching out more and voicing the desire to be apart of something? Can we meet in the middle?

As I continue to write this, I feel as if  I'm raising more questions? As I have been praying and fasting through this, I hope that there can be a resolution. I am not saying that we have to be best friends and buddies with everyone around, but when becoming close with two people turns into ten and then you're not inviting or including, you have formed a clique. Do we realize it, can we let down our blinders to open up our perspective, vision, and view? Let's love all people, inside and outside of the church. Just because we're in church doesn't mean that we aren't still hurting or broken or in need of love.

I know the feeling of being not only left out, but the sense of being lonely. I'm not talking about finding validation in Christ because I have that and had that in my experience. But I remember the days of attending a worship night week in and out and feeling ignored, meeting the same people who could never remember my name and the people I did know would barely acknowledge my existence. I remember sitting there wondering how could I know God wanted me to be there, but having no one reach out. I didn't get to experience because I would come right as it started and leave as soon as the band finished the last song because I hated the feeling of wondering around aimlessly trying to start conversation with people I didn't know or hoping someone would just acknowledge me. Obviously now involved and in leadership, I have a passion for this to change and I can still sense and feel this at times. But is anyone willing to listen to make a change, or will they be like the friend I quoted in that they aren't willing to fight the battle, they don't want to be left out...

My last point...
Are we in our own little world of population YOU.
There is a song by Matthew West, entitled My Own Little World. His song best describes these emotions and the questions that I have...

Matthew West
In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry or always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket
shoes on my feet
In m own little world
Population me
I try to stay awake through the Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give ’til it hurts
and I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
it’s easy to do when it’s population me
What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world
Stopped at the red light, looked out my window
Outside the car, saw a sign, said “Help this homeless widow”
Just above this sign was the face of a human
i thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?”
So I rolled down my window and I looked her in the eye
Oh how many times have I just passed her by
I gave her some money then I drove on through
in my own little world there’s Population two
What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world
whoa yeah
whoa yeah
Start breaking my heart for what breaks Yours
give me open hands and open doors
put Your light in my eyes and let me see
that my own little world is not about me
What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
Show me there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world
My own little world yeah
My own little world woo

I hope that this change can start with me, one person. You, one person. That we can slowly began to change the view of the church and to change others' perspective. It starts with one person!!! I pray we can all become family, a family that doesn't always click, but a family the loves each other at the end of the day... even that crazy aunt Debbie.
Our own little world starts with us, so what are we going to do? Like he asked, is there a greater purpose that we are missing on? Let's begin to live outside of our own little world!

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Honestly Jenn, this was very good. You definitely have the journalism in your blood. You have such a professional attitude, and it shows in your writing style.
I have not really gone through this in the church (my struggles are different)but, I hear of others who have. The sad thing is, I have gone through it in the working world, and really...should life in the church be different? Thank you for taking the time to REALLY DELVE INTO this! Love you, sweet girl.