There are a handful of convictions I've always held, principles that have guided my actions for years.
- If you tithe, it means you're a good steward of your money.
- If you attend Bible studies and have a quiet time, you'll have a good understanding of Scripture.
- If you volunteer at church, you're humbling yourself to the place of a servant.
- If you donate Christmas gifts, canned food, and clothing, you're actively loving "the least of these."
They're lies, every single one of 'em.
Okay, so none of those things are bad in and of themselves, and in fact we're called to do each of them, but the problem lies in our motives.
I tithe so that I can spend the rest of my money however I want without feeling guilty. I show up to church functions to see my friends. I read my Bible because it gives me a sense of peace to be in God's presence. I serve at church because a) my friends are doing it too, or b) I had a hard time saying no. I donate "stuff" because it quiets my conscience and is easier than actually looking into the eyes of the poor.
If I'm being honest, these things have been bothering me for years, but not quite enough to do anything major about it. And so began the month that God decided to stomp on my toes....
I said I lived for Jesus, but the truth was that Jesus really wasn't enough for me. Not like He was for Vincent, Maureen, and the children from the garbage dump who sang about Him and dreamed dreams for the future. The very thought took my breath away. It was like an invisible veil had been lifted from my eyes. I saw my life, my home, all the things that screamed success, and they were like dung. ~Kristen Welch, Rhinestone Jesus *
Ouch. Maybe I feel empty because what I think will fulfill me just... doesn't.
If you truly love me, you will feed my sheep. My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you're blessing blessed people and serving the saved. ~Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted *
Ouch again. Is this why my efforts feel pointless? Because they're directed at people just like me?
The gospel of me helps us pick churches based on the music we like, sermons that speak to our daily lives and small groups that meet us in our life stages. While all of these things can be strengtheners of our faith they often become the focus points of our faith. The church has found itself in a place where it is more concerned with feeding itself than feeding the world. ~Stephen Ingram, Hollow Faith *
Okay, God, I might be getting the picture.
Friends, I think Jesus may look at His Church and be wondering, "How many more Sundays are you going to need before you're ready to actually do any of this stuff?" ~John Pavlovitz
Short and to the point. Toes officially broken.
I have no answers, no revelations, no ideas about how to move forward, but I do know this: I want more than my toes to be broken. I want my spirit, my very self, to be broken by the same things that break the heart of God. I don't want to be lied to anymore (by the the world, or more sadly, by the church). I want the Truth, and I'm thankful He's revealing it to me.