So. Very. Interrupted – Week Four
Let me begin with an apology. I so very much did not have my act together this weekend, in order to have my blog post prepared for Monday. Thanks for your grace!
This was a pretty meaty chapter for me. Not sure if you agree, but this was a call to my heart to get my hiney up and moving. Serve those in need. Pour out myself so others may be filled with the love of Jesus.
God began to orchestrate His beautiful will through my new friend, Tony. I met him while he was delivering Pepsi to the Seven-Eleven I was buying coffee from. It was a life changing day for me. And, for Tony. My partner in crime, Thing One, wrote about the experience beautifully. Please take a minute and read this story. You will be so glad you did. What. A. Blessing.
Ok, hopefully you are back now, after reading the miracles God orchestrated in the course of a short twenty-four hours.
Now, on to the book God has been using as a catalyst in my life and my heart. And, basically, as Fresh Prince would say, how my life got flipped-turned upside down.
It requires conscious decisions to abandon formerly vital things like reputation, perception, position, control. This was probably our most important lesson, more valuable than the specifics we would later engage, because it’s easy to visit the bottom with works while our hearts remain higher up. That’s just charity. It’s a moment, not a permanent relocation. It is something entirely different to adopt the mind of Christ. That’s when we don’t just act lowly. We are lowly. Our minds are not secured up higher, awaiting our return after we’re done patronizing those at the bottom. (pg. 112)
Whoa. I desperately need some of you to comment on this one, because I’m fairly certain I lost a tooth from this much-needed kick in the teeth. I’m sitting here, gap-toothed and speechless. But, it’s more than conviction. That, I’ve felt. This is different. I feel pretty pissed at myself. I feel like I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid for thirty-three years and all of a sudden the blinders have been removed. There are a lot of poor people in my world, my country, my state, and my very own town. In fact, there’s lots of them. And they need help. Lots of it.
I remember feeling so happy and proud of myself after handing out food at Thanksgiving. Man, I made Jesus proud today. I served those who have little. I judged a few of them as to why. Then, I went home to my ginormous Thanksgiving meal, watched football on my big screen TV, and then after a few days reminiscing, thought little about these people again. That is not living at the bottom. That is not living like Christ. That is charity. Which, please hear me, is not a bad thing. Unless, of course, that’s all you do. Whish through the bottom once or twice a year with a heart to help, and then, as quickly as you came, you leave; heart unchanged and life unaltered.
That was me.
Not anymore. Thank you, Jesus.
What we need more than denominational or invented boundaries is a commitment to do the work of Christ together. (pg. 117)
This is so very true! This isn’t about whether you kneel at church or I wear jeans to church. This is about whether or not people around us in our everyday lives are affected by the Jesus we claim to love. Do you see the Pepsi guy at the gas station, or the janitor at your kid’s school? Do you know their name? Do you smile and share the love of Jesus?
Ya, neither did I.
Neither did my partner in crime.
Or my new friend I met through an accidental email.
We comprise Baptists, Presbyterians, and even the formerly non-churched. None of that mattered. What mattered is that our brother in need cried out for help. And I praise God we were able to get out of our own way, to help him.
One thing I love about Jen Hatmaker is that she is not suggesting that everyone leave their current church and start churches for the homeless. However, that is a noble task and a much needed one. What she is suggesting is that we blessed American Christians truly stop living just for ourselves. She is imploring, as I am, for those of us who love Jesus to truly start serving like Him every day in every way possible. We should be led by His sacrificial love for every one of His kids. Every one. Not just us. Them, too.
God is unimpressed by a spiritual veneer or our business saavy, either as a faith community or individually as Christ followers. None of us gets to treat people like expendable articles and expect God to look the other way because it somehow advanced His kingdom or had nothing to do with it. We can’t ignore God’s ways and expect to maintain His favor. We don’t get to neglect the major values of the gospel and claim preference or context. (pg. 121)
As is evident in how Jesus spoke to the Pharisees (see Luke 11:37) about their great concern for the outside of their cups, God cares so very much about the condition of our hearts. The Pharisees religiously cleaned the outside. Oh how they seemed righteous and appeared holy. But, the inside of their cups were full of greed, malice, self-righteousness, and pride…just to name a few. Worthless were their works because their hearts were so deceitful and dirty inside. And the worst part of all, is that wouldn’t even admit it. They wouldn’t look deeply enough to see it. It absolutely breaks my heart then, and it breaks my heart now.
This applies to us as individuals and churches as well. If a church guilts people into tithing, or uses money and stocks to secretly further Christmas bonuses for staff and/or church re-decorating – it is dirty inside and clean outside. If we, as Christians, claim to desire the heart of Jesus, but segregate those worthy of receiving that love from us, based on their past mistakes, present circumstances, or current disappointing realities – we might as well change our last name to Pharisee.
The most important sentence in the previous quote is the last one. We don’t get to neglect the major values of the gospel and claim preference or context. We prefer to work with the hurting middle class. We prefer to believe the teachings of Jesus were all figurative analogies, therefore refusing to see them as literal commands. (like, oh I don’t know, “Feed my Sheep.”) Then we are allowing our own desires to get in the way of Jesus’. I think some of us hide behind the idea that “our personal calling” is just not in this or that particular mission. Here’s a clue – if your “personal calling” never makes you feel uncomfortable, never pushes your boundaries, never stretches your faith, or brings you to you knees…it probably isn’t from Jesus.
Please, friend, let’s go serve the hurting middle class. That was me for five straight years. God used His people to love on me, encourage me, and walk beside me during my darkest hour after hour. But let’s not do that at the expense of then checking off our Good-Christian-volunteer-hours and neglecting the poor, the widowed, the orphaned and abandoned.
Let’s just do what Jesus did, shall we?
Serve the poor.
Commune with the rejected.
Pray with the desperate.
Feed the hungry. Like, with food.
It’s actually not rocket science. Good thing. I stunk at science.
(Quote from Mary DeMuth) “But it’s not either/or; it’s both/and.” (pg. 128)
I think this is exactly the point I’ve been trying to make. Can we all just agree to disagree on some things but agree on the most important thing – living like Jesus lived and loving like Jesus loved.
Serve at church! Then also volunteer at a soup kitchen regularly.
Donate to a women’s shelter. Then also stop and give money and respect to the homeless man on the street.
Send money to Compassion International. But, then give up a few hours of your weekend and go show compassion to the kids in the poorest area of town.
Be the change that our culture needs. Let it begin with you!
What if we really loved our neighbors and offered a safe place for community in our home, showing them church rather than just inviting them to one…This is not about doing church; it’s about being the church…There is a movement bubbling up that goes beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living, a generation that stops complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of. (pg. 131)
Oh that we could get out of the mindset that church is there to please us. Fill us. Serve us. Teach us.
We are the church. You. Me. And the person who left your church for the cooler one.
We are all family, whether we act like it or not. And, this new way of thinking, for me, is rooted in the truth that we are all on the same team. Some of our teammates have been slacking off and not carrying their weight on game day. Some teammates have been more concerned with how they look in the uniform. Some are way too concerned about the snacks after the game.
The fact is this – the whistle blew. The clock is ticking. And when it’s all said and done, nothing in this game will matter more than if we tried our best to obey the Coach, hustle in playing our position, be willing to get our uniform dirty, and honor our years of training, by doing the hard work on game day.
Ps. Just so you know, every day is game day. Just sayin’.
I’ve discovered this journey is not about finding validation as a leader; it’s not about our church. It’s bigger than that. It’s about putting hands and feet to the gospel – our hands and feet. It’s about building bridges with those who won’t come to us on Sunday, not as a project, but because Jesus loves them and told us to.
If the gospel is good news to all, then it’s not just an idea to consider, a time slot on Sunday, or a task assigned to a select few – it’s a life to live. And it’s bigger than all of us.
Friends – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is not about Jen Hatmaker. This is not about Jen Hatmaker’s book.
This is about Jesus.
Living like Him.
Loving like Him.
Serving like Him.
Every day and in every way…until we go home to see Him.
So…what do you think? Did I scare you all off from commenting after Week One? Are you still out there? Tell me…what has God told YOU about your life being Interrupted??