Love: Because Anger And Apathy Aren’t Enough

As the church, we are in community together trying to fulfill this Great Commission that Jesus left us with. As we gently press into each other, we form one united thing, His church. As we work together, sharing the space God gives us to do His work, we all become shaped a little different. We all become a little more like Him. ― Jennifer L. Lane.

As I’ve passed on from high school to college, I’ve noticed a series of distinct difference between the two. Granted, this may not be the case for all, but considering I’m contrasting a Christian education with a secular environment, there already appear to be a world of dissimilarities.

When I was in high school, pretty much everyone said exactly what they thought—for better or for worse. Classes were small and typically, disagreements during class discussions were fairly common. When it came to views on important matters, everyone had an opinion. Sometimes the opinions were loud, and sometimes they were quite militant, but they were opinions nonetheless.

Now that I’m in college, the dynamics have done a 360. Few people really seem to have strong feelings about anything, and if they do, they manage to hide it well. The hallways are quite sterile, and it’s infrequent to even really make eye contact with anyone. The overall mentality seems to be “You stay out of my business, I’ll stay out of yours“. I hung out with one of my friends recently who’s still in high school at a local public school and she said that she rarely shares her opinions with anyone, as that only causes drama.

From what I’m noticing, it seems that the general consensus in Christian environments is “I’m going to give my opinion very loudly whether you like it or not” and the general consensus in secular environments seems to be “Stay out of my business and try not to get in anyone’s way“.

Both approaches fall short in interacting with the world as Christ would. 

When someone only wants to yell and point fingers, they fail to care about the very people they’re supposed to be loving. When someone never stops to give advice or to try help someone work through a problem, they communicate coldness and apathy. As Christians, we’re supposed to love and be a family, which presents an entirely different vision than either approach offers.

When you’re in a family, you don’t just spew off disagreements without a relationship and the other person’s best interests at heart. You also don’t only chat casually and avoid any subject that could potentially bring conflict. Both of these approaches are dysfunctional and both fail to live up to Jesus’ calling to “Go and make disciples” (Which could also be thought of as, “go bring people to the family“).

Many times in the media, we hear the word empowerment being used frequently. I believe this word best sums up my point here. Our goal as Christians is not to condemn or to be cold and uncaring, but to empower people to find their best selves in Christ. This means caring about forming relationships with other people, helping them sort through the messiness of life, and helping them to find God’s will in their lives. Clearly, there are many matters where it’s best to “agree to disagree” but we should never, in our pursuit of kindness, default to the booming, loud apathy of disconnection.

Our love needs to come from a deeper place than silence and rage, it needs to come from our living breathing Savior, who loves us and has adopted us as His own. 

We can only become all that God intended us to be through caring, building up, and watching over our family and potential family-to-be. 

Anger and apathy will never be enough.

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Thirty Day Blogging Challenge: Day 25

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Day 25…Your biggest regret. 

Truth be told, I don’t really have a lot of huge regrets. Perhaps it’s because of the fact that I’m still fairly young, or perhaps it’s because I don’t really take a lot of risks without calculating the consequences. Still, I have made mistakes and for this post, I have decided to write about my “moment of rebellion” in middle school.

I was playing manhunt with my youth group and one of my friends and I hid in a small opening under a bridge that led to one of the buildings. It was dark, dirty, and fairly uncomfortable under the bridge, but it was a good place to hide, so we both stayed still and silent. Even when two boys began jumping on top of the bridge, we managed to stay (somewhat) silent.

Eventually, the game ended and we heard one of the leaders announce that it was time to go back outside.

“Are you coming?” I remember asking my friend, ready to get up from dirt covered ground.

She then noted that it would be a good idea to stay hidden. Otherwise, no one would know that we had won the game. Since I’ve always been very adherent to rules, I was reluctant, but ended up staying.

I was going through a bit of a rough patch during this time, dealing with the typical trials of growing up. I think a big reason I went through with the plan was because I wanted to know that someone would notice if I was gone. In retrospect, it was dumb and juvenile, but I think everyone has something in their past that makes them wonder, “What was I thinking?”

Obviously, when one of the leaders found us, they were upset, and the following day, I had to send an apology letter to the leaders for not following the rules. I was pretty embarrassed long after that, worried that the people there were angry with me for what I did. After a while, the waters calmed and things went back to normal; but I still regret acting so foolishly.

I’d like to include a note in this post if you’re thinking of your own regrets: You’re never too far away from God’s grace. There is no mistake too big to be forgiven. 

Romans 3:20-24 says “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

And, Romans 5:1-2 says “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We serve a God that loves, forgives, and saves, and you’re never too far out of His reach. 

In the words of Jeremy Camp, “He’ll take you back”! 

A Letter To Longtime Christians

Many of us can remember it.

The day that we first asked Jesus into our heart and prayed the prayer.

For me, it was at age eleven. At that point, I had been attending church for about two years. I started going to church later than most of my friends, but I was still young enough to only foggily remember life B.C. I read a Christian fiction book that mentioned accepting Jesus into your heart, and knew in that instant that I wanted to do that. A year later, I was baptized and began attending youth group for the first time.

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Flash forward two years later. 

It didn’t take long to catch onto the secret lingo of ‘Christian culture’. By freshman year, I knew all of the famous Christian figures (Tim Tebow, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers, Chris Tomlin, Tim Hawkins, etc.). My favorite singer in middle school was Francesca Battistelli and my favorite movie was Soul Surfer. I knew all about purity rings and owned a Teen Study Bible.I took a Dave Ramsey financial class for teenagers in 8th grade and knew Christian apologetics before I even got to high school.

These are all good things. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to know God from a young age. But, sometimes, when you’ve been in church for years, it can be so easy to forget the meaning of it all. It’s possible to know all of the right things, and in the midst of it, forget all about the meaning of our faith: The fact that Jesus died on a cross to save us from our sins. 

Somehow, in the midst of our busy lives and our growing familiarity with the cross, grace becomes just another word; a word to use if we want to sound churchy. We can rattle off about twenty songs with the word in the title, but entirely loose the significance of the word in the process. We hear people talk about grace in the context of a reckless lifestyle and wonder how it applies to us, who have been faithful church attendees since we were children.

The truth is, no matter what our story, we’re all in need of a Savior. In the Kingdom of God, there is no one who is better or worse,  just humans in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. As basic a truth as this is, it can be so easy to forget. It can be easy to get so caught up in being a Christian that we forget Christ. I’m guilty of this myself. But, grace is is a truth that humbles and lifts us up. It replaces works, yet calls us to action. Let us never forget the wonder of the cross.

Let us never forget that Jesus loved us so much that He shed blood for us, that we might all get to spend eternity with Him. 

P.S. My mom recently started a blog at savedbygrace2009.wordpress.com. Be sure to check it out! 😊