I wish right now that I could tell you about my failing miserably at having a vegetable garden this past summer. For some reason, whether it be the cold spell we had in June for a few days, or the not so hot summer we encountered, my first real attempt at growing my own vegetables while living in the mountains was pretty much a colossal failure. Sure, I harvested a few tomatoes and I actually got about 4 little zucchini's, but other than that: ZILCH. This has never happened to me before. My corn grew with husks about thigh high and then just quit. The green beans were probably all eaten by Riley, my hungry Black Lab. The cantelope, well, it just never appeared, although there were lots of leaves spreading everywhere. I will do my research for next year to see if I can do this.
I wish my failure had to do with my cooking fiasco's. Because I certainly have had plenty of them. My most memorable was a tuna casserole the first year we were married. Oh my, it was BAD. I mean really BAD. We still laugh about it whenever it is brought up again.
No my failure this time was brought to my attention this afternoon as I was reading the New Testament book of 2 John. Man, its a really short book and yet it pointed out a HUGE failure of mine. And not just mine, alot of failure in the American Church. One short sentence and I was stopped in my tracks. It is found in the second part of verse five.
"I ask that we love one another."
That sounds easy enough, right?
Oh, but boy have I failed and probably you too have missed the mark here as well.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
I certainly don't do that when I complain about Mark Driscoll and his view of woman in leadership. I don't know this man and yet I admit I have maligned him plenty.
I don't love one another when I gossip about someone.
I don't love one another when I judge others who are different than me; who hold different views than me.
I don't love one another when I am jealous that you have more than me.
I don't love one another when I criticize the church. And the people or leaders involved.
I remember the chorus of a praise song from years back that said: "they will know we are Christians by our love".
Yikes, I don't think that holds true very much.
What about the churches that condemn homosexuality? That repeatedly call gay people sinners and make them feel most unwelcome. Are we loving them by our words and actions? I don't think so. Many of the gay population wouldn't ever opt to enter the doors of any church because of what we have done to them. Made them feel like second class citizens because we don't condone their particular sin. And yet I am welcome at church because I am a white woman. But I often have terrible thoughts. I often judge others. I can be materialistic at times when I often want "stuff" that I really don't need.
I guess I believe that homosexuals are experiencing what the Black population has long experienced in America. And this breaks my heart in ways I can't even describe.
I recently finished a book by Nadia Bolz Weber called "Pastrix".
I recommend this book heartily. But I am somewhat afraid to because she swears alot in the book. She drops the F bomb frequently. I was never offended by her words because she was very very real. And Honest. And vulnerable. But my friends might be offended because of her language.
No one would be offended by her heart. She is a Lutheran pastor in Denver who welcomes homosexuals, drug addicts, homeless people, and yet would welcome me and you. I would have a major dilemna if I lived in Denver. I would want to attend her church. I would also love to attend Kathy Escobar's church called "the Refuge", a church home where anyone feels welcome. Both of these churches are loving people exactly for who they are, and where they are at this stage in their lives
They are loving people the way Jesus would love them. Accepting them, encouraging them, offering help as they can, and all the while pointing them to the Savior of their lives. THE ONE who can transform brokenness into wholeness, He who turns ashes into beauty.
It really has me thinking.
I am accepted in most any church because of what I look like.
But if people knew the "real" me, would they just as easily welcome me? Would they want me to be a part of their church if they knew the brokenness I carried, the sins I have committed, the thoughts that I think. My "true self" is often hidden. People can't see my sins all the time and yet I can promise you, they are there.
The gays, the homeless, the drug addicts, the pimps, the schemers, the people who seek to fraud us, the down and outers-their so called sins sometimes are so visible to us and most of the time, we tend to shy away from them. Or even flee from them like they are the plague.
I ask that we love one another.
Something that often seems like an impossibility, is possible when we look to the ONE who has loved us with complete abandon. The ONE who loves us and really knows the true us and yet accepts us just as we are.
Oh LORD, forgive me for failing to love as you have asked.
I too, am a sinner.
One who has experienced your unending grace and unconditional love. And your forgivenes.
I am grateful that you keep showing me how I need to change. And that you love me just where I am.