I’m almost two months through this year challenge. I’ve greatly enjoyed focusing my time and attention on spending more time with God, my family and my friends. But I think it’s time to stop focusing on the inward, and start turning my attention to others.
As I mentioned before, during this year, I’ve also decided to read the Bible through in a year, which is something I have never done before. Our entire church received a “Life Journal” at the end of the year last year as a way to keep track of our reading, journaling and prayers throughout the year. So far, I’ve read through Genesis and Luke. I’ve also gone through part of Exodus and Acts. A lot of the stories are familiar to me, in both the Old and New Testaments, but I’m also finding a lot of passages and stories that are new. It’s been so interesting to me, reading back over the verses that have stuck out to me. So many of them that I’ve journaled about concern God’s faithfulness and his love for His people.
After my Valentine’s
rant, post last week, I read two different passages about God fighting for us.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Acts 5:38-3938 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
“The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit that there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality-but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets, and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers. With all my heart,” this writer concludes, “I believe that Christ wants his church to be unshockable, a fellowship where people can come in and say, ‘I’m sunk, I’m beat, I’ve had it.’ Alcoholics Anonymous has this quality-our churches too often miss it.”
Unfortunately, I noted some differences where I wished our churches were more like bars.
- People went because they wanted to be there, not out of duty or obligation
- The singing was celebratory and sometimes therapeutic
- Greetings were heartfelt and welcoming
- Everybody had a seat waiting for them, if there wasn’t room, someone gave up their seat
- Everybody got a chance to play, but you didn’t have to play if you didn’t want to
- People notice when you stop showing up
- Nobody puts on “airs” and when they do, they get called on it
- Thus, nobody expected anybody to be perfect, and nobody pretended otherwise
- If you make a mistake, you get called on it
- If you admit your mistake, you get forgiven
- It was a great place to go when feeling lonely
- It was a great place to go when feeling sociable
- It was a great place to go when feeling down
- It was a great place to go when feeling up
This young adult group that we’re starting, I’m PRAYING is more like a bar in these areas. Is that a weird thing to pray? It probably is. But regardless- we’re designing it to be a place where people can gather and feel accepted, because we’ve known rejection. A place where people can feel loved because they’ve known anger, hate, lonliness. A place where people can be forgiven because they themselves have been wronged and done wrong. A place where people don’t expect or pretend to be perfect, because we’ve all messed up.
God is still fighting for his people. And it’s time we start joining in the fight for the lost. It’s time we reach out to the broken hearted, the hurt, the bruised, the addicted, the wronged. Because we’ve all been there, and pretending otherwise is just putting more fuel on the fire of those that call us liars and hyporcites and out of touch, holier-than-thou Christians who put salt in wounds instead of healing.
I’ve known those Christians, and truth be told, I’ve probably been those Christians. But the trend stops here. It stops now. It stops with me. I don’t want to be an out of touch Christian who does nothing in the fight to bring souls to Christ. I want to be an instrument in the fight against evil. I want to stop being the problem, and start being a part of the solution.
I know that this young adult group is what all of my past experiences are culminating for. I know that God is going to give me opportunities to share my experiences with people in this new group. I just hope that I rely on His strength to take the chances.