Monday, November 14, 2011

Armchair QB


 I will let you listen to the message for Sunday if you wish by clicking here.  While I would typically try to ground my post in the Biblical text, today, well, I am going to do it in song.  Two songs in particular have been playing in my head, the first from Sunday morning and the second started later that evening.  Both apply to the heart-set of the message that Kirk spoke, that I heard anyway.

Cause when we see you, we find strength to face the day

Paul Baloche "Hosanna"

Bring your love to life inside of me
Why don't you break my heart til it moves my hands and feet
For the hopeless and the broken
For the ones that don't know that you love them
Bring your love to life inside of me

Big Daddy Weave "Love Come to Life"

When I think of my own journey with God to church to Jesus, it still puzzles me.  The ultimatum that my husband gave "we go to church or get a divorce" should not have ended up with us happily married *and* still in church.  Or so I thought, along with:  We didn't need church; We needed him to not be a jerk.  Church people were brainless idiots and hypocrites.  Church people are just as sick as we are, they just can dress it up a little better under a smile and their Sunday best, feeling good about themselves as they point to someone else's failings.

Yeah, we shouldn't still be here and engaged in the life of the church or interested in where our faith may lead us next.  It wasn't for us.

But then the church we found wasn't like other churches we had known.  After the gathering, we hung out and drank coffee.  We sometimes went out to Red Robin and were rowdy like a recovering group, but we thanked God for our burgers before we ate.  Some of us smoked before and after the Sunday night gathering outside the door.  And the pastor and his family still greeted us, and even stopped to talk to us.  This was not my family's church.  I learned about the Bible through the teaching, but I learned about the relentless love of God and the grace of Jesus through the people we interacted with.  We were not less than, tag alongs.  We were friends.  We were valuable.  Without a profession of faith or an oath of allegiance to the church, we were encouraged to participate and to serve.  We had contributions to make.

Somewhere along that line, my relationship with Jesus moved from disdain to desire.  My relationship with believers changed from hostility to connection.  My understanding of the church was no longer as an irrelevant hypocritical institution, but as my family.  My marriage changed from adversarial to hopeful, and we were baptized together.  While I thought he needed changing, what God did was work on transforming both our hearts so that we could love each other.

If Kirk hadn't followed the desire God gave him to develop community not ritual & to include those usually excluded, I wonder where our marriage might be today.  I have no doubt our hearts would still be cold toward God and probably to each other.  As we have been transformed through the work of the Spirit and the community of believers around us, we have also sought to invite others to join us.  It is awkward at times.  We have faltered and tripped over ourselves.  But it remains our desire to be among those who are far from God that we might offer some hope, that we might show others that God really is relevant and that the journey with him doesn't shrink the brain or the will or the heart or the circle of friends but enlarge it beyond anything you can imagine!

As we see God working, it gives us hope, that nudge to continue despite the fear of rejection or being inadequate.  Our strength is renewed to continue.

The second song, well, that has been my prayer for myself, but it is also my prayer for all of you-that when God changes your heart, that he might break it until you are so uncomfortable that you must do something to help, whether it be the effects of sin in the social setting-poverty and abuse, or the individual-addictions, hopelessness, lost in depravity.  We aren't given hope just for ourselves!  Jesus didn't come to humanity to stick out his tongue and brag on his father.  He stepped into flesh to bring us to the father.  It just seems natural as we are sent into our communities that we are to step into the world and show them our father, that the transformations of our hearts point to our father's goodness and mercy.

My father has loved me more than I deserve because that is what he does: love-relentlessly, wildly, sacrifically, carelessly, not because I am so lovable.  That love has done something to me, made me more loving, made me desire to be part of God's love for the unlovely.  Thank you, Kirk and the Sunday evening church, for loving us into the arms of our father.  I pray that I may be able to do the same for another someday.

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