Friday, February 18, 2011

Spiritual Class

Mark 12:29-30
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f]

I struggled with this topic the most.  Where to start?  What to include, what to exclude.  Jared and I talked about spiritual stewardship and he warned me that it would be easy to veer off into legalism and even heresy.  YIKES.

So, when reading through scripture trying to find a dominant thought to land on I kept coming back to the word, "Authenticity."

What does being authentic mean?  According to the dictionary it means,
not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.
entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy
A few years back I felt a calling on my life.  Not a traditional calling like to go to China or a full time ministry of sorts, but to become authentic.  To allow you to see me, warts and all.  It became clear to me that in order to do the most effective ministry I needed to let my guard down and allow those around me to see my brokenness.  

I can remember it clearly.  Jared and I went to OCC for the preaching and teaching convention.  During a breakfast the guest speaker talked about weakness.  This was within a couple years of my Dad's passing and I was  a mess and  felt that in my mess, I was no good to anyone.
During the process of grieving my Dad I lost the ability to control my anger.  I was angry at everyone and everything.  My kids were little and I had 4 at the time: 7, 6, 2, and newborn.  Eli was at a very difficult stage and I couldn't handle it on some days.  I had feelings of wanting to just go away from my family and those feelings brought great guilt along with the grief.  I felt I was failing as a mother.  
I had relationships at church that were strained due to my lack of a filter.  I said and did stupid things.  I felt alone and abandoned by them even though they had tried.  No matter what they did, it wasn't enough.  So I isolated myself from them.  I felt I was failing as a friend and a minister's wife.  

Jared was doing his best to comfort and guide me and I was angry with him.  He wanted me to work through my grief and I wanted to wallow.  I felt I was failing as his partner and friend.  

The scripture his talk was based on was

2 Corinthians 12:9 (New Living Translation)

9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 

Yes, weakness.  That was something I could do and do well.  It was as if God was calling me to admit my brokenness.  Asking me to allow His grace to cover my mistakes and allow His strength to comfort me and bring me out of the darkness I had felt for so long.  

I was breaking down under the pressure to fix myself.  

Christians feel the need to prove our piety.  We feel the need for a perfect front that tries to imply that we have it all together and that somehow we are responsible for that togetherness.  We need to give credit where credit is due.  If you were raised in a Christian home with loving parents, security, etc., the security you have in your day to day life was gifted to you by your parents.  I was reading "Do you think I'm beautiful" by Angela Thomas.  In it she tells a story of walking into a room and being able to recognize which of the women had loving, supportive fathers.  
She says "there's a confidence and peace that comes from a woman who has known such love.  And there is an anxiousness and insecurity buried inside a woman who has never known a father's love or, worse, who has suffered wounds from his words, or his distance, or his hands."  
Who we are is not something we can take credit or blame for.  Just as we can not take credit for God's redemption of our story, let alone claim to be better than or have it more figured out than our peers. 
When will we stop behaving like the Pharisees and allow people to into see our brokenness?  To see how, if it weren't by the Grace of God, we would be big piles of unforgiven sinful goo.

In Matthew we read about the Pharisees and all their ways.  Jesus warns us not to be like them, to not be hypocritical.

Matthew 6:5 (New Living Translation)

Teaching about Prayer and Fasting
 5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
It's a misnomer that the opposite of a Pharisee is someone who is worldly and full of sin.  Reality is, the opposite of a Pharisee is someone who is humble and understands that it is God who redeems us.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (New Living Translation)

 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 

Being authentic will be the best ministry to those around you.  We all have family that we wish to witness to.  How much more would it affect them if you were honest about where you are and how much you still need a Savior.  The "holier than thou," "I've got this all figured out" approach is a turn off to most.

There have been times in this process when some have said I'm different than most minister's wives and meant it in a good way.  There are others who wished I was more reserved and fit the mold of the Pastor's wife they had always known.  I have to do my best to be what God is calling me to be regardless.  Authentic.  I'm called to be authentic, "not false or copied."
I was listening to a radio program once with Dr. Dobson.  There were several mothers speaking on guilt.  One mother in particular captured my heart.  She had 3 grown children.  Not one of them chose salvation.  One was a homosexual and the other two were worldly and they all refused their mother's faith.  She began to explain that when she's at church all the other moms like to boast of their children and their children's great accomplishments for the kingdom.  She felt isolated, even judged.  When others would start on this subject she would leave the room for fear they would ask about her children.  

Come to find out, she homeschooled them, raised them in the church and they still chose not to follow.  This mother did what she could to ensure her children would know the truth and yet she feels abandoned and isolated from her Christian friends.

How much would it mean to this mother for one of the ladies at church to be open and admit their children are not perfect.  If someone would say, "my child struggles with X, and I have a hard time with it.  Maybe we could pray for them together."  
But we don't.  Instead, we wear spiritual Spanx.  We do our best to present a smooth put together image when in reality there are stretch marks, cellulite, and lumps underneath.  

Allow people in.  It's scary and unnerving but we all have insecurities, brokenness, and sin.  

Romans 3:23 (New International Version, ©2010)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We are not fooling anyone.  Share your testimony, allow others to see that it is God who has redeemed you.  
I have a redemption story.  It's one of a lot of mistakes on my part, but thankfully it includes a Holy God who loved me enough to send His only son to die for those mistakes.    

1 comment:

Leanne said...

Well said:) I laughed out loud when I read "spiritual Spanx"!