Life is never easy. In our lives, are we able to find support and compassion in the people around us? Do we have a group of close friends who support us and a totally separate group with whom we only interact on Sunday mornings? Or, do we find ourselves with no one at all?
Years ago I saw this movie called Regarding Henry. It went like this: smart, powerful, arrogant dude gets shot in the head and lives – he has to rehab and doesn’t really remember anything. His wife breaks down, when confiding in her “close friend,” and says they are about to run out of money. The friend asks if the wife has told anyone else. The wife says no. Finally, the friend tells the wife not to tell anyone and to go spend some money to make herself feel better…or something like that. The essence was that the ‘friend’ was declaring that she didn’t want to have anything to do with someone who would admit that they were broken.
Just to clarify a few terms:
1. Support doesn’t equate to money. It may, but then again, money may equate to “enabling.” Possibly, no one in your circle has money, that isn’t bad. It just means support in your world won’t look like money, it will look like something else.
2. Compassion may take the form of a loving person forcing you to recognize that your tragedy is self-inflicted. If we’re honest, we’ll all confess that we have each faced not a few self-inflicted tragedies. For clarity, failing to admit (or trying to deny) bouts of stupidity will not bestow the rite to assume the moral high-ground as Emperor of the Self-Righteous.
3. “church” is a building. “Church” is people who love and care for one another. Most people attend church with little regard for the Church: the pews are full of people who are indifferent to “life, love and learning” with the people around them. Before this goes in the wrong direction, let me make it clear that this happens because the church is full of leaders who fail to teach and demonstrate that this is fully half of a dual priority: love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.
Finding a way to help someone who doesn’t like you, just because it’s the right thing to do, is awesome. I’m not talking about helping while under duress or being misled to believe that the relationship is other than it really is. I mean, just plain helping, in spite of the relationship. Do you know what’s even better than that? When someone doesn’t like you, yet they still find a way to help you, and you humble yourself to receive it. That is the best place to be. Why? Because everyone must concede their ego and participate. It connects two people in a way that is only superseded by marriage.
We cannot “say” we have faith. Faith winds its way to the core of our being. Faith affects everything we do. Faith is a part of us, it is not something we can “bolt on” or remove.
Faith in Jesus is accompanied by a desire to share forgiveness and salvation with others. Though, think about it, how many conversations about Jesus do you hear throughout your day? So, statistically speaking, most people lack the courage to speak about Jesus. You can fail at this aspect of being a Christian and still be confident of your salvation, but you’re not useful.
Here is what it usually looks like:
“Yeah, I tried to tell some guys at work about Jesus and one of them said to shut up and then told me that I was stupid. So, I punched him in the throat and it kinda devolved from there.”
Well…not really. At least that sounds cool and you get to maintain your human dignity. The reality is much worse:
“I tried to tell some guys at work about Jesus, but I didn’t, because I was embarrassed…because I didn’t want them to make fun of me.”
That is how it usually goes.
Here is what it may look like: You tell everyone about Jesus. In general, most people will think you’ve lost your mind (especially if you’re doing it right). With certainty, and from experience, there is no way to maintain any dignity and be a disciple of Jesus. The problem with trying to maintain some semblance of ‘dignity’ is that you become worthless to the body of believers and you seem disingenuous to the unbeliever. While you’re playing at being a “cool Christian” you only succeed in distancing yourself from broken Christians who have real pain and need selfless compassion (how can someone possibly tell a hyper-dignified Christian about their own lack of dignity?). At the same time, non-Christians know that the world isn’t full of roses and love stories, so you look more like a space-robot-Barney-monster than a loving servant of Jesus.
The next time your life gets tough, will your Church support you with compassion and without condescension? Will your Church help you carry the forgiveness of Jesus to the people around you: both inside and outside the Faith? Does your Church love, laugh and cry with you as you step through your successes and failures? Have the people of your Church become intertwined and interdependent? Is the love of Jesus manifested through the love that you give the world around you?
He came not to be served, but to serve. Your life is redeemed ONLY that you may serve others. You don’t have to be good at it…some days you won’t try or even know how. Regardless, you are still loved and you are still forgiven. It is not an obligation, it is a desire that will grow inside you and you won’t be able to contain it. Are you surrounded by others who will nurture it?
If this is not what your Church looks like, you should start asking questions. If this is not what you desire, you’ve lost your mind.