**This post is less for the non-religious folk and more for my fellow Christians. It’s a little sappy/serious but whatever. That’s just me. **
I’ve often struggled with people-pleasing. It’s one of my vices. Hence, why I tend to flatter so many people on this blog. I mean, not always. Sometimes I say nice things about people because I want them to know they are appreciated. Or to encourage them. Or to show them that I love them. Or sometimes, when things are tense I do it to remind people of something good and beautiful. To remind them why we enjoy each other’s company in the first place. However, lately, I’ve been fighting the temptation to write about others so that they will like me but especially, to seek a false sense of peace. It’s not truthful. It’s a false reality. A lie. A false sense of “everything is okay” when it’s really not.
This is something I struggle with a lot. When is it time to speak up and when is it time to be silent? Jesus doesn’t want me to judge, lest I be judged, but Paul specifies what he means by this in his first letter to the Corinthians. We are not to judge those outside the church, but we are to judge those inside (1st Cor 5:12). God doesn’t hold non-believers to the same standards as He does for His children. He says we are not to associate with other Christians who are sexually immoral, greedy, idolators and verbally abusive (meaning, gossiping busy bodies). Every one in the church falls into these sins at some point. We are sinners in need of a saviour. However, a believer who loves Jesus and desires to follow him no matter the cost, will be repentant after. He or she will mourn over this sin and seek forgiveness, not only from Jesus but from the person they hurt. We will all fail. We are all addicted to sin in some form or another. We all hurt somebody. However, the ones who really love Jesus the way they say they do, will put the sin away and try their best to love others with their words, their actions, and their resources. This is how others will recognize us as Jesus’s disciples (John 13:35). We are encouraged to forgive over and over again. Even when they don’t apologize. And that’s moreso for our own health than the people who hurt us. Letting go allows us to heal.
And a big part of the healing process is allowing Jesus to look at the wound. And since evangelical Christians are so big on advancing the gospel, where we encourage people to seek reconciliation with Jesus, our ultimate healer, allow me to advance it in their/our/my general direction.
My mom was a nurse and she knew when a bandage needed to be taken off and a wound cleansed. It’s very uncomfortable to have a wound opened up, inspected and cleansed, especially if it’s been sitting there for a long time. The skin starts to connect itself to the bandage and pulling it off will open it up again. It stings but if you don’t want an infection and you want to get on the track back to being healthy, it’s necessary. I want my church to grow but we need to look at the wound. Pretending it’s not there will not solve anything. It will not heal properly. So just understand, this going to hurt. You’re not going to like it. It will sting but it’s necessary for the health of the church.
There’s a lot of fighting. Not the healthy-debate kind. Like, nasty fighting and pointing of fingers. People dishonouring their pastor. Getting self-righteous and short-tempered. This isn’t love. Love does not slander someone black and blue behind their back. Love does not host “worship” practice and gossip about their brothers and sisters in Christ in between songs. Love does not fight for its own way (the ministry you’re fighting for, it’s not yours. It’s Jesus’s. You are simply the clay pot He decided to use to accomplish His purpose). Love does not give expecting something in return. That’s manipulation. Love does not push someone to serve them. That’s entitlement. Jesus poured out his life like an offering. We are called to lay down our lives for one another. Love gives, sacrificially. It does not watch a brother or sister suffer and remain apathetic (1st John 3:17). It does not slander people when they are going through tragedy. This isn’t Jesus’s heart for his disciples. This is dead faith. A cold, dead heart.
If we desire to see the gospel advanced, then we need to live it and love others like Jesus did. Which means we can no longer gossip about people. As someone who has said damaging things, I see the way it harms others. I’ve seen it on my blog especially. Words really do hurt. I also know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of it. It isolates, harasses, bullies and tears people down.
We have to fight to keep our hearts soft. We have to fight to forgive and we have to fight to love one another. I have to practice doing this too and will try to be better about it in the future. It’s been a tough year (and it’s only March) but it’s not okay to treat each other this way. It’s not God’s heart for his church. And yes, every church has it’s problems but believe you me — this disease is terminal. It’s a Code Blue. Like, hearts aren’t even beating. I can’t even find a pulse. We gotta get to the emergency room. Stat. Not a walk-in clinic. The emergency room. The Doc is already waiting. He’s the best heart surgeon I know.
Also, I know I started with a ‘wound’ metaphor and then changed it to a ‘heart’ metaphor. Whatever. Sometimes we go into the doctor’s office for one problem and realize we have another problem that’s a bit more pressing. The point is we need help and it begins by admitting we are sick. And I really wish Christians would start with themselves first. ‘Cuz I can smell the hypocrisy festering under the bandage.