Can We, the Church, Please Get It Together?

I have no words for the news this morning.

I feel like the world is quickly running out of words for days like this when dawn breaks yet again on a new depth of sorrow.

Our souls are weary. Our hearts are heavy.

How do we explain this to our children?

How do we look into their sweet faces and explain that someone had such incomprehensible hatred for their fellow human beings?

I just don’t know, y’all.

I’m a peacemaker. That’s probably code for people-pleaser. I can’t stand the idea of someone being mad at me and I feel sick when I have hurt feelings or offended someone.

Because of that, I have remained publicly silent on a number of issues in the past. Under the assumption that someone else will always say it more eloquently, I’ve let others speak out. And while I nod along and silently wave my pompoms from the sidelines, I’m content to let them take the heat for it. I’ve kept my head down.

I’m done with all that.

So, Church?

Listen up, please.

We need to get it together.

When we come together now and offer prayers for the victims of this shooting, but have been unwilling to acknowledge our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community except to shame and ridicule, we are not taken seriously.

Can you blame them?

How can we be so strong in our pro-life conversations and then tell a grieving community “they reap what they sow,” belittling every ounce of humanity they have?

Could times like these point out our hypocrisy?

Our brothers and sisters are hurting. And have been hurting for quite some time. Sadly, we who are to be loving our neighbors as ourselves, are responsible for some of the pain.

We’d rather point fingers, shout about bathrooms, or carry picket signs.

Look, we can disagree on every issue under the sun. But we are called–commanded–to love.  Tweet: Look, we can disagree on every issue under the sun. But we are called--commanded--to love. http://bit.ly/1tkWfIb via @ashleydpooser

We’re talking LOVE love.commanded to love 2

Radical love.

Without limits.

Extreme love.

Without qualifiers.

Jesus love.

 

We, as the church, need to pause and reflect.

Are we showing Christ to a hurting world with our chronic indignation? With our outrage about bathrooms and holiday coffee cups?

We have much work to do.

Because love wins in the end. We already know that. So let’s get it together. Let’s enjoy being on the winning team.

Please. Let’s be extra kind today. And show love.

Love neighbors. Love strangers. Love the guy who cut you off in traffic.

Just. Love. Period.

To all my LGBTQ friends, family, and neighbors: I love you. I see your pain. My heart hurts with you. I stand with you. I love you all.

And the idea that that statement could be deemed as controversial is heartbreaking.

 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31, NIV

 

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Every Act of Love



Rope HeartI don’t remember how old I was. I don’t remember if it was spring or autumn. I don’t even remember where we were going that day. But I’ll never forget Mrs. Jones.

I was a little girl riding shotgun with my grandmother. We were driving through our small town where everybody knows everybody when Mamaw spotted Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones was probably in her 70s, thin as a rail, still working hard. She was about a block into her long walk home from the grocery store, carrying a big brown bag on each hip. Mamaw explained to me that Mrs. Jones didn’t have a car and this was the exhausting way she had to go about getting groceries. My grandmother immediately pulled over and, in that sweet Southern way that leaves no room for argument, asked Mrs. Jones to let us drive her home.

Several years later, I looked around a large room and felt my eyes well up with tears. We were visiting family for Thanksgiving and, along with my aunt and uncle, my parents had brought us kids to help serve a meal at the soup kitchen. I was holding a baby so her mother could eat a rare hot meal. There were so many hungry people. There were not enough seats. At 11 years old, I remember a hopeless feeling because I thought there wasn’t enough that I could do to really help.

In much the same desperate way that I wanted to buy Mrs. Jones a car, I wanted to buy every person at the soup kitchen a home filled with food and clothes and love. I dreamed of being super wealthy and surprising people by anonymously meeting their biggest material needs. I became discouraged and even dreaded outreach projects because I wanted so badly to fix it. Fix it all. And it was so frustrating when I couldn’t.

Eventually, I accepted the fact that I couldn’t fix it all. I couldn’t buy new cars or new houses for all the deserving folks I wanted to surprise. But I could serve a meal, sweep a floor, hold a baby.

There are so many ways to show love to our neighbors.

It doesn’t always require a major gift or a trip to the other side of the world. (Of course, that would be amazing and I’m sure we would all jump at the chance! But I don’t want to wait for those opportunities to spread acts of love.) I feel so blessed to be surrounded by loving and compassionate people who are always giving me great examples of how to spread the love of Jesus by blessing others. Here are just a few ideas that don’t require a passport:

  • Operation Christmas Child ~ This has been a great way to involve the kids and allow them the opportunity to do acts of love. Even from a very young age, we’ve tried to explain to our kids that not all children are able to have Christmas gifts. We’ve taken them with us to collect supplies and goodies to pack a shoebox to send to a child for Christmas. We pray for the child represented by each box that he or she will be blessed and feel loved.
  • Swap ~ We recently held a swap with my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. The members of our group showed lots of love by donating so many things. Nice things. Things that they could have posted on Craigslist and made money for their family. I know I can probably speak for the majority when I say it was an incredible blessing. I was able to bring things that we no longer needed and I left with several items that we desperately needed (but would have trouble affording) for our new baby coming this spring.
  • Share Box in the Car ~ My mom kept a box in the van that contained bottles of water, snacks, and toiletries. Whenever we were out running errands and we saw someone who could use any of those things, we’d stop and hand them out. Just today, a Facebook friend suggested adding gloves, coats, and blankets to our cars for sharing with those in need. It’s a great idea for an act of love as the Florida temps drop below freezing.

There’s a song by Jason Gray that I just love. I need to listen to it every morning when I wake up as my daily reminder. With every single act of love (big or small), we are showing the love of Jesus to our neighbors and teaching our children how to do the same. Fostering a compassionate heart in our children can be as simple as just letting your kids see your own acts of love.

“With every act of love, we bring the kingdom come.”
~ With Every Act of Love, Jason Gray