Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Silent Blog

I don't blog quite as much as I used to, and when I do I avoid topics I used to leap into -- theology, politics, culture. You know, the debatable things. I've been sticking to topics like knitting, farm work, and food because the overwhelming din of unkind arguing out there is painful. I've tried to stay out of it. I've unfollowed facebook friends. I've turned off the radio in the car. I won't talk about it at home or work. It's not just the U.S. election/politics. It's the general meanness in the world, the fear, distrust, emotional distance, and broken community.

I just saw this commercial on facebook:

I think it kind of put me over the edge.

It's not just old people who are mean, or Trump supporters, or young progressives with agendas, or immigrants or immigrant-haters. We're all shoving everybody away. I shudder when I hear Fox News and I shudder when I hear NPR. We are so busy polarizing and pushing away that we don't realize we're killing ourselves and ruining life for our children.

Here's another bite of food for thought, an article from a facebook friend:

"59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out -- And They're Trying to Tell Us Why"

The stats are shocking. Millennials are people 20 - 36 years old, this year. These aren't teenagers. These are young professionals and parents. They aren't "the next generation"; they are the generation. Basically the writer says this: The American church is self-centered, judgmental, out-of-touch, into its own politics, power, and money, and isn't interested in serving anybody. Oh, and there's this lovely quote from the writer's mother (who's probably my age) --

"Church has always felt exclusive and ‘cliquey,’ like high school, and I’ve never been good at that game so I stopped playing.”

I read this as a pastor's wife, and I know what she means. To people on the outside, church often looks like a nasty little game. There are really fabulous ministries in the U.S. dedicated to helping the poor/addicted/refugee/depressed/suicidal/homeless. But they're not usually based in the local church. I wish they were! If your church is an exception, I'm very happy for you. But if the bigger church -- members and leadership alike -- were as dedicated to helping and loving people in need as they were to the latest building project or covered dish dinner, 35% of people between 20 - 36 wouldn't be anti-church, i.e., think that the church is doing more harm than good.

Then there's the other thing preying on my brain, the Bible study that I'm teaching with older ladies at my church ... because all the ladies at my church are older ... because at 53 years old I'm the youngest adult woman in my church by at least a decade. Sigh. [They're lovely ladies. I just wish our church had a few millennials.] Anyway, we're studying Elisabeth Elliot's incredible book, A Path Through Suffering. Someday I might do a way-too-long post on it. If you struggle to understand why you suffer, or why anyone suffers, this book is helpful. Elliot is bold and unapologetic of her radical positions. Chapter after chapter she pummels you with arguments that suffering is designed, important, essential, useful, and brings joy. Yes, I just wrote that. 

Perhaps this is where all these distasteful topics come together for me, right now. Elliot says "the maturing process in the Christian ... is for one purpose, the giving of life." (97) How do we give life? Kindness. Openness. Loving instead of hating. Welcoming instead of pushing away. Sacrificing for others. Ceasing from judging. Why do Christians feel it is our job to judge the world right now?

"All who would bring souls to God and multiply His kingdom must do so through surrender and sacrifice. This is what loving God means, a continual offering, a pure readiness to give oneself away ...." (Elliot 101)

Surrender and sacrifice. Same thing as suffering. A thousand little deaths each day as you choose others over yourself. You choose your political enemy or your nasty neighbor, your annoying co-worker or your selfish family member. You choose them over yourself and your own agendas or ideas.

I refuse to continue judging the culture around me, pointing my scrawny finger at its blemishes and faults. Church, you are to judge yourself. I am to judge myself. What am I doing to be a life-giver? What am I doing to make a kinder community? Reader, who is your enemy? With whom do you disagree? If you cannot reach out in love, can you respond with it? It's quite difficult, simple kindness. 

Sometimes I feel like a referee between two bloody prize-fighters intent on murder in the ring. It's one thing to reject ISIS or Westboro Baptist Church or Kim Jong Un or Neo-Nazis. Shouldn't we agree on where the hatred is coming from, and reject that together? But we ought not hate one another, we who say we want peace. "Trust in the Lord and do good. Cease from anger and forsake wrath." (Ps. 37)

5 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this. As a millennial who goes to church and feels a bit alone sometimes, thank you. That ad is what I want to do, every day. I'm trying to find my place in being part of the solution, not the problem. My cousin and I both had this discussion recently. We're both in support groups for various reasons and we looked at each other asking, why aren't we getting this help from the church? I still love that old DC Talk song, "Luv is a Verb". And before I stop rambling,yes. The church, which is the whole body of Christ not just a building, needs to be doing more. I'm not perfect and I've been taking a good hard look at myself. How am I being Christ, in my marriage, in my home and in my relationships. I just want to be Christ and show love. Then I will get that question that will let me give them the answer, because Christ loved me first. Now, let me tell you about Him.

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  2. Yes! Well said, MK. That statistic about millennials is alarming!

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  3. What a tremendous, beautifully written, from the heart post!
    I appreciated your transparent heart and sharing what is on it, M.K.
    Your study sounds like and excellent one, but with Elizabeth Elliot you can't go wrong.
    Where is the love?? We've become a very selfish and self centered people not willing to look on the needs of others, whatever those needs may be. "Choose them over yourself" the love begins there. When we get self out of the way, God can do great and mighty things in and through us, for His Kingdom and glory.

    Have a glorious day~

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  4. This is a wonderful post dear M.K. I loved that video.

    My dear husband and I left organized religion many, many years ago. Before he went to heaven he tried a couple of different churches to see what they were preaching then. We never gave up our belief in Jesus, in fact it grew stronger.

    After my husband went to be with Jesus, I found a Christian widow's group at a church nearby. It's now 5 years later, I no longer am involved with either the widow's group or that church. I found another church that is small, we are ever learning how to love God more and how to love others. Jesus has given me more people to love and pray for now that I no longer have my dear husband here with me.

    No guilt, no shame, no judgement. It is so easy to point our fingers at others, to condemn, yet we are all sinners. If we commit even one little sin, what we may think of as little, we are guilty of all of them.

    Being in the mainstream church scene our whole growing up years, there was a lot of guilt, shame and judging. God forgives our sins when we repent. It is through our love for Jesus, and loving others, that others will be drawn to Him, the Light of the world.

    Thank you for this convicting post to be more loving and thoughtful of others.

    The old song just came to mind:

    "What the world needs now,
    is love sweet love,
    not just for some,
    but for everyone."

    Have a great weekend and thanks again for speaking from you heart in your post.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

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  5. M.K., I am having a hard time these days as well, trying to stay somewhat informed, yet staying away from as much news and social media as I can. I have unfollowed a few people on FB as well. Everything seems so toxic and so divided, and there's so much fear and anger. I do think the media of all stripes fuel this, and I think maybe we wouldn't be so divided if we just turned our attention to loving each other and putting each other first. Putting on love rather than trying to prove we're "right."
    I put the Elizabeth Elliot book on my list. Blessings, Deborah

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