Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#DangerDays: Rise Above The Noise!

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.  -1 Corinthians 13:1-7  (The Message)

As part of my journey into the #DangerDays, I have been making it a point to chat with pwoplw about their belief systems. Some, of course, don't want to talk about it. I respect that. Others are more interested in the beliefs of their neighbors; we have a Jehovah's Witness family on our circle that many have questions about. But one Saturday a while back I had a chat with a mother of 3 who lived across the street. We talked about her faith history. We talked about her most recent attempts at taking her family to church. It was not a happy story. She and her husband were having trouble finding a way to fit in. When they called the church office for assistance, they were told that their Sunday School class would help. When they responded that they didn't yet belong to a class, they were told to join one. That was the final answer. There was no outreach. There was no love shown to them. And so they gave up on church.  #FAIL

The church is like its members- it will never be perfect. We get it right more often than not. But the one place we should never fall short is in showing love to our world. I have seen more and more examples lately of how the institution of the church seems to be losing touch with the teachings of Christ. As the 1 Corinthians 13 scripture reminds us, without love we are nothing. We are just white noise, becoming more and more deaf to the hurting people around us. How is the church failing to love? Here are just a few of the things I have seen and read recently that make me just a little crazy...
  • I heard from a friend of a youth ministry that requires (at the demand of their pastor) church membership cards before students are allowed to enter the youth room. So much for Acts 1:8, huh?  #FAIL
  • I read about the Westboro Baptist Church, which in its attempts to condemn gays has done greater harm to the way people see Christianity than almost anything else Satan has going on.  #FAIL
  • I saw a church sign that read, "Join us Sunday. We'll scare the sin right out of you!"  Now there's a message of hope and love...  #FAIL
  • I know of a church leader- a man who works for a well-known Christian organization and who teaches classes at a very large church. When he speaks about his faith, many people listen. Yet there is another man who wronged him (and confessed this sin) and whom he sees in church most every Sunday.  He will not speak to him or even look at him. Until he shows grace in that relationship, his words about the amazing grace of Jesus sound hollow and impotent. I struggle with my own feelings towards the man- but is anything harder than forgiving someone who will not forgive? I am telling you, without love, that "professional Christian's" life is just noise.  #FAIL
  • A story was making the rounds this past winter about a small town in New Jersey. It the midst of one of those massive winter storms with temps way below freezing, homeless people were barely surviving. The town has no shelter. And yet not a single church opened it's doors as a place of warmth and love. Not one. #FAIL
Without love, the #DangerDays will wear us out. If all we carry around with us are things like piety, theology and an air of superiority then the church will fail in its mission to bring Jesus to the world. We must be more than noise. We must be better than techno music, throbbing in the background while no one really pays attention- we must offer melodies and lyrics that will soothe and inspire. Christ-like love has to be our calling card, our initial response to every situation we encounter. 1 John 4:7-8 reminds us that if we don't love then we don't know God, because God is love. And if we cannot love each other inside our communities of faith, what chance do we have of showing love to rest of the world? Through the love of Jesus, we are God's Plan A for saving this world- and there is no Plan B. I don't want to be a creaking, rusty gate anymore. I don't want to look like a Christian and sound like a Christian while my actions betray my true beliefs because I do not love. Wanna' make the #DangerDays a little less dangerous for the world around you? Rise above the noise. Love like like Jesus!

Because of Jesus,

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