So…I am from the school of anything that sounds too good to be true, most likely is! I was very hesitant to use Swagbucks until a couple of friends started racking up the amazon gift cards. I love those, so thought…I’ll give it a try. It really is easy and you earn points that can be redeemed for prizes simply for going about your daily web surfing. It is free to sign up. If you do, I would love for you to sign up under my name! Here is the linkage: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/lafevem
Today, I was out watering the new landscaping we just installed at our new house. As I was watering, I was really bemoaning the amount of money I just had to pay the Homeowner’s Association of our new neighborhood. If you talk to me frequently, you have already heard me whine about this, but for those who have not had the pleasure, they made us pay ALL the back dues from the past owner…almost 3 years worth. Legally, I feel certain I have a case that I was not responsible for it, but I won’t bore you with Florida Statute 720 yada yada. So, why did I pay and not fight? The neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt. What? Yes…the Easter Egg Hunt…my son had planned to go with several of his friends from our new neighborhood he already knew from school, and they were not going to allow us to participate in this “HOA sponsored event” without the payment. Mind you, I had no problem paying my dues, and even 1 year of the past owner’s, but that was not enough-full payment only. So, the backed- in- the corner- mama I am, I paid the stupid (Sarah would say at this point, “Mama..we don’t say stupid) dues. In case you can’t tell, I’m bitter. With those dues, went painting the exterior of my house now, and several pieces of furniture I wanted. I really would have stimulated the economy!
So anyway, back to my contemplating while watering plants. In my head I was thinking, “Seriously, what is the problem with these people? I mean…Mark and I are great people, our kids are lovely, we have already completely renovated the yard of a home that sat abandoned for over a year, we totally rehabilitated a pool that my pool lady said, and I quote “I was afraid there might be a dead body in there”..why couldn’t they just be happy with my dues, and the fact good people have moved in…and if the bank had taken the house back under their name, they would have only been required by law to pay one year, so why did I have to pay three?”. I was having a prolific pity party (alliteration..my friends) and getting more worked up by the minute. I am what Dr. Phil calls a “right fighter”. If I feel I am right, I will not back down.
Just as I was really beginning to wallow in my poor treatment, it hit me that this is just how Jesus must have felt. What does Jesus have to do with my HOA? I am angry because I had to pay the debt of someone else. I did not do anything wrong. I paid my bills on time. This was the prior owner’s responsibility…..see, I only want to pay bills created by me, someone I gave birth to, or someone who is my child because I married their great daddy. Otherwise, not interested in paying your bills. Jesus paid my debt on the cross in the very same way. He didn’t do anything wrong, my sins were not His, but still He gave it all to give me hope for an eternal future. And He did much more than write a check…He gave His very life. Since the Bible is clear we have faced nothing that Christ himself has not experienced, I have to imagine He grappled with these same feelings as He faced His impending crucifixion. I would like to say this epiphany has totally made me feel better about the situation. Unfortunately, I am still a human grappling with emotions, so I am not totally over it. I do, however, LOVE that Christ talks to us through the most mundane experiences to teach us about Himself.
I love a Facebook Status that make me think. During lunch today, I was scanning my friend’s status updates and I read one that hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. “We can’t expect the broken to live as though they were whole”. This is a quote from the book “Love and War” by Stasi Eldredge. This simple statement left me to reflect on the many facets of my life. First as a spouse…both my husband and I have been divorced and both brought children from our former marriages into our union. Divorce, remarriage, change…all these things led to hurt and pain on many levels…how many times did I expect my husband, his children and my children to behave as though they were “whole” when they were anything but? As a teacher, I have seen children come from all kinds of devastating circumstances. I would like to think I was always the compassionate teacher trying to always keep in mind the morning my student may have had before coming through my door, but honestly, I was not. How many times did I expect a student in my classroom to just sit down, listen, and do their work…you know behave like a whole person, when they may have witnessed their father beat their mother before coming to school. Even in casual encounters….the grumpy cashier, the irate driver, the moody boss…did I give them the benefit of the doubt? Did I fathom they may have just lost a loved one, lost their home, or maybe just lost their love of life because of one unfortunate circumstance after another.
After fully processing this thought and realizing I need to work on how I treat people, the next thought crossed my mind….”Wait…aren’t we all broken?” All of us to some degree have experienced heartbreak, hurt, some sort of devastation. If this is true, then really what is “whole”. Who is this “whole” person we should all seek to behave like? How do we become “whole”? As a Christian, the answer to me is obvious…we seek our “wholeness” in Christ. He offers His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness to us freely, and we can choose to accept it. Then, we adjust our vision to see ourselves as He does…a fully complete lovable creation.
Here is the kicker that bothers me: The quote that inspired this essay indicates “we can’t expect the broken to live as though they are whole”. At some point in our mature Christian walk, when do we begin to behave as though we are “whole”. If Christ is our Healer, the Mender of our Hearts, wholeness should eventually be displayed in our lives. The Bible discussed this concept when it speaks of moving from “milk” to “meat”. The Love of Christ attracts the new believer, but the Holy Spirit should compel us to deeper relationship. This deeper relationship is the place where we choose a different way of life, we behave in a different way, the place where it becomes obvious to the world, we are “peculiar”. I’m afraid we as Christians are no longer peculiar in any way. We look like the world, talk like the world, act like the world…we don’t even mind playing the world’s music in our church to show how “relevant” we really are. I guess on some level this is “neat”. It attracts those who may never have shown up at church. Everyone comes in and feels good. They enjoy the show. They hear about how Jesus loves us and wants good for us and then everyone leaves feeling good. Ok…quick rewind…I thought the reason for the cool clothes, cool songs, and cool services were to attract the broken so we can show them Christ’s love. Why, yes of course that is the reason. But, they just left church feeling as good as when they came and nothing has changed in their life. They are still just as broken as they were 2 hours ago. It seems to me, the church is no longer a hospital with the Great Physician serving as Chief of Staff, but now we are more like the back alley quack who dispenses some great pain meds. Nothing is fixed, but you just don’t feel it anymore. And what about the Christians in the sanctuary who are sort of whole…how are they expected to become “more whole” when all we preach is “I’m ok, your ok, and Jesus loves us all”. Jesus does love us all, but rest assured, I’m not ok, you’re not ok, and maybe we all need a shepherd (Pastor, Bishop, Priest…however you define this role) to tell us so.
Every time we gather around a large table, my dad will go to the head of the table and say “Well, I guess you are wondering why I called you all here?” I think this is the question the church must begin to ask. “Why are we calling them all here?”