Oh, the comments...on here, facebook, and through email...thanks...love them.
Basically, I'm going to copy and paste some of those comments and answer them here today, k? Let's go...
First of all, I received this from my friend LO earlier today:
i like pissed better than ticked. don't try and church it up. :)
anyways - read your blog... couldn't comment on it because its like, 2 am and right now i can't recall my password for blogspot or google reader or whatever that thing is... but your rant (and I mean.. rant in the most loving ranting way) went along with something i've been pondering the passed few weeks, and that is this....
for centuries, the fundamental understanding of what the “church is” has been that everyone has a part to play, everybody has to give – no matter how big or how small or how simple, and when everyone is playing their part well, the church flourishes, and lives are changed. The problem is, over the last few decades… the consumer-istic bend of the western world has perverted this view, and now church doesn’t mean this at all. What has happened is that people are convinced that church is all about them. About “me”. And that church should have all the programs we want and it should be as easy as possible to do anything and everything while we’re there, and that it should be built around us having a pleasant experience. We’re taught that almost constantly. And that’s an unbiblical model of church, that would have a person being validated by our presence, rather than by our calling.. and teaches and trains us that the gospel is about us, and not about God reconciling all things to Himself. So when that environment is created, monsters are created. The, “church is about me” monsters. Them serving me, not me serving the body. And one of the monsters is the “Referee”. A referee doesn’t play in the game, doesn’t score any points, knows nothing of the joys of the win or the agony of defeat, they just run around blowing their whistles and pointing out everyone elses errors. People that are involved in nothing, but critical of everything…. That’s a referee. People can pour out their lives for the sake of the gospel, and referees will sit in the stands and judge how they do it. And unfortunately, we encounter so many referees, it's hard to recgonize legit whistle blowing when it comes.
I'm not at all making excuses, or justifying not being teachable, or accountable.... I agree with your rant... just saying... your rant, made me think about the monsters that warped churches can create. that's all. just need to get back to the basics. the gospel. God reconciling all things to Himself.
Totally agree (and love your little funnies and light-heartednes). And an email I received from Anna said this:
...while you don’t like to be “trimmed” you’ve learned that pruning is necessary to bear fruit. I think you’ve learned that the pain is worth the fruit... But so many people haven't learned that. The church is full of a father-less generation with massive insecurities. This has breed people that think if you “wound” them, that you don’t love them. Plus they have to come to a place of “I deserve this” and justification to accept your confrontation.
Basically, I think they both hit the nail on the head. Why do we have so many problems within the church? Because we've become a people who thinks it's 'all about me,' we are so very insecure, and we haven't learned the lesson that Jesus Himself (very loving Jesus...in a parable) taught in John 15.
I received this comment from my Aunt Ann (or, I'm pretty sure I gathered that this was my aunt; the comment only said Ann and I know several):
I have read through your post and do not really understand what has gotten you so angry...so angry that you defile the Bible by calling it freakin'. Jesus whole life was spent as a living example of Love...a love so great that he gave his life that ALL can be saved. Note that he did not exclude any group as long as they believe in him and turn to him so as to be with God in heaven. He does not exclude anyone...and even on the cross, he was an amazing example of how we should live and give. Jesus won over people not through rebuke but through pure consistent love and kindness to all of the worst people ...the people in the greatest need of his saving grace. He did not hang out with the religious crowd and look down on people, he got out there and by example and by parable, gently got the message across of Gods love and mercy and he showed everyone by example how we should be to ALL around us; When I first changed jobs, I could not believe what I was hearing in a Christian work place that has the motto "to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ" but rather than just saying what I thought about it, I strived very hard to set a very good example of appropriate language and behaviors and have prayed continually for the compassion and love for the poor and the wretched that Jesus had..and in the past 2 years, slowly but surely, the cursing has almost completely stopped, without me saying one negative word and we have had some very enlightening religious discussions too. I know this is an opposite perspective from yours, but many many times, your actions speak much louder than your words and can mean far far more to someone than a spoken word. May God bless you with the maturity of an old lady and the heart of a child and the wisdom you need to be the person you want to be. (now for my little bit of correction...no naked pictures of your kids on line please...for their sakes and to keep the perverted people from looking at them too.) I don't know what is eating you right now but I will say special prayers for you and your mission work.
There are several points I want to make here in this follow-up concerning this issue and this is a great comment to help me do that. So, I will just make a list here...
--First of all, the word 'freakin' to me is like using 'dadgum' (this may not translate for all you non-Southern people...ha ha ha). 'Dadgum' does not at all come close to defiling the Bible for me. Not sure if it's just the use of an adjective or if 'freakin' to some people is in another class for some reason than 'dadgum', but I'm very sorry for the offense. I will truly be more careful, but I did want to explain that in my mind, it is not a defilement, so I didn't purposefully defile the Bible.
--Jesus is a very powerful example of love for us. BUT, and I think this is a huge part of the problem, Jesus' love did not mean that he didn't rebuke. They can, and do, go hand in hand. Just because you rebuke doesn't mean you don't love. Quite the opposite actually. What did Jesus do in the temple when the vendors were there? He rebuked. What did Jesus do when Peter said something inappropriate? He rebuked ("get behind me Satan"...pretty harsh some would say). I think that by and large, when you are called to call someone out on their sin, it is mostly done with someone that you have a relationship with, but Jesus didn't know the woman at the well from Adam, but He didn't let that stop Him...he totally called her out on her wrong behavior.
Holly, I loved the point that you made in your comment. Lots of times we don't have the relationships with the people who need rebuking. Sometimes I think that means we don't rebuke, we just pray. Sometimes it stops there...we only pray...and sometimes God leads us to talk to that person even if we don't know them (look at all the prophet books in the Bible...no, I'm not saying you have to be a 'prophet'...just be willing to be used in this way by God). Sometimes, as Holly said, God will orchestrate it so that we are able to develop a relationship with that person and can then speak into their lives.
But, back to Jesus. I think that we've developed this (as my former pastor used to say) 'mamby-pamby' view of Jesus. YES, he was loving and sweet and kind and gentle. But, he was also very firm and strong and did not take any crap, to be frank. Yes, He humbled Himself and was put on a cross for you and me. But, before that (well, and after that too), He didn't back down about speaking the truth. Look at his relationship with the Pharisees and the Sadducees...wow...talk about a poop-stirrer (ha ha ha, that was for you Judy). Seriously, He spoke nothing but rebuke to those people.
Basically, He was the perfect balance. And...another part of the problem. When people hear or see the word 'rebuke' these days, they wall off automatically. Why do we always have to go to such extremes? Rebuke doesn't have to signify being mean or hateful or excluding. But people see it as such, so they then go to the other extreme of never saying or doing anything.
--I, too, have experienced the power of being a silent witness...everywhere I've worked in the 'secular' world (as in, not a church job, etc.). I worked my first job, at Good Shepherd in Longview, for 3 1/2 years. Slowly, over the course of those short years, the atmosphere changed. Not only because I was there of course, but people would come up to the floor, transferring patients to me, and say that they'd heard about me...and in a good way. :) What?!? It would always throw me off guard, but it was always so very cool. People constantly asking me questions about God and the Bible and such...even when they didn't know anything about me. It was made evident to me then, in that season more than ever before, that when you are rooted in Jesus, you just kind of 'throw off' Jesus everywhere you go. It's the spilling effect...when you have a full glass of water, sometimes you don't mean to spill, but you inevitably do. It was never deliberate, but it happened. I was the one who was always assigned the 'special' cases, even by non-Christian charge nurses. I was supposed to get an LOA (sometimes when a hospital floor doesn't have many patients, one of the nurses scheduled for that night is called and told not to come in to work) one time specifically that I remember (it was my turn for an LOA), but was told when I got to work that night that they couldn't LOA me...that I had to be there to take care of this one patient in particular (they didn't speak in Christianese, but what they meant was that this patient needed to be ministered to and I was the only one to do it). The whole atmosphere of the whole floor changed over the course of those years...and then just kept going after I left too. When I came back to visit about a year after we moved to Phoenix, the nursing director of the floor pulled me to the side and thanked me for the influence I had had while I was there. She told me that they were now even having a Bible study every day before shift changes. Isn't that cool? Of course, it wasn't all because of me...I'm not saying that. But, it's just cool to see the part you can play.
The same thing happened when I went to work in Phoenix...NOT in the Bible belt any longer and it was so obvious! ;) One day not long after I started to work, I was standing at my med. cart when the nursing administrator came up to me. She asked the example 'goal' question that you hear in sermons all the time, word for word, "Michawn, what's different about you?" Ha ha ha...I almost started laughing at the Christianese that she had just spoken and didn't even know it...there amongst all her F words. :) "Um, I don't know...I'm just passing out meds." Ha ha ha. It was awesome...and amazing what transpired in that place while I was there. That whole spilling effect again...I had said not one word. It's also that principle of favor...when you are where you are supposed to be in God, He will give you favor, with Him and with men.
All of that to say that words are definitely not always needed (so, Aunt Ann, that's not an 'opposite perspective' from mine). But, that wasn't what the post was about. So, it's kind of in a different category.
I wrote only about rebuke in the post because that is what we are most ignorant to. It did happen in the Bible. Jesus did do it Himself...and we know that God did it countless times in the Old Testament and instructed others to do the same. We also know that He instructed us to do it. Are we not supposed to follow the Bible still today?
--And now for the rebuke. This will be a great example of how to really handle a rebuke (and not just a play one...ha ha ha, Sherry, that was awesome). For all of you reading this, a while back Aunt Ann emailed me and very lovingly expressed her concern about 'naked pictures' of the kids on the blog. I very lovingly emailed her back, keeping it lighthearted and friendly, expressing my reasoning and beliefs. So, this is just a follow-up I guess. My explanation goes like this...I have thought about this alot and there are many really cute pictures that I don't put up on the blog that I'd actually really like to, just because they are SO VERY cute. But, also because they are your typical shots of your kids that everyone takes...naked in the tub, when they've unexpectedly stripped down in the yard, etc. For so many of you, your friends and family are right there, so they get to see that kind of stuff in person, or at least see the pictures that you take. That is not the case for me...although, that's not the only reason I have put them up on the blog before...just one of the reasons. But, believe me, I haven't put the very few that I have (I can think of 2, maybe 3 max, that I've put on this blog in the 4 years I've had this blog) on here without thought...and have actually refused to put many more on here. I've followed the example of others that have blogs...studying what they've done. Some have put more than I would...even frontal shots of their kiddos playing in the tub. I came to the conclusion that I would drastically limit (again, 2 or 3 tops that I can even think of) the number of cute baby/kid hiney shots (and nothing more than hiney) and that would be sufficient for me. So, as I explained in my email, I promise that I have thought this through...and am constantly in a state of thinking this, and other things like this, through...all the ways in which I can protect my kids in all areas of life. We might think very differently on the matter. But, I so appreciate your concern and also you having the courage to talk to me personally about it instead of expressing your concern to others behind my back (which so often is the case with people).
This is the same tone I used when Aunt Ann and I discussed this before. This is what being teachable is. It doesn't mean that you are always going to reach the same conclusion in the end, but it does mean that you don't fly off the handle to someone who is giving you correction or get all defensive and shut down. Even if the person giving you correction doesn't do it lovingly (which I must believe that Aunt Ann's tone was loving even though it's always hard to read tone and intent in written form...you always just have to give people the benefit of the doubt and think positively), you are still called to respond with a teachable spirit. Even when people deliver it in a really nasty way, you are still called to be teachable...and God can still use the jist of what they are saying to bring about change for your good. Sometimes you are already aware of what the rebuker is trying to bring to your attention and have already thought it through...sometimes you haven't even thought about it. Sometimes it is a completely foreign concept to you. But, whatever the rebuker is saying to you, your job is to really take it in, pray about it, let Jesus talk to you with His words on the matter, and then follow through.
It's never easy to be rebuked. It's not pleasant at the time, but the more and more we practice being teachable, the easier it gets. And the more and more we see the fruit that it brings, the more we are EAGER for people to speak into our lives, even when it involves a rebuke.
Wendy touched on something that I've had to deal with also. In one part of her comment she said, "I agree with what you said Michawn but how do I talk to her in love. I have no back up to reinforce this to her." This is what makes it so hard to do the things we are called (by God, in His Word) to do. This is why it gets me so 'ticked!' If people, family members, church family members, would do what they are called to do, one single solitary person wouldn't have to be the Lone Ranger in all this. But, having said that, I feel that no matter how alone we are, we have to do the right thing. Isn't that what we tell our children? No matter what others are doing, you make the right choices, you do the things that God wants. It's really so simple, even though it is not at all easy.
I don't recall anyone standing up to the Pharisees and Sadducees but Jesus. He matter-of-factly just spoke the truth. Sometimes we have to pull out the syrup (as in lots of sweetness for those of you who don't get that)...it depends on who we are dealing with and what they are going through. Sometimes, we need to just be more matter-of-fact. Although, come to think of it, I don't remember ever seeing Jesus pull out the syrup. Do you think that he went up to the woman at the well and gently stroked her arm and looked deep into her eyes and spoke in a slow, low, apologetic tone while calling her out on her sin? Sounds like he just said it point blank to me...but we weren't there. I don't know...sometimes I think we've become too psychologized today...too 'feelings' oriented. Sometimes some good, point blank truth is just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes people won't hear it any other way. Sometimes the opposite is true. It's always God's call, in each situation...and it's your job to listen to His voice.
So, Wendy, I don't have a specific answer to your 'HELP'...but, you have His voice. Just be strong and be brave and do what He asks you to do, in the exact way He leads you to do it. I'm so sorry that you don't have a support system in this.
This is already very long and I actually have much more to say. But, I will say it another day. Many of you have asked what in the world got me so riled up. Well, I'll save that answer for next time. But, until then, comment away on this post. I do want to continue to hear your thoughts and questions on the matter.