Oh Thursday Reflection time, I missed you! It was nice to be unplugged for a week, but I realized that two weeks is just too long to go without this time. And I was welcomed back with this verse to meditate one:
"If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." -James 1:26-27
A few things stick out to me here... the first being the word "claim" vs. the word "caring." It's the difference in stating that we are Christians and actually being the hands and feet of Jesus and doing the work of the Lord. It's like this... my husband is in the last month of training for an IronMan triathlon right now. For those of you not familiar, this is a 2 mile swim followed by a 112 bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run all in a row. This will take him somewhere in the ballpark of 15 hours, and many people attempt it and don't finish. He has been training for over six months, buying and reading books on training plans, gear, and nutrition. He gets his bike tuned up, he fuels his body with the right things, and is spending up to 20 hours a week sometimes working out. So what's my point? Well, he's equipping himself to do well at this event. He could "claim" to be an IronMan without actually doing the race and people would probably believe him. Or, he could even read all of this information and not apply it, not train, and just show up and try to wing it and be miserable. For so many of us, that is what our Christian walks have been. We "claim" to be a Christian and people obviously believe us, but what we do on a day to day basis does not show that. We might even read the Bible, but we don't live it out by serving others daily, showing compassion, helping those in need, and spreading the Gospel. As Josh would say, "sitting in a pew on Sunday mornings makes you no more of a Christian than sitting in my garage makes you my jeep." We can do all of the acts of what we think is expected of us a Christian (church, Bible studies, etc.) but until the Holy Spirit really burns inside of us and breaks our hearts for what breaks God's hearts AND moves us to action (that's the really important last step), I feel like we shouldn't even make the claim. Being a Christian is all about the DOING.
Case in point... I grew up claiming to be a Christian, went to church, had all of the knowledge, could tell you most of the Gospel story, and believed that it did all go down like that in history. But honestly, I lived for ME. What I wanted, what satisfied ME. I was my own God. There was no part of me that felt a pull at my heart strings when I thought about the world's homeless population, widows or orphans, and I kept myself shielded from the sadness of the world on purpose. Out of sight, out of mind. I can tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has all been changing for me over these past four or five years. When something moves me, I am compelled to try and do SOMETHING, even if it's just give money, and I never feel like that's enough. As a church planter, my heart breaks for those who just don't "get it" yet, because I know what they're missing out on. I look back on the years when I thought I had it all together and I realize now how much I was hurting. I really was lost, but I couldn't figure out what was missing because I thought I had it. Does that make sense?
About two weeks ago I talked on the phone with my college roommate. We've been in touch through Facebook, but haven't heard each other's voices in a long time. Somehow we got on the topic of our faith and she said it so well when she stated, "Kim, we really thought that we were good Christian girls, but how did we miss the whole thing?" In the end, it was actually one of the best conversations I've had in a long time- we were like two "before" and "after" pictures who knew each other well in both situations. I am so thankful for friends like her... she gets it and her heart breaks for those who don't. Josh and I planted a church for that reason... we used to be on the other side of this understanding and realize how much better our lives are now that we have a true relationship with our God. Planting this church was our "living it out."
But you know what you'll find? Once you start, it won't be enough. You'll want to help MORE. You'll want to give MORE. You'll want to do MORE. It's a hunger that can never be satisfied. So you will find the people who use that as a crutch or an excuse. You know the line, "well it's not like we can adopt all of the children in Africa, so what's the point of just taking one?" Well you know what? That ONE kid will be forever grateful! That ONE person's life matters, just like YOUR life matters, right? Are you saying that your life is more valuable than that one child in Africa? And if nobody does anything at all then you know what? You're right- we won't find a home for all of the children, but shouldn't we at least try to make a dent? God commanded us to take care of the orphans and widows... did you know that if 7% of people who "claimed" they were Christian adopted ONE child, the world's orphan problem would go away? That is shocking! In a church of 100, that's only 7 people. We run about 300 on the weekends, so we should see about 21 families moving toward this goal. What if we all stopped claiming and actually started doing?? Now that's a world I want to live in!
Okay, so apparently this fired me up a little more than I thought it would. It definitely struck a chord in me, that's for sure. And you're probably thinking, "well if that's your solution, then why don't YOU adopt a child?" And the funny thing is that before we found out we were pregnant with Lilly, we were trying. We knew it could take years so we started the process and even had a few interviews. We started running into several obstacles and before we could get too frustrated we realized we were expecting. Shortly after that, God laid it on our hearts that it was time to bring Josh's vision for TurningPoint Church to life. It was not God's will for us at that time, but we both still feel that it is His will for us in the future. I feel down to my core that there is a little baby out there waiting for us... whether or not he or she has been born yet or whether or not he or she is from the US or another country I do not know. Whether or now we will adopt this child or simply foster this child I do not know. But I do know that since I try and "Live it out" this gut feeling is a real thing- I must do something about it and when God says "move" I'll move. I've shared that feeling with my family, but never publicly like this, but I must say it's kind of freeing. It's like publicly announcing that, "Yes, God, I do trust You and I know You have this." It feels good.
There was more that I was going to share on this topic, but I think I'll stop here for today. Make sure you jump over to read Brittany's post at Daughter... Wife... Mom... Sis and leave your blog url in the comments section if you joined us this week. Reading these posts is one of my favorite things to do.
As for next week....
I can't help but still be shaken up by the events that happened in Aurora, CO this past weekend. I of course am saddened to my core for the victims and their families, but I am also so very troubled by the shooter. What must he have been going through to get there? But even more than that, I have to wonder why nobody saw this coming. Did he have no friends? Did nobody know him well enough to see that he was going off of the deep end? And clearly nobody had been to his apartment since it was filled with explosives. We'll of course never know the full story and we'll never understand. In fact, I don't think we're supposed to understand, but he clearly did not have anyone in his life who truly knew him, could reach out to him, worry about him, or potentially prevent this horrible tragedy.
The Bible speaks a lot about accountability and being relational. In fact, God's only true commandments to us were to love God and love people:
Not only this, but we should also surround ourselves with people who can build us up and hold us accountable, making sure we are living it out and encouraging one another in Christ:
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)
This week I want us to praise the people in our lives that "sharpen" us- who continuously challenge us to be better versions of ourselves and hold us accountable. I hope that we all having someone (or many someones) in our lives who do this. If you don't want to be specific with names you don't have to be... or you can maybe share a story from your life when someone challenged you and led you away from temptation. This verse is the heartbeat behind these weekly "Reflections" posts and Brittany and I started them as a way to (from a distance) continue to sharpen one another and encourage others to join us to do the same. I hope you'll post on this next week!