I enjoyed the entire evening, but one thing in particular has captured my heart....and I can't stand to NOT write about it....so here I am at 10:30 on a Saturday night, blogging...because I won't be able to sleep until I do this!
DISCLAIMER: This post is not for everyone. Some may be offended and some may be confused. If you are among those groups of people, please read this with an open heart and realize that this is a blog post about ME and my failings...but it may apply to you as well. I encourage you to open your heart and be captured by this - just as I experienced earlier.
The Kampman's spoke about the blessings we are given in this life and explained that these blessings are NOT meant to be kept to ourselves. Rather, they're to be shared with others...and he mentioned how often we fail at this. Then one of the men spoke in a very quiet voice and addressed those in the audience who had been burned by the church, in one way or another. He spoke about the fact that many people have shown up at church services all across this country, searching for the hope that we claim to have. And when they entered the church doors, they were shown everything BUT love. Maybe they were shunned, stared at, ignored, whispered about, spoken loudly about, embarrassed, or maybe even asked to leave. This happens so often! And then, one of the men said, "If this has happened to you, if you've been burned at church, then I want to apologize for that. That is NOT what God's love is and that is NOT what God intends!"
When he said this, I was captured. I immediately started thinking - "Have I ever done this? Have I ever made a person feel unwelcome in God's house?" I certainly hope not - but the answer would sadly be that YES, I have done this before. Probably more times that I've known. Have you?
When a stranger, or just an un-churched person, shows up at church, what is our first reaction? Is it "What is SHE doing here?" or is it "It's SO good to see them in church!" You see, our reactions guide our actions. If we respond in shock that this person has even shown up, we will respond in the same way - in judgment. But if we are just happy to see that person, nothing will stop us from walking right up to him/her and welcoming them into God's house.
And let me take it a step further. How do we treat those in our midst who are our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we treat them as one created in the image of God? Do we forgive wrongdoings? Do we judge our fellow Christians, as though we are somehow superior and living a faultless life? Do we look down on those who are different or maybe on someone who doesn't think the same way we do? Again, what is our response? What is my response?
We are given blessings in this life for a specific reason. That reason is NOT to keep those blessings to ourselves and hoard them up so we'll have the good life. That reason is so we will SHARE these blessings with others. How can I, how can we, share these blessings if we're too busy judging? God forgive me, God forgive us - for the times we have spread judgment, hate, anger, or ostricized a person because we saw ourselves as the superior Christian (whether in front of a non-Christian or a fellow brother/sister). God forgive me, please.
I encourage you to think about your own life. This revelation has hit me upside the head - just like I needed. There are many times when I'm welcoming to strangers or to brothers and sisters in Christ, especially when it's easy. But what about when it's NOT easy? What about when we don't know the person, or what about when we know that this person is mad at us, or what about when we know this person is living in blatant sin? Do we, do I, love that person anyway or do we treat them as the inferior?
And so I end by saying, "If I have ever made YOU feel unwelcome in God's house or in my life, please forgive me. Forgive me for the superior attitude that a sinner like me has shown. Forgive me for NOT being willing to look past your sins when my sins were obviously right in front of me. Forgive me for failing to love you as God has commanded. Forgive me."
This song, "Does Anybody Hear Her?" says it much better than I have. Please listen to it. It brings me to tears every time I hear it....because it's so true. "Lofty glances from lofty people, who can't see past her scarlet letter....and they've never even met her."
I praise God for His blessings....and one of the greatest is love....and one of the other greatest is forgiveness. Where there is love and forgiveness - life is good.
Thanks for listening,