Last night at our weekly Bible Study, we were presented with a challenge: this next week, really look into a hard truth within ourselves and answer the question, "how do I treat other Christians?"
On the surface it seems like a no-brainer. I love Christ and I love my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ! One of my most favorite things in the world is to talk about God -- not in the hammering of theological rhetoric but rather of the awe and amazement I feel with God working in my life.
You want to sing together? Pray together? Talk about how awesome God is together? I'm there with you!
I love other Christians and I shower them with my love!
just the ones I like.
Because the hard truth is that lady at my church who is socially awkward and trying to follow her in a conversation makes my head hurt? I avoid her. I don't make it obvious, of course. No one would know that was what I was doing. But the hard truth is, I do it. And I watch out of the corner of my eye (always being careful not to make direct eye contact) how she works the room trying hard to find someone to talk to. And I can see it -- I can see how her heart longs to be welcomed in. And I actually pray that someone decides to make the first move and walk straight up to her and say hello, ask how her week was. Not me, of course. I don't think I'm the person who should do it. But it's good for me to pray that someone else does it, right?
And that guy who loves the Lord with all his heart but always (and I mean always) manages to somehow talk about a hot topic item I'd rather stay away from? Please, oh, please, Lord don't let me get stuck serving with him. I don't want to be perceived as having the same exact view as him and I am not going to debate him. So, it's just easier to avoid him. Which is good, right? Because that way I'm tampering down potential drama. Right? I mean, this isn't the time or the place for that conversation so it's better I just serve by someone else.
Then there's that family. You know the one. They have more money than they know what to do with. Here I am scraping by while trying to raise awareness about worldwide poverty but what are they doing? I see they posted about another vacation they took. Must be nice. Try living in a third world. They have no idea what going without looks like. Obviously their heart isn't in the right place. Sure, they might come to church each week but what sort of difference are they really making in the world? I mean, I don't really know them. I've never actually had any sort of conversation that one would consider in depth or personal. I don't actually know their story, like how they met or how they came to live in this town or, well, anything about them really. But I know their type, you know?
And that one. Oh, man. I still remember the things she said when Avery died under the guise of Christian love and truth telling but all she did was further destroy my shattered Mama heart. Others have told me that she really does have a good heart, that she's well intentioned but sometimes her passion gets in the way and she doesn't think when she says things. She didn't mean to hurt me. She meant, in her own way, to show me love but it came out all wrong. I'm not mean to her, I just pretend she doesn't exist. You know, to protect my heart.
How do I treat other Christians?
I think this is going to be a rough week of reality for me. I'm being asked to pray a prayer I don't want the answer to. I'm being challenged to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal in me the people I have incorrectly labeled as not worth my time. To show me those I see as simply 'the least'.
If, when we receive Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we each one receive the Holy Spirit in our hearts, understanding the knowledge that the power of God Himself is within us, then why do I fail to see Christ residing in my fellow brothers and sisters? Why am I so quick to ignore or avoid or walk away from my same Christ who resides within them? Because the hard truth is it is easy to justify the way we truly treat other Christians.
There is a responsibility to open my eyes, Lord. One that I will not be able to ignore once my eyes are open. So, I guess the next prayer would be show me how to love like you , Lord.
I just hope I'm up for the challenge.