Thursday, June 08, 2006

Don't hate me because I'm honest...

Okay, okay, okay ... Sheesh! God is soooo totally not finished with me yet. And one of those areas is the whole BLASTED people-pleasing, non-confrontational crutch I lean on. Or mask I wear. Or veil I hide behind. Yeah. Me. And over the last 24 hours, God has not only been dealing with me on that, but a few other things too.

I received great encouragement from Everyday Mommy ... and I hope she doesn't mind me sharing part of her email here ... and if she does ... too bad (see? no more people pleaser).

"... may I encourage you to rid yourself of the pop-psychology description of yourself as non-confrontational. As one believer to another, I feel that the time is short. Christ is coming. Many of our friends and family are lost and we stand idly by, behind a mask called 'people pleaser' or 'non-confrontational'. "

Oh, that spoke right to my heart, and I replied to her that it's more than just a mask with me ... it's a real fear. As in -- get all sweaty, choked up, closed-throat fear. I'm trying to overcome it, and actually, blogging has helped! I am stepping out further than I ever have. But still, not far enough. In my personal relationships, I CRINGE when I feel a problem coming on. I hate it. And I become paralyzed. I acknowledge that I really need to put this under the blood of Jesus, because I know I can be more effective if I come out from behind the mask, or veil I hide behind when confrontation occurs.

Then, there was this candid post by Sarah that I just could not ignore. Like her, I can be neurotic about this. And like her, sometimes the real me gets hidden inside my snappy little lime green and pink plaid turtle shell. Sarah made some good points that I MUST share here ... 1) People are always going to disagree, have different points, and even get offended sometimes. 2) It's important to remember that discussion, sometimes heated discussion, is meant to bring about new understanding, and sometimes even change a person's mind or solidify their own original beliefs. 3) (and I'm paraphrasing her here) None of us has everything fully figured out. We are constantly learning, changing, and hopefully becoming a better person.

Yeah. What she said.

Trust me when I say ... I am very opinionated, and sometimes, overly passionate. I often speak before thinking, and can be quite forceful at times with my opinions. My family will vouch for that. But they are just that ... family. And I feel like I'm in my comfort zone when I'm with them, and I also know that they are stuck with me, whether they like it or not. So, it frees me up to be myself around them.

So ... having said all that I will say all this (and this is where the warm fuzzies stop):

I feel that as Christians, we are called to be compassionate. Loving. Kind. Gentle. Meek. But ... we are not called to be door mats. We are not called to be wishy washy. We are not called to be timid in our beliefs. And when I pull out my people-pleasing-non-confrontational facade, which by the way is exhausting just typing it out, I become all that. And more. Everyday Mommy encouraged me to share my comments in an email exchange we had, so ... here it is.

First, she made a comment about "friendship evangelism" saying, "my warm and loving friendship has no power to redeem anyone from sin, much less send them to heaven. I've heard so many Christian friends say things like, "I don't preach to them, I just love them," and "I don't want to force it down anyone's throat". This, also, is a post-modern mentality and people are perishing each day because their "friends" didn't tell them the truth. The truth is that the Gospel is HARD. It's HARD to believe. Narrow is the gate!"

Yes. I do agree that "friendship evangelism" is not cutting the grade. I've tried it. It doesn't work. Sometimes, people just need to be told point blank that what they are doing is wrong and the only way is to turn away from their sin and run to Jesus. No matter how hard it is for "us" to utter those words. And I tried that, and you know what? I didn't loose a friend ... in fact, she now comes to my church (until she gets relocated in August).

Showing love to someone, supporting them, hugging them when they are dying or sick, not condemning them, being compassionate, generous, gentle, helpful and kind ... those are all things we should do as Christians. But not one of those will save a single lost soul. Yes, it's true that those actions will soften a hardened heart, and prepare the lost to hear the message ... but it must go hand-in-hand with the actual delivery of the gospel. Otherwise, they may only "see" a nice person ... not realizing that they are actually seeing Jesus in you, and they might never "know" who this Jesus person is, and how HE is the one that forgives them and frees them of their sin, and gives them eternal life. There are many people I know (and me, too) that sadly fall into "feel-goodism theology to Christianity" if that makes any sense, because it's safe, easy, and non-offensive.

Everyday Mommy encouraged me to read John 6 -- and I, in turn, encourage you to read it too. I've given you a link to John 6 in the Message version... Pay close attention to verses 60-69, because many people walked away from Jesus because his message/requirements were just to "hard" for them.

On another note ... and I hope not to start riots over this, but, I get frustrated with the sheer volume of people flocking to Mega Churches and hiding in the throng of people. No accountability. Just show up for church for any given service on Saturday or Sunday, toss something in the offering plate, attend a function or two, have your name added to the church directory, and BAM. You're a Christian member in good standing. I get frustrated being one of the few 10% workers that do all the work, all the time, while the other 90% sits in the pew enjoying themselves, praising God, worshipping, and walking out, getting in their cars, and going home to a lovely and relaxing day off. I know that not every person that attends a mega church is like that... so, don't take that as a "personal criticism" -- unless, of course, you are feeling convicted. Again, I acknowledge that Mega Churches are financially in a greater position than my little church to "do" for the greater world, but at the same time, I have a problem with the Olsteens and Warrens of this generation. I know they are doing a lot of good ... that I can't deny. I just hate the "watered-down wishy-washy niceness to everyone no mater what" attitudes they have, wanting to fully accept and embrace everyone without question -- "riding the fence" in many instances between right and wrong, accepting liberalism, rightism, or whateverism.

And I hate the fact that they feel the need to constantly quote how much they donated to Aids relief, or how many books they sold (during public interviews), or how he's doing this, or how they are doing that, or how his wife was involved with this... I HATE that. Let your works speak for themselves. I dont ever recall reading in the Bible that Jesus walked around bragging, or sitting down to an interview saying, "I healed 300 people the other day." or, "I hugged a leper and told them I loved them so that it would make a difference in their heart. Someone else will share the Gospel with them." or, "I think marrying someone of the same sex is wrong, but if you believe that, it's okay because I still love you and want to sit down and sup with you and shepherd you, and if you don't want to change ... hey -- that's okay by me", or "I saved 6,500 people last week!" or, "I sold 5,000,000 scrolls of my writings last year." Other people saw what Jesus did, and spread the word ... Jesus did not have to drop hints or openly "proclaim" what his successes were.

Yes, Jesus told us to care for the poor, the widowed, the orphaned. Both the old and new testaments are filled with commands, and examples. Yes, Jesus healed first, and told them to sin no more second. And yes, I believe that Jesus called us to unity. But he also didn't waiver when he told people the only way to heaven was through him. He didn't beat around the bush or "make nice" with people so that they wouldn't be offended by what he had to say. Yes, he fellowshiped with sinners, loved them, hugged them, cared for them, but no, he didn't condone their sin or find "common ground" other than "himself" with them.

The journalist in the article we read yesterday said: "Far from dividing people, Warren-style Christianity in action finds common ground and leads people to it." My comment back? Can there be "Warren-style Christianity?" And once he finds common ground with them, what exactly is he "leading people to?" Isn't Christianity all about "being like Christ" not Rick Warren-like? He may be doing Christ-taught (or commanded) actions and good deeds/things, but really, I get the feeling that there is a fine line that's getting ready to be crossed ... Paul told the church in Corinth that we are to be unified with those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ -- their Lord and ours... he did NOT call us to be unified with the unbeliever. He went on to speak against divisions in the church (the body of believers). He appealed to them to agree with one another so that they may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Why? Because there were arguments breaking out where people were saying, "I follow Paul" or "I follow Apollos" or "I follow Cephas (Peter)" and some even said "I follow Christ." Paul's point was, Christ is not divided. Paul was not crucified for our sins, we were not baptized into the name of Peter, and there should not be a "Warren-style Christianity." (1 Corinthians 1)

We're all called to be "Christ-like" without division. Yes, I acknowledge that it was the media that coined the label "Warren-style Christianity," but my hope is that Warren doesn't agree with it.

Also, what do you think? SHOULD we be finding common ground with people??? I am not totally convinced that we should. The Bible says that we should be IN the world, not OF it, so, if we're finding "common ground" doesn't that make us "OF" the world? Or dangerously close? If you find common ground with someone that believes differently than you, isn't that another way of saying "you're not wrong ... you're entitled to believe the way you want to ... even though Jesus said that what you believe is wrong."

Here is what Warren answered when Rebecca Haggerty from NBC Dateline asked him what his thoughts are on the topic of gay marriage during a live interview -- Warren: I don't accept gay marriage. I don't think that a gay relationship is exactly what God wants in life. (GiBee says: uh, NO, it's not at all what God wants in life) But I don't think that homosexuality is the worst sin. The Bible says it's not. (GiBee says: Really? The Bible differentiates levels of sin? I thought a sin is a sin is a sin, and that God does not give sin a degree of seriousness -- it's humans that do -- and for the record, BLASPHEMY of the HOLY SPIRIT* is the only unforgivable sin.) Warren went on to say: "the Bible says the worst sin is pride. Pride is what got Satan kicked out of heaven. The Bible says pride goes before destruction of the body and a haughty spirit before a fall. So, you know what? In looking at a hierarchy of evil, I would say homosexuality is not the worst sin (GiBee asks: is it just me, or does this sound like he's trying to soften the stigma of sin on homosexuality? Sort of "easening the guilt?"). Warren: But I would also say homosexuality is not natural. I think that there are certain parts of a body that are made to fit together. (GiBee says: oh, that's just too funny! Thanks for sharing that with all of us in a live interview -- see? I CAN be sarcastic, opinionated, and offensive)

Yes, we need to show mercy. Yes, we need to show compassion. But we need to take a firm and unwaveringing stand between right and wrong. I honestly feel that "riding the fence" with your beliefs to keep peace among all the people and to stay popular among everyone is neither hot nor cold. I'm pretty sure you know how I feel about that.

So bottom line ... yes, Warren is doing good things. Yes, he is helping the poor, the sick, the widowed, the orphaned. Yes, he is reaching out to his community. Yes, he is a 'good guy.' Yes, he's helping give a good name to Christians. Yes, he's nice. Yes, he's compassionate. Yes, he's generous. Very generous.

But there's still something that 'bothers' me about his soft stand on tough issues.

Soooo ... anyone out there offended? Not pleased by what I've said? Disagree? Agree? Let me know. I don't care if you don't post "safe comments" on my blog (um ... as long as they are G-rated (I wonder what kind of Google hits I'll get?), because I do care about civil comments), but I want to hear the truth on what people really think ... not what the popular belief of the subject is or what makes people feel good.

(*Matt. 12:31, Luke 12:10, 1 Timothy 1:12-14)

(Remember ... these are my personal beliefs, convictions, quetions and feelings ... I'm not trying to beat you over the head with them until you believe the same way I do! And I'm not going to stop liking you if we agree to disagree!)


Shalee said...

I completely agree with your words and thoughts. (And yay EM for encouraging Gibee to share them!)

I do see that Jesus came to do his Father's work. He came to heal, to teach and to forgive. But remember that he healed so that others would believe that he came from the Father. He taught so that others would believe. He forgave because he had that authority to do so, authority given by God. All of those things were done so that Jesus could do the will of the Father! Which, in my opinion was to show perfect love by providing the only sacrifice that would save humanity from eternal hell.

But do you notice that the sacrifice is a gift to be taken or ignored? The world has a choice to accept it and to live a life in Jesus or it has the choice to ignore it. We are only to be the tools for Christ, not the judge and jury. Even Christ did not force anyone to accept it. He laid the gifts of health, miracles and forgiveness and showed the truth to them and let them decide if they would believe in His family tree.

What were Jesus' words to his disciples? "If you love me, obey my commands." John 14-17 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

What are his commands? Love God and love each other as Jesus has loved us. (By doing so, we remain in Him.) And it's not the touchy-feely love he's referring to either. It's the tough love, honesty and patience that he wants us to give. We are to be as open and as loving as possible, we are to speak the Truth in all situations, we are to talk about Christ when we are walking when we are lying down. Our faith should never come as a shock to those looking at our life. Hopefully, our examples of a life in Christ will be beacon to those who are searching for freedom from the sins and lies of the world.

I believe that we are to be as Christlike as possible: giving even until it hurts, loving with compassion, forgiving to no end, always seeking to do the will of God.

Is it hard? You bet. Will it make us friends? Most likely not friends with the world, but friends within the body. Is it impossible? Not if you remain in Christ... for with Him, impossible is nothing.

(Do I have all this down pat? NO! But by the grace of God, I am willing to try and try again, glorifying God with every mistake, with every joy, with every breath. And that is the point of a life in Christ. )

Heather Smith said...

Alright girl! Get out there and take a stand for your faith. I agree completely! You can't straddle the fence. You can't do loving things for Christ but then deny His teachings. Like the homosexual issue. The Bible I read says that homosexuality is an abomination to God. In my book that means its not acceptable. Do I love homosexual people and pray for them? Yes. But I can't accept their lifestyle choice. Like I posted yesterday, God said that He would spue the lukewarm people out of His mouth. In other words, fence straddlers make Him puke! I think it's time we all took a stand for Christ. Yay, GiBee!

shannon @ rocks in my dryer said...

*standing up, clapping*

Yes, friend, YES! Thank you for your honesty and courage.

sarahgrace said...

First of all- I'm very flattered to be paraphrased here- thank you- I wasn't sure my thoughts were going to make sense to anyone, and I'm glad they did.

Something I keep finding out, over and over, about discussion, is a lot of things boil down to semantics- people often have differing definitions of the same word (thank you very much to the English language, ha.ha.) This often causes misunderstandings, and even divisions- that being said, my definition of finding common ground with people, does not mean joining them in the activities they choose to do. I think we can all find points of common ground (like kids, or work, or shared interests) with unbelievers and I view that type of common ground as a way in to share the gospel with someone. I agree that you can "love someone all the way to hell"- so I think it is important that while loving them, you need to be your true Christian self- don't omit certain parts of yourself, don't be afraid to talk about what God has done in your life, and what he is doing, and at the same time- don't give unwanted "turn or burn advances" either.
I've found that the whole thing is always a very delicate balance- and no on can get by with out daily and in every instant seeking the help of the Holy Spirit. There is no perfect solution or formula that works every time.

So, also as a self-proclaimed non-confrontational person who is also working on stripping off that facade- there are my, well, more than two cents...

kpjara said...

We'll see if blogger allows a comment...I love that your passion is showing here...and that clearly so are the others who have commented...I just have so many thoughts and beliefs about this whole thing that all I can say is: Love: live it, breathe it, seek it, show it, give it.

I just can't say anything more here, but I am going to do a posting on the stuff it does to me on the inside....

kpjara said...

We'll see if blogger allows a comment...I love that your passion is showing here...and that clearly so are the others who have commented...I just have so many thoughts and beliefs about this whole thing that all I can say is: Love: live it, breathe it, seek it, show it, give it.

I just can't say anything more here, but I am going to do a posting on the stuff it does to me on the inside....

Jan said...

As a teacher in a public school system, I am constantly challenged by that fine line between "preaching and proselytizing"(which is forbidden by the school district), and bearing witness. I have learned over the years that my love for my kids shows through my actions and interactions with them, and when they ask me a direct question about my faith, I answer it as honestly as possible. Repeatedly, students have asked me, "Why do you do this? How can you love us so much?" And my answer is, "because God loved me so much that He sent His son to die for me...and for you."
God makes the opportunity; I just have to be watching for it.

Faith said...

Ahhh, GiBee, you go girl! What a wonderful post and a great -dare i say it - coming out for you. I mean that in the most wonderful way. It can be hard to stand for what you believe in, look at Stephen after all! My hubby is grand at it, he passes out Bibles to everyone we see and will talk to anyone we meet about Christ. He had the really tough job of talking with his own Dad (who is not saved). It was the hardest thin g he's ever done. Is this on topic anymore, I hope so.
I am not nearly as wise as you, so I' not as good at "verbalizing" my thoughts here.

Angie said...

Wow, boy was that strong! I am very much like you, but I realize that I really just need to snap out of it and take a stand of my own. I always feel like I need to play it safe for fear of stepping on "toes". I know that this is wrong and you have definately convicted me to step outside of my "box".
I have always struggled with this. I have gotten better in the past 3 years since my husband left, but I really have a ways to go. I do realize that maybe if I would have been a little stronger in my convictions then maybe he wouldn't be in prison now. But then again, the Lord only knows. I have sheltered myself solely in the presence of those whom I know are Christians. When I really should be trying to win souls to Him. (That would broaden my friendship circle...*grin*.)

I have always had a fear of rejection. I do not like confrontations! They literally make me ill. And I have had a few in my lifetime, and guess what...I am still here, but stronger than before. And I think that it took me reading your words and EM's and even Sarah's to really get it.
I think that this too is why I have taken to this blogging thing so quickly. I can share my faith, and yet not have it literally thrown back into my face. Yeah, people judge me all the time, here I am a "single/married" mom whose husband is in prison for being stupid, but I am still with him. I get that one all the time...why are you waiting on him? And I am quick to tell them that he is my husband and I love him and God does too that is why He has forgiven him, so why shouldn't I! God would never give me more than I can handle, He tells us that! It's a promise and I am holding Him to that promise. (I think I am running on a rabbit trail right now...oops...sorry!) But when people really want to debate me on it I clam up and just want to run and hide! I have got to just get over it, I know! And you have truly made me more aware of it! I can't let this whole "situation" just be in vain, right? I need to let it be a witness, not just to my "blog readers" (not that I have many), but to anyone and everyone that I come in contact with. Right?

Oh man, you have done it now! I am gonna pray that I will take a stand! Who cares if I don't make friends, right? At least I can say I tried. If I didn't try then we would never know! Right? (Can you tell that I need approval?) (I have to get over that too!)

Thanks for getting me to think and convicting me to be a better witness!

Morning Glory said...

My goodness! Preach.It.Girl!! You are so, so right. I thought I was the only living soul with an opinion that strong, but now I know there are at least two of us.

Common ground? So often the common ground gets lowered to the lowest common denominator, rather than raising the level of expectation. Gibee, this is such amazing stuff you're expressing and I applaud you!

Blogger kept me off all day until now and wow! What a way to come back to my blogging friends. Good stuff!

Everyday Mommy said...

I love how you've gone from People Pleaser to Too Bad! LOL!

I also wanted to let you know that I've done a post about this topic on my blog, only because of Blogger's temperamental nature of late.

Lauren said...

Hate you because your honest? I love you more now than I did yesterday and I didn't even think that was possible.

A couple thoughts - Paul teaches that sexual sin is sin against the temple of the Holy Spirit and gives the impression that it is worse than say, lying.

If I decide I'm going to LOVE someone through a difficult situation but never speak God's life-saving truth to them, avoid all scripture, am I not pridefully believing that my help is better than God's. It seems that it might be a lack of faith in the awesome power of God's word that would cause people to leave it out when loving someone.

Maria said...

"hate you because you are honest" no never... I absolutely love the fact that you are honest, forth right, and yes gentle at the same time. You put out your opinion, well substaniated and, allow others to disagree with out changing your stance and without belittling those that do. That is Christ-like, I believe.

As for your opinion, I agree with you.

Peach said...

Could NEVER "hate you because you're honest"!!

Sorry I'm weighing in so late on this. With the Blogger fits this week I have just not gotten around to commenting at some of my favorite places!

I am so PROUD of you, girlie! I have asked myself and my DP some of the very same questions you raised, and I am so glad you had the courage to put them out there to tickle the ears of the masses. I think we all too often are willing to digest the watered-down representations of the gospel because it is far easier than taking a stand against the "popular" guy who's getting all the media attention.

You raised some very valid and convicting points. I for one am going to take some time to process them and take action accordingly.

I so appreciate you, GiBee. You keep sticking to the straight and narrow. You can't go wrong when your foundation is the truth!

Tess said...

It's so easy to fall into the wide path of Christianity rather than the narrow path of a journey with Christ. Thanks for this jolt to reality.