One Day, You Will be Loved

I think that I have become some sort of missionary to ex-church goers. In the past couple of weeks, I have had several conversations with people from work (Tulsa Regional and Barnes and Noble) about the church’s role in society and also about how people have been deeply hurt by members in church. Most cases were about feeling judged for actions that were seen as inappropriate by certain members. What struck me as odd was that these disputes were never taken to anyone else, thus the conflict remained between the one making accusations and the defendant. No leaders, no prayer, and no search for reconciliation were sought. Two of the people I talked to left the church and decided that they would not attend anywhere to escape the pain of being judged. One guy, who did not have much church experience to begin with, attends because his girlfriend likes to go because she has breast cancer and decided to attend church again, he goes to support her. But on his end, there is still a disattachment with the church.

I find that in just about every case, these people all feel like the wayward son in the story of the prodigal. They feel an attachment to God still, and on some level know they are loved, but the people who are called to love them don’t love them because the prodigals do not always behave correctly. These people all admit that spirituality is still exciting and real, but they feel disconnected with a body that claims to have the ultimate revelation of love in the world. So one some level, they do doubt that real love exists in the world. They seem to want an alternative but fail to see it in the church. Is the church the elder son in the prodigal story? Do we want to limit the joy of people returning, so that they must become a hired hand first in order to get the love of God? Why don’t we celebrate by having a feast and giving them rings on their fingers and robes to wear? Why must we make God’s love so conditional? Henri Nouwen believes that the church must take on the role of the embracing father, to show people that God’s love is real and unconditional, and is willing to confirm the lives of the wayward and bring them back home. My question is how we can get wayward people to believe that they are really loved, that grace is something real and powerful? Any thoughts? Please….

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “One Day, You Will be Loved

  1. Daniel,

    For me, as simple as it may sound, I have learned that I have to embody the love and redemption of God in my life. At some point it must become a natural part of who I am. Rather than just stating God’s love and redemption as factual objective information.

  2. Dino,

    Thanks for the comment. I believe that too, I guess what I didn’t articulate too well but what I most want to know is how do we steer the church into a new direction where we make forgiveness and love more public to where people don’t feel that they have to do anything to be apart of it? It seems like all we are saying right now is “We all need to be more moral!” That message is just not going to cut it.

  3. Daniel, the task it sounds to me like you are asking about is not something that we can do on our own. This is one of the things that can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts of God’s people and at work in the world. Prayer and repentance on our own part is much needed, if not a requirement. Unfortunately, we can’t MAKE anyone do or understand anything. Trust me, I’ve tried – it doesn’t work or come across very well! I think when the hearts of God’s people are moved, seeking His dreams for the community He’s placed each one of us in, we will be more receptive to show grace and love to a world that so desperately wants and needs it. This is not a simple or trite answer. I have and still wonder these same things myself.

  4. What about an invitational model of life? Rather than tellinging people they are wrong, or telling them what to do, why can’t we live the Gospel and invite others to walk along side? Sigh, I know.. I am too much in the Monastery…

  5. Hello all,

    I do understand that these things need praxis, and I agree that it actually may be the most important aspect of what it means to be the church displaying the public truth of the gospel. And Janine, I agree that this will only start when we start recognizing the Spirit’s movements. And Monk, I am with you totally on the invitational aspect of Christian mission and living. I would not and will not tell others they are wrong, in fact that is what I am trying to refute. I hope my life is more of an invitation as well. I guess what I am trying to get at is that if the church starts being the church again, then part of what it means to invite someone will be an act of the embracing father. It will be an invitation to fellowship, with no conditionals thrown on top of it. I guess my question really centers around the question, “How does the church move from jealous older brother to joyous father willing to embrace the wayward son?” How do we begin to teach, implement, and live this out the way Jesus seemed to do so well?

  6. I have definately been there. I have felt judged before by my extended church family (by extended, I mean people that are more acquaintances than close friends), even more than now having gone through a divorce, and being back up on the platform doing praise and worship. I think the church should be the one place that we can come and count on people for support in our most desperate times. The problem could be, is that not everyone is going to know everyones particular scenario in great detail, and make judgment. Thank God for the counseling department in our churches. On that note, there can also be corruptness there, but that’s just something that we have to listen to the Holy Spirit and know,….”hey wait,…somethings wrong here.” There’s all kinds of what’s and if’s. Satan can work through your closest friends and family. Satan can work in a church too. It’s not like there are only angels hanging out in the church, there are demons there as well. I think that judgment people feel in a church could be demons messin’ around ya know? That can be a giant part of it. Trust in God that He will see you through. Know you’re saved, know that there are people who care, try not to dwell on those who have hurt you, it will only bring destruction.

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