what churchhopping has taught me

i think it came down to a curiosity…and a desire to step out of the box a bit. to not focus so much on the differences, but to remind myself of the bigger picture: that the church – the Body of Christ – is united.

there are differences – no doubt about that, but the core is Christ and His word and people in a relationship with Him that is always growing and reflecting Who He is. His body isn’t defined or restricted by a denomination or a building. it’s His people, living day to day in obedience to Him. pursuing Him, loving Him, and loving people with the love He has poured into us.

it has been freeing, in a way. i love the family of believers i have come to know. those who loved me. people who went out of their way to reach out to me…complete strangers. through them, i have known the love of God. when i left the abuse and dysfunction and entered into the unknown, i had no idea what the next step was. coming from a life of isolation, i didn’t know anyone apart from the people i worked with. i experienced homelessness in the few minutes it took from leaving the house with a car full of my stuff to going to work and having one of my co-workers open her home to me. she obeyed the commands of Christ. she let a stranger in. and i will forever be thankful to her, even though i hardly see her anymore…

growing up, we never got too involved in a church. after i left, i remained in the church my abuser attended (it’s big). my motive was to pretty much do everything opposite of what my abuser would do, so i searched for a group. i happened upon a class of strangers, a mix of young and old. each face, each name means something to me. they all left a mark. each touched my heart and life in a profound and beautiful way…and all orchestrated by God’s sovereign hand.

going through a recovery program facilitated by the church introduced me to other beautiful, broken people that loved me despite all that i was and went through. i wasn’t alone. God loves us just as we are. we have the lifetime He has given us to grow and heal – and that is such a precious gift. all the pain, the hurt, all those ugly things hidden in the dark – Christ has helped to pull them out into the light and turned them into expressions of His glory.

in my struggle to “figure out” love, in begging God to show me and to help me understand, it was through these people that it became real. who was i to them? no one ever reached out to me in that way. no one ever took the time to listen to me, to teach and mentor me, in the way they did. through them, i developed a love of the study of His word – a desire to know Him, something i had never known before.

they showed me what God intends for His Body of believers to be. we are a unit, a family…even though we all can’t know each other on this side of eternity, our heartstrings are tying us together.

i will continue to stretch out, to reach out to as many of my brothers and sisters that i can. in any way i can.

sara

i love you all. you know who you are.

the cheapness of christianese

i’ve recently learned that there’s this ideology that once you join a denomination, you’re supposed to be committed to them forever.

call me uncommitted or disloyal or whatever, but i can’t help myself. there’s a much broader perspective that i want to take. the body of Christ is universal. while we share different characteristics when it comes to culture and race, at our hearts we are children of God. i am committed to God, not a denomination. i want to love His people everywhere, for all their differences. we are a family.

many a time have i come to question things i once thought were “christian” (and this more lately than ever): things that were taught to me, passed from person to person because no one thought to actually read the Bible for what it says, rather than for what we want it to say. tradition has too easily trumped truth. all those cheap, “christian” cliches are so much easier to accept than the actual truth of God’s word. i am trying so hard to break myself from it. the lies of spiritual abuses have a way of tangling themselves within the roots of everything i am. when i yank them out, i feel like i’m tearing away a part of myself. they are so hard to identify sometimes.

i will never agree with every doctrine or interpretation of any denomination, but i’m having to train myself into not letting that separate me from other children of God. still, at the same time, i feel so distant from so many who call themselves Christians. i have a hard time understanding why they can’t think for themselves. how they so easily fall into fads and are so bigoted and argumentative. too often do i have to bite my tongue and look at myself before i criticize.

who am i to judge? i will never know it all. i will never be always right. but i will never stop growing, i will never stop seeking. what i think is right today, may end up being wrong tomorrow. and that’s ok! it’s ok to be wrong about spiritual things. what  i’ve learned is that i must be open to the changes God wants to make in me, even as it conflicts with my so-called identity.

i don’t know what i hope to take away from my little experiment, but i wondered at why i felt a bit of freedom and refreshment when i decided to take a step out of the box…

sara

seek for yourself.

heartstrings

the body of Christ is a beautiful and mysterious thing. it’s His bride-to-be, His “hands and feet” here on earth. what has amazed me most is the spiritual connection we all have as His members of His body; it’s something i really haven’t been able to comprehend. there are times when i can’t explain the heaviness on my heart for another, especially when it’s someone i can’t even claim to know personally…and yet the call to intercede is so powerful. in the past, i’ve tried to over-analyze it and drew many wrong conclusions as a result; but in the end, i quit trying to understand and just submitted to the Spirit’s movement in my heart.

we are all tied by unseen strings, a network of hearts tied to One…linked together by His love (1 john 4:11-12). we represent Him on earth as His children, as a family. we encourage, we discipline, we restore, we provide…we love. we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. our lives are all connected, united. we function together no matter where we are on this earth.

it wounds me when others try and divide with denominations and ethnicity and social status and personal struggles. humans are so ridiculous. with God, there is no partiality (romans 2:11), and His word is clear and convicting, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 john 4:20, nasb)

if we do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we don’t love God.  i have known and seen the love of God through His people, and am thankful for those who are members His body. in other cases, i have to remember that God is the judge of the heart, and my task is to obey Him.

there have been times when all i can say is the name of the one i’m praying for over and over again. i’ve had to let go of that desire to know. i can’t know, but God knows. i trust.

i value this relationship. i treasure my connection with Him. with my family, seen and unseen.

sara

love.