May 31, 2010

What We're About

Isaiah 58, which I posted yesterday, strikes at the core of what our work is about, and, I believe, what all of us who call ourselves Christ-followers should be about. The first thing that strikes me about this passage is its message that the good-intentioned religious practices of the Jewish people fall on deaf ears. Because they aren’t “practicing what they are preaching,” God is telling them that their prayers aren’t getting off the ground.

It was true then, and it is true today... We grow more concerned about church attendance and outward signs of moral holiness than we do about people. The outside world knows us more for our judgments than for our grace. A few months ago, I read a blog post about a woman who shared about her abortion and her healing process at her church. After church, another unmarried woman came to her – eyes shining with tears – and said the most heart-breaking words I can imagine: The reason I got an abortion was because I was a Christian. Some of us would respond to her statement with judgment, hardness, anger and revulsion, but if we look deeper we would see the truth behind her words. In many fellowships, she would be shunned for her sin.

She imagined it easier to deal with the secret burden of guilt and shame than the public one.

We parade around solemnly, calling down judgment and wrath on our culture. But aren't we supposed to be the aroma of Christ; instruments of grace and mercy? God makes it perfectly clear here that holy living isn’t what His Kingdom is about. So what does God care about? In these passages it seems to be most basically about justice – about restoring and rebuilding lives so that each individual knows his or her indescribable worth.

This doesn’t require moving to the other side of the world, friends. It does take getting out of our crystal cathedrals and going out onto the dirty streets… under the bridges, into the bars, and behind the bars. It might take giving a hug to the homeless or a hand-up to the down-trodden. It might mean rattling the status quo within our churches… there’s a lot of things it might look like, but there’s one thing it will always look like.

It will always look like Jesus.

8 comments:

a Tonggu Momma said...

Two of my Christian friends had abortions as younger woman, and their reasons were the same. It broke my heart to hear them say that. They were talking as I stood there, and I just... it broke my heart.

I do not understand why so many within the church shun young single moms as they do, or push adoption as salvation, rather than working to surround these women with love, regardless of whether they decide to parent or place.

Tara Anderson said...

Another excellent post, Carrie. :)

Anonymous said...

100 times yes. I work at a 'Christian' institution and am worried that if my birth control fails and I become pregnant, then they will fire me. It's either, get an abortion or get fired.

And before snarky people say "you shouldn't be engaging in that kind of activity": I am in my 30's and have been with my loving bf for 5 years, longer than some of my friends who have gotten married and DIVORCED, which Jesus specifically said he Hates....but hey, the *divorced* ppl weren't intimate before they signed the marriage license, so the divorcees *must* be better than me!!! No....

Oh, and "Christians" 50yrs ago wouldn't have ALLOWED us to get married anyway as we are different races. Sooo...

I do appreciate you writing this, but...I'm surprised that you are surprised. There is so much hypocrisy with today's Western/U.S. Christians. For a relevant example, take the contrast between "whatsoever you do for the least of these, you do for Me," versus, the attitude towards many poor mothers/families who *gasp!* may be on welfare. Or who desperately came to the U.S. in order to create a better life for their children...but, they aren't *gasp!* citizens. Hmmm. Hypocrisy with a side of judgment, Table 5...

Sorry for the long comment but you touched a nerve. I work at the 'Christian' institution b/c I do actually believe in things like caring for "the least of these," which I would say you do as well. I'm sorry to say, you're only going to encounter more and more hypocrisy.

The only(?) thing that comforts me, is that the Pharisees were *the* religious authority in Jesus' day, but they were completely wrong. So nothing's changed.

Chris and Jane said...

Great post, Carrie. Really wonderful. Everyone sins, it just so happens that a girl who gets pregnant and isn't married carries her sin around with her for everyone to see. How heartbreaking that anyone should feel that they have to get rid of their baby because of the judgement they would face.

Miss you guys and can't wait to see you!

Sally said...

Could you repost the blog post you referred to? Might be impossible so no worries if it's too much trouble.

Carrie said...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I love hearing from you, especially you, Anonymous. It sounds like you have been deeply touched by this on a very personal level. I'm sorry you've been hurt and wounded by the people who are supposed to love like Jesus loves. I didn't mean to communicate that I was surprised by this behavior among the Church, Anony -- more that I am saddened by it. And that if we as individual believers live differently, we can make a difference.
Sally, at first I didn't think that I'd be able to find the place where I saw the article, but I did! It is here.

Cheri said...

I will admit that when I conceived my oldest daughter I was 21 and unmarried. My dh and I were in total shock as my birth control failed us. We were young Christians but we had family that were very strong Christians. For a few days abortion was on the table due to shame.

Once we told everyone there were family members that made it very uncomfortable for me. I always felt like I was lower than life. Luckly I did have a Christian woman come along side of me and help me.

It is sad that more people feel the need to judge than to stand beside them.

T & T Livesay said...

Love this post and linking to it Carrie. Praying for you guys.

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