I’m baaaackkkk! After a month hiatus from the blog for November, I’m back in full force.
Time is flying by. Just a blink ago, the kids were donning costumes for candy and here we are about to leap into a new year.
Along with holiday fun and Christmas cheer comes many traditions. We have family gatherings for the holidays, Christmas music blaring in the car and in the stores, shopping till we drop, mad dashes for the latest and greatest, twinkling lights on every street and so much more.
I admit it, I love it. I love all the traditions. I love the chaos and busyness. I love the hot chocolate and food! Yes, I do!
I also love the magic of Christmas. I love the joy and surprise in my children’s faces after they see what Santa left them. I love the pajama days. I love the excitement over new ornaments and decorating the tree, hanging the stockings and setting up our manger scene.
Much of Christmas has nothing to do with Christ but for our family, we do celebrate His birth. My children believe He is the reason we celebrate Christmas. They’ve never known any different and neither have I. I grew up believing in Santa and Jesus. As I got older, I learned Santa was magical for children and that magic fades as we grow up. But for Jesus, that magic has only grown stronger. The older I get, the more I realize my need to believe in Jesus. I see the things in my life that have no explanations other than this higher power that I so strongly want to cling to. Each day, I see something else that convinces me how real God is.
The world doesn’t see it. Many are lost. Many are floating through life with no real purpose or hope. And many are absolutely fine with where they are, their beliefs and choices and their lives. I am not one to push my beliefs or feelings on someone else. We can’t force anyone to share in our beliefs and by pushing too hard, we can push them further away and that’s not at all what I want to do. So instead, I pray.
Now here’s where some of you may disagree but it needs to be said. We, Christians, live in a bubble. We want to believe that all is well and good and happy and God will take care of us and nothing can destroy us. We shield our children from the words s-e-x, drugs and alcohol. We teach them gays and lesbians are wrong, period. The problem is, what happens when something goes wrong? We haven’t prepared our children or ourselves for handling the problems of this world. We’ve only hidden the problems away – out of sight, out of mind. We are afraid to venture out of our little bubble or box and into the world. We don’t want to watch the bad stuff on TV because it might change our hearts. We don’t want to sit next to the person that’s cussing because it might hurt our ears. We don’t want to be with those people (because they aren’t Christians) and we might be considered a non-Christian if we are seen with them.
The world looks at us like fools. We bring that on ourselves. We tend to walk around with unreasonable expectations for a world that is broken, including us. We expect everyone to believe and think like us and we leave no room for failure or growth. The thing is, we are all growing – at our own pace. When we hold everyone else to these set standards, we only set them up for failure and then we end up being the hypocrites the world so loves to call us.
Today, an atheist friend of mine on Facebook shared a video making fun of a Christmas song by a Christian music group. I watched the video, which in my opinion, was beyond horrible, filled with criticism, hate and bad language. The most frustrating part was reading the comments left by the other 800,000 plus viewers. The majority of them got a kick out of this video and went on to criticize the original song even more.
Unfortunately, it’s not hard to understand why – there’s really no need for explanation but basically, we Christians, in the comfort of our little bubble, also like to wear blinders. We say things that don’t make sense or that the world simply cannot understand. We experience things that are unbelievable or unfortunately, we stumble and fall. We judge and criticize until it happens to us and then we make excuses to justify our actions or behaviors and wiggle our way out of things.
What if, instead of hiding in our bubble, we stopped criticizing from inside the comforts of our safe spot and we started accepting? What if someone else believed something different and we chose to love them anyway? Are they stopping us from praying for them in our own quiet time with our Lord and Savior? No. Are they asking us not to believe or not to read our Bibles? No. Are we free to believe what we want to believe? Yes.
Then why do we get so angry and outraged when someone else, who is also free to believe what they want to believe, thinks differently? We don’t only do this to non-believers but we do it to people who sit right beside us on Sunday morning. We gawk at what they’re wearing. We frown when their children make noises during prayer. We gasp at the idea of an alcoholic beverage or cigarette.
News flash – we are all sinners. Not one of us in this world is better than another! Who are we to sit back and criticize anyone else (and I’m speaking to myself here because I’m guilty of all of this).
When I was a teenager, there was a man who hounded me about going to church. At the time, it was so annoying and really felt invasive. It made me angry. At the time, I was in a place where the smallest thing made me want to run far from God. And so I did. That man would not give up. He, in his best heart, wanted nothing but the best of blessings for me. He wasn’t out to fix me. He simply showed he cared. He didn’t criticize me or call me names. He wanted me to experience the blessings he was experiencing and that was in church.
I didn’t realize most of this until recently. What I learned from this is we are all in different places. We are all growing at our own pace and twenty years ago, that man could not convince me that I was worthy of God’s love or time. He could not make me see the blessings in life. His pressure angered me. Today, I am so thankful that he did not give up on me. It may have taken nearly twenty years for me to come around but I did.
My point is, by living in our safe Christian bubble and shouting, “Your wrong! Shame on You! You disgraceful sinner!” we are doing nothing but pushing away the very people we should be showing love to. Not acceptance of sin – but unconditional love. Genuine, care for another human being which we all deserve. What if we stopped worrying about what everyone thinks of us, what others are saying, what someone did or didn’t do and we started focusing on what we can do to make things better. What if instead of avoiding a non-Christian because we don’t know how to relate to them or instead of attacking their beliefs or lack of, we simply talked to them, like they were a human being. What if we asked them questions about why they believe what they believe and chose to get to know them. Would that really be so bad? After all, wasn’t that exactly what Jesus did and as Christians, isn’t becoming more like Christ exactly what we are suppose to do?
What if the world looked at us Christians and instead of seeing a bunch of people trying to hide their lives behind fake masks of perfection, broken hypocrites, they saw wounded people who found hope in Jesus Christ and shared the same love and grace that had been poured upon them by their Savior?