“Jesus hates me.”

I have to confess.
I sometimes watch garbage TV.
Let me be clear… it’s trash.
I mean that in no way to be disrespectful to those of you who inevitably love some shows that I probably put in this category. But let’s be real.

I was recently watching one of these shows, Grey’s Anatomy, when I was absolutely disgusted by something that happened. And I realize that as a Christian woman in our culture that the thing that “should disgust me is that on a regular basis there’s a ridiculous amount of unacceptable behaviour, especially adulterous behaviour.
But what actually disgusted me to my core was this:
A character on the show who’s known for being a prude because she’s a virgin, gets drunk on confidence {and possibly alcohol since they were at a bar} and lets it get her on an emotional high where her guard comes down and she chooses to have sex with another character, a guy on the show who we know from previous episodes has slept with at least two other women recently-ish. He’s hesitant when she starts to kiss him and he says he can’t, because she’s a virgin. And she gives him all these reasons that she’s a virgin, that she shouldn’t be anymore and doesn’t need to be anymore, and then they have sex.
And then, he leaves.
And then, they see each other the next day.
And she can’t look at him.
He asks if she’ll never look at him again.
Without looking at him, she says, {and I am slightly paraphrasing because I don’t intend to google it.}
“I was a virgin because I love Jesus. And now, Jesus hates me.
End scene, storyline changes….

I was furious. Oh my goodness… I was so irate at what I saw happen there.
Because it’s the same lies I believed that kept me away from His Love for so long.
I believed that I wasn’t worth loving because I had so many reasons to live in shame.

Today, a dear friend who’s been going to church lately {after not having gone in years and years} asked me if now that she’s going, she should stop sleeping with her boyfriend, the father of her 2 children, who lives with her and provides for her to stay at home with their children… because “God doesn’t approve” of sex outside of marriage.

Man, oh man.
What a doozie of a question for her to ask me.
In a text message, no less!! Haha.
I thought about it.
And thought about it.
And talked to John about it.
And the more processing I did, the more I realized that I’m having difficulty answering the question because I’m trying to answer the wrong question.

See, God created man for woman and woman for man.
He created this beautiful marriage relationship where there’s one mate.
And we’re most connected to Him when we’re living in the way He designed for us to live.
So it’s not that He doesn’t approve of this or that. It’s that He created you with this beautiful design in mind – this beautiful place for you to be connected to Him and walk in a way that you know one another intimately. And when we actively choose to walk in disregard for the best He has for us, we’re betraying Him.

And He’s walking there with us, waiting and hoping for the moment when we choose to walk with Him.

So when we’re faced with these things in our life where we go, ‘should I modify this behaviour so God’s not disappointed in me?’… We’re looking at Him like He’s a school teacher giving us progress reports instead of realizing that He’s eagerly awaiting the moment we choose to run to Him and share our lives with Him, and that He’ll guide our hearts to the place where they actively want to be more in line with how He created for us to be.


Being Churched.

Makes me think of the phrase “getting schooled.”
But that’s so incredibly unrelated.
It’s super late when I’m writing this. So you know, I’m delirious.
And I’m high. I’m high on excitement thinking about a passionate idea I have to possibly love a friend well. An idea that gets a community involved to pour love into the life of some folks I adore, and more importantly folks that He calls His masterpieces. Whew, Jesus is so good.

So, being “churched.”
It’s a phrase I’ve often heard within the church, and as with many things, it’s a phrase that’s used to separate & divide. It’s used to say whether someone has been “churched” or to call someone “unchurched.” It sets a line – them and us, or us and them, depending on which side of the conversation you’re privy {or un-privy} to.

This week, I met a Mom {for the second time} while at the park nearest my house. She was joining our moms group for a walk around the Lake & I was thrilled to have her company as I panted my way around the lake, sweating and wondering why they can’t call them practice contractions instead of Braxton Hicks contractions. Anyway…. This mom & I are talking when she says, “Praise the Lord!” in response to something noteworthy I must’ve said and can’t currently remember…

I’m going to pause to go into a side note here, and will resume the story shortly:
Anytime someone says something that even hints that they know the Jesus that I know, something inside me leaps {and not just the baby in my belly, either}. I get this excited anxious yearning to know if they really know who I know, or if they know someone by the same name who’s vaguely familiar to me, too. I search for ways in my heart and mind to ask the right questions that will draw them out in a way that lets me see what lives inside them… is it Truth or are they bogged down by the lies they’ve been sold?

So she says “Praise the Lord!”
And my inner monologue starts going, wondering who she is and where she met Jesus and if she knows the Jesus I know, and what she’s been set free from. It’s like I’ve discovered that she might be from my hometown, and I want to know if she knows all my favourite places – if she knows the people who I love the most.
So I quickly respond, trying to get a word out over the excitement that’s going in my mind,
“Oh! Do you go to church here in Lakeland?”

She explains that she used to, a few years ago, go to a megachurch I’ve heard quite a few things about… and that she doesn’t go anymore – but she sends her tithe every month.
I realized that I probably made her feel shame.
Because rather than asking her the questions that matter – the questions that draw out who she is and if and how she knows who I know, knows the love that I do, I asked her a question that put her identity in Christ somewhere else.

I wanted to tell her how I don’t actually think that church on Sunday is how the church was meant to live and breathe and grow. I wanted to tell her that I understand! That it’s amazing that she still gives to a ‘church’ that gives no life to her! I wanted to tell her so many things, but I was just. in. shock.
I was in shock that I looked for a way to identify her by something so trivial.

Because, really, since when does going to church on Sunday have anything to do with whether or not you know and love Jesus? Since when is that a measure for your spiritual growth?

I won’t wander into ramblings about all the reasons I think churches are living out what we were intended to be as community when they do it opposite to how our culture does.
I’ll just say that I think it’s a sad thing that the primary measure of someone’s walk with Christ in our culture is whether they go to a church building on a Sunday… where they sit when they’re there, how many other events they attend by that church throughout the week, or any of those superficial, self important, business minded things.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve watched throughout my life who sit in churches on Sunday mornings and don’t know the first thing about what it means to live a redeemed life. People who don’t know the first thing about what it is to love your enemy. People who proclaim Jesus while they fill their coffers with all they can and hate the people around them. People who have no hope, people who by all the measurements I’ve been taught to use by this system would pass with flying colors. But people who I see no evidence of the Truth of the Gospel in their lives.

Similarly, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who haven’t stepped foot into a church in years that have spoken His Truth to my soul in ways I never imagined I’d understand. People I watched the previous folks shy away from. People who showed me what it is to live and breathe in the freedom of His Redemption.

Being “Churched” has

Being redeemed & living a life changed by Truth that inevitably sets you free and causes you to live in a place of generosity, hope, courage, and love is what it’s all about.

I pray that the next time I’m compelled to ask a question in hopes of getting to know someone’s journey with Jesus, I’ll ask a simpler and more loving question that gives them space to speak in freedom and grace.