#Loverevolution

by Shauna Marie Hyde
(For the complete post, click here)

fiftyI won’t lie; I struggle as a Christian pastor. There was a time when I wore my clerical collar with great pride and now sometimes I wonder if I really want to put it on. The Christian church is failing and it is sad to see that we continue to readily accept unwelcoming, judgmental, harsh attitudes as the correct moral approach to people and life. Churches eat their people alive with constant criticism, negativity, lack of commitment and general apathy. We have driven away pretty much anyone 45 years old and younger with our arguing, nastiness, gossipy, holier-than-thou attitudes. Everyone thinks they are in charge but are not required to do any work. Everyone thinks their opinion is the right one, their belief the only one, and how dare you tell them about themselves – you are to listen to them tell you about you!
God is not important anymore…and neither is the value of life itself. All that is important are opinion, right of way, and hate. If I wasn’t clergy I wouldn’t go to church today. I am told I cannot do certain things because I am a woman and I am to be a second class citizen even though I have all the same rights, abilities, and often more education than the men in the church. My friends and family who have dark skin, who are poor, uncultured, or labeled as “trailer trash,” or who are gay are not welcome. Children are “wanted” only if they are perfect, quiet, never make a mess or a sound and are cute. We want everyone to come but not those who stink, dress inappropriately, make a mess, ask for money, say “amen” too loud, and sing off key or sit in our spot.
What happened to being the one place where sanctuary and safety was offered? What happened to love – the kind that heals instead of demands perfection (which means to be like us)? What happened to being like Jesus?
That’s what makes it all so sad. We have the answer and we are the best possible solution for the world today. We have just gotten to where we believe in Paul more than Jesus. We think that the law supersedes grace instead of remembering that Christ came to break all the rules and to change the world with grace. If we want to survive and be viewed as having any good street cred we have to start being who we were intended to be – the Body of Christ. We are God with skin on only without the power and ability to determine who will reach Heaven and who is lacking in salvation. For that matter we cannot save people – only God can. Our job is to make the introduction. My lovelies, this is a wonderful, powerful, and important job to have! We must introduce people to God instead of trying to be God. We must remember that people know what is wrong with them and they are literally dying to know that they are still loveable, worth saving, and valuable to someone. They need to know that they can trust us and that we will accept them for themselves; not for who we tell them they must become in order to win our love. God doesn’t do that, so where did we get the idea that we must do that?
Christians, let us be like Christ. Let us vow to be his hands and feet in this world. Let us be so filled with love that we are unafraid to sit with sinners, touch lepers, love those who are struggling, and offer hope. Instead of keeping people from church let us go out and remind them they are loved. The next great revival needs to be a #loverevolution!


14 Responses

  • Shauna-
    First of all, THANK YOU for laying it all on the line so straightforwardly. Your assessment is realistic and necessary. All of us in church leadership, lay or clergy, if we are being really honest, might struggle to articulate how the church ACTS any differently from most societal institutions!
    So, thanks for your candor and your challenge. Yet, good pastor that you most obviously are, you don’t leave us with a tone of cynicism. Instead, you call us to be the hands and heart of Jesus in the real world!
    Great post!
    Bob
    http://www.facebook.com/ahomeunited

  • I empathize with the concern, but I also want to speak some encouragement. First, I find a great deal of grace in Paul. The problem is often that we read Paul (or Jesus!), seeing those parts that encourage us to be who we are. Do we resonate most with cleansing the temple or with reaching out to touch, and heal, a leper? So we can read Jesus or Paul in a way that is unbalanced &mdash unbalanced in precisely our sort of way.
    But the larger point I would like to make is that there are encouraging pockets in the church. Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour and a half with a small group of young people. I was asked to teach them something about how to study the Bible this summer. They’re reading a book I provided, but we’re hardly discussing it. “It’s good, Mr. Henry,” they told me, “but we’re getting it by reading. What we want to do is dig into the Bible itself.”
    And we’ve been doing that. Seriously discussing Melchizedek, no less. Looking at how one lives as Christians during the week. How can one be a witness that is truly for Jesus and not for my set of social preferences?
    But your situation is multiplied also hundreds of times over. We (the church) are wearing out our pastors rather than being equipped by them and doing ministry. Any time I see a pastor who is worn out, I know I’m going to find a bunch of lay people sitting in the pews, expecting the pastor to do the work while they supervise and criticize.
    So it is time to love one another and get working. I’ve heard that if you don’t like your pastor, pray for her or him rather than trying to get a different one. It’s good to pray for your pastor. It’s even better to become the hands and feet of Jesus (not of your pastor, though it may look like that!) and go out and be active together.
    (I discover I’m long winded even in comments!)

    • Shauna-
      First of all, THANK YOU for laying it all on the line so straightforwardly. Your assessment is realistic and necessary. All of us in church leadership, lay or clergy, if we are being really honest, might struggle to articulate how the church ACTS any differently from most societal institutions!
      So, thanks for your candor and your challenge. Yet, good pastor that you most obviously are, you don’t leave us with a tone of cynicism. Instead, you call us to be the hands and heart of Jesus in the real world!
      Great post!
      Bob
      http://www.facebook.com/ahomeunited

    • Sorry for the double post……my technological messup!!!
      Henry—-Good points—-and I am with you in seeing the GRACE in Paul………..
      Paul is actually fascinating in his transparent expression of his deep internal struggle—-The good news is that GRACE wins!!
      Bob
      http://www.facebook.com/ahomeunited

    • Henry
      “We (the church) are wearing out our pastors rather than being equipped by them and doing ministry. Any time I see a pastor who is worn out, I know I’m going to find a bunch of lay people sitting in the pews, expecting the pastor to do the work while they supervise and criticize.”
      To be fair that is a two way street. There are plenty of pastors who gripe the apathetic “laity” but refuse to share the pulpit with anyone else out of fear. The entire system is set up to foster an uneven load with overloaded elders and an apathetic “laity”. In fact the very existence of the term laity is at the core of the problem.

      • I agree with you. While I think there is a pastoral role, that role is not to be the one person in charge, and yes, I’ve encountered those pastors who complain that the laity don’t get involved, when the problem is really that the laity hasn’t gotten on a particular agenda.
        So there’s a lot of realignment and getting with God’s program that’s needed!
        Wow! Jesus in charge of His church? Perhaps we ought to try it!

        • Henry, if we weren’t so afraid of allowing the Holy Spirit to move in a BODY ministry as opposed to attending a lecture and a show on stage as a spectator, we may begin to experience JESUS as the head of the church! I will admit it’s easier said than done, however.

        • You are right, Henry…The clericalization of the Pastor cuts across church bodies and is present in much of Protestantism, sadly

      • As a quick note, this comment and the one I made just before show the Energion logo, as though they are “official.” I’m commenting personally and not making company pronouncements. I just forgot to log out of technical activities before commenting.

        • Amen, Nancy…a missing concept in much of the church, including many Protestant congregations,ironically..and sadly….When I was a Catholic, it is this concept that inspired me..Bob

    • Henry, I am so glad I am not the only one long-winded. 🙂 How awesome that you are teaching children, and they WANT to dig into the Bible. Carry on! I applaud you. And that was a good statement, “We can read Jesus OR Paul in an unbalanced way.”

  • Shauna, you really have a passion to get out there and love people, all kinds of people, with the unconditional love of Jesus. I admire that. I just want to put a good word in for the “law.” The “law” that Moses wrote down at God’s direction shows us the holiness of God and how to live our lives in relation to Him. “Law” sounds harsh. The Greek word is “nomos.” The Hebrew word is Torah, meaning “instruction,” which is the truest meaning. Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the “law” but to fulfill it (fill it full of meaning and observe it, not put an end to it). He was a Torah-observant Jew, and He didn’t die on the cross so we can be free to break it. He died for our transgression of the law. The greatest in the kingdom are those who live out the commandments and teach them, He said (Matt. 5:17-20). Paul said if we are in Christ we aren’t under condemnation, and the righteous requirement of the law CAN be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the SPIRIT (Rom. 8:1-4). We have to have a balance between law and grace, because so much lawlessness abounds in the world today, even in the church. And remember, the LAWLESS ONE is coming, the anti-Christ. We have a commission from Jesus to disciple people, and teach them all He commanded. We just need to be sure to speak the truth in love. Yes, I agree we have to touch the lepers and love and accept people who are not like us, including abortionists and homosexuals. But this does not mean we don’t tell them the truth about the sin that is destroying them, remembering that “we who stand take heed lest we fall.” You are in my prayers. I know you have a very tough job, and it is so easy to be discouraged. You know how to shake people up! And the church does need a good shaking to go out there and love people! God bless you!

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