It’s easy to pretend problems don’t exist. Slap any old label on it… I’m just being fickle, I’m not looking hard enough at Christ, if I were a real Christian I wouldn’t even care about this problem… but it’s still a problem and it still exists. I had been so engulfed in finding people, so I could have friends, that I didn’t realize the judgement growing in my own heart. I only wanted organic church-like Christians. I only wanted Christians. Period. I was so focused on the indwelling Lord that I began to miss the outer Lord, the One who rules the earth. I began to miss the beauty in others because I was looking for one type of person. And I was looking in the wrong places.
We moved to a new place and the only people we know are hubby’s parents. I was stressing about Christmas because our first year in a new city is going to be spent alone. The in-laws are being beckoned out-of-state to help a young mom have a baby. She struggled pretty bad with the first one and two is even harder, so the in-laws are needed with mama and new baby. I was wanting to have a church family by then so we won’t be alone. We have found a handful of wonderful souls who have had similar experiences as we have, but the community life we had been searching for, we haven’t found. And last night as I read an amazing homeschooling book called The Year of Living Dangerously, I saw myself in a “type” of person. This woman went on a year-long journey to find a homeschool group for her and her daughter. So far I have only gotten to the chapter in which she returns home from a Christian conference, after she went to an unschooling conference (that chapter was seriously hilarious). It was enlightening to see how the world sees us, Christ loving chaps. I’ve watched documentaries that were similar, but in the homeschooling world, which is my life, I didn’t realize that we were seen the same way. This woman, like me, is looking for friends. She is looking for homeschooling people she can share her joys and trials, her really really bad days with, but was only finding groups divided by what they believe. And then I had this huge idea, what if I stopped looking for people in all the normal places and simply began trying new things?
There are all kinds of groups, classes, gyms, community centers, and places that are not centered around a division of Christ, but rather the connection to the human beings here on earth. I am done looking for homeschool friends, and friends in general who are “christian” above all else. That’s not what the Lord has asked of me and it’s not in line with what He did while here and the way His Spirit inside is leading me. Just like the author of this amazing book, I have noticed that the ones who are most unaccepting of others, are the ones most vocal about Christ. People I know who display Christ aren’t trying to change everyone else to be like them. We don’t know what the Lord wants from another. Every denomination and every religion thinks they’re the ones who “have it.” I know who I am and what I believe and I am so secure in it that I find it okay to socialize with people outside my beliefs.
For months I racked my brain and my heart. Do I exclusively look for Christians to socialize with? Why would I do that? Well, it would be for the like-mindedness. But hardly any Christians I know are like-minded. There are a few that I adore dearly and would take a bullet for, many of them I’ve met in the last 6 years. But it’s not their Christianity that makes me love them, it’s their kindness. And if the kindness is their measure of Christ, well then are all the people who are Christians, but are not kind in the least, do they not have a large portion of Christ in them? If I look for Christians, exclusively, will I find the good people who accept me no matter what lessons I learn and what I go through? Will I find the religious, who talk a lot of Christian talk, yet if I express concern for an issue or a problem, drop me like a hot potato because I’m not looking at Christ ( i.e. ignoring the problem)? Will I find people who are my friend no matter what because it was never a group that bound us, it was the human connection we all have in Christ and their understanding of that connection?
So are the ones who have said the sinner’s prayer the ones I look for? What about genuinely nice and kind people who have not met the Lord, but He died for all of us so they are no less worthy, but they aren’t Christians… do I exclude them?
I found an answer last night. Many of you are going to find this repulsive and may not understand why I am doing this, but I am not asking you to understand, I am asking you to accept me because I am a Christian and a part of Christ. When the puritans came to our country they founded a Unitarian Church, which later merged with the Universal Church. The church began because the Pilgrims wanted freedom from the king and the church of England. They wanted freedom. I want freedom. Kansas City has a church called the All Souls KC Unitarian Universal Church. They meet in order to have community life and they are accepting of everyone- gay people, divorced people, people who have had an abortion. This church is not based on us and what we do and our sin. Some churches are not accepting of some sins, as if there were levels of sinning and some were okay. The church is accepting of Buddhists, Christians, and Spiritual folk. I doubt there will be many Christians there because we seem to be a us-four-and-no-more, stick to our own kind, type of church. But, that’s not what the Lord asked of us. He didn’t ask us to exclude ourselves. He sets us apart, He didn’t ask us to set ourselves apart.
What’s the worst that could happen? I could associate myself with people who have morals and values I don’t have? That’s happened in the Christian church. I could be around *gasp* people who aren’t going to heaven? Guess what, Christ Himself has said that not everyone who claims to be Christian will go to heaven.
My main attraction to trying out these meetings, other than the fact they are based around community life is the desire to express Christ organically. If the Christ I express looks different that the Life inside others express, I won’t be considered a trouble maker. A rebel Christian. The first Church was thousands of members, it was huge! Why have I been trying to limit myself to a teeny tiny group? I have been trying to make this new leg of the journey look like what I’ve known in that past. When Christ was on earth, He not only associated, but dined with and loved on EVERYONE, except the religious. Am I an expression of Him? Is He living inside my heart? Yes. Then why would I not want to do what He did? In fact, I have a burning desire to do what He did. Seek friendships and relationships with people. Human beings. People who have been hurt. People who are not perfect.
It upsets me when we, Christians, try to take advice, Scripture, and lingo, that was meant for us, and try to use it to correct another. If I read it, it was meant for me. If you read it, it was meant for you. It’s a rare deal when the Lord give us correction to bestow upon another. It’s not His way. But it happens so regularly that it’s accepted. Heck, it even happens on twitter and faceboook. [Side note: I would love to be in the room when a person gets a Divine message to post a “correction” on facebook.] If you are reading this and have a deep desire to express the dismay at my decision, please do so, but remember to be kind. I know that what I’m doing is not the norm. We Christians stick together and rarely step outside of our zone to meet people who don’t know the Lord like we do. Tell me about your own experience. Have you stepped out of the walls of what you and everyone you knew had spent your life doing?
But what about meeting around Christ? Well, I believe that Christ is in all things and all things are in Him. I believe that when others share in these open meetings at the Unitarian Church, it will be Christ or it won’t. Just like in organic church, I’ll look at each person through the lens of Jesus’ blood and I won’t decide if what’s being shared is Christ or not. There are going to be people in the bunch who are openly other religions and I am excited to meet them and love them. The Christ in me is desiring to love them deeply. And because they won’t be Christians, I won’t feel the need to heap mature Christian sounding concepts upon them. There will be no contest to see who can hide their weaknesses the most and be the most Christian. That thought comes directly from this example, I once had a much younger woman, only married about two years, tell me she wished she lived near me so she could encourage me in my marriage. Not be my friend, but help me in my marriage, which at the time was great. I wondered if she knew something I didn’t… was my hubby cheating and was I the only on who didn’t know? I could have used a friend. When I need a counselor, I’ll ask for one. But sometimes in the community we are in, whatever the religion, we feel like we need to climb a metaphorical ladder. I don’t mind being on the bottom, I just don’t want to be alone down here.
So I am beginning a journey. I am seeking Christ above all things, even my own desire for friends or organic church. I am going to branch out and meet people I never thought were spiritual enough to be my friend. I am not looking to mentor anyone or be mentored, just looking for friends I can love. I will chronicle my journey and share it here on my blog. Pretty excited, a little nervous, and exploding with Love to share.
Have a wonderful weekend!!