Here’s a little quiz for you. When a Christian is caught doing something wrong, we should:
Post it on Facebook
Alert the press
Talk to them gently, one on one
I wish the church was full of perfect people. I wish none of us ever did anything wrong—that no Christian ever had an affair, or watched pornography. Never cheated on their taxes or fiddled with the accounting. Never hated, or was slef-righteous, or ignored a person in need.
Redemption. Forgiveness. Love. Grace and mercy. With heady themes like this, you might get the impression that Embrace Me is a difficult and demanding story to read. You’d be wrong. Intense, yes. Emotional, absolutely. But author Lisa Samson’s easy style and authentic dialog make reading this book enjoyable, not laborious. In many ways it reminded me of The Shack, another work of fiction used to convey Biblical truth.
Every day we read about more violence in the Mideast. Everyone seems to hate everyone else. In spite of decades of negotiations, cease-fires, and truces, the battle continues. Palestinians, Jews, Arabs, Christians. Can they live in peace? It seems that no matter what we do, the problem is unsolvable. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but do we really expect an answer?
Pete and I enjoyed a real treat this week—getting to sit down with some long-time friends to hear what God has them doing now. Bob and Kathryn Carlton are the kind of people that you can’t resist. Meet them for the first time and an hour later you’re best friends. Perhaps that’s because no matter where they go, they fall in love with people. Put them in Tibet, and they love the Tibetans. Put them in Burkina Faso, and they love the people there. That kind of love is irresistible!
I had already written something for today, a continuation of my series on what to give God for Christmas. Then I heard the news about the school shooting in Connecticut. And like you, I was shaken to the core. It was all too easy to remember our daughters at that age, or to consider that our granddaughter will be going to school in a few short years. I honestly don’t know how the families involved are going to survive this. It’s only by the grace of God.
After all the work I put into cleaning the house last week, I need to do it all over again. The company came. The company stayed. The company left behind linens to be washed, a bathroom to be cleaned, and crumbs on the carpet—not to mention the dog drool on the furniture, paw prints on the floor, and fur everywhere.
Of course, it was wonderful to get together, and we’ve very, very happy that everyone visited. But now it’s back to the housework. Houses, especially houses that are lived in, don’t stay clean for long.
Funny how this ties in with my recent reading in the gospels…
December is a hectic month. Our normal routine is disrupted by the special events of the season, and the accompanying overload. Most of the year, I easily include some focused time with God in my day. Yet, at Christmas time, when it would seem to matter the most, I get distracted. By the time January arrives, I’m almost afraid to go to Him. I assume He’s angry with me, and He has every right. He’s been shoved aside while I shop, bake, and decorate, all supposedly in His honor. I’ve procrastinated, invented excuses, and declared my independence.
We find ourselves giving God the “silent treatment” for many reasons, but they boil down to three main categories. Either we think He failed us, or we have failed Him… or we’re just too apathetic to care. Perhaps God isn’t top priority right now. Oh, we call Him our Lord, and overall desire to follow Him, but our schedule is so busy, He’ll just have to wait until we have a spare moment.
Then comes the wake-up call. God doesn’t like getting the silent treatment any more than we do. The actual call takes many forms, but inevitably, something happens that forces me back into His presence. This year, it was being shunned by a good friend.
Here is the conclusion of this 3-part series on discarded friendships. Shortly after our friend wrote the last article, expressing his pain at being summarily cut off from two meaningful relationships, he wrote this:
It’s both funny and sad, how human emotions wax and wane. One moment we’re utterly convinced our ruin is at hand, and in the next we’re dancing in the streets because some small thing has gone our way. … Last night I wrote of a month-long tension which was eating away at me from the inside out, and I couldn’t have meant it more. Today, however, just minutes after waking up, my heart was relieved and my resolve strengthened. All was well in the universe, mostly.
Last time I mentioned that I would post a guest blog about how it feels to be “thrown away.” This was actually written at the end of 2008. Next time I’ll post what happened in these relationships, and what our friend learned from it all.
Someone—actually, two people now—about whom I genuinely care has apparently decided to write me off entirely and close their world to me because of an argument we got into over a month ago. An argument in which neither one of us was entirely right or wrong. And the sad thing is that even when we were at our most heated, I had taken my time to very carefully choose my words, calling them out not through insults, but instead attacking the double standards and hypocritical views which they portray on a daily basis. Even in the midst of this letter I went out of my way to say that while I knew my words would hurt my friend, my intent was to illustrate the truth in love, and that I would rather cause pain with honesty than encourage delusion. I later wrote a follow-up email in which I apologized explicitly for my own faults in the prior argument, which I detailed to emphasize that I knew and admitted to exactly how I was wrong.
Perhaps worse yet is the case of the other friend I mentioned, to whom I let slip a light-heated and superficial sarcastic quip to which they took immediate and serious offense. Sadly, this person (much like any other who knows me at all) is fully aware of my barbed sense of humor…. The remark which upset her was never intended at all as an insult, and it was made at a time during which there was no disagreement between us. She simply misinterpreted my words as a harsh jab, took offense, and hasn’t spoken to me in weeks. …
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in relationships lately, and I’m concerned. So I’m wondering… is it just me? Or has anyone else noticed this too?
People seem to be throwing one another away. Sometimes, it’s just a conversation they aren’t enjoying. Sometimes, it’s the whole friendship.
With cell phones, texting, voice mail, instant messaging, Facebook and MySpace, it would appear that connecting with another person is easier than ever. And yet, I’m wondering if instead, people are becoming more distant.
There seems to be a change in perception. The person at the other end of whatever communication device you happen to be using becomes an icon, not a living, breathing, feeling human being. Don’t like the way the conversation is going? Stop responding to their texts. Tired of the friendship? Delete them from your contact list. Un-friend them on Facebook. No need to work through difficult issues. No need to consider anyone else’s feelings. No need to even say good-bye.