Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts on the Christian Shame-Bomb...

I am wondering how many people have been brought to a reconciled relationship with Jesus through Christians posting and sharing videos and memes that tell people how foolish and wrong they are for forgetting to include Jesus in their lives and in society.

Maybe I'm just spending too much time on facebook, but I feel like I see it more all the time and it's starting to make me feel nauseated whenever a new shame-bomb is thrown in the name of Jesus.

On Black Friday instead of asking "Did you get a good deal?"  we blow up our statuses with the message of "You should remember that there is only one Black Friday that delivered savings that will last for forever. That's right, it's Jesus's death on the cross, not your 70% off coupon for Bed, Bath and Beyond."

Awesome.  Thanks for missing the point there, Debbie Downer.

When people are attending Christmas celebrations, decorating and participating in long-held family traditions we toss a self-righteous grenade and say "hey - you know that Jesus said Merry Christmas but you won't let me and I bet you won't be brave enough to post this as your status because you're ashamed of Jesus...isn't there room for him under your tree with all of your excess stuff?" or something like that.

Excellent.  Isn't it nice of you to tell everyone how right you always are.

When children and their teachers are brutally murdered through an act of pure evil, we post smug videos that contain a message of  "Sure, you've spent years removing God from society, so what do you expect? "

Here's a thought...Maybe we should tend to the wounded instead of shooting them again with our piety and superior intellect?

Maybe some Christians think posting things like that will make people stop and think about their lives and their need for a Savior. However, I have yet to meet someone who has been shamed into the Kingdom of God. Seriously. Not one.

It might be that every thought or idea in those memes and videos contains truth.  But context matters.  Truth  spoken in LOVE matters a lot.  And I'm really wondering if I'm the only one who thinks that sharing the message of Christ, who longs to love and heal and restore the brokenness within our hurting world, in that meme/video-I-bet-you-won't-post-this-because-you-don't-love-Jesus-as-well-as-I-do way does nothing but make Christians look smug, elitist and uncaring.

We share the message of Christ through that life-changing truth lived out in genuine relationships with people, don't we?  We're not actually trying to set up a theocracy where our faith will be legislated and never be challenged and we can just live without living differently, right?  We're not trying to create heaven on earth - because that's not our job, is it?  I don't exactly know.  But I don't think that's our job.  Isn't it more important to be Christian than to be right?

Maybe instead we need to turn the camera on our own lives, and ask if this arrogance and removal of Christianity from society hasn't been at the hands of "us" instead of "them".  Maybe people will begin to understand the peace and freedom that comes from a relationship with Jesus when we start being a gentle light in the darkness.  Sometimes I think we try being a flame-thrower instead of a candle.  And true - a flame thrower is a source of light, but it seems to me it's doing more harm than good.

The message of Jesus matters. The truth of God sets people free.  But truth couched in shame doesn't help.  So maybe we could just stop tossing those shame grenades on our facebook pages and instead get to know the people around us, for real.  Love people in their messes, through their difficulties, celebrate life with them, and earn the right to speak truth in love into their lives.  Sure, it's a lot more work than finding a clever meme to post on your timeline, but it might work better in the end.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Apology of Sorts aka The Great Snow Debate

Dear Mom and Dad,

I need to apologize.  Sort of anyway.  You know when you see something happening in your own home that you remember happening in your childhood, and you understand it from a completely different perspective now that you are a parent?  Yeah.  That.  It's not the first apology I've ever made to you, and I'm sure it won't be the last, but I feel the need to clear the air over the Great Snow Debate that happened every year when we were kids.

I can remember clear as day, the arguments Mark, Loni and Kyla and I used to have at the first sight of snow.  Maybe these arguments were unique to our family. I don't know.  But whatever genetics that predisposed all of us to thinking we (or at least me) were always right/ mini-meteorologists has been passed down in spades to all five of our kids. The conversation, way back then was the same at it is now:

"Oh look! It's snowing!"

"That's not snow - it's mixed rain and snow."

"No, it's for sure snowing.  See!  It's starting to stick!!"

"No, it's not, it's actually more like slush.  It's NOT going to stay."

"Nooo! It's at least rain mixed with snow...Dad?  Wouldn't you say it's at least mixed snow with rain, or more like rain with snow?"

"Mom, where are my snow pants?"

"Do you know where my mittens are? it's definitely starting to stick."

"Why are you looking for mittens?  It's not even snowing at all."

"Where's a ruler?  I'm going to measure it..."

And on and on and on and on....

I'm certain this happened every time it snowed/ almost snowed/ rained thick rain.

We, much like my kids now,  would spend the entire time with noses pressed against cold windows, wondering, hoping, and wishing that it would stick, and making silent prayers hoping that we would be the one that got it right on the meteorological composition of the wonderful stuff falling from the sky.

How you managed to listen to this same debate multiple times a year without losing your mind is one of the great mysteries of parenting. I'm sorry I put you through it.

I haven't gone insane yet over snow predictions time five kids here yet this year, but I'm certainly having to have a constant inner dialogue reminding me not to be a kill-joy and say "Whatever it is, it will probably be rain my the morning.  Stop arguing about something you can't control!!!" Kettle

And yet, even with all the craziness of the great snow debate every year, I have to admit that it's a memory I will treasure, even if it's just way deep down right now. One day the house will be quiet and it will just be Josh and I looking out at the snow and there will be no kids running to the window, or making up snow to rain ratios in the van as we're driving around town, and I think I might even miss it.

And for the record, it's absolutely 100% snowing right now, and I have some mittens to find for some kids that are growing up way too fast.