An Aching Body

Monday, August 29, 2005

I've been reading a couple of blogs lately that have both encouraged me and wrenched my heart in turn. The writers, Eric and JJ, both long deeply for God, and both struggle deeply with the same sin--or rather, desire. The particulars of their struggle are not something I can share here, as I have innocent eyes and hearts who read this blog.

What I do want to share about is what I am seeing of the Church in their posts.

Here are two believers who are struggling with a moral desire that seems categorically wrong. I have no doubt in my mind that they are believers. Their love and desire for the Lord is very evident in their writing. They want to be a part of a body of believers, because they want to know Jesus.

But the Church that they describe is a Church that does not resemble Jesus Christ. The Church that they describe is a retching, broiling mass of confusion, completely separated from the Head. On the one hand, they have people who claim to know Jesus justifying and even condoning their struggle, pandering to their very human longing for acceptance. On the other hand, they have people who claim to know Jesus condemning and rejecting them with no thought for their very human longing to know God.

One comment on JJ's blog reads in part: "I also want to say that I think He gives us things that we can handle - not that it will be easy, but you're obviously not taking any easy way out. Really, it all comes down to love. God is Love, (which I think is more than just the idea that all love comes from God). Where there is Love, there is God."

JJ explains about her struggle: "I went back to my own church this evening, and it was a bit of a relief to be back in a service where I knew what was going on, I could understand everything that was being said and I knew the songs… but I did feel a bit sad. I kept thinking that for the most part, most people at my church would not think that I... am a part of “God’s wonderfully diverse creation”… they probably believe that I am a deviation from it, I am outside of God’s natural order, I don’t fit in with what God designed."

She continues, "I want God so desperately, I need to know that He’s there, that He’s here with me now… and I have no idea. I can’t feel His presence at all, and I know that feelings aren’t everything; we can’t be guided by them. But I would like something, some sort of assurance that He’s still with me. My prayers bounce back to me as if the sky was made of glass, and I don’t know how to change that. I remember the parable that Jesus told of the persistent widow (Luke 18), and so I persist. But I do wonder how long I can endure like this."

Eric shares, "I'm trying to figure out how to How can I be me in a way that is also consistent with God's intent, desire, and will for creating me in the first place?"

A commenter on Eric's blog shares in reply, "There was a time where I did not believe that [desire] was ok, and I hate that I used to feel that way. But as God started changing my heart... it was by seeing others for their similarities--and not their differences--that convinced me that yes, is it ok.

These commenters mean well, but they provide no solid truth, no Biblical foundation. They answer with a feel-good philosophy that redefines God's love from the consuming fire that it is.

But what about the congregation that wouldn't love JJ unconditionally, despite her sin? What about those who have scorned Eric for his struggle to love God?

The Church... we have truly left our first love. Where is Jesus Christ? Something is really wrong when the world begins to look more loving than the Church. They will know we are Christians by our love.

But love, you say, isn't a blind acceptance of those caught in a sin.

No, not at all. Who defines love? One of the comments above was very accurate in stating that it does come back to love--but it was an open definition of love. Not related to the God whose love sent His own Son to the Cross so that we could know Him. Not defined by a God whose love is a consuming fire, who requests obedience to His command to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

And their struggle--a journey, Eric calls it--who defines that? Are we to be continually striving to be perfect before the Lord, or is Christ enough to cover us? Where is the line between justification once for all and ongoing sanctification as we are made more like Jesus Christ? Is the Christian life about answers or questions?Is God's unconditional love the same as unconditional acceptance? Or how does it figure with grace?

Jesus Christ said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father, but by Me." He is the True Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep. He is the Vine, and we are but branches.

Is the point of Christianity finding God in love, or finding love in God? Or is it about knowing what is right from what is wrong?

Or... could it possibly be about being reconciled to God through our Lord Jesus Christ? When we are consumed with Christ, do we need to understand or justify all of the sins and struggles we face? When we are consumed with Christ, is there a question that we should love others with His love, no matter what we have done? When we are consumed with Christ, is our identity, our ability to just "," found in the open acceptance of others or in confidence through Jesus Christ that He has become our identity? When we are consumed with Christ, is there any question or quibbling over putting off sinful desires and taking every thought into the captivity of Christ?

Is Christianity about Jesus Christ or about my being a good Christian or following Him in the right way? Is it about acceptance or forgiveness?

There is a song that I absolutely love that goes,

Love of a Father I find in Your embrace.
Moments together flood my weary soul with grace.
Through the pain, Your gentle hand has kept me strong.
And soon I will awaken to a brighter dawn,

'Cause You're beside me,
Holding my hand to guide me.
Though the way is dark,
You lead me on.
You know my fears,
And soon You'll wipe away my tears forever--
You're coming to take me Home.

Love of a Father I find in Your embrace.
Now, I see dimly, but soon I'll see You face to face.

And You're beside me,
Holding my hand to guide me.
Though the way is dark,
You lead me on.
You know my fears,
And soon You'll wipe away my tears forever--
You're coming to take me Home.

Seeing You clearly as this world is fading away
Heaven draws near me--I see a light brighter than day!
And You're beside me,
Holding my hand to guide me.
Through the gates we run, and I am free!!!
Gone are my fears,
And You have wiped away my tears forever--
You've come to take me Home....

Take me Home...
I am Home...

"Through the gates we run, and I am free..."

I don't understand how it's all supposed to play out in life, and what is happening in the heart of the Church scares me. But I know that whatever happens, He is faithful, and I will be fully free when I run into His arms. I just want to see Him. I want to see Him here, and to know Him. And I'm horribly lax at seeking Him, but He now is the desire of my heart as I used to beg--whether I like it or not.


Heidi said...

Kelly - Great post. I too have been touched and riveted by Eric and JJ's stories. Thank you for pointing it back to Christ as the center. May we all remember, and continue to pour forth his love to all those he brings us in contact with, whether desirable or offensive...indeed, may we not even see their desirability or offensiveness, but see instead a person in need of Christ's love.

Kelly Sauer said...

Thanks for the comment, Heidi. I can't get over how crazy and confused everything is...

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