There is Still a Remnant

This post is for the weary traveler who is burnt out and ready to give up.

This post is for the one who has walked away from the church because it doesn’t look anything like the Church we see in the Bible.

This post is for the discouraged who see churches torn apart by offense and petty differences.

This post is for the one who has given up hope in anyone ever actually getting it.

This post is for the person who desperately yearns to see the that the supernatural love for one another Jesus spoke about is actually possible.

This post is for you.  This post is for me.

Because a month from now, a week from now, or even tomorrow – I’ll see or hear (or do!) something that leaves me completely discouraged and wounded, wondering how we are ever supposed to move forward, or how God is ever going to be able to work through the mess His creation has…well…created…or struggle with why no one seems to get it.  And I’ll need to hear what God has  spoken into my heart today….again.

I always struggle with just how vulnerable and transparent I should be when I write.  I definitely feel a bit safer here, on the other side of the screen, unable to see your face as you read the words that have been tucked inside my head and heart, just dying to get out.  But, usually, they are words I don’t often speak out loud because I’m too afraid of the reactions, too afraid of what other people think, and too afraid I won’t be able to defend myself.  But, I’m trying to let go of my need to please everyone…so here it goes…

Before explaining how God has encouraged me, I think it’s necessary to share what I have been struggling with lately.

First, I feel stuck.  Stuck in the middle of two worlds.  You see, most of my liberal friends think I’m a crazy right-wing conservative and a significant portion of my conservative friends and family think I’m a liberal nut.  I don’t fit cleanly in either party.  And, for some, that means I must be less of a Christian and, if they don’t think that, they at least lose a bit (or a lot) of respect for me.

Sad

We have made Christianity something it was never meant to be – political.  There are countless arguments as to why you can’t be a _____(insert name of ANY political party here)_____ and still be a Christian.  I’ve heard it all.  Some things I agree with and others I don’t.  But that isn’t the point.  The point is love.

We should be able to look past our political differences, no matter how Biblically rooted our beliefs may be, and really truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  I shouldn’t feel “less” than within the church.  I should feel safe to discuss (rather than demand) my opinion without fear of losing respect.  God’s conviction, when needed, can work beautifully in an environment of love and respect.  Guilt, however, is a tool of the enemy and thrives in environments of pride, isolation, and lack of compassion.

God isn’t limited to one side or the other and desires that all may come to Him!  Are we coming alongside Him or pushing people away from Him?  At the end of the day, I would rather err on the side of love.  If I’m going to be wrong – may it be that I loved too much instead of too little.

Love, Politics, Church, Sacrifice, Jesus, Remnant

Aside from politics, there is SO much more that breaks my heart about the church.  And I’m struggling.  Offense has infested every corner of the Church – people don’t act the way others think they should, feelings are hurt…but instead of learning to love through the mess, as Jesus has exemplified and called us to, we opt to leave, to run away from the problem.  And it is destroying the church.

And what about the fact that there aren’t very many people actually being the Church?!?  Coming for an hour or two on Sunday isn’t exactly what Jesus called us to either.  We care more about hymnals and pew colors than actually making disciples.  If Jesus were to attend “church” today, I have a feeling he would be heartbroken or enraged…or probably both.

And it’s all so overwhelming.  When it piles up, the mountain of imperfections and struggle seems insurmountable.  How?!?  How do we become the Church that God wants us to be?  How do we actually impact the Kingdom with the structure that exists?  How can we instill passion in those that have, for so long, just gone through the  motions?  How do we learn to love in a supernatural, offenses-forgiven, politics-don’t-matter, kind of way?

And then I was reminded of Israel.  They didn’t get it.  Over and over again, they “got it” but, what seemed like moments later, they were worshipping idols and forgetting their covenant with God.  And time after time, exile after exile, God maintained a remnant.  A remnant, a small remaining quantity of His people.

But not for their sake…

For His.  After all, His name was on the line.  The world at that time KNEW that the Israelites were the people of God.  So, in order to bring glory to His name, God maintained a remnant and saved His people (Multiply, Francis Chan).

And then, thanks to choice words in a podcast, I was reminded that there is a remnant of His people today as well.  There is remnant of people who are able to love, live with, and respect both democrats and republicans (Gasp!).  There is a remnant of people who are erring on the side of love, who are loving without reservation or expectation, who are exemplifying irrational forgiveness and learning to overlook offense.  There is a remnant of people who are choosing to fight through the mess, love God’s people, and reach out to the broken and outcast in our society, no matter the cost.

And it isn’t that small of a remnant.  It’s widespread and growing and I’m so excited to see what God is doing in this generation. When I stop focusing on the negative, I see glimpses of this remnant in so many places and it is extraordinarily encouraging.

So my words of encouragement for you:

  • If you are frustrated with church, don’t give up.  Our battles is NOT against flesh and blood.
  • If you are battling offense, if someone has hurt you, be sure to handle it Biblically instead of just walking away (see Matthew 18).  Again, our battle is not against flesh and blood and when we don’t handle things according to God’s word, the enemy wins.  Period.
  • If you’re frustrated with leadership, offer grace.  Being in leadership in the American church today is one of the most difficult places to be.  Everyone expects perfection and everyone wants things their way.  Most pastors are following Jesus and leading you the best they know how.  Encourage them, they need it more than you know.  Offended??  See above.
  • If you are stuck in the middle of politics and feel alone – you’re not!  Don’t ever forget it.
  • If you don’t love your church, check your heart, “Our King, who allowed Himself to be tortured and killed for us, tells us to love one another in the same way.  Have you ever even considered loving a fellow Christian as sacrificially and selflessly as Christ loved you?  When was the last time you looked at a Christian brother or sister selflessly, wanting to bring him or her life no matter what the cost” (Francis Chan, Letters to the Church)?
  • If you are discouraged with no one getting it, soooo many people are.  Here’s a few of my go-to’s for genuine encouragement and inspiration:

The above list might not be your speed.  And, you know what, that’s perfectly okay.  Unity isn’t about us agreeing on everything (or even anything!).  I’m still going to love you at the end of the day even if you think Francis Chan is a heretic or that Rend Collective isn’t all that great.

Because the love of Christ supersedes all of that.

Keep looking for the remnant.  Let go of the negative.  Focus on the positive.  As I heard recently – it doesn’t matter if the cup is half full or half empty – there is still water in the cup!  There is still a remnant.  Go live like it.  Go love like it!

 

 

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