Thursday, October 7, 2010

How NOT to Make Friends

Hi Friends!

When I started this blog last October, I never in a million years thought that I would make real-life friends as a result.  But I did.  You girls (and yes, you two guys) are awesome!

I also never thought that I would discover a new hobby.  Who knew that I had an inner-photographer?  Who knew that I needed a creative outlet? 

{ahem...other than God.  I love how He works.}

It's amazing what 12 months can do for a girl!  Maybe I will do something special  later to celebrate.

In the meantime, I have to tell you about something that happened last week.  I wasn't going to share this incident online because...well...people read my blog.  And that's a good thing!!!  But at the same time, when something controversial happens, the last thing I want to do is offend my in-real-life friends.

I read a post this morning by Christy that struck a cord with me.  This girl has a heart for God and I so appreciated what she said in that post.  Reading it made me realize that I need to share what happened last week.

About 85% of my Facebook friends are active church-goers.  They don't all go to my church, but the majority of them walk with Christ in a very real way.  One lady, who is older than me and who recently started attending my church, often posts scriptures.  Various scriptures...various days.

I began to notice a trend in her postings.  Every scripture was based on a woman's place...in her marriage, in creation, in the Body of Christ.

I don't think she was wrong for posting these scriptures because they are in The Bible.  But of all the verses to choose from, it really bothered me that she was focusing on the ones that supported the "silence of women."

For those of you who know me, you know that I don't do a very good job of keeping my mouth shut.  But I let it go.

For a few days.

Then I couldn't stand it any more.  I had to say something.  Not because I entirely disagree but because I think there is more to a woman's place than a few statements read without any context.

The scripture she quoted was: A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 (NASB).

I wish I could have talked to Paul when he wrote that letter to Timothy.  I have so many questions...but I digress.

So I responded to her post.  I simply said that I believe that God can use a woman if it's in His will.  I cited women in The Bible that were very influential like Deborah, Lydia, Priscilla, Ruth, Mary, etc.  In fact, it can be argued that the first two apostles were women since Jesus first revealed Himself to the two Marys after the resurrection.  I said that I couldn't imagine a world without Beth Moore or Joyce Meyer.  Finally, I shared some studies that I have done on that exact scripture that gave a cultural background into what was going on in Ephesus when this letter was written.  The people of Ephesus (non-Christians) worshipped the female God, Artemis.  So this culture really put women on a pedestal and actually worshipped them.  Timothy was combating a culture that idolized women.  Which explains a lot.

Let's just say that my comment did not go over so well.  She pretty much told me that my ideas were "junk" and that "I didn't know what I was talking about."  She told me that the Bible doesn't teach culture...it teaches salvation.

The love, people.  I felt no love. 

I admit that I am a very liberal Christian.  I wish preachers didn't feel the need to wear three-piece suits on Sunday morning so that people who can't afford three-piece suits didn't feel "less than" because of their attire.  I wish that services could be held outside when the weather was particularly beautiful and the fall leaves personified the beauty of our Creator.  I wish that Wednesday night services were held at the local nursing home so that shut-ins could participate in church activities.  I wish the number of times you attend church per week wasn't such a big deal because how can you reach people in a broken world when you are surrounded by a church full of fixed people every day?

So I am a Christian Hippie.  I get it.  Not everyone shares my perspective.  As far "right" as that lady was on Facebook, I guess I am just as far "left."

Maybe the right place to be is somewhere in the middle.  But then again...Jesus was a radical and He didn't walk the middle road.  In fact, He pretty much shook up planet Earth from the time He was conceived.

Our Facebook conversation didn't end there.  It went back and forth until I told her that I hoped she was better at sharing the love of Christ in the real world because she wasn't very good at it on Facebook.

She hasn't been back to our church since that exchange.

So what's my whole point?  Why did I respond?  Why am I sharing this (really long) story with all of you?

This conversation is really just a symptom of a bigger problem...and the problem is us.  People get ideas of what is right and what is wrong and there is no more room for Grace.  If it doesn't fit perfectly into pre-fabricated Christian boxes then there is no room for it in the Body of Christ.  I'm not saying she was wrong because she didn't agree with me.  I am saying that she was wrong because she was unable to see that maybe...just maybe...I wasn't 100% wrong.

Sometimes, the lines get blurred.
Sometimes, the black and white turns gray.

While we are so busy arguing amongst ourselves about the correct place for a woman...or about homosexuals...or about abortionists...or people who drink....or people who have pink hair....while we argue about these topics, there is a world of dying people....of hurt people...of broken people.
And they don't need to be reminded how hurt, broken or wrong they are.  They just need love.

So...wanna know how NOT to make friends?  Challenge someone to think outside the box.  Challenge one of their basic beliefs and remind them that even Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well.

Okay...I'm going to get off of my soapbox now.  I hope that my views don't offend any of you.  It's been a while since I have written anything very serious but don't worry, my camera-happy, light-hearted side will be back soon!!
My Alabaster Jar

12 comments:

  1. *hug* This is exactly why I try to be open minded but firm in my beliefs. It hurts when someone won't even give thought to a notion that you could be right, even for a moment (I have this argument a lot with my husband when he's in an "I AM RIGHT" type mood) But, I find we also have this argument with God. "But God, I know what you meant here, you couldn't have possibly meant that, blah blah blah" It's just our human nature to want to be right. Unfortunately though sometimes it offends others that we don't think they're right.

    ok that was a lot of rambling. love you chica!

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  2. AMEN SISTER! Beautifully put.

    I would definitely be considered a "liberal" Christian among my family and friends. I wonder why I need to be labeled that at times? I mean I love my Jesus with all my heart and soul and I try my very best to love others...and I seek a real relationship with Him every day. I especially love the part about the arguing amongst ourselves. Sigh. It is a hard place to be...but I LOVE you for standing up and saying this. It definitely needs to be said. Lots. :o)

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  3. I walk the middle road. I agree with you on some things, and not on others. But what I love the most about you is how much you love Jesus and how much you love people. You are right, people are very broken, and we are considered 'good' Christians if we go to church 3 times a week with 'fixed' people. (In my opinion, however, the Church is for the broken, bc only God can heal, but I digress) I'd love to worship outside. Sheesh. Anyhow. I am one of those 'right wing' thinkers on the women's place, to an extent. (mostly the woman's place in worship) But do not for one second think that I don't believe women can be influential. We all know better. :) My biggest issues with the 'Church' are this: we try to put God in a box. We spend entirely too much time worrying about what everyone else is doing wrong (even among Christian denominations) and not enough time worrying about making sure we're doing what is right. And I hate that we've made worship so... proper, for lack of a better term. Anyhow, amidst all that, I just wanted to say that I love you sweet girl, and I'm thankful for you and for the last 12 months, too. We really need to do lunch, or something.

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  4. Erin, I've been blog absent for quite some time, but I'm so glad I came back to read this. Love it! My friend had tattooed on her arm "Love God, Love People." In so many ways, it's as simple as that. As humans, we try to define it, figure out the rules, set the paths we must follow. But all we're asked to do, in simple terms, is "follow me [Christ]." I think for those who grew up in a more legalistic church, or for many new Christians, it's especially hard to grasp God's awesome grace. And perhaps for some, we take advantage of His grace as well. But His grace is abundant and His love is unending - and I'm SO thankful for that! Thanks for the post!

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  5. A great post, Erin! Have you ever heard the song "Stain Glass Masquerade" by Casting Crowns? I love that song; your post made me think of it. I get so fed up with the dog and pony shows at church, Bible studies and so on. Maybe because some of my own feeling of inadequacies it feels like there’s this whole “keeping up appearances”, like if you’re not on your “A game” all the time then you’re just not in the “club”.

    I never really know exactly what people mean by liberal Christians-do they mean they are laid back, or are they talking in terms of their political beliefs? I am so glad that we go to a laid back church where our pastor preaches God’s Word from the Bible in his jeans and my husband wears a baseball cap. We are in a very low income and crime filled neighborhood and I love it. Our neighborhood is our ministry and we tell people to come as you are.

    I have to admit; I am really grounded in my beliefs and rarely shift. But, when someone approaches me with their heart in check and wants to share their view, (as I am sure you did with this lady) I am way more open to listening and learning than if they come to me and tell me I’m wrong and get defensive. I recently had a situation where someone was brash, cut me down and told me I was wrong. It was mean spirited and I got offended.

    By the way, I completely agree with you about influential women in the Bible. Um…Mary, Jesus’ Mama? Sigh. And the Bible teaches SOOOO much more than Salvation. It’s our handbook.

    Keep talking; you’ve got great things to contribute.

    Erin

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  6. I think there is a way to have a discussion about a biblical topic without compromising your beliefs and without being rude at the same time, and I agree, just because someone disagrees with you, doesn't make either one of you necessarily wrong, but I do know it takes a LOT of maturity to stay calm when someone is being so stubborn, something I know I don't always have :)

    I really feel bad for people that seem to miss the message of grace, or think of it as some bad, liberal thing. We can't reach anyone without telling them about the grace of God and we can't do anything without the grace of God, and you're totally right, there is a world of people dying out there that need the gospel and we sit around arguing about whether or not a woman can lead a committee or say a prayer...it's all about priorities and looking at what Jesus did and how he interacted with people, it's very clear to see where HIS priorities are and aren't we supposed to be trying to more like HIM every day? :)

    Sorry to get on a soap box, but this has also really been bother me lately and I was very grateful to read your post and know I'm not alone! Hang in there and remember what's really important in life :)

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  7. yep

    i remember having a conversation on facebook not to long ago that made me sad
    (i always get myself in trouble there because i can't.keep.mouth.shut)

    i remember telling the person what grace really meant to me...and she continued to come back with arguments about how she knew "all about grace"...but her words certainly weren't reflecting it. it was then that i realized that people who THINK THEY KNOW what grace is, and are completely missing the freedom that grace brings...are some of the saddest, most miserable people out there.

    :-/

    i'm a hippie Christian too...which i think is evident to pretty much everyone who has ever read anything i've written or talked to me in person. :-) and some people aren't comfortable with that at all. and while i respect that, sometimes i want to say "you know who the most radical person who has EVER walked the face of the earth is...right?"

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  8. Ok, so maybe I'm middle of the road here, BUT... here's my take on this, obviously being totally objective.

    This lady most likely has the whole concept of grace. But you challenged her on a biblical topic that was near and dear to her. So being HUMAN, she gets defensive and doesn't act very loving. The lady is human. I'm not saying she was right, because really, God can use anyone and everyone to accomplish His will. But if someone came along and told you that you were totally off base, because you got a tattoo and it clearly states in the OT that God thinks tattoos are gross, you'd probably be a tad annoyed with them. Instead of having a mature discussion, she probably saw it as an attack on her personal beliefs, causing her to act like most people would... defensive and rude.
    My advice? Be the bigger person. Show HER the love of Christ by explaining that you didn't mean to offend her. You just felt like there's so much more to a woman's life in the church besides sitting there looking pretty. I bet if you came to her lovingly, she would return the favor. And in fact, you could probably bring her back to your church. Do you really want to be the reason that someone stopped feeling comfortable enough to go to church?
    I'm not trying to make you feel bad. I promise. I'm just playing devil's advocate here. She probably realized you were right, but was too mad and stubborn to admit it. Let her be. That's between her and God. Your job is to be a loving sister-in-Christ and realize it's not your job to change her. That's God's job. If she's willing to talk calmly about it, then great. If not, oh well. You did what you could.

    On the whole topic of "a woman's place" thing...
    It's obvious that God uses women. He's a total feminist in the fact that he chose the LEAST of women, virtual nobodys, to fulfill his purposes. Rahab was a prostitute. Mary was just your normal, everyday good girl. You know all of this. Women have played (and still DO play) a vital role in God's kingdom.
    Chip Ingram has a great talk on The Church and Feminism (in his Think series) that you can download online.

    Wanna know WHY there are "right wing" Christians and "liberal" Christians? Because God made us all different. We're NOT going to have the same passions and interests and opinions on everything. Things like helping the homeless are going to be more important to some than others. For some, their gift is teaching, so they feel everyone should be in a Bible class. For others, God may have made them with a heart for the deaf, so they feel everyone should be learning ASL in order to make them feel welcome at church. Some pastors feel as if they're respecting the Lord by dressing nicely. Other pastors want to be seen as more approachable and "one of you guys", so they wear jeans. God designed us all differently. And that's a good thing. It's how He's able to work in other people's lives. For this lady, maybe she's meant to help other ladies with respect issues (um.. after getting over her need to be right issues hehe).
    Do you see what I'm saying though? As long as we all have the basics down (Christ, salvation, living a godly life, etc), the rest is just "stuff". We're also ALL human. We're going to argue and bicker and be mean and make eachother feel crappy over all of the extra "stuff". It's not worth it.

    Sorry I made this soooo long! lol. I didn't mean to! Apparently, I had a lot to say. :)

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  9. I applaud you for sharing the story Erin. I agree with Hailey that God made us different and we each have different passions but I do believe that we need to be open for different view points.

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  10. I agree with what Courtney said about how much you love people. That is fantastic and the way it should be! Here is one thing to think about: Jesus said that his followers would be known for the love they have among themselves. (John 13:35) There are no divisions (or sects) among God's people. (John 17:21,1 Corinthians 1:10-15; 3:3-5) Paul tells us that we need to be "earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-6) If you are not experiencing this, perhaps you have yet to find the "one faith." (Ephesians 4:5)
    Blessings!

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  11. Well, I've been an absent follower for a while so I hadn't seen your new blog design, nor did I know that you'd gotten into photography. Good for you!

    I believe I'm more of a "middle of the road" Christian. I tend to lean a bit more toward the right I suppose, but not so far right that I think I have all the answers all the time! Shoot, I don't think I have even a few answers all the time. :)

    I'm glad to hear you stood up for what you believe in!

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  12. Ahh man. I don't have words for this one. I must remain silent.

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