Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Difference

On the heels of the aftermath of the election, there lies a country divided.

My country.

Our country.

Some are jubilant in their victory.  Hopeful for the future.  Others, downtrodden and a lot less optimistic about what's in store.  Questions remain.

What happened?

How could this happen?

Can we survive four more years?

And it's in those questions that God has been slowing revealing things to me - even prior to knowing the results.  It's amazing how He weaves things in and out of my life and somehow brings them full circle where they all mesh beautifully together.

Today was that day.

I'll be the first to admit.  I'm one of the millions left wondering how this could happen.  How our country has seemingly abandoned the very principles upon which we were founded.  My heart is heavy for the direction we're headed and the price we'll pay because of the stance we've taken as a nation.  There's something eerily wrong about an entire party booing God as being part of their platform and then going on to win not only the presidential election but the Senate as well.  This from a country of professing Christians.

Therein lies the problem.

Professing something and being something are two entirely different things.

Stick with me here.  I'm not on some witch hunt, making judgements that aren't mine to make.  I'm simply reiterating what the Bible already says.

"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’  Matt. 7:21-23

Believing in the Master and knowing Him are not the same thing.  The Bible says that even the demons believe in Him (James 2:18-19).

There have been estimates as low as 50% (if you can even consider that low) to upwards of 75% of the church being lost.  And that's among those attending church.  Let's not neglect the millions upon millions of others who aren't attending church and/or aren't professing Christ.

When I take that into consideration, things begin to move from the blur of my confusion into the focus of His light.

Father, they're lost.

And then it all makes sense.

I can recall a time in my life when "judgemental" should've been my middle name.  I don't look back on those times fondly and am so incredibly thankful for grace and the changes He's enabled me to make.  It was during that time in my life when Mark said something to me that has stuck with me every since.

"Why do you expect them to act any different?  Lost people act lost."

And so it is.

At a time when so many people are up in arms about who our president is, very few are as enthusiastic about reaching the lost all around us.

We'll stand on our soap boxes about abortion, gay marriage, supporting Israel, etc. (as we should) yet completely miss the bigger picture.  And please note, I'll be the first to admit that I've been there, done that.

And please also note that I'm not linking who you did or didn't vote for with whether or not you're of genuine faith.  I am saying that there are lost people all around us and that the church looks an awful like like the world.  And I find that to be the bigger problem of the two.

Stick with me as I try to bring this full circle like God revealed to me this morning.

We're so focused on our soap box that we can't see that blame lies squarely at our feet.


Take a minute to let the pain subside.  Believe me, it was painful for me too.

We've seemingly equated saying a prayer with knowing the Master.  Not - the - same - thing.  At all.  We have churches full of people who are content to sit in their pew for an hour a week, walk out the door and look exactly like everyone else around them.  We have those who are members of churches but for some reason or another choose not to attend.  Those who walked the aisle, said a prayer, and yet live with no peace at all in their lives because they missed the very essence of Christianity: that it's about a relationship with the Master - not a prayer - not a list of rules and regulations - not a 1 hr. a week thing.  It's a personal relationship.

We've missed the biggest picture of all.

We've allowed it.  We're content to sit in our air conditioned buildings with coffee shops and bookstores while millions upon millions of people have never heard the name of Jesus or those who have but have a false assurance of their salvation or else just downright deny Him.  They're everywhere.  Not just Africa.  China.  Everywhere.  They're in the pews next to us.  They work in the cubicle beside yours.  They're in the check-out line in front of you.  They're your neighbors.  Your family members.

Now to bring this full circle.  Several days ago I noticed our neigbors' vehicles missing.  Their trash can was curbside 2 days before our pick up day.  Their ironing board was beside it.  I recall backing out of our driveway one day and seeing their car backed up to their front door with the trunk ajar.

They're moving, I thought.

And so it seems.  I haven't seen them since.  And I'll tell you right now I'm incredibly bothered by that fact.  Why?  Because here's where it begins coming full circle for me.

We lived next door to this couple for 11 years.  ELEVEN years.... and I can't even tell you their names.

Lord, forgive me.

I'd occasionally wave when I saw them in their driveway, but more often than not it was simply about business - getting the kids to school on time, rushing to football practice or a soccer game.  It was never about getting to know them and where they are in life.  And the sad thing is, I recall hearing her on the phone one day (she loved siting on her back porch talking on the phone) and her saying to the person on the other end how she'd called and asked about information from the Jehovah's witnesses or Latter Day Saints.  I can't recall which.  It occurred to me that something needed to be done - some action on my part.  They were searching for answers when right next door I held the answer and merely had to share it.  But I didn't.

I missed the bigger picture.  And for that I am truly ashamed.

We can't expect this great nation of ours to be any better than it is when we continually sit on our bottoms doing nothing to change it.  When we watch TV instead of read our Bibles.  When we skip out on church because we're tired or want to be at the lake instead.  When we avoid witnessing to others because it's out of our comfort zone.

Now I'm stepping on toes.  And no, I'm not sorry for that.

I am however sorry that I've failed at doing what Christ has called us all to do - GO.  Whether that means to Africa, Asia, NYC, Chicago, or to your next door neighbors, we should all be going.

As I woke up this morning with the realization that we have the same president that we had the past 4 years, my mind immediately began wondering what the future holds in store.  And it wasn't in a positive light.  I got ready for the day, dropped my son off at Kindergarten, then went to spend the morning volunteering at Anna's school.  As I stood in the gym watching the kids dance to their morning movement, my eyes filled with tears.

God brought it full circle, clear as day for me.

There stood 100's of children, dancing, laughing, living.  And I heard it:

The fields are white for harvest.

They're everywhere.  Waiting for someone to tell them about the difference Christ can make in their lives.

And until we're willing to obey and GO we can only continue to expect lost people to act lost and for elections to be given over to the very ones booing the God too many of us merely claim to serve.

Lord, help us make a difference in showing others that You're the difference.

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