Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dart Practice

“It’s pretty sad when it’s hard being a Christian at a Christian school.”

That sentence has echoed through my thoughts over the past couple of weeks. A friend of mine expressed her frustration to me while sharing a situation that had devastated her recently. For the second time now her teenage son, who attends a private Christian school, has been the recipient of threats to cause bodily harm.

Wait a minute. Don’t the majority of these students profess a personal relationship with Jesus? Should not these pupils be the most loving, kind and forgiving young people? Would they not be the first to respond in any situation with a Christ-like manner? Oh how we long to answer affirmatively to those questions. We want to believe there’s a difference. Sadly, their actions speak louder than words and reveal their true heart condition.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to point a finger or criticize Christian education. I’m just saying that pain seems compounded when it is delivered to us from those whose faith and beliefs walk the same path as ours. “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” Psalm 55:12-14

Sadly this behaviour is not contained within the halls of education. Outside the walls of these institutions, homes are tutoring these children in lessons that cause division. Denomination against denomination. Preferences against precepts. Relativity against absolute truth. Grey against black and white. Church against church. Country against country. The lines that divide us aren’t geographical. Anger rises. Jealousy flows.

I attended an event years ago that remains etched in my memory. The attendees at this celebration were all believers to my knowledge, yet what I witnessed that evening broke my heart. As conversation took a turn, and jokes became brash, crude and questionable, I was shocked to see what the majority considered “acceptable”. I felt like an outsider among my brothers and sisters in Christ. My heart ached.

Yes, it is sad when it’s hard being a Christian among other Christians. When the ridicule comes from family and not foe the pain cuts deep. I think this is what Job was feeling when his friends began to offer advice and help. Job 12: 4 says, “…my friends laugh at me, for I call on God and expect an answer.” Have you been there? Sitting in a circle of Christ-followers, sharing passionately what the Lord is doing in your life, and the blank stares and condescending remarks cut deeper than any physical wound. The pain is not just the callus words that strike you, but the agony that these dear friends don't understand, having ears yet they do not hear.

Maybe it’s criticism, disapproval, judgement or fault-finding that has you sitting with Job this morning. You have been the target of some dart practice and the remarks have all hit the bulls-eye of your heart and you have been viciously wounded. As Glynnis reminded me this morning in her excellent devotional, we can’t get side-tracked by critics. Respond like Job, cry out to Him and seek His face. “He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness; he brings light to the deepest gloom.” Job 12:22.

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Kathy S. said...

I love that last verse. Sometimes Christians who have been hurt or in their eyes "judged" are the quickest to judge others as judgemental. IRONY

When we know that Jesus is still workin' on me, why then do we expect perfection from others? Grace. Grace. Grace. I am constantly asking for more!

The fact that God knows all is such a comfort. Yes, ask him if there is truth in accusation! like Glynnis said, but we need to remember who really is the accuser of the brethren...

Jesus, light in the darkness; Jesus, truth in each circumstance...

What a comfort! Great post! God bless that young man...tho none go with me, still I will follow...He has an opportunity to become more Christlike.

lisasmith said...

YES and amen! I have surely felt that way. An outsider among those who I shared with in need of encouragement...Lysa shared something today that echoes this sentiment. She wanted her friends to applaud her for saying yes to God for making a crazy decision with full abandon to her Savior and...they questioned. Art said to her something to the effect of this, "They don't have the vision we have." Basically I need to focus on God's voice and draw from the words of life spoken to my heart to get my encouragement.

I agree with Kathy, God bless that young man...May God raise him up in incredible maturity so he can clearly hear God's voice and receive encouragement.

On a side note, David encouraged himself in the Lord...a great verse to ponder our own motives in sharing with others. I want to share to encourage them, not because I am wanting from them what only God can give...

Thanks Joy and it was awesome today...we missed you!! posting pictures soon, I promise.

Laura said...

I think this is one of Satan's most powerful turn Christian against Christian. It is sad, and it makes me mad!yes, I have been there. As for the schools, I think there are bullies in every one. I love what Kathy and Lisa say...this could be very formative for this young man. I'm sending my prayers for him, Joy.

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

Joy, this was so good and I can relate to all you said! You are so right....when other Christians criticize us for practicing our faith....that hurts!

Love ya!