Friday, October 8, 2010

Faith Isn't Cheesy!

Sometimes, I just get that nudge inside that something has to be blogged. It’s a sense of urgency that has the feel of, “this is going to change someone’s life…I must share it NOW!” Though, usually, that someone is me. Whether anything I ever post helps anyone else or not, I’m always assured that God’s Word never returns empty (Isaiah 55:11). So, at the very least, it always does this poor soul some good! 

Oh, how I’ve missed this! I have a “welcome home” kind of feeling right now! It’s been months since I have blogged (my friend, Shane, pointed out that I am so far behind!). It‘s not intentional, but my life has changed so much in the past three months and I haven’t had the time to do many of the things I used to do. So, just a quick synopsis, for those who don’t know, before I get to the subject of what inspired this entry:

On July 8th, the day after my birthday, my children and I were forced to move out. We moved in with my Dad and step-mom and have been trying to adjust to our new life ever since. The kids seem happy and content, but Mommy is having a harder time. It’s difficult to adapt to so many things all at once and figure out how to cope and heal after spending over ten years of my life with the one I thought was going to love me forever. I had always thought (and been told) that I am a strong person, but I have never felt more weak and broken than I do right now. Though, what little faith I have left tells me that I will be eventually be ok; and the prayers and support of many keep me hanging on and give me hope (even if I’m only hanging on by a thread). So, please know that I am thankful for all of you who are helping me hold my head up! You all know who you are, but just to name a few, a BIG thanks to my Dad and Lauri (for whom I do not have enough words to thank or express my gratitude! THANK YOU for your support in every way and for being our refuge and safe place!), my Mom, Nat, and Ryan (whose love and support from afar is a comfort to me no matter how great the miles), and my Grandma Sauers who continues to amaze me with all she is able to give of herself (you are so brave to tackle the task of caring for Gianna when needed lol). To every single one of the rest of my loving family, I cherish and appreciate you as well! Thank you!! Also, my AMAZING friends (particularly - but certainly not limited to - Adam, Jama, Shane, Amy, April, Mama Saun, Facebook friends, co-workers, and Casey’s teachers). I would not survive this without you (and thank you for being true friends)! I am eternally grateful for your love, prayers, wisdom, support, and even the laughter you bring to my life when I need it the most!! I love you! OXOXO Oh, and to my haters, I am thankful for you too! I forgive you and you make me stronger, and I bless you!

And now, to talk about what stirred me to blog in the first place. It’s not too far off from what I have already been talking about, but the starting point is a little different (and maybe unusual). This blog is actually the result of an episode of “Glee” that I just watched on Hulu. Anyone that knows me knows that it’s one of my favorite shows (even if there is some content here and there that I don’t truly agree with). Apparently, “Glee” is pushing the envelope even further this season. This episode, “Grilled Cheesus”, nearly makes me want to say “I will never watch it again.” Almost. That’s because while there are often many mistruths, the show often redeems itself (though not usually all the way) by the end of the episode (Click on the link if you want to see what I mean. Please note that episodes expire after a while, so this link will not always work). 

The title of the episode deal’s with Finn’s issue of a grilled cheese sandwich that appears to have the face of Jesus in it. It’s reminiscent of the stories we often hear about people finding Jesus or the Virgin Mary’s face in unusual places (and how people end up praying/worshiping the object rather than God himself. Satan is clever with these deceptions isn‘t he?). Finn tends to go to that extreme. He ends up praying to it and thinks that all his prayers are being answered when things start going his way (the team wins their game, he gets to fool around with his girlfriend, and he gets to be the quarterback again). Yet, he feels particularly bad when that third prayer happens as a result of the other quarterback getting injured which prompts him to share his grilled cheese nonsense with the school guidance counselor. She does set him straight by pointing out that winning the game came as a result of teamwork and a better coach. Also, what she appropriately classified as “inappropriate touching” was a result of Rachel’s own free-will (which, as of course she didn’t mention, wouldn’t be a prayer God would answer to Finn’s liking anyways considering it’s not something in line with His Word). Thirdly, the quarterback injury was a result of an opposing team member being over-age, on steroids, and practically crushing him to death. Finn expresses his disappointment by saying he felt rather ordinary again and like he didn’t have the direct line to God like he thought he did. Of course, those of us that know better would have told Finn that one DOES have a direct line to God, and that’s through Jesus Christ (and not a grilled cheese) who makes intercession for us (Isaiah 53:12, Romans 8:26-27). So, Finn doesn’t have to feel ordinary if he belonged to Christ and became an heir with Him (Romans 8:17). That should make you feel pretty special!

The entire episode just screamed “ride the fence” because it didn’t decide on anything. Just the basic, “whatever works for you is fine.” Sue Sylvester and Kurt both expressed their unbelief and disgust at the idea of God. Sue’s issue was the fact that she prayed hard for God to heal her sister, when she was younger, when she realized that the beautiful woman she valued her sister to be was ridiculed by everyone else (her sister in the show has Down Syndrome). However, her sister corrected her as they talked over a game of checkers and assured her that God doesn’t make mistakes and asked Sue if she would like her to pray for her and a teary-eyed Sue said “yes” (though they showed no prayers being made right then). 

Kurt’s issues dealt with his father who suffered a heart attack and was currently comatose in the hospital. He was pushing his friends (and their faith) away as they offered their help. One of his reasons was that he stated his anger at God for making him gay and then directing His followers to hate him. He also expressed that he didn’t feel that churches were welcoming of gay people (though he did attend church with Mercedes later on). Here we find a lot of twisted ideas (on both sides, mind you). First of all, God does not create or permit sin and Christ died to atone for it. We are born with a sin nature as a result of this fallen world (and we all have a free will) and the sin vices that we have vary from person to person. One person’s struggle is completely different from another’s. Take me, for example. One of the things that I struggle with is my weight and tendencies to overindulge. While I am accepted by God (and pretty much everyone else) just as I am, it isn’t permissible for me to be a glutton or to misuse/abuse the body that He gave me. Whether or not family genetics determines how easy/hard it is to maintain a healthy body is no excuse. I am still responsible for how I care for and rehabilitate myself to correct the problem. It would be a mistake for me to say, “I’m fat and that’s just the way I am and there’s nothing I can do about it and everyone should just accept it.” That would be incorrect thinking. There IS something I can do about it and I SHOULD (and am!). No matter what sin a person struggles with, there IS hope and we should actively work on obtaining our freedom through Christ from our various bondages. Deliverance is always possible (and available)!

That brings me to the other point of Kurt’s comments. He is wrong in stating that God directs His followers to hate gay people. We are told to love one another (John 13:35). Jesus does not condemn anyone who is in Him. He was infamous for dining with “sinners” prostitutes, tax collectors, and those whom society despised. However, He didn’t endorse their behavior, and those that encountered Christ had a change of heart/life. He approached people with love and gentleness, not condemnation. Remember the woman at the well (John 4:1-30)? How about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)? Didn’t he tell us not to throw stones (verse 7)? Though, notice that after he told the woman that he did not condemn her, he instructed her in that last verse to leave her life of sin. We who are in Him should not continue in sin (1 John 3:6-9, 1 John 5:17-19). And we certainly aren’t condemned if we are walking after the Spirit and not the flesh (Romans 8:1-2). 

However, Kurt is sadly right about one thing. There are many that hate and don’t welcome gay people. There are those that condemn, hate, slander, and ostracize. The body of Christ needn’t do this and that’s where some Christians twist “God hates sin” into “God hates people” and that is NOT true! No matter what the issue, we should have open arms to welcome and help people just as Christ does for us. It’s like an article I once read where a former homosexual was criticizing the church for not being there for Ray Boltz (and others) when they “came out” (I couldn't find the article I read before, but I did find a good one here). If they had, they might have gotten the help and support they needed but instead, they felt unsafe about talking about their struggles because of the way some (like the Westboro Baptist Church) treat people. We have support groups for sex/drug/alcohol addicts, anger and overeating addictions, and everything else under the sun, but in this area we are failing profusely and mishandling it badly! This bothers me greatly because I have close friends that are gay as well as those that have overcome it, so I have great compassion on this issue. Everyone is God’s creation; precious in His sight. They are a treasure to Him and they are a treasure to me as well, and I know how I would feel if someone starting listing my sins and condemning me to Hell for them instead of embracing me with love and being there for me to help me overcome my struggles. I would rather have someone say, “Let’s go for a walk, burn some calories, and go get a salad when we’re done!” rather than, “You’re fat and you’re doomed! Sucks to be you! Looks like you’re going to Hell, you glutton!” One statement says, “I love you and am walking through this with you…how can we help each other?” and the other says, “You’re on your own loser!” Which approach do you think is more effective, loving, and accepting? You can love and accept a person without endorsing sin. Jesus modeled that all the time. We should do the same!

Even though the show doesn’t always get things right, it does give you food for thought (if you know how to sort through the mess and know the truth from lies). It also illustrates the struggle we all have with faith from time to time. That’s what sparked inside of me so much when I watched it, because I can relate to it so much right now. Sometimes, I feel like Sue and Kurt and feel that maybe God really isn’t there and that if He was, He’s not a good God because of all I’m going through. But then, I remember that God isn’t the one who wrongs me, it’s the free-will of others that wrongs me. God is always perfect and good and can do no evil. People do things that are wrong, but God is there to make it right; though “when” He makes things right isn’t always on MY timetable. However, He promises that He WILL make things right (Hebrews 10:30). He who is judge is the one that will deal with everything accordingly and it’s not my right (or my job) to take on His role and pick up those stones. I am hoping for the self-control and grace I need to leave stones on the ground, because just like anyone else, I do fail and pick them up sometimes. If I do, I should give them to Jesus and He will put it in His rock pile to deal with. 

The biggest point that “Glee” made is that everyone needs something to believe in; especially in the hard times because what hope do you have if you don’t? Sue thought that that “fantasy” was useless, but that comes from a character who’s faith is only in herself. Real faith isn't fantasy or "cheesy". True faith is powerful! And, whether an atheist will admit it or not, the fact of the matter is that even they believe in SOMETHING because we are all created and geared to worship something; whether that’s God or self or someone else. The object/person that a person puts faith in may be different, but we all believe in "something." However, the problem with the general “something to believe in” idea is that it’s very vague and very misleading if you aren’t trusting in something (rather, someone) unfailing. Obviously, people fail us and we even fail ourselves. There is nothing completely unfailing, reliable, and trustworthy except for Jesus Christ. As Chad once said, “He’s the only way because He’s the only one.” Who else died for you, made you an heir with Him, and is coming back for you? Who or what else promises grace rather than earning “heaven” on your own merits and legalism? Why choose Jesus? Because He chose YOU! Now THAT’S something to believe in; and we'll see just what faith can do as a result!

Grace and peace to all of you! God bless all of you for reminding me that there really is something to believe in every day because you all believe in me (rather, the one who is IN me - and I in Him). Thanks for building me up and reminding me who holds my future and that I’ll have the strength to make it through because of HIM (Philippians 4:13) and can‘t do it without Him (John 15:5)…nor could I do it without so many of you walking through this with me too! Praise God for all of you!