The Body of Christ in Action

This isn’t a typical blog post for me. I try to write about love and grace and mercy because those are the precious aspects of faith I cling to, the things that bring me joy. But I woke up this morning feeling I needed to re-post an old piece after hearing about a wound on the heart of an amazing young man.

The wound he carries is for his mom. His beautiful mom, who at the age of 16 chose life for her son, and then felt the sting of rejection from the Christians who should have been showing her the grace each and every one of us so desperately needs and that has been shown to us by Christ.

The horror of stoning a sinner is no longer acceptable, but are we crushing spirits instead when we hurl looks of judgement and accusation?  I know too many single parents who have felt abandoned by God because they were judged by people who wear his name. It can’t continue, we can and must grow to be more like Jesus.

There has only been one time I have considered leaving the church and that is when I went through my divorce and became a single mom. It was the only experience I have had when I felt “the world” was more understanding and compassionate about what I was going through than “the church.” Divorce is a very public failure and in the church, along with that sense of failure, there is also a layer of shame. Sometimes the shame is self-imposed but there has been more than one occasion when I have felt it from a brother or sister in Christ. So what can the church do for the divorced or the never-married single mom?

  1. Love our children. Talk to them, engage in their lives. Do this especially with our sons because one thing a single mom can’t do is teach a boy to be a godly man.
  2. Never preach or teach that children of single parent homes are at a terrible disadvantage without also reminding listeners that God has promised to be a Father to the fatherless. Children need hope that the God they are learning about really can work ALL things for good. Not to mention the pain this kind of talk rubs into an already wounded mother’s heart.
  3. Please don’t judge the never married single mom. You can’t stand against abortion and look down on the single mother simultaneously.
  4. Pray for the single mom because fear is her constant companion. Fear for her children, fear of not being a good enough parent, and fear of financial disaster. Most of all fear of being alone. Carry us to the throne of God, to the only One capable of banishing all fear.

And what can the church expect from single moms?

  1. You can expect us to honor your marriages and celebrate with you the gift God has given in them. We will be glad that there are marriage retreats and special Sunday school sessions. We will be grateful that you are showing our children that marriages can last.
  2. You can expect us to use the gifts God has given us to serve the body of Christ. Everyone is busy and being a single parent doesn’t exempt us from service.
  3. You can expect us to pray for you. We will realize you have the same fears we do about your children, your parenting and your finances.

There you have it. I apologize if this post has caused any offense. My prayer is that it sheds some light on how we- as the living, breathing, moving Body of Christ- can better love and support each other.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

Cyndi Word

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Putting off the Old and Putting on the New

Summer has flown by. Is it even possible that my kids will be jumping on a school bus in a matter of days? Where oh where has summer gone?

This time of year at our house we begin to get ready for another school year. We are busy cleaning out closets. The kids are trying on last season’s clothes and preparing to buy new ones. We are getting rid of the old stuff and getting new stuff for a new school year.

With two teens, it’s not easy to get started. Actually, it’s quite overwhelming. I’ve avoided going too far into either of my kids’ closets as clothes are unorganized and scattered everywhere. I don’t even want to know what it’s really like in the deep dark crevices of their closets. It’s just plain messy!

Clearing out the mess takes thought – thought about what to keep and what to discard. This is especially true for my teen daughter as she puts a great deal of thought into what to wear –assembling outfits and accessories and deciding what goes best together. She has spent hours over the last few weeks getting rid of old clothes.

This cleaning out process reminds me of how we sometimes handle our spiritual lives. Sometimes we only clean out and examine our hearts once a year (maybe at Easter or Christmas). Sometimes we don’t want to know how truly messy it is, so we just avoid looking at it all together. We don’t look at the deep, dark crevices of our hearts because it’s way too hard to do and would require too much effort.

As Christ followers, God has called us to regularly examine our lives. Second Corinthians 13:5 says to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you…”

We must go through the process of getting rid of the old and putting on the new. As Christ followers, we must let go of old behaviors and begin to practice new ones. Scripture tells us to put away the old things. First Cor. 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

Our putting away of the old things and putting on the new ones does not come natural. It requires a great deal of thought and effort.  It’s hard to get started, and it is overwhelming and messy. Yet God is there and wants to help us grow up in our faith. He doesn’t want us to stay where we are; He has new things for us to become.

When we put on the new, it begins to become our new normal and we develop new patterns of behavior. The practice of putting on the new begins to transform us, and who we are in our core begins to change. The angry, bitter wife becomes full of joy and hope; the office gossip becomes one who is trustworthy; the addict becomes free from addiction; the worrier begins to let go and trust.

We should be regularly reflecting on the kind of person we are and the kind of person we want to be. It takes practice and intentionality. How do we reflect? We reflect on who we are and who God wants us to be through the lens of Scripture. We should let Scripture teach us about the kind of women we need to be.

Ephesians 4:24: “…put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Angela Sutsakhan

The One and Only Lawmaker

I remember a thought provoking question being asked a few years ago in a Bible study that I attended for which we could not find a clear “theological” position on the matter. The question was: “Is it a sin to drive above the posted speed limit?” It was an interesting debate. The general consensus was loosely bound in the fact that it was breaking a law, and to break a law is sin, but that never set well with many of us.

It wasn’t until about a week later, I awoke in the morning, and the first thought that popped in my head, seemingly out of nowhere was “God is the only Lawmaker, what men call “law” is really only regulations.” It was a moment of clarity that drove me first to my cup of coffee, then to the Bible where I read “There is only one lawgiver and judge…(James 4:12) For me, the matter was settled. If we do not follow the speed limit posted, we are not breaking “God’s Law”, but man’s legislation or regulation. Certainly consequences may follow, we may be fined, and it is for reasons of safety that these speed limits are posted so that while we are living in this world, we should, as much as it is in our power, to live peaceably rendering respect to the authority placed over us…but we are not necessarily breaking “God’s law” if we break man’s legislation. So why is this distinction important?

We have an enemy who bears the name “the accuser of the brethren” (Rev.12:10). If he manages to convince us that we are in a state of sin because we may have gone over the speed limit by a couple of miles per hour, then we will find ourselves confessing this “pseudo-sin” to God, as we approach Him in our prayers. The same can be said for most regulations and bills signed into legislation. So many of these regulations are passed to be “the law of the land” without having been read, it is as though the so called “lawmakers” know they are not really writing “laws”, and the joke is on us.

These are not really “Law”, though men call them “law”. If we thought we were in a state of sin every time we violated a regulation, how can we have confidence before a Holy God? The accuser burdens our hearts with our wretchedness and guilt, and we become regulated into slavery to the world system, barely able to lift our hearts in prayer. Our faith is suffocated, for when we become legalistic, we fall from grace (Gal.5:4) Satan knows this. We ought to remember this also.

This distinction is important because historically, the governments of this world generated increasingly restrictive regulations and legislation, sometimes contradictory, so that every aspect of our lives becomes hemmed in and while we try to live peaceably as much as it is in our power, this is always understood that our lives are under the authority of the only Lawgiver, Our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. So long as man’s regulations do not violate our allegiance to Him, we are free to cooperate. When we find ourselves at a cross-road, we must choose to whom we will be slaves, to men or God.

As this age is drawing to a close, we see an increasingly hostile sentiment to Holy Scripture, and it is likely that we will all be in a position, at one time or another, “to draw the line”…to be in that valley of decision where we are prompted to “choose this day whom you will serve…” (Josh.24:15) With man muddying semantics by calling regulations and legislation “law”, and dismissing the Laws of the one and Only Lawmaker, we must pray for discernment and conclude that we must obey God, rather than men (Acts 5:25) If we are unable to make that distinction, we are no longer free. If we are no longer free, we are enslaved. It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal.5:1)

Deborah Claypool