helpful, nice & heretical

I had an overwhelming sense of patriotism as I walked into church today. 
Well, not exactly patriotism, but just a distinct, unapologetic pride when I heard the name: Jesus.

It was such a feeling of re-centering after what felt like a week of almost missing it–trying to be understood and to understand, to share and to encourage, to be present and to empathize with others, sans one teeny, tiny detail. I’m at a place where I so desperately want to give what I have, whether it’s time or kindness or bits of truth and I’m trying to, but it’s all felt funny and forced and fabricated somehow. I didn’t understand why until I heard the name as I walked into the doors of the Baron Collier auditorium where Summit Church meets. 

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There was such a swell of love in my chest as I made my way in and a sense of relief washed over me. No matter how many times I try to do this whole “lifestyle gospel”, being a living example of the love of Christ (which I’m all about, and I believe Jesus himself is all about), I do others and myself a major disservice when I try to minister and miss the name, and the purpose attached to it. 

There was an “a-ha” moment I had in my head as I was on the phone with one of my best friends last night. I heard myself say something along of the lines of “I’m just trying to give helpful advice wherever I can” in the same breath as talking about how we all can be witnesses to Jesus wherever we are. And I caught that. It was unsettling. Why was it so unsettling? Where had I heard that before?

I love hearing the Holy Spirit talk to me and as I stood to join in worship, I heard His still, small voice with all the familiarity and certainty that He’s been revealing to me over the past few years.

Everything you are and everything you stand for is inexplainable and has no value when you take me out of it, Stephanie. You want to show hurting women how valuable they are and how to respect themselves, but you can’t make them see how without them knowing that I see them as valuable first. You want to hold and feed and love all the babies of the earth, but it doesn’t matter if you aren’t doing it to honor me and show me to them. You want more to life than just punching a time-card and you want to impact people, but why? Why do it all in the first place? You and I both know it’s not the whole “triumph of the human spirit” thing. 

You don’t make any sense without me.
What you have to say, what you believe, how you love…
All the elements are present without a catalyst, without ME. 
I am vital to you.

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Something else, which was so gentle that I knew it was Jesus, was this realization that maybe most of my frustrations with the Osteens this week was because I subconsciously see too much of myself in his ‘ministry’. I’m not a prosperity person really, but this whole thing about an extraordinary, above-average life and the wonders of a world and love and peace and beauty and truth–it’s too easy to talk about and too easy to sell instead of the one thing that makes all the pieces actually mean something: Jesus. In that, in my own way, isn’t it possible that I’m just as guilty as anyone? Isn’t it possible that the things that frustrate us the most are simply reflections of our own hearts?

And so, here I am, back where I always find myself and typing words I feel as though I have typed a dozen times over: it’s all about Jesus, guys. I must have the memory retention of a goldfish, but I’m thankful that Jesus himself is always willing to remind me what’s what and that he doesn’t leave me floundering in my humanity for too long. 

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
    but to your name goes all the glory
    for your unfailing love and faithfulness.

    – Psalm 115:1
 

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2 thoughts on “helpful, nice & heretical

  1. I prayed this morning, “Thank you God for my roommate, who constantly reminds me that it’s all about You and Your Cross. That it all always needs to come back to that.” Now I can add, “Thank you for Stephanie for doing the same.” My bible study leader talks about doing things in our strength versus doing things in His strength. When we are doing things just to do things, we can be doing good, helpful things but without His name and His strength it’s all worthless. If He’s not in it, it’s not worth doing. Thanks for that reminder! I’m totally with you on that goldfish-like memory. Sometimes when I read the Old Testament I get so frustrated with the Israelites. “What a bunch of dummies. Didn’t they just learn that idols don’t actually do anything? Don’t they remember what happened the last time they forgot God?” But God just laughs at me and reminds me of all the thousands of times I’ve made the same mistake, chosen the same thing over Him… we’re all the Israelites, which is why their story is so beautiful. As many times as they did something stupid, God redeemed.

  2. Good word, Steph.

    “I’m not a prosperity person really, but this whole thing about an extraordinary, above-average life and the wonders of a world and love and peace and beauty and truth–it’s too easy to talk about and too easy to sell instead of the one thing that makes all the pieces actually mean something: Jesus.”

    It’s easy to dismiss the prosperity gospel with the misconception that there is a wide gulf between our options, but I hadn’t I realized how I so naturally connect the friendship, opportunity, vocational fulfillment, beauty, truth that I’m blessed with every day as a connected to my relationship with Christ. No doubt all good things are from him, but my faith might look very different if I wasn’t so fortunate.

    Thanks for challenging my thought.

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