Feb 22, 2009

Do They Know I Am One Of Those?

While browsing the internet today, I came across a story on CNN about people who wear their faith on their sleeve. You can read it here for yourself.

It got me to thinking about my own life, and the lives of those around me.

There was a time when you could go the grocery store and pick out the Pentecostals or Apostolics. Not just because you saw them in church, but everyone knew who they were. We acted different, talked different, would walk away if someone started to tell a dirty joke. Our hair was different. People knew we didn't watch television or movies, and even though they thought we were wierd, they treated us with respect.

Even if we were not over the top witnessing, those around us knew what we believed, and had either visited themselves, or knew someone who did. They had heard the stories of how we did crazy stuff, shouted in church instead of sit there solomnly, and while it was scary it was a bit intriguing. We had them curious.

In church recently, I overheard a couple of pew-raised youth talking about the "awesome special effects" in the movie they just saw. When I go around town, I don't even always recognize those from my own church, because they don't look the same.

I have been told its the change in generation, but we have blended in with the crowd. We don't look different, except at church. I hope we still talk different, but I have my doubts. Our conversation should still be holy, but with television in most of our homes, video rentals (it doesn't appear so much like we are part of the world that way), how can everything that proceeds out of our mouth be something Jesus might say? It used to be popular to wear those WWJD bracelets, but now .. if it doesn't have some garish logo or something that looks grunge, our youth won't wear a shirt that says anything about Christ.

Our older generation for the most part seem complacent with things being as they are, because after all, 'we are praying about it.' Everybody prays, no one does anything.

I have a young friend who is a charismatic preachers daughter. You know the ones. They don't act like we do, they can't possibly have the same holy ghost, and well.. you know. Last fall, she was beaten and nearly raped by the son of preacher. She was missing for two days, and we worried she was dead somewhere. She walked home barefoot, with torn clothing, all battered and bruised, and no one stopped to help her. She walked more than 15 miles like that, and tried to rest on the street when she was too tired.

I talked to her and her sister the other day, and she has forgiven the guy who did it. Not only that, she became friends with him. My first reaction was how could you? Are you crazy? You know he has been abusive to you. But she told me, "that yes he grew up on a pew, but he doesn't know the Jesus I know. Maybe somehow, I can lead him to the truth."

Part of me thinks she is playing with fire, but part of me is ashamed of myself. I am not like that. When I hear what she went through, even I want to get a bat and send the guy straight to hell. But she has completely forgiven him. In her voice, you can hear she is christian. I wonder if my voice says the same thing?

But, I keep thinking to myself, do we still live the life we used to be laughed at for, or have we mutated into something that still looks the part, but only when its convenient. Do they still know we are different?

Just yesterday, someone who I had a lot of trust in, told me about things that have happened at National Youth Congress, and he was bragging about it. I am still in shock about it today. I honestly don't know if I would allow my daughter to go because of what he said to me.

The bible says "by their fruit, ye shall know them." On the CNN article, those men are abused, laughed at, criticized for their faith. Yes, they don't know God like we do, but can we still say the same about us? The bible also says we 'are a peculiar people.' Are we still?

Do they still know we are the ones to run to in a time of misery? Do they see Jesus in us? Are we still the shelter, the hospital, the cleansing station?

I haven't heard the songs that used to bellow out from our pews in years, about the blood, the cross, the sanctity of our worship. The other nite at the end of service, people were in the altar, and I felt the old standby song we used to sing, "Here I am Lord, Here I am." It used to be a call to worship and pour ourselves out before the Lord, but instead it was replaced with something with a beat, and no real submissive spirit to it. The worship lingered for a bit and was gone, and then off to the local eatery.

I feel sad tonight. When I look at the chaos the world, the financial ruin we are headed for, it truly feels like the end to me. We hear the stories of this one or that one takign their lives or the lives of their family, because they don't know how they are going to support them. Our government is taking over everything it seems, and those in real need are left without.
When it gets really bad, who will America's hurting turn to? Who are our children going to turn to? Will they even be able to tell there are some of us who still believe it like we used to? Will they be able to see the Christians who truly wear Jesus on their countenance?

I need to do better and let Jesus be on my sleeve.