Have you ever been just completely overwhelmed with how many things in this world you want to change? That’s how I feel, so I don’t even know if anything I say here is going to be relevant to us, or worthwhile for you to hear, because I don’t know if any of us can do much about it. I don’t know if we can change our situation. We’re chained to so many things – our families, school, our personal sins… So many things. So if you plan to read this, be prepared to feel as hopeless and frustrated as I do.
I’m not here to watch out for people’s toes. I’m here because I am frustrated. There are … things… that God has been placing on my heart. (Really. Not a figure of speech.) I’ve learned in the past that if I go on without saying anything, eventually I’ll figuratively implode in an avalanche of bitterness and frustratoin and it will not be pretty. I think that’s what happens when I don’t do my God-given job and say something. (Or something. Trying not to sound like I completely know what I’m doing here.)
We live on Party Campus Number Five in the nation. (Thought it was number three. Looked it up. I was wrong. Yay for improving, Bobcats! And congrats, Penn State.) Hard-core partiers live all around us. They barf in our hallways and have sex in our showers and leave condoms on our sidewalks. You get the picture; it’s not pretty.
My point: Walking in the Spirit does not mean living in a bubble.
Way too many times I’ll hear one of my Christians friends, some of the godliest people I know, make comments about how much they hate the weekend festivities and the people who participate in them. Or make fun of the half-dressed women stumbling around in their stilettos. Some of my friends even seem to take it as a personal offense that these people are part of their lives when they never asked them to be.
And I’ll sit there and listen to my friends, who I admire and pray for, say offhand things against these sinners (ie. “Go away” or “I don’t want to see that”), and I think, “What good does that do?”
These things that we deal with and see are the reality of the world we live in, and should cause us to see how much they need Christ. And ask for the strength and capacity to love them.
Our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but against the dark and evil forces of this world that we live in. That’s what Jesus said. (Ephesians 6:12)
And every time he looked out on the crowd and saw these hopeless people, he had compassion on them.
Love begins with compassion and the idea that every person has the same face value as everybody else. And we are commanded to love people, just like we are called to share our faith and make disciples. To love people, with no strings attached.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments… are summed up in this one rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. -Romans 13:18-10
We talk and talk and talk about our faith. At Bible study, Action Group, 180, and even with each other. It’s wonderful. But are we doing anything? I’m not saying you aren’t. Really. I just know that I need to ask myself that question a lot.
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. -1John 3:18
Personal disclaimer: I’ve been hanging around you guys a lot more than I’ve been reaching out to my non-Christian friends lately, and I definitely feel like that’s part of the reason why God is placing this stuff on my heart. I know where I fall short, and I don’t want you to think that I’m being hypocritical.
I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. – Psalm 51:3
It’s actually going against my better judgment to even post this and hope that you read it. But it’s going with my heart, and I think that I wouldn’t be being a good friend otherwise.
Another thing that I constantly have on my mind is unity, and the things that negate unity, like gossip, tension, dissension, jealousy, bitterness…
I’m not sure how to express this, because I’ve known most of you for only a short time, but I’ve often felt tension in our group. I think that sometimes we don’t feel the freedom to express things because we’re afraid that it will be taken the wrong way or that someone will get offended.
Be careful what you say, but also be careful of what you don’t say.
I’ve been thinking about the passage in Matthew 18 that says if you feel like there’s a problem between you and one of your brothers and sisters, you should talk to them. Especially if you feel like they have done something wrong or haven’t had the right attitude.
This is the openness I feel like we have been lacking. It’s strenuous because I have no idea where the balance lies between confronting someone in faith and jumping down their throat. Or accusing them of something… Which is why it’s taking me a lot of courage to write this.
And, to be honest and plain and simple, I think that this results from lots and lots of gossip. We replace actually going to our brother or sister and talking to them about sticky things with talking about it to others behind their backs.
I have just been praying for unity and peace within my groups of friends for a long time, yet dissension has been a pervasive thing. Call it corny, but I do think of us as a sort of family, and I love you all a lot. I pray that we will be encouraging, loving, and bold, inside our group as well as with the world. We are supposed to be building each other up, and often that means encouraging each other, and sometimes that means confronting one another. Making sure things are right between you and your friends. But mostly it means putting aside our pettiness, and praying that every bit of unrighteous anger or jealously or bitterness about one of our brothers or sisters be taken away so that we can live and work together in love.
We are called the stars of the universe, the salt of the earth, and the church on a hill. I just want you all to know that the weight of that leaves us with a huge responsibility to each other and to others, which is a reality that I too often ignore.
If you have any encouragement from being united in Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. -Philippians 2:1-3