The AAA Club

This week it has been clear to me that there is a club that Christians need to resign from as members if we ever hope to be what God has called us to be.  It’s the AAA club. The AAA club represents to me seems to be the three greatest challenges that keep us from loving God and loving others as God has called us to.

Too often we believers are Angry, Anxious, and Afraid – it seems that the spirit of these three emotions saps the Spirit right out of our lives.  Scripture tells us that "…the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:20, NASB).  Yet, somehow, all around us, there are angry people, sadly, too many of them followers of Jesus.  We get angry over the smallest things..steaks that aren’t cooked right, traffic that doesn’t move fast enough, gas prices that soar too high, people that won’t listen or cooperate with us.  We blame others for making us angry, when in reality, the anger that is revealed has been in our hearts all along, it was just revealed by the circumstances we encountered.  Jesus said "…for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34, NIV).

The same principle is true with anxiety.  Paul tells us to "be anxious for nothing…" (Phil. 4:6, NASB), yet we fret over the smallest things, and treat God as if He can’t take care of anything that we encounter.  The circumstances don’t cause the anxiety, they simply reveal the anxious heart that is there.

Jesus said  "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27, NIV).  Again, Jesus identifies the issue as having its’ roots in the heart.  It seems apparent that our hearts are being held hostage by anger, anxiety, and being afraid.

If we are angry, anxious, and afraid, what is there left in us that is attractive to a lost, hurting, dying world that desperately needs Jesus?  The world already have a full supply of anger, anxiety and fear.  What they need the peace, love and joy only Jesus can offer, and if they don’t see Jesus making a difference in us, we’ll never get the chance to share Him with others.

It’s time for us to turn in our AAA cards and enter into the rest, the peace, the joy that our Lord has in store.  Life is too short to waste the precious time we have.

Caring Enough to Look

I was watching a new show on the USA network last night, "In Plain Sight".  It’s a show whose main character is a US Marshall that works with people that end up in the Witness Protection Program.  The show was ok, but the main character shared a quote that caught my attention.  I’m not sure if the quote was from someone famous, or just written into to the show for her character, but here it is:

"We all live in hiding.  In one way or another each of us conceals pieces of ourselves from the rest of the world.  Some people hide because their lives depend on it.  Others because they don’t like being seen.  And then there are other special cases…the ones who hide because, because, because…they just want somebody to care enough to look for them"

At how many levels and in how many ways is that statement true in the Christian life?  Hiding is one of the first things that Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.  "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"  (Genesis 3:8-9, NIV).  Man’s instinct was to hide, God’s was to go look for them.

So many of the people Jesus encountered were "in hiding".  The woman at the well was hiding by coming to draw water at noon rather than sunset because of the embarrassment of her life.  The woman in Luke 8 that touched the border of Jesus’ garment to be healed from her 12 year flow of blood, cam trembling and falling down before Jesus because she "…saw that she was not hidden…" (Luke 8:40, NKJV).  I even get the sense that Zaccheus in Luke 19 was in hiding.  His status as being rich and a tax collector left him with few friends, and left the crowd complaining that Jesus had "…gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner". (Luke 19:7, NKJV).  I don’t think it is any coincidence that Jesus said at the end of this encounter that "…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10, NKJV, emphasis mine).

This is the reason that outreach, contact, visitation is so important within the life of any church.  We need fellowship, we need connection.  That is what people are looking for.  People just want someone to care enough to look for them.  Churches die and shrivel up when we stop calling members and guests if we try a couple times and they don’t respond.  People hide for a reason.  They are embarrassed because of their sin.  They are hurt and are waiting for someone to find them so they can talk about it.  They are scared they will be rejected by someone when they try to reach out and connect.  Churches can be so unforgiving sometimes.  In many of them, if someone doesn’t dress the right way, or say the right thing, or act the right way,  they will be shunned, ridiculed, made fun of, talked about behind their backs when they are still in the building.  Or we’ll at least make our disdain silently obvious.  A set of rolling eyeballs or a snarly face or a certain tone of voice speaks volumes.

Consider the lyrics of the song "If We Are the Body" by Casting Crowns;

It’s crowded in worship today
As she slips in
Trying to fade into the faces
The girls’ teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know

CHORUS
But if we are the Body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat
And quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances tells him that his chances
Are better out on the road

CHORUS
But if we are the Body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ

Chorus (2x)
If we are the body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus is the way

We need to ask, "Do we care enough to look?"  How much time does it really take to make a phone call, or write a card, or send an email, to make a visit?  Imagine how much good we could do in an hour that we’ve wasted doing something that will make no eternal difference.