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To The Youths

From a Youth

                                 GET REAL

                                    by

                                Edrin Moore



     It's been a while now, but I was at my favorite hole-in-
the-wall coffee shop with a longtime friend when 1 overheard a
young woman from a local Christian university talking loudly on
her cell phone. After the initial greeting, I heard her say, "I
know this may sound strange and I don't usually do this but...."
At that point I thought she was asking a guy out on a date. But
she continued: "Can I disciple you?" I stopped for a few seconds
to process what I'd heard and I nearly guffawed. Did she really
just ask someone if she could "disciple" them? How unnatural I
thought. How ... the only word I could think of was fake. It even
sounded a bit self-righteous. Since when is Christianity a formal
business? I don't think Christ meant for us to go around asking
people to "disciple" them when He said, "Go and make disciples of
all nations..." (Matthew 28:19, NIV). Did He?
     Overhearing this conversation between the young woman and
her friend led me on several paths in my mind until I finally
came to the question: What is real Christianity about? Is that
young woman the picture of Christianity? Is the picture in our
minds of a hard-core, God-fearing Christian; that of a bubbly,
all smiles, gushing woman? Why? Christ was not all sunshine and
singing birds. His life was not easy nor was it pleasant all the
time. As He grew into an adult His cares only increased. Christ
was lonely. Christ was scared. He bled, cried, and suffered not
only as we do, but beyond what we ever will.

     So why, in our mind's eye, is the image of Christianity a
picture of a carefree life and a bubbly zeal? And why does it
seem so fake? Maybe we should start with where it all started, in
the Garden.
     When God first created us, we had nothing to hide. Adam and
Eve ran naked and free. They walked and talked with God Himself.
They were real. They were genuine. If they did know how to hide,
they sure didn't feel like they needed to (Genesis 2:25). But as
the old story goes, Eve chose not to trust her God. She decided
He was holding back and the snake had something better to offer
her. Adam was there with her (Genesis 3:6) and he did nothing. He
remained passive as so many men do these days. So they both ate
the fruit and committed the first sin. And then what did they do?
They hid from God. Why? They were afraid. And that is exactly
what we do today in so many ways.
     It can be scary to go to God and be honest. We fear He won't
come through just like so many people in our lives didn't and
don't. We are afraid to trust, to believe, that though we are in,
pain, discontent, lost, lonely, or whatever we may be, that He
will sustain us. All too often we hide behind routines,
self-discipline, self-righteousness, anger and denial. We either
move with the crowd in what I call the "Shine Pretty" movement
(the idea that we must appear perfect in order to witness to
others) or try to survive on our own.

     But in just surviving we're really dying inside because
Christianity isn't about the doing of things. You can read a
verse and never feel it in your heart or truly understand it in
your soul. And you can sing a song or say a prayer the same way.
You can listen to sermons, go to camps, "disciple" your friends
and never 'get it'. Christianity is about relationship;
relationship first and foremost with your God and that
relationship is interwoven throughout the rest of the
relationships in your life. Forced "discipleship" is not
relationship no more than chit-chat is deep, heart-talk.
     Consider Deuteronomy 6:5. Does this sound like the
relationship you have with the Lover of your soul?
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV, emphasis
added).
     Doesn't that sound passionate? All your heart. All your
soul. All your strength. God wants us to make Him the love of our
lives, not the fear behind why we are at church at least 10
minutes early every Sabbath, not a vending machine we go to, to
get our prayers answered. He wants a relationship. Read that over
again. Not blind obedience but relationship. He wants your whole
heart. Consider the first commandment. "You shall have no other
gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3, NIV). God says, "I've got to be IT.
Period." And He loves as passionately.
"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will
sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain
you and I will rescue you. To whom will you compare Me or count
Me equal? To whom will you liken Me that we may becompared"
(Isaiah 46:4-5, NIV).
     He's telling us, "I promise I'll come through.    I promise
I'm going to be there."

     When you're real with your God, it's easier to be real with
your brothers and sisters. Don't read that to say "it's easy," I
said it's easier. That doesn't mean it doesn't take a lot of
courage and a lot of work, not to mention a lot of faith.
     However, there is a driving force God has created in us that
nags at us when we're being fake.
     It's that need to be known. God knew we'd need some
motivation for all the work it is to be in relationships.
Unfortunately, Satan knows where we're weak and attacks us there.
     Some people wear masks (physical, emotional and/or
spiritual). Some people hide in seclusion. Some people become
drama queens in their quest for attention. And then some people
"put on Christ" like a big yellow smiley face. Sadly, we've
learned to quiet that nagging feeling, ignore it and move on.
This isn't just the world I'm talking about. This is us,
Christians. We strive to look good enough, perform well enough
and do everything to perfection to the point of selling our own
bodies, hearts and souls and we are exhausted. We are on every
committee. We are wearing the most expensive pair of everything.
We're baking three casseroles for potluck. Our skin is golden
brown. We smile when we feel like crying sometimes. We are
stressed. We are tired. We are empty shells with nothing left
inside.
     Or we may hide and we may be friendless. We are lonely,
aching and lost. We are passive. We are hiding in hidden places.
We are stuck in a rut. We are unmotivated, lethargic and
passionless. We make others feel good when we are really in need
of support. We feel worthless. We feel alone.
     We drama queens are selfish. We are engulfed in our feelings
and lost in our own worlds. We feel uprooted, ignored and
insecure. We put on a show because we're not enough.
     We Jesus Freaks are disciplined (and discipleing). We read a
chapter of the Word every day. We tithe exactly 10% and sometimes
more than we can afford. We go on all the mission trips and
attend all the seminars. We are in a way, friendly. We are in a
way, kind. But we are really just measured and precise. We are
striving for perfection. We are zealous to be "doing" something
for God that we can see and touch and title. It is not our
actions that are lacking, it is our heart. It is left unengaged.
Our relationship with God is through what we do, instead of our
relationship with God being the reason why we do what we do.

     No matter what group we fall into, the thing we all have in
common is our hearts are often unknown. More Christian women than
you're aware of struggle with depression. More Christian women
than you think cut themselves. More Christian women think about
suicide. More Christian women struggle with lust. And Satan has
them trapped there and the world and Christians tell them to
hide. Most of us, at some time, whether our struggle is pride,
self-righteousness, lust or depression, learned to wear a mask.

     Unfortunately, there are not many people that encourage us
to be real. In fact, many have made Christianity about "looking
good" in order to disciple (the "Shine Pretty" movement as I
mentioned earlier). But that's not how you embrace a soul or open
your heart. An aching heart is not healed simply by the presence
of a smiling face. Good news does do the heart good (Proverbs
15:30) but listen to Romans 12:15:

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn."

     When we suffer together and when we rejoice together, we are
comforted. When we share, we relate, we bond, we 'get real.' For
too long we have hidden our struggles for fear of rejection.

     Satan has convinced us that to be Christian is to have no
struggles. And too many of us have believed that lie and passed
it on to others. May God forgive us for our self-righteousness in
making others feel like they are a class separate from us because
they struggle in more obvious ways than we do. Maybe you don't
have scars on your arms or a prescription for a chemical
imbalance. Maybe you don't have any obvious pain or sorrow in
your heart. But to be Christian is to struggle. If we aren't
fighting the flesh, something is wrong.

"...far all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
(Romans 3:23, NIV).

     Ask yourself this: Who would Satan attack the most? Those
who are desperately trying to follow God or those operating their
lives on cruise control? Truly, there is a constant war waging
around us. A battle for our souls. And Satan will drag us down,
he will teach us how to "swim in de-nial" and even give us
paddles for our canoes. But God calls us and reaches out His
hand.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans
12:21, NIV).

     We must fight and stand up. We must dig deep into our souls
and get real with our God and His children.
     Paul speaks to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 6:3-13 of
this that we must strive for:

"We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry
will not be discredited."

     Let us not be guilty of forcing our sisters into hiding and
proving ourselves hypocrites.

"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in
great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in
beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights
and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in
the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and the
power of God."

May our words be filled with truth and our hearts with sincere
love.

"....with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the
left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report;
genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as
unknown..."

     Our honesty and transparency will not always be commended.

"...dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed,
sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor; yet making many rich;
having nothing, and set possessing everything."

Read carefully the last few verses:

"We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our
hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but
you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange - I speak
as to my children - open wide your hearts also" (NIV emphasis
added).

I speak as to my children - OPEN WIDE YOUR HEARTS ALSO  2
Corinthians 6:13


                               ............


Erin Moors, has published articles for Bonn To Win. Faith
Networks; as well as written youth lessons for Christian
Educational Ministries. She currently writes periodically for two
ezines.

www.alive-born.org   AND  www.womeninchrist.org


 
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