Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Uncomplicated Gospel Part 1: Meeting Jesus, CAD, and being 14.

There are moments in your life that you know you'll remember forever.
Going to youth group for the first time would not normally top the charts of memories for most people, but it does for mine.
Almost ten years ago I went to youth group for the first time.
It was a Tuesday night, and I'm confident I met Jesus in the flesh that night.
Ok, I saw Jesus in the flesh that night. I saw Him in the faces and hearts of His people. I'd never seen Him before until then. I wouldn't meet Him formally for a few more months.

Of course, the details are fuzzy now.
I had been having a really hard time at school.
I was a freshman, and I had somehow wiggled my way into the popular crowd of kids. As much as I was glad to finally have "cool" friends, they weren't exactly the nicest gaggle of gals. I was hurting. Hurting from an eating disorder that was making me sick and weak. Hurting from broken relationships. Hurting from the things I was hiding from my friends and family. Hurting from rumors about me spreading left and right. Rumors so false and hurtful I didn't even want to show my face at school. Rumors that didn't make sense. High school is brutal. 14 is an age I'd never, ever want to go back to.

A friend of mine invited me to her youth group one night.
I had always been curious about church. My family chose the non-church going route, so I literally had zero idea who Jesus was. Zero.
In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't know anything about Jesus -- it allowed me to approach church going without any qualms.
I went with open eyes and ears, not knowing who I would meet or what I would see.
We walked in and I was clearly the new girl. Heads turned, but not in a creepy way. Turned in a "I'm interested in who you are" kind of way. I was asked to stand up and introduce myself. I explained where I went to school and what I did for fun. Ice skating at the local ice rink was on that list.

We sang songs I didn't know. But for some reason I liked them.
I don't remember the message that night -- heck, I barely remember the message from church 3 days ago.
While I don't remember a lot of visual details, I can tell you very clearly the emotional details.
You could see the care in their [the leaders] eyes.
You could hear the interest in their voice.
They were genuine.
They were kind.
They were loving.
And they had no reason to be loving. They had just met me!

I didn't want to leave CAD (Campus After Dark) that night. I liked these people.
Whatever and whoever they were, they were good.

And the next day they showed up at my ice skating practice.
Again, the details are fuzzy. But, I remember them walking into the arena and standing on the bench so they could see a little further over the ice.
I remember the shock.
I remember the tears that built up just on the surface of my eyes, not enough to fall down my cheeks so not to make a total fool of myself.
I remember thinking, "what the heck are they doing here?"

That was love. Love that didn't make sense. They loved me without knowing my story -- without knowing my mess.

Obviously, I was really excited to go back to CAD the next week. Each week was like opening the next chapter of a book I'd been waiting to read my whole life.

In our neighborhood group this week, we spoke about the difference between saying super religious or super Christian things in order to advance the gospel and being Jesus in our workplaces, homes, and out in public. We talked about which side we err on and which side, as a group, we wanted to do more of.

I argued that being Jesus makes more of an impact.
What do I mean by "being Jesus"?
Showing kindness when it's not expected or deserved.
Loving others in spite of their sin -- in spite of who they are on the inside -- in spite of everything.
Serving others even when it hurts.
Showing true interest and care for strangers and people we just met.
Staying humble. It's easy to get puffy when we hear the praises of man. Jesus had every reason to be proud, but He never acted in such a way.

What led me to meeting Jesus, other than God pulling me in, was His people. His people that were Jesus to me. They were Jesus to me so I could more clearly recognize the perfect and resurrected Savior.

In this new season of my life, I don't have a whole lot of face to face contact with people, other than strangers and passers by at the coffee shop or grocery store. I've been sharing my heart in the blog over the past few months, more like pouring it out -- and I want to continue sharing in hopes that you might hear something about Jesus that you haven't heard before.

People approach Christianity with doubt, questions, qualms, preconceieved notions, pain, guilt, and lofty (or low) expectations. They approach it like any other "religion".

Hear me, it's not.

Jesus is not a religion.
The Gospel, or the teaching of Christ, is not complicated.

For centuries people, churches and Chrisitan movements have complicated the message of the Gospel.
Today's "Christianity" is littered with anti-gay sentiment, hate, intolerance, and straight up craziness. People are so turned off by what they see on the news and read on the internet, and they should be. "Christians" in many places have turned the Gospel into a self-serving, holier-than-thou, judgy mess.

My hope is that I can shed some light on what Jesus is really all about.
He's about love.
He's about rescue.
He's about peace.
He's the bridge between us and God -- a bridge we could have never built on our own.

This post has unintentionally become a peice of my testimony. Stay tuned for part 2.

1 comment:

  1. I remember the day Dave and others went to visit you at the ice rink. He asked if they would seem creepy and I said probably. I'm glad he was a creep. Your testimony is one of the most powerful and real I'd ever encountered in youth ministry. Love you, friend.