The God of Reconciliation

march-on-washington

Women of Faith.

Daughters of King Jesus.

God’s beloved.

Please listen to me:

We are all born sinful and broken by nature.

We have all done things that we regret.

We have all spoken words that couldn’t be taken back.

We have been hurt by other people, but we ourselves have also hurt the people we love.

We have been gossiped about, & we have gossiped about other people.

We have been abused, neglected, and violated in ways that are unspeakable.

We have been victims in a society that constantly tells us that we need to lose weight or go on a diet.

We are appalled at the injustice that we see around the nation, regardless of what you believe is appalling. We are angry, misunderstood, and hostile towards those who don’t agree with what we believe in.

No president, government, law, policy, protest, or Facebook rage is going to heal our land…

Only God can do that.

God has overcome every bit of sin, guilt, and shame that we may be harboring in our heart. He heals our hearts when we have been mistreated, neglected, and abused. He reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In Jesus, we are completely & 100% accepted, loved, adored, and cherished by the God of the universe.

He loves us, & he wants us to love him back. He send his son Jesus to pay the price for all of our past, present, & future sins on the cross. He lavishes grace and mercy on us every minute of every day. He knows what is best for us. He asks us to surrender our anxiety and control. He reconciled himself to us, allowing us to have an intimate, personal relationship with him. He restores relationships between people of every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Let me repeat myself: He alone has the power to heal our land.

It hurts my heart to see our nation the most divided it has been in my life time. There is so much sharing of opinions and very little listening that is being done. We are thoughtlessly shouting our opinion through social media & every day conversation. We want our voice to be heard (which isn’t a bad thing), but we also don’t want to dialogue with people who think differently than us. It’s easier to lash out with disagreement than it is to have a mature conversation.

God has laid it on my heart to address the women’s march tonight.

When I turned on the news last Saturday I was in awe of how many women chose to stand in the rain & march for something that they truly believed in. Thousands of women chose to demonstrate their concerns and fears within the U.S. government, & specifically, President Trump. All women marched for hopes of a better future.

There were people at the march who had good intentions and meant no harm.

There were people at the march who, for the first time in their lives, chose to stand up and use their voice to speak up for themselves.

There were people marching for their mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends.

There were people at the march who simply wanted to draw attention to themselves.

There were people at the march who were violent, disrespectful, & unkind.

There were people of all different races, nationalities, hair colors, heights, personalities, temperament, passions, dreams, hopes, and fears.

How do we make sense of this?

I think that the first step to move away from the division that causes so much harm to our friends, co-workers, mothers, daughters, neighbors, our country, & ultimately ourselves, is to stop speaking and to start listening.

I have many, many friends who strongly dislike Donald Trump.

I have many, many friends who acted like Jesus was coming back when Donald Trump won the election…awkward.

I would say that I range somewhere in the middle of all this. My beliefs and opinions tend to line up more with the republican platform than the democratic one, however, I couldn’t vote for Donald Trump without feeling a heavy weight for my actions. I didn’t feel comfortable supporting a man who I know has hurt and intimidated many of my sisters. I want a man who is after God’s heart to lead our country, & I am not so convinced that Donald Trump in in that place right now.

I do pray that God would place people around Donald Trump who are strong in their faith. I pray that God would radically change his heart, and that he would reveal to him how hurtful and offensive some of his actions are. I pray that God would give him discernment in leading our country in a way that is in line with his will, and that protects the American people…all American people.

I have had many healthy & beneficial conversations with friends that fall within both of these categories. Listening to the opinions of other people who have gone through different experiences than I have really develops in me heart of better understanding. An opinion that speaks with truth & love is much more received than one of arrogance or ignorance. It doesn’t have to be done in a way that harms our loved ones, sweet sisters. Not everyone who dislikes Donald Trump is a loud, rude, crazy, or disrespectful feminist. Most of the people that I know who don’t support Donald Trump are actually the exact opposite of that. Likewise, not everyone who supports Donald Trump is a cruel, heartless, ignorant racist. That too, is quite the opposite of reality.

I think the media does a really good job of fueling the fire and pouring on gasoline to areas where we are already hurt, confused, and frustrated. Sure, there are people from both sides who act in a very disrespectful and offensive manor…there’s no arguing that. We get in trouble when we see one thing that one person does on the news and we assume that all people of the same type act the same way. Some of the best conversations that I have had are the ones where I am able to listen, empathize, disagree, and still love another person who thinks differently than I do.

In the chaos of the election season, I have repeatedly asked God to give me a heart of understanding where I lack knowledge and discernment when I need it the most. I want to love other people & stand up for the truth of God in a way that breathes life. I have confessed often that my upbringing has sheltered me from a lot of terrible things that go on in our nation. I really am ignorant to a lot of what happens around me, but it isn’t intentional. I truly want to understand and respond to the needs of other people. I want to learn. I want to help. I want to be apart of the solution. I don’t want to be viewed as a privileged, self-righteous Christian who lacks compassion. We are all broken, we are all sinful, and we have all messed up more than once in our life. These next few messages are to those who have often felt neglected or rejected from the Church. Here is a glimpse of my heart for you today:

To the women who have had an abortion…

You are not unforgivable. Do not believe the lie that you have fallen too far from grace. I am sorry that other people may have made you feel that way. You have deep wounds and battle scars, but Jesus can take your heart and heal even the deepest of hurts. He just asks that you surrender the things in this life that are weighing you down, & to trust him. When you entrust your life to Jesus you cannot be condemned. You are forgiven. You are adopted into his family. You become his child. No one can bring a charge against you. You are important. Your opinion matters. You are worthy of love and belonging.

To the woman who are victims of abuse and neglect…

I hate that you have been taken advantage of. I am sorry that you were put in a situation where you genuinely has no voice or right to choose anything. I hate that people can be so evil and cruel. I understand why you would be angry or fearful of Donald Trump becoming our president. To many of you, the words he has spoken and the way he conducts himself reminds you all too well of a very dark past experience. It honestly brings me to tears. My heart empathizes with you, even with little to no understanding of the actual experiences that you have been through. God has not left you or forsaken you. Be confident that the trauma that you have experienced will not go unpunished, whether it be on this side of heaven or the next. God is a just God, and his wrath goes against those who harm his children. Sometimes time doesn’t heal wounds, but I am confident that Jesus can & does. You are important. Your opinion matters. You are worthy of love and belonging.

To the women who’s mother chose to keep her...

You were knitted together in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You weren’t born on accident or without purpose. I know that you were given a chance at life when many others weren’t. Cherish that gift and live a life that is worthy of your calling. Take heart in the fact that God is in control over every situation, & that his children are taken care of. You are important. Your opinion matters. You are worthy of love and belonging.

To the woman who decided to keep her baby…

God has entrusted you with a gift. No matter the circumstances, He will provide for you. You have no reason to fear, because God’s perfect love promises to cast out all fear. You have been chosen to bring a life into this world, despite the fact that the timing may not have been right, expected, or welcomed. He will provide the resources that you need and the people in your life to help you raise your child. He promises to grant you courage and peace that passes without understanding. Whether or not you are keeping your baby is irrelevant. You are choosing what is best for one of God’s children. If you are young, don’t you dare believe that you will always be a “slut”, or any other ignorant label that someone has given you. That isn’t who you are, & it never will be. You are brave. You are important. Your opinion matters. You are worthy of love and belonging. 

To the women who struggle with addiction…

There is a way out. You are more than your addiction, or your inability to break-free with your own strength. I know that your mind is sick. I know that your actions aren’t driven by your heart, & that they are driven by your addiction.You don’t have to live your whole life as a slave. Getting help isn’t a weakness. The power of God can break down strongholds and set captives free. He can set you free. His power is greater than your addiction. You are important. Your opinion matters. You are worthy of love and belonging.

To the women who have been ridiculed for their bodies… 

You are unique. You are beautiful. God created you just the way that you are right now. God doesn’t believe in an “ideal size”. He doesn’t rejoice in fat shaming, name-calling, or bullying. He empathizes with you when you are mocked, made fun of, or rejected because of how you look. He knows more than all us of that the diet industry is a billion dollar scam. He cares more about what you are feeding your heart and soul each day than how “healthy” your latest meal was. Salvation only comes through Jesus; not a diet, not beautiful hair & skin, stunning make-up, flattering clothing, or a fit body. Salvation comes through Jesus alone. In him you are loved, adored, whole, admired, accepted, and pursued. His word tells us that charm is deceptive and that beauty is fleeting. Your worth isn’t defined by what any other person has told you, or a lie that you have been telling yourself. This world is cruel but Jesus is sweet. Celebrate your differences, and ask God to teach you how to find your worth in him rather than the things of this world. You are important. Your opinion matters. You are worthy of love and belonging.

To the LGTB community…

I know that in the last few years you have had to walk through a lot of pain and isolation. You have been rejected, cast down, and discriminated against in more ways than one. You have been labeled as your sexual orientation & nothing else. There has been a lot of hate coming your way from your families, classmates, co-workers, and the church. I am sorry that you have experienced such hostile persecution. When you are vulnerable with other people I know they often shut you down. You aren’t greeted with mercy and understanding, but rather shame and condemnation. I confess that I often lack understanding and empathy because it is something that I personally have never been exposed to. I want to apologize on behalf of the Church in America for the way that we have mistreated you.

I am not going to pretend to believe in something that I don’t, just as I don’t expect you to pretend you believe in something that you don’t.  I don’t feel comfortable supporting same sex marriage. I am a Christian, and I have formed my beliefs based on the word of God. That being said… I have no stones to throw. I don’t know why some people are attracted to the same sex. I hate that some people feel born trapped in their bodies. I hate that you feel confused and rejected. I would feel the same way. I want to understand. I want to show compassion. I want to know some of the pain that you have walked through. I want to hear your story. I want to help you understand the gospel. I want you know know that before Christ I was broken, rebellious, and completely lost. I want you to know that I am imperfect and make mistakes every single day. I want you to understand the power of the cross & the good news of the gospel, that God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, so that whosoever shall believe in him will not perish, but have eternal life. I’m here to tell you that God loves you, fights for you, cares for you, and desires a relationship with you.

I don’t believe that hate, shame, and condemnation are ever an acceptable charge against anyone. I don’t believe that you have to 100% agree with someone to love them. I believe that during the ministry of Jesus that he interacted with & loved all people, giving them a chance to surrender their lives and follow him. You are important. Your opinion matters. You are worthy of love and belonging.

To the women who live in poverty…

I won’t ever fully understand what it’s like to not know where my next meal is coming from. I haven’t experienced the difficulty of living in a neighborhood that isn’t safe for my kids to play in. I haven’t been looked down upon because of my socioeconomic status. It never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to make it to college. Growing up, there was a lot that was given to me and a lot that I didn’t need to worry about.

It doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t understand why some people are born into families that are more financially stable than others. It frustrates me that poverty and food insecurity are issues in a country where there is so much wealth and food that could be distributed to other people. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right. I believe that everyone deserves a change to live their life without being held back. To the women who live in poverty, I am listening to you. I need help understanding what you go through and what your needs are. There is no judgement and no condemnation; I want to hear your story. You are important. Your opinion matters. You are worthy of love and belonging.

We are all imperfect. Every single one of us. As much as we hate to admit, all of our opinions and actions tend to be distorted by our own sinful flesh in one way or another. Our experiences have shaped us into who we are and what we believe, which is why there is such diversity in the country we live in. Some of our opinions and attitudes are spot on, while others are bias. Regardless of who we are or what our story looks like, I believe there is power in redirecting our passion from anger and ignorance to understanding, compassion, and reconciliation.

With my whole heart, I truly believe that who is in the White House has much smaller of an influence that my sovereign God. I have peace knowing that the President of the United States doesn’t have the final word. God knows all things, sees all things, and hears all things. He turns ashes into beauty. He restored brokenness. He redeems hopeless situations. He is in control. He pleads for us to stop arguing with each other. He desires for us to take our eyes off of our circumstances and fix our eyes on the promises that he will never break. He encourages us to listen to one another & build one another up in accordance to his word. He wants to mend our broken hearts and make us whole. He promises that heaven is a place of complete restoration, with no more sin, pain, or tears. We will be stronger when we start to listen more and assume less. God has the power to mend broken relationships and unite a divided group of people. He is the God of reconciliation.

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