The Definition of an Enemy May Surprise You {It Certainly Surprised Me}

Jesus said to pray for our enemies. And I’d like to be obedient. But my problem is fairly straightforward: I don’t think I have any enemies.

I guess it all depends on how you define enemy.

Being the list-maker I am, I decided to make a list. Not of my enemies, per se, but of the people I don’t enjoy being around — the ones I avoid, who have hurt me in some way.

The list surprised me.

Every name came from one place: Church.

Really? I scanned the list again.

Not a neighbor.
Not a co-worker.
Not a parent from my kids’ schools.
Not a parent from my kids’ AYSO soccer teams.
Not a parent from my son’s Boy Scouts pack.

Nope. The people who have hurt me the most were from the one place that is supposed to be a safe haven. Church.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to do with this.

Discouragement seeped into my soul as the real enemy echoed: Why bother going to church at all? The people there are hurtful.

I stared at the list some more, feeling a bit befuddled, until I remembered why I made the list in the first place. To pray.

I did.

Then something changed. Verses came to mind, which gave me a new perspective.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world . . .”
~ Ephesians 6:12

The enemy is not sitting in a pew four rows over.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock
I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
~ Matthew 16:18

Wasn’t Peter the impulsive one? The one who often spoke before he thought? The one whose words seared deep into the heart of the Messiah?

Yet, those very words, of lies and betrayal, are why Christ died. And Jesus still picked Peter — broken Peter — to lead His church.

Plenty of people enjoy bashing the church for any number of reasons. I’m not one of them.

I believe the Church — the global community of believers — is God’s chosen vessel. But we’re a broken vessel. Which is precisely the point. On our own, we can’t effect positive change. Not in ourselves. Not in others. We need Christ. All of us. Which is why I continue to attend weekly church services. Not because it’s this awesome lovey-dovey community. No, we’re real people with real hurts. And we’re all at very different places in our own spiritual journey.

We need to extend grace to those in the church who may not be at a place, spiritually speaking, that we would like them to be at. We also need to remember where we once were ourselves. Maybe even still are.

Have you prayed for your church lately?

After making this prayer list, I purposed to make another one. A list of the people I’ve known in Church who have blessed me in amazing ways. That is what led to my Hidden Heroes Series.

Hidden Heroes {Silver Edition}
Hidden Heroes {Nursery Edition}
Hidden Heroes {Memory Edition}
Hidden Heroes {Youth Pastor Edition}

Advertisements

Community Is Why I Write

I must have been born with an invisible handicap when it comes to this elusive thing called community.

First, I was born into a family with two much-older brothers. I never had a sister or a sibling close in age. Growing up, I was used to playing alone.

Second, my inborn temperament is of a quieter nature. I like to listen, especially when I’m in a group. Too much talking makes me tired.

Obviously, I’m an introvert. I “recharge” by spending time alone. Reading. Writing. Whatever. Sustained quiet time is nourishment to my soul.

In my experience, I’ve learned what they say is true . . .

Introverts don’t feel lonely when they’re alone.
Introverts feel lonely when they’re with other people.

It’s weird being an introvert because, on the one hand, I’m rather content spending time alone. Just me and God. Or just me and my books. Or just me and my pen.

Between the Bible, other good books, and blank pages to write on, who could ever be bored or lonely?

On the other hand, God made us relational beings. We need connection.

I guess the answer lies in this simple truth . . .

I don’t need lots of connection, but I do need a few, deep, meaningful connections. I need friendship, like anybody else. I need community.

For some, though, friendships seem to come easily. My daughter is the quintessential extrovert. Simone is 17 years old, and she has about a thousand friends; whereas, I’ve been alive almost four decades, and I barely know 300 people. (I know this because I’m “Facebook friends” with just about everyone I’ve ever known.)

My sweet daughter can talk non-stop for hours too. (Sometimes I wonder how she sneaks in breaths between her words. It must be a talent.)

Simone teaches me every day how God made us all unique, or in my case, uniquely challenged.

But even though I’m community-challenged, I will continue to reach out. It’s why I write. Sometimes I find it easier to share my heart through written words than spoken ones. It’s through words that we connect hearts and build futures, in community.

And I think now would be the perfect time to say, “thank you,” to all of you. Your kind words always brighten my day. Your encouragement helps draw me out of my shell, a little more each week.

Blessings to you, dear friends. What a joy it is to journey along this road of words together.

How do you recharge when you’re feeling tired? With friends? Or with quiet time?

Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes to write about “community.”


Writing this post: 5 minutes
Uploading photo and links: 8 minutes
Spending Fridays with you: Priceless

Life Together

Life together.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book by the same name.

His book is about community. Yes, brilliant minds have been discussing the necessity of genuine community for longer than most of us have been alive. It’s not a new concept.

But it’s quite the buzzword these days.

Community.

I can recall two distinct periods of time in my life when I felt like I belonged — really belonged — to a community. Not surprisingly, these times coincide with my happiest memories.

Friends. A group of us. Together.
With each other. For each other.

I can count other times, however, when I felt left out of the community I observed around me. Not surprisingly, these times coincide with my unhappiest memories.

Community holds power. Both for good and for evil. We can inflict great pain on others when we deny them access to the community we cherish. We can also extend great joy to others when we invite them to participate in the community we love.

We don’t need to be told that we should be in community. We already know that we were designed for community.

We know the void we feel.
We know the longing that scrapes at our souls.

After all, God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). Us. Our. The holy Trinity, a three-in-one community, together but distinct.

What we need is not another list of the benefits found in community.
What we need is not another testimony of how other people found community.

What we need is an invitation.

To tea. To lunch. To anything.

Of course, I am here. On this side of the screen. And you are there.

Perhaps we could meet at a conference.
Perhaps we could meet at (in)RL.

Or, perhaps there is someone there, in your part of the woods, you could invite to coffee. This sounds scary. I know. (I confess I’m the introvert of introverts.)

But, friends, let’s do it. Let’s be bold. Even a little crazy. Let’s call someone we’d like to get to know better. Maybe that person is just waiting for someone like you to reach out.

Is there someone on your heart? Someone you could reach out to?
Have you ever read Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

*Earlier this week, I read another post on community. It’s a beautiful composition by a beautiful blogger, Alia Joy. Take a moment and read her thoughts on community. You’ll be blessed.

Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes to write about “together.”

Looking up verse: 2 minutes
Writing this post: 5 minutes
Uploading photo and links: 14 minutes
Spending Fridays with you: Priceless