Part Four of "My Calling" Series...
I was sitting in Mr. Owen's math class when a girl walks in to the classroom. She was a new student and everyone stared at her wondering what her story was. She sat down next to me as she explained where she came from. She evacuated from New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I looked at her and shouted, "I remember you!" Our church adopted families after the hurricane (two years before) and my family bought supplies for her family. Since that moment in math class, we became instant friends.
Eighth grade brought me a lot of challenges. I dealt with gaining friends as well as losing some. I learned lessons the hard way and discovered what depression really meant. I was still really involved in church, but with Laura gone at college I felt alone. I wanted so much to have a girl friend that understood my brain and the way that I thought about things.
I had been going to a lot of different youth retreats and camps over the past two years and I started to notice a pattern. Worship leaders and preachers would always talk about bringing all your problems to God. Now, I knew that I had a lot of things that were going wrong in my life, but I was content. I started to feel like the odd one out at these events so I would think really hard about the events of my life and pick out my "bad hair days."
My conversations with God started to sound ungrateful and selfish. Instead of thanking God for the good things in my life, I prayed for the bad things to either go away or shape me into a decent person. I began to hate who I was. I let people shape me into a person that I didn't want to be all so I could "fit in" at these church camps. I didn't know how to act or behave because I was allowing myself to be who God wanted me to be.
My question is this: Do we as ministers of God, focus more on people bringing their junk to church and unloading? I look at the great commission as Jesus tells us to go out in the world and make disciples. Do we make disciples by guilting people into thinking their life is full of crap? It's easier to convince a person that their life is so messed up that they need Jesus to save them instead of assuring them that the wonderful things that do happen in their life happen because of God's grace and Jesus' sacrifice. What part of our relationship with God is more important?
When I thought that God was only there to help me with my problems instead of also being there in my joys and triumphs, I treated God like vending machine. I put in what I had to in order to get a high from worship. Enough to make me feel good about myself.
Our job as ministers of Christ is not to "condemn, convict or convert" but instead it is our job to create space for God to do those things. How can we create that space?