How We Hurt Each Other As Christians

Bringing Each Other Down in the Church 2
Photo Cred: imgfave

 

You know, on most days I am hesitant to be known as a Christian. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because of my Saviour. God Himself is phenomenal. He is the one and only Person on this Earth you desperately need to have in your life. If it wasn’t for the fact that He desires for us to fellowship with others at Church and form part of that body so we grow and learn together and pass through tests together, I would have been fine chilling at home with just me and Him. The main reason I struggle with Christians (myself included), is how we treat others. More specifically, how we treat each other as fellow Christians.

 

It was Mahatma Ghandi who famously quoted,

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

 

He hit the nail on the head with that statement. We Christians truly misrepresent our God and His character. We chase people away. And I’m learning that it’s not necessarily in terms of how we treat people outside of the Christian faith, but more so how we treat each other within the body of Christ. At church. I am beginning to understand why Christ emphasised that we ought to love one another because “by this all will know that you are My disciples” (John 13:34-35). I think it’s mostly because you can tell how someone is going to treat you based on how they treat those dearest and nearest to them – their family members. And so, if a non-Christian sees a Christian being downright “unchristian” to a fellow Christian they conclude that how they will be treated will be even worse.

 

The thing is, as Christians we like to talk the talk but barely do we walk the walk. I remember there was a time (not too long ago) when the main reason I loved being at Church was so that I could show off my latest outfit and get compliments. It was also so that I could see my friends and all those people I really wanted to chat with. It wasn’t because I wanted to evangelize and find out how people were really doing most of the time. I mean, I was already serving in the church. What more did they want from me? Oh, and of course I was going out with the youth to homes for the less fortunate and to feed the homeless once a year in winter. And of course, I read my Bible and all the other spiritual books that came with it. So hey, let me enjoy getting mine while I’m at church. And allow me to talk about so-and-so to see how we can “help them out”. It’s so easy to slip into that way of thinking about why you’re at Church. Trust me I know.

 

That’s the thing with us Christians. God has recently been removing the scales from my eyes and showing me how much we are unloving towards each other (again, I’m preaching to myself first here). We stand up in church and deliver earth-shattering, tear-jerking, mind-blowing and eschatologically correct sermons or prayer garden messages or offertory readings. Or we post up deep quotes and messages on FB or Insta. We dress better than the royal family themselves on our church days and take strategically poised pictures to post on Instagram and Facebook later so the world can see what good church-going folks we are (and of course we get our egos stroked in the process).

 

We organize bi-annual trips to homes for the poor where we play with the children for a few hours and feel good about giving our time and resources. We organize program after program after program with powerful speakers for ourselves so we hear messages that have been preached to us millions of times before but still haven’t changed us – we just want to hear how this Pastor/Evangelist will twist the message in a way we haven’t heard before. We don’t go to worldly concerts but best believe we are there at the church concerts where we’re pretty much behaving like we’re at a Rihanna or Kanye gig – screaming our lungs off and dying over the cute guys or girls singing!

 

So, on paper we’re great. But then, we loooove to do sinful things undercover. We have sex with each other in the church outside of marriage (and sometimes in marriage) and we’re not exposed. We fight for guys as girls and even end up taking a guy our “friend” was interested in because well, “he didn’t like you anyway”. We may not drink but some of our get-togethers would shun the presence of the Holy Spirit. We gossip – that’s our favourite one. We dissect people and their lives and intentions for breakfast, lunch and supper. We can also be so fake towards each other. We give insincere hugs and greetings at church – sometimes because the person stopped us as we walked by. We greet those we like or believe are worth our time or are important enough, and ignore people we don’t know or who “aren’t good enough” for our standards. We defame each other’s characters and paint one another in such negative light. The list is endless but I think you get the picture.

 

Now, I’m not writing this because I want to point fingers or to make anyone feel bad. If you feel bad or angry or guilty, it’s a good sign. Take it to God and ask Him where you fit into this equation and how He can help you change. Sometimes we don’t know our behaviour is hurtful until it is said. Truth is, I’m speaking to myself here first. I’m guilty of most of this stuff and over the last few months God has been rebuking me on it. I’m writing this because we are meant to be each other’s keepers. We are meant to share the truths God reveals to us so we grow better together. It’s like keeping the cure for cancer to yourself. It’s not right, we need to share it. I need to share the revelation I have received in my own life.

 

I am writing this because we’re failing God guys. As His children and as His disciples. We’re hurting each other. We’re putting each other down at “home” in front of guests. We’re telling the world that it’s impossible to be different. That it’s impossible to be like Christ – to be genuine; long-suffering (patient); kind; loving; encouraging; and to have each other’s backs. I literally see a scene in the wilderness where a pack of lions is ripping each other to pieces. That is what we are doing in our conduct with one another. And believe me, non-believing visitors may not be there every Sabbath at church to witness what goes on, but on the days they are around the devil is sure to expose our nastiness to them. Just on that one day, we may do or say something that is so opposite to what we would have just preached or shared and it causes a non-believer to never want to seek Christ again.

 

Our lives are not our own (Psalm 100:3). We don’t get away with sounding like Christ’s children but acting like Satan is our real father. Let’s not pretend to be peacemakers while murdering someone with our thoughts or words later on. Christ rebukes us in John 8:37-47. He expressly says that if we were God’s children we would hear His words and do (not speak) His will. We would fulfill the 2nd greatest commandment He ever gave to us – to love one another. Instead, our actions sell us out and show that we truly belong to the devil. These are not words we like to hear. Trust me I didn’t enjoy having that highlighted to me. But though the truth hurts, it does set us free (John 8:32). And I love God so much because He does not show us our wrongdoings so He can leave us in our mess. He reveals to heal.

 

And so, as a young black African woman (bAw) who is also a Christian, my desire is to see us truly love one another and represent our Father correctly in the Church. To also see us take pride in the wonderful family God has established for us and that He died for. Time is running out and Jesus will soon return for us. Let us work hard to allow Him to change our hearts and our sinful behaviour so we can work with Him to bring more souls to His kingdom – his life-changing, life-giving and amazing kingdom! We can’t do it if we’re being fake with ourselves; with Him; and with others.

 

If you’re reading this and feeling angry with what I’ve said or feel I’m unfairly accusing you, please take it to God. If I am wrong He’ll direct you in the right path – that’s why we need a personal relationship with Him. If you’re feeling really terrible and as though you’re a bad person because you’ve done or are doing some of this, don’t allow the enemy to imprison you in condemnation. God still loves you and desires to change you. Give it to Him. Ask for forgiveness and let Him walk you to a repentant life. If you’ve recently woken up to the fact that your behaviour needs to change, I am so happy for you. You’re in good company. Let’s keep praying and allowing God to change us.

 

The truth is that none of us deserve the very lives we live. It is by His grace and love alone that we are even blessed with the lives we have and with the opportunity to know Him. We can never repay Him for this goodness but one of the ways we can show our gratitude is how we treat each other as His children.

 

Heaven will be beautiful because our relationships will be based on love. It won’t happen automatically. We must work on getting there on a daily basis. So why not start now? Why not start in your small church community. As we genuinely learn to love one another with the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit, we’ll attract more brothers and sisters into our family. I wish you all the best in that endeavour and I ask that you please pray for me too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Book Your Spot: A Time To Remember And Give

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Poster Design: Mpumi Simango

Hi ladies,

This is a gentle reminder to book your seat at our upcoming breakfast event! Limited spaces are available, so go ahead and secure your booking at http://qkt.io/1LBlw3 asap. Bookings close this Sunday, 30 April.

You can look forward to:

  • Getting to know your fellow sisters better;
  • Some soul-searching around our personal struggles of feeling left behind;
  • A personal testimony from a young woman who went through a humbling experience of struggling with getting her career going until she was 30-something, while her peers had elevated in their respective fields;
  • An opportunity to be encouraged and to encourage another sister in the journey of accepting where we are in our respective lives;
  • A delicious 2-course breakfast with tea/coffee;
  • And a chance to form a bond of sisterhood going forward as we seek to walk through our life’s struggles.

Can’t wait to connect with you all 🙂

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

Guest Post: The Joys Of Being A Single Woman In The Church Community by Larissa Subira

Singled Out Flower
Photo Cred: Kobaken

Oh the journey of being a single woman in the church community, where does one begin?  Let’s just say I’m an old hand at this game, and the journey of a single woman of ‘marriageable age’ – what that even means is a story for another day – in the church community is a challenging experience. It’s a world that has to be navigated with thick skin and a strong sense of humour.

Firstly, let me say that this is not a church-bashing exercise. It’s more of an opportunity to think of ways we can improve our church environments for all those who come for spiritual fellowship. Having said that, there a few assumptions the church makes about single people that make it hard to treat the church community as a safe space for fellowship.

Here are just a few:

  1. It is assumed that there is something lacking in your life. That you are incomplete without a partner. You may at one point have heard this: “Your standards are too high, you need to put yourself out there”; “You’re too outspoken, maybe you should be more lady-like”; and my favourite one, “You don’t act like you need someone in your life”. Statements like these can really leave you frustrated and hurt, leave you wondering if you aren’t more than your marital status. When an elder in the church is asking you how you are, do they ask about your spiritual life, whether you are content? What your dreams are for ministry? One doesn’t get a sense that there is concern for your spiritual life, rather than the ticking of boxes as one goes through certain stages in their life.  This is of concern as the focus on the external leaves a false sense of security that if this certain aspect of your life is ‘sorted’, you’re okay and yet that is generally not the case. Nothing is ever really as it seems which brings me to the next assumption.
  1. That contentment will be found once you’ve reached this point in your life. There’s such an urgent push for you to change your marital status and noting the growing divorce rate within the church, this perhaps may not be a healthy approach.  I believe the church does not emphasize enough the importance of being whole within yourself outside of a relationship. Who is this young person in Christ? Has God completed the work in this young person before they get married? Have they learnt the lessons they should have?  Does this sanctifying process necessarily have a clock? Does it naturally strike at 25 or 30 for all young women?
  1. So apart from being discontent, it is also paradoxically assumed that you’re this happy go-lucky person whose life is easy with very few responsibilities or challenges. This is probably one of the most hurtful assumptions. So many young people especially in their late 20s and early 30s are either financially or emotionally responsible for their siblings and parents. The majority of their expenses are spent on others. A young person may also be ‘parenting’ their younger siblings and yet when the church is having family life programs, no thought is given to young people that may need some parenting advice too. For example, how one deals with a younger sibling who has turned away from God; is failing at school or; with a parent who may have a chronic illness so they need to find resources for their healthcare and maintain a job to cover all these expenses. Most young people are dealing with the combination of such challenges.  This leads me to my final point.
  1. The assumption that guidance or counselling is not wanted is a fallacy. So many young people are dealing with questions about how to handle life on a day-to-day basis. As an elder, can you show me how to budget for ‘black tax’ and yet maintain my month-to-month expenses? How can I maintain my spiritual life the day I feel so burdened by life’s pressures? How does one deal with life’s frustrations, when you feel stuck, like life is not moving forward? How do I take care of those around me who need help and also continue contributing to ministry?

I could go on and on, the list is endless. My point is, marriage is a beautiful gift that God granted the world with, and in time those who are meant to have that gift will receive it. In the mean time, let’s treat young single people as individuals outside of this status. Can they be seen as adults who also have responsibilities and would probably benefit more from your advice in other aspects of their lives. It’s interesting, the church community exists within society and with that comes common expectations of young people of a certain age.  However, the world doesn’t care about my soul and my salvation, shouldn’t the church? Just a thought…

 

Larissa

Larissa is a beautiful Rwandan girl by way of DRC, Swaziland and now South Africa with an ever curious mind about God and the world around her. A driven, loyal person who knows who she is, a bit stubborn but always up for a robust debate. Larissa is sweet and courageous all at the same time, and a pleasure to be around.

A Time To Remember And Give Event

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Image Cred: Mpumelelo Simango

Hi bAw Family,

As promised, this year will see a number of events on our calendar as we seek to cater to the needs of the bAw family. We really appreciated those who took the time to fill out the surveys as they helped us to prepare for the functions, programs and initiatives that we will run.

This is our 2nd event of the year! And one that is dearly close to my heart because God first deposited the idea for it in my heart about 8 years ago. It is the first of a series of similar events where we come together and remember the pain we have walked through and relate it to fellow sisters so as to uplift them. To also give each other our listening ear, our words of encouragement, our prayers and hearts. The aim is to walk towards a place of healing for the various struggles we may face as women, and to be each other’s keeper. This is based on Galations 6:2 which says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

This specific event on the 7th of May is an intimate breakfast conversation on the struggle of feeling left behind, inspired by a blog post I shared not long ago which a number of you resonated with. Whether you feel or have ever felt as though you’re behind in terms of your career, your relationship status, your financial standing, or any other area of your life, and it feels like you’re the only one – this is the event for you.

Please note that there are only 15 spaces available and the ticket price of R140 includes a two-course breakfast at Buitengeluk, tea/coffee, gratuity, and a chance to form a bond of sisterhood with other women facing similar challenges to you. So rally your girlfriends and go book your spot online until the 30th of April.
I am so looking forward to spending this quality time with you.

With love,
Sonia Dee

 

Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea Event Pics!

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The gorgeous black African Queens that formed a part of the first “Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea” event!

This past Sunday, a group of twenty-something women decided to commune and have some tea while appreciating the crown of glory God has blessed them with. “What crown of glory?”, you may ask. The natural hair each of these ladies has been blessed with – free from harmful chemicals and manipulation.

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Zanele Luhabe sharing her experience with going natural.

We had our dear sister Zanele share her experience with finally going natural and embracing her natural hair as being a reflection of who she really is close to the age of 40. It really is never too late to choose to do what is best for your hair.

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Sonia Dube sharing the history of black hair

Then yours truly gave a brief outline on the history behind black hair and why we perceive it the way we do today. I also shared my reasons for going natural and how it is a part of our identity and is important in God’s eyes.

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Thandiwe of Afrolocology talking about the myths around natural hair

Thandiwe from Afrolocology (who co-hosted the event with me), then gave great insights into the myths around natural loose and loc’d hair, as well as practical tips on how to care for one’s natural hair.

We also had such yummy treats to indulge in, and the ladies got some cute little take-aways! We enjoyed talking about and sharing our journeys with natural hair, while encouraging each other to patiently care for our crowns. The ladies also had so many questions that opened our eyes up to natural hair and how it impacts one’s whole life and identity. In future, we will be discussing broad topics around natural hair including how to best style one’s hair or how to figure out your hair type, amongst other things.

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The amazing team of ladies who made this event possible! Thank you!

I would like to give a BIG thank you to my sisters who helped to plan and co-host this awesome high tea event! Sis’Nosi, Zanele, Rumbi and Thandiwe, your assistance and support was unmatched and I’m truly grateful to have you! To all the ladies who came to be a part of this very first Natural Hair event, thank you! Your presence made an impact and we so look forward to hosting you again soon.

Look out for more of these and other events at bAw!

With love,

Sonia Dee