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

The Struggle of Feeling Left Behind

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Photo Cred: Bridget Gwanzura

For the longest time now I have struggled with feeling left behind by my peers. It seems like in my life, things happen way after everyone else who has begun a journey with me. Over the more recent years, God has led me to appreciate that everyone’s story is different and there is a purpose behind one’s journey including its length; the course it takes and; the pain that it comes with.

Yet. When you’re going through it, it can be so tough to hold on to such a profound truth.

I realized that God allowed me to remain behind in many aspects that are important to me for several reasons. The thing is, we often can’t understand why we’re going through something until we wade through the muddy terrain before us, and cross over to the other side so that we are looking down at where we once were. Sometimes He allows us to get glimpses of why but rarely does that happen.

To be honest, I have felt like I’m running behind my peers and friends when it comes to these things that are important in my life: my career and purpose; my relationship status and; my financial standing.

It has felt like people figured out what job they wanted to do within about a year or two of leaving varsity and now they’ve surpassed their goals. They have established themselves in their industries and are making inroads in their purposes. Then when it comes to relationships, most of my peers found their spouses in their early-to-mid-twenties and are settled down now – some even with children. It hasn’t been all roses for them but generally they have received their heart’s desires. And finally, with finances I have seen my peers grow their personal wealth and assets from cars to homes to investments on markets.

I think for the longest time I felt cursed. I felt as though there was some secret everyone else was in on that I was excluded from. I played the victim for yeeeeaaaaars. I wallowed in self-pity and quite honestly was not the happiest of people for others. It was horrible.

But. God.

I thank Him for keeping me “behind”, so to speak, for all this time. I shudder to think what kind of a person I would be now if I had gotten all the things I wanted in my immature state of mind. Today, I recognize that my perception of myself, others and life was fundamentally flawed. To begin with, I was too much of a victim and didn’t take responsibility for my life. To succeed in what God has for you, you cannot think as though you are helpless because that is all you will ever be.

I also struggled with believing that I truly was valuable and worthy of the good gifts and blessings God promises us. As I have mentioned in a previous article, I readily saw it for everyone else but couldn’t grasp that vision for my own life. And so I would end up whining and complaining about how everyone else is lucky and God doesn’t really care about me but truth is I was blocking the process for myself. The mind is extremely powerful. And mine was hell-bent on believing the worst for my life regardless of the showers of hope and goodness sent my way! I needed to change my mind-set because God honours what you believe.

It was imperative that if I was to attain fulfilment of all God called me to receive and attain in my life, I had to be in sync with Him. I had to receive His love in its entirety so as to cast out all fears about my inadequacies and victimhood and my feeling left out (1 John 4:18). Although I knew God loved me, I had not fully believed and received it in my spirit and my mind. To be able to operate in and receive what is meant for your life you cannot have fear rule you, and fear had been my master for twenty-something years.

I needed to realize that I could not be sloppy in my preparation and execution of tasks and responsibilities in these three areas of my life. I couldn’t just wait around and hope I would have brilliant ideas about my career and purpose or that God would wave His “magic Hand” and make things happen for me. I needed to spend time researching and educating myself and taking initiative. I had to overcome my fear of people and ask for help. I needed to work with diligence because I am representing an excellent God. He wouldn’t just lay it all on my lap.

I also couldn’t expect that God would just hand me one of His Princes when I was still a “pauper” so to speak. I needed to go through the diligence of being transformed into His Princess. Making tough decisions about my lifestyle and choices was imperative. Changing people, places and things so that my royalty would be cemented in my soul had to happen. I would attract the man that resonated with what I believed about myself and what I had invested in to be the woman I was. So I had to have high standards about myself so that I could receive the best in love too.

Finally, I had to get over this ignorance of finances. I’ve always prided myself in being more people-oriented and not really getting the numbers side of life. But God is excellent in all His ways. That means He doesn’t slack off in an area just cause He’s not inclined to it. Thus, I have to learn to make tough decisions. Fight for what I desire. Make sacrifices and change my mind-set about money because no one else can do that for me. God cannot bless me in this area when I’m making a shoddy mess of it with the little I have. Because were He to give me more, I would make a HUGE mess and tarnish His Name.

In a nutshell, if like me you have felt as though you’re running behind others in life, I hope this encourages you to know you’re not alone in this feeling. It’s normal. Actually, more people than you realize also feel this way. What’s more important though, is learning from the state you find yourself in. Ask God to show you what He’s trying to teach you in your feelings and circumstances of being “behind”.

You will find that it’s not necessarily that He wants you behind or is punishing you, but He actually has a great work for you to accomplish in your life and He needs you properly equipped to fulfil it. He needs you to learn some things and be transformed. He can’t take a chance of you being “half-ready” before He endows you with the wonderful things He has in store for you. I mean, David had to wait a good 15 years between being anointed King and actually becoming King! God needed to work some stuff in him and to test his commitment to, and his belief in the blessing.

God’s got your back so trust Him. You’re not behind. You’re just taking a more “scenic” route 🙂 And hey, you actually don’t know how long it took the person next to you to get to where they are now. Not necessarily in terms of time, but even in terms of the challenges they had to endure to receive and become all they have and are.

Be encouraged and keep hoping.

With love,

Sonia Dee

What I Will Never Forget About 2016

Having some much-needed fun at our company year-end function!

Greetings bAw family 🙂 It’s been a while since I shared anything on the blog site and some of you have been asking me why I haven’t been sharing and when next I will write. To cut a long story short, 2016 was God’s beautiful way of getting me to sit at His feet so that He could break, comfort and heal me. It was a year of discovery and restoration, which sometimes means putting your tools down and focusing on your own well-being before stepping out to be there for others.

It’s been a phenomenal year. And apart from all the news headlines that I will never forget from this year, there are a number of lessons and experiences that I was blessed with in 2016 that I will always remember. Before we get into the craziness of the festive season, I thought to share these with you:

 

  1. Rejection Can Be Your Greatest Blessing

Ever since childhood I have faced my fair share of rejection (as I’m sure you have too). And this hasn’t stopped into my adulthood. However, what has changed is my perspective on rejection. This year alone I have experienced rejection in pretty much all the important areas of my life – relationships; church family; and career/work. Nobody beams with joy when they feel unwanted so it’s been tough to endure.

But, as I walked through this valley with God’s guiding and strong Hand, I came to realize that being rejected by people and circumstances propels you out of your comfort zone and eventually into a better space. What made me cry before has constantly led me to the feet of Jesus in worship and praise for allowing me to lose certain things and people. I have received the blessings of new relationships; new appreciation of myself and others; new experiences; and above all else a new, more intimate relationship with my Saviour. Had I not felt unwanted, I would not have wanted to draw closer to Him.

So. The next time you’re feeling rejected, ask God to reveal the blessing in it.

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Find the blessing in your rejection… (Photo Cred: Bridget Gwanzura)

  1. You’re Probably The Only One Limiting Yourself

For the longest time now, I have boxed myself in terms of my abilities. I remember telling myself as a teen that all I would ever be is average especially at school. And guess what? I did become average. I also convinced myself that I was no good with numbers and needed to stay away from them. That’s what influenced my choice in studies and career path. And literally, when someone would come to me with work involving any form of finances I would freeze and my mind would go blank. I also felt highly incapable of leading or succeeding greatly at anything really.

This year marked my final year of studying towards being a Life Coach. It involved tedious hours of practical coaching while completing two modules and working at my current job all at the same time. As I juggled these three areas in my life and especially towards the end of the year, I got such a shock when I passed my Coaching Fieldwork course with flying colours! Not only that, I was even more shocked when my employers vocalised their belief in my capabilities regarding work involving (eeek!) numbers and praising my skills! I remember crying at one point in disbelief, then it hit me – I was the only one standing in the way of my greatness.

God had always believed in my ability to succeed and to be and do great things regardless of what I was tackling (Philippians 4:13). My friends and family continually celebrated my talents, skills and abilities. But I just couldn’t see it, until I opened my mind to trust that God could do anything in and through me. It took years but it took me hitting rock bottom to finally see all I am and shall be in Christ.

So my dear friend, take a look in the mirror. You are most probably your greatest obstacle to greatness.

 

  1. Preparation Is The Key To Success

As I mentioned above, this year was jam-packed for me. On top of my studies and work, a close friend and I were leading out a group of young women on a personal and spiritual journey. My days were literally planned out months in advance. I found myself continually tired at some point because of all I had to do and I could not afford to drop the ball in any area of my life. I wanted to graduate. I wanted to excel in my career. I desired to lead these young women as best as possible because God had called me to. And of course, I also needed some downtime every so often.

I remember listening to a powerful sermon by Toure Roberts as he spoke about success in our spiritual life and other areas of our lives. What stood out most for me was preparation being the most important part of you succeeding at anything. I found that when I thought ahead and prepared myself, whether mentally or emotionally or physically, I was able to execute any task well regardless of how small or big. Whether it meant preparing my lunch and breakfast the night before work so that I was on time and not in a rush the next day; or spending the hours needed to read up on a subject and internalizing it before coaching a client; I was able to do things well because I was calm and assured.

Most of the time we struggle to live successful lives because we just go with the flow and react to what is thrown at us. What if we actually got ready for life the way athletes do for a competition? You may find that being proactive is that major difference to you becoming and achieving all you’ve dreamed of.

 

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Always remember how precious you are… (Photo Cred: Bridget Gwanzura)

  1. You Are Worth Pursuing

One of the areas that I have struggled with for most of my life is my worth and value. Because of past circumstances and beliefs (some of which I have written about here), I have believed the lie of the enemy and society that I am not a woman worthy of being pursued and wooed and loved. I have always distinctly seen other women as being pursuable. Yet, at the beginning of this year I realized that I had struggled to internalize that for myself.

This was a problem, not only regarding romantic relationships but more importantly regarding my relationship with my First Love – God. I realized that I did not believe He wanted to pursue me and love me and bless me with good things. I really did not see myself as His beloved or as precious in His sight (Isaiah 43:4). This informed how I perceived my position in the lives of others. It is so important for a woman to know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves her desperately and daily pursues her because she is worth it.

I thank my Jesus that He pursued me HARD in 2016! He pursued me in the sunsets and sunrises; in the smile and hug of a child; in the support of friends and family; in His Word and and and. He literally poured out Song of Solomon 4:1-15 in my life this year and reminded me that I am worth pursuing. Today, I am alright not having a half-hearted relationship or one where I have to go the extra mile to feel desired. I am okay dying single because I have tasted the greatest love of all – the relentless, pure love of a Man who will stop at nothing to be with me.

My dear sister, if you ever remember anything in your life be reminded of the fact that you are most certainly worth pursuing.

 

Thank you for taking the time to share in my experiences of 2016. I would love to hear what it’s been like for you too. So please do share below and let’s encourage one another.

Wishing you only God’s as you prepare to enter 2017!

With love,

Sonia Dee