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

To The Man I Love, But Am Yet To Meet

sonia-dee

Me in beautiful Cape Town in July 2015

You see me. All of me. And not once have you shrunk back from my awkward talkative nature or loud laugh or my desperate need to analyse everything. Instead, you have a way of turning my flaws and failures into possibilities and opportunities for me to be even greater.

You pursue me. Relentlessly. Not once have I wondered whether you care or think about me. It’s obvious that you do. I see it in the way you look at me as though I am the very first woman you have ever laid eyes on. I recognize it in the way you notice the most random things about me. In the way you don’t get tired of looking for me even if we just spoke this morning or had a falling out. I have no doubt in my mind that I am desirable to you.

You celebrate me. In every way possible. You may not share my exact interests but you still want to know all about them. You see all that I can and shall be, and you remind me of that at every opportunity that you can. You remember what’s important to me and find ways to make a big deal out of that even if it never really mattered to you before we met.

You’re curious about me. Like a child is curious about the first drop of rain she feels on her hand or about how her mama seems to know everything about everything in the world. I am a deep and vast body of water that you’re not afraid to completely submerge yourself in and yet that still wouldn’t be enough for you. It feels like you’re reading a fresh page in my story each day that we are together – even if you’ve read my story countless times before.

You remind me. Remind me about Whose I am and who I am in Him. Remind me of the capable, loving, powerful and gorgeous soul I have always been but that life had ripped from my memory bank. Remind me that I am so uniquely beautiful, enchanting and lovely. Remind me that I’m not alone at any juncture of my life’s journey. Remind me that someone believes in me wholeheartedly and has my back. Remind me that there are still amazingly good men in this world. Remind me of the very first Man who ever loved me unconditionally – Jesus Christ.

You pray for and over me. From the moment you wake up and have a conversation about me with God until you lay your head down at night. You present me before the Creator and plead with Him about my salvation, my healing, my joy and whatever I may need at that time. Your prayers for and about me are what keep me pushing forward daily into the woman God knows me to be despite the odds.

Dear husband, these are just reflections of your deep love for me and a few of the things I am grateful for in you. Thank you for how you challenge and push me towards the mark God has set for me. Thank you for reinstating my hope in godly men, when, for majority of my life it has constantly been torn down. Thank you for loving me in a way that reminds me of my Saviour’s love for me. Thank God that every day He blesses me with the opportunity to try and return the beauty you have brought into my life. I pray that I may honour my God by loving and respecting you the way He has called me to.

I haven’t met you yet, but God has already taught me to love you.

Yours truly,

The Woman You Adore, But Are Yet To Know

5 Warning Signs of a Christian Guy Who is Going to Waste Your Time

Arguing black couple 1

Photo Cred: Madame Noire Online

I’ve been witnessing and reflecting on a rather disturbing way of relating between guys and girls in our society today – and most especially in the church. Particularly how girls allow themselves to become entangled with a guy who is leading them nowhere slowly. I’d like to call this kind of man “The Illusionist”. No, I’m not talking about a magician. I’m not referring to a movie or a book. I’m talking about a young man who has no real plan for his life and wants to drag you along for the ride. The reason I am focusing on the Christian brother is because they have become skilled in leading church girls on. They use the fact that we’re all at church to their advantage because girls let their guard down (believing they can trust a Church guy over one outside the Church) and not to mention some of these brothers throw God into the mix of messing with girls. Don’t get me wrong – this is in no way an article bashing Christian brothers. I just believe that the truth needs to be said as it is and also so that the Christian sisters catch a wake up call cause they can’t just blame the brothers.

 

Anyway, let’s begin by painting a picture of what tends to happen: Guy meets girl. They hit it off. They realize they have so much in common and they enjoy chatting for hours; exchanging ideas and poetry or books; accompanying each other to different outings/gatherings with friends etc. Soon they begin to flirt and “connect” – catching each other’s eyes from across the room and giving a knowing look when something happens that they’ve spoken about before. They become comfortable around each other and sometimes find themselves standing/sitting very close to each other or occasionally brushing hands and/or other body parts.

 

Then one day someone (usually the guy) suggests that they go out to do something together (just the two of them) that they enjoy or have spoken about. It’s all so exciting! They “hang out” a couple of times in this manner. They begin to talk about their dreams and wishes for their life – the kind of person they want to marry; where they would want to live; the kind of holidays they will take with their family and and and. They can no longer go a day without talking and people around them begin to make jokes about how cute they are together and they giggle it off by saying indignantly “we’re just friends!”

 

But the truth is, they are now way past “just friends”.

 

At this point, feelings have been caught. Castles have been built in the air and intimacy has developed (usually at a rapid pace). It is here that one of these two begins to desire more out of this “friendship” and I’ve found that most times it is the girl. It becomes clear that the woman is interested but the guy starts to become hot and cold – calling and flirting and caring sometimes, then becoming aloof and a bit distant at other instances. And this is where the cookie crumbles. The girl starts to question whether or not this guy likes her, and cue confusion, anxiety, fear, insecurities and all their aunties and uncles. It’s a hot mess. It usually doesn’t end well and it usually goes on for much longer than it should.

Eventually, the guy (from experiencing pressure from the girl) decides to tell her that they are just friends and have always been so why the big fuss. It indirectly becomes her fault and they “break up” and things become super awkward.

It’s a terrible place to be in because you are lying to yourself, to each other and to everyone around you. Sooner or later, that lie catches up to you and knocks you way off your feet. You go through excruciating thoughts about your worth and you resent men again and have to get over that. Also, you lose what could have been a really great friend. I decided to write this post because I speak to so many different young women and this topic comes up a lot lately. It seems that this is a pattern amongst young people and I think we need to break it. At all costs ladies, we must try our best to avoid “The Illusionist” and wait for a more genuine and godly man. You need to be able to recognize the characteristics of this kind of guy so as to avoid him – after all, you are responsible for your own life and heart. We can’t only blame the guys. So, here are a few signs of an “Illusionist” as I have come to understand them:

 

  1. He’s Overly Familiar Pretty Quickly: This guy treats you like you’ve known each other forever! He’s really comfortable with placing his hand around your waist or giving you a cute nickname. The thing is, this makes us as women feel seen and wanted. It’s a fact – women want to be loved and part of being loved means to be given special attention. However, I think it is problematic when a guy has not known you long at all and he’s already acting like you’re married. It is an indication of his inability to pace himself. He will soon run out of steam, even if you were to enter into a committed relationship.

 

  1. He Marks You As His Own Without Telling You: Further to the above, “The Illusionist” is quick to make you his “person”. You know – he’ll be sure to sit with you in church or at social gatherings, and sit very close at that. He’ll say things like “Oh yeah Thando likes to do this and to say that” to highlight that he’s more familiar with you than others are. He will embrace you and linger with that eye contact during the people (in public) raising questions in people’s minds about who you are to him. Again, these are things that bring us such joy as women. But a man who treats you as his own when he has not even asked your permission, is a thief. He is not a gentleman. A true gentleman understands that you are a woman who belongs first to God and then to a set of parents or guardians. He will respect that about you, and will treat you that way until he has verbally requested to enter into a more exclusive relationship with you. Think about it, even God knocks at the door of your heart (Revelation 3:20). He doesn’t just make Himself welcome although you are already His. He wants you to agree first.

 

  1. He’s Got the Whole ‘Troubled Soul’ Thing Going On: So, “The Illusionist” has some serious issues. I mean, we all do. But his are intense and woeful and earth-shattering. He’s told you about his terrible circumstances growing up – how he grew up without a parent or grew up eating one meal a week or faced abuse and discrimination etc. He gives you all the details and it seems his life could fall apart at any moment. He’s such a victim. He tells you that you give him so much hope and encouragement. He doesn’t know how he would survive without you. As a woman, this makes you feel wanted. You feel special. I mean, this guy needs you! You soon become his second mama though, and you find yourself in a co-dependent situation. A genuine guy does not offload his issues on you with the expectation that you make it all better. Yes he shares his struggles and past hurts (at a certain level of relating – not from the get go) but he will not make you feel like you’re his only hope. Jesus is his hope. And he’s man enough to deal with his issues.

 

  1. He Gives “If You Were My Wife” Scenarios: As you become more familiar in your “friendship”, brother-man starts to tell you in passing what the deal would be if you were his wife. Maybe he’s making an example of what he wants in his relationship and uses you as the substitute for his wife. He’s basically building attachments in your heart without the actual commitment. He’s growing your affections with no real purpose to fulfil them. He is being a coward and he’s getting temporary pleasure without the pains of commitment. A good man will not mislead you. He will be clear about where you stand in his life. Whether you are his friend or someone he is developing feelings for, and he will not unnecessarily cultivate romantic thoughts in your mind that he is not ready to fulfil. Granted we sometimes get caught up in our feelings but a real man will take responsibility when he’s messed up and work at protecting you.

 

  1. His Life Seems Purposeless: The “Illusionist” may on the surface appear to be deep and have a greater insight into life. He can quote books and poems, and can debate politics and religion. He can even pray. He’s smart and engaging, and usually people look up to him and admire him in the Church. But. When you really pay attention and give it some time to get to know him, you realize that he’s all over the place. He’s not really sure if he wants to be a doctor or just go save kids in a remote country in Africa or hang out with friends at parties or become an Evangelist. He lives in the now while dreaming of a possible future, and he has no real understanding of his purpose or even a desire to discover it. He may be “working towards it”, but he’s been at it for the last 10 years. He may even be serving in the church and all, but there’s no real growth that you can see. Walk away from that brother before you get caught up in his mess. A genuine guy knows what God has called him to do, and if he doesn’t yet, he is seeking out his purpose in Christ. Often, he won’t want to include you in his confusion until he’s sure.

 

There is so much more to “The Illusionist” but I wanted to give you the basic warning signs to look out for as I’ve come to understand them. God has instructed us to guard our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23) sisters. Allowing someone access to your heart and personal space is no joke. So ladies, be very conscious of who deserves that airtime. We can’t be angry at these guys who lead us on when we naively and happily give them the room to do so. Leave that brother in the hands of Jesus to make whole. It’s not your job. My prayer is that God activates a discerning spirit within us and that we are vigilant ourselves by meditating on the good qualities of a godly man, so that we can avoid the wrong kind of men. Also for wisdom to know how to conduct ourselves in our relationships with the opposite sex.

 

Have you ever experienced an “Illusionist”? What other signs would you say are there to watch out for? Maybe you don’t believe there is such a person as an “Illusionist”. I want to hear about it all!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee