- I recently posted a blog about the South, toting its positive attributes. I received a lot of feedback, mostly positive. One comment, though, really stuck with me. I kept going back to it in my head, not because it angered me, but rather it saddened me. It spoke of Southern churches negatively, and stated the ones the writer had encountered were void of the Holy Spirit. Ouch. I got to thinking about that, and I came to a conclusion folks. We have done this to ourselves. I’m sorry to say, but we alone are responsible for the bad reputation Southern Christianity has acquired. Only we could be responsible for taking a well-meaning phrase like, “Bless her heart,” and turn it into an insult. I even used it in my blog that day! I would like to convince you all that I truly wished blessed hearts on everyone, but that will not change the negative connotations that have come to follow the phrase. As I pondered on the mess we have created of Southern hospitality and Christianity, I was reminded of Olympia Dukakis in Steel Magnolias. In one scene she comments:
“Well you know what they say, if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me.”
I always got a good laugh out of that scene as I’m sure most of you do too. But when you really think about it, is that the personality you want to portray?
- When I became a Christian my life changed. It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly God began to change my character, and convince me to treat others in a way that He could be proud of, and in a manner that was reflective of Christ. I think we miss the mark on that a lot. I know I do. I’m guilty of looking at someone by outward appearance and making a snap judgement. I try not to, but I slip. We all do. The problem is we’ve been slipping way too much. This may make you angry. This may convict you. I don’t know. What I do know is that it has to stop. We are ruining our family name. When I say our family name I mean so much more than a simple surname bestowed upon us here on this earth. My maiden name is Graves. I love my family, and I love where I came from, but I’m here to tell you that my last name doesn’t mean a thing. It doesn’t define who I am or who I will become. That’s a big problem in our geographical region, the South, and it’s one reason we are so judgmental and hypocritical of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We look at something as silly as a name and think that defines who someone is. It doesn’t. My name doesn’t define me. What defines me is my adoption into the family of God. When I dedicated my life to Jesus I became reborn, and I got a new name. People forget that, and instead focus on who someone’s earthly daddy might be and where he works, rather than rejoicing that y’all have the same Heavenly Father. Or perhaps we look at outward appearance. “I can’t believe she wore that to church?!” If you are focusing too much time on the outfit you are clothing your outward body with then you are wrong! The focus should be how you clothe your spirit. We should desire this:
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
28 Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
It seems that the way we have decided to look at others, judge others, treat others, that this behavior is hindering our walk with God. It is also sabotaging our relationships with others. Sadly, it is chasing people from the church. It is giving us a reputation of a bigoted congregation, an empty building where God does not dwell. I hope that breaks your heart as it does mine. Love. This is what we need. This is what God asks of us. He asks us to love one another. We when are unable to follow this one simple command, He cannot live in us. When the hate, envy, and spite is taking up too much room, He is unable to set up residence. The devil seeks to destroy the church of God, and we are making it easy for him. We are allowing him into the house of God through our hearts, our hearts set on judging others. Lost souls seeking Christ’s love will not find it by way of our squinted eyes and pointing fingers. We have to lay that down. We have to lay down our petty ideals at the alter, clean the spaces of our hearts of all the trifling gossip, and make room for Jesus’s love, make our hearts a dwelling place for His spirit so that His light will shine from us and beckon the lost, the hungry, in essence our brothers and sisters, to join us in God’s house to celebrate His goodness. We have built an awful reputation for ourselves, and it’s going to take a lot of work to change things, but we have to do it. We need to do it. Let’s start now!
That is all 🙂