As my kids and I are preparing for Advent and Christmas, we decorate the house, put up lights and buy a Christmas tree (yes, we still put up a live tree each year). My daughter coaxes my son to help her put out all the Christmas houses and light them. We sing Christmas carols and watch every single Christmas movie that was ever made (at last count we had about 25 movies, but some of the discs have 2 shorts on them. We pray every night for the those who need help and thank God for the wonderful life we have. Anyway, you get the picture.
This year, in particular, I have experienced firsthand how nasty some Christians can be to each other and especially non-Christians. I see it on Facebook where people post pictures of Christmas trees and then write "Go f*** yourself if you're offended." Really? I see posts about gun control, pro and con and equally offensive on both sides. Christian or not, when did we forget how to act like human beings and be respectful to everyone?
Last week I was called in before a governing church committee where I was serving as a music worship leader and told just how badly they believed I've been doing my job for the last 3 months. Only 1 in the group 7 actually has witnessed me doing that job, yet 3 of them believed it was their right as church leaders to be the judge and jury about my job. I never in my life been on the receiving end of such vitriolic attacks. I resigned 48 hours later after a great deal of thought. Constructive criticism is one thing, but these were direct and very personal attacks. Not only did the pastor sit by and let these people treat me that way, but then he did not reach out to me anytime over the next few days. Instead, he sent me a note asking if I could help out with a funeral on the weekend. Really? You let them tear me apart and then you want me to help you out when you're in a pinch?
Church is not a place I go to fight and I am doing my best not to become angry over this situation. So many people have reached out to me through phone calls, emails, and texts. I know we will stay in contact with many of the people we met at that church. But church is supposed to be a place to uplift each other, not tear each other down. Christians want to know why their church congregations are dwindling—it's because many of them have an attitude that keeps newcomers from feeling welcomed. The hypocrisy among some churchgoers and their leaders keeps people on the outside, outside. (NB that last sentence sounded good when I said it out loud, but it reads a little weird :) )
I live my life by the "Serenity Prayer" and have posted many blog entries about that prayer. I teach my children to do the same. We have learned over the last 5 years that everyone has choices and the only thing you have control over is yourself and your actions. If you choose to be a Christian, then act like a Christian. Lead by example—think for yourself, be responsible for yourself, and don't judge others. That's not your job. It's easier said than done and requires a lot of patience, understanding, and empathy. You need to be secure in yourself and your beliefs and not afraid to stand up for other people who may have different viewpoints. Mob mentality is what got Jesus crucified.
Merry Christmas and Spread Your Wings!