Thursday, April 26, 2012

Heroes

I would like to say that great care and prayer has gone into the words you are about to read.  I fully recognize that what I am about to share is very controversial, but I share it because I believe that it is something that needs to be said.

Where are the heroes?  I’m not talking about our Firemen, Police, Marines, or Paramedics, though I deeply respect these heroes.   I’m asking where those average, ordinary, everyday heroes are.  The heroes who are unafraid to tell a drunk young man not to get into a car, but will instead pick up said young man and ensure he gets to a safe destination.  The type of heroes who give love and support to the young woman who finds out about the out of wedlock life she carries within.  The heroes who take in a troubled teen.  The heroes who offer safety to an abused woman.


Did you know that one in five females, and one in seven males, are cutters?  Or that that number continues to rise every year?  Let me ask you this.  How many young men and women do you know who cut themselves?  If the statistic is one in five, then shouldn’t you know, and be ministering to, one of those young women or men, pouring truth into their lives?  And if we, the Body of Christ, are not pouring truth into the lives of those in need, then who is?  Where is their hero? 

Over time, the church as a whole has developed many debilitating diseases, one of which is the sin of contamination.   This sin is a disease that often sneaks in the back door of our hearts, under the guise of holiness.  Unfortunately, we have all seen, or participated in, this sin, at one point or another. 
So what exactly is this sin?  The sin of contamination is best described as the reaction that many Christians have towards people (be them unbelievers or believers) suffering under affliction and distress.  This reaction stems from the thought process that we are A.) too holy to be seen with them or minister in their lives, or B.) we do not want these sinners to influence or contaminate us, or our children.

This sin is incredibly dangerous, because it renders Christians utterly ineffective, and causes us to lose our sensitivity towards those in need.  In simpler terms, this sin kills heroes. 

Now, there are many who will read this and say that they do not have the sin of contamination, and that may be true.  It is not my place to judge one way or another.  It is my place, however, to challenge this sin, and allow those reading to check their own hearts and come to their own conclusions on this subject.  
Now, part of what makes this sin so deadly is the fact that many Christians applaud themselves for it.  I know this is somewhat of a shocking statement, but I can prove to you that my statement is based in reality.  Which leads me to ask this question:  Do you think it is a good thing to shield your children from the sins of this world, thus protecting them from contamination?

The kneejerk response of every parent is to say yes.  However, I am eternally grateful to my parents for their response to the question being no, it is not.  In fact, they would ask the question, are you really protecting your children by having this attitude towards the world, or are you setting them up for failure and creating little Pharisees?  
Now, before everyone starts judging my family over the rightness or wrongness of how my parents raise their children, let me tell you why I am grateful for the way my parents have raised me.

See, my family has encountered the argument that you should shield your children from the harms of this world: alcohol, out of wedlock children, women in abusive situations, cutters, troubled teens, drugs, homosexuality- the list goes on.  Some people believe that your children shouldn’t know these things exist until they are adults.  Others believe that your children should be told about this stuff eventually, but they shouldn’t see them, because it is the parent’s job to protect their children from these things.
We disagree, though.  See, my parents believe it is the job of parents to protect their children from these things, not shelter them.  Confused yet?  Don’t be.  Let me explain. 

Because my parents want their children protected, they ensure we (their growing children) witness the sins of this world in controlled and safe environments.  How is this a benefit?  Let me give you an example.   We have friends who drink alcohol (which, let me remind everyone, the Bible does not say is a sin.  Drunkenness is the sin.).  My Daddy has no problem taking us to dinner with these friends.  Why, you might ask?  Shouldn’t he be protecting us from such worldly influences?  He is; that’s exactly why he takes us.  See, we get to sit at the table with the protection of Daddy controlling the situation to make sure nothing gets out of hand.  We also get to sit at the table and see the effects of drunkenness within the safety of Daddy’s protection.  Then, once we leave, we can discuss what just happened.  “Why did they drink?”  “Can you see how getting drunk has negative impacts?”  “So and so wasn’t even aware of some of the things they were saying, were they?”  “Is that how so and so behaves when not under the influence?”  “Can you see how their judgment becomes impaired?” 
You see, by being exposed to alcohol, my siblings and I learn why drunkenness is bad.  Daddy doesn’t just tell us “Oh, it’s bad kids, stay away from it”.  He shows us why it is bad.  You know what the interesting part about all of this is?  We aren’t left with curiosity.  The subject of alcohol isn’t mystic.  It doesn’t have this forbidden aura to it.  We, his children, know about drunkenness.  We are educated.  We don’t need to experiment.  Which means we are not in the very high statistics of Christian children who experiment with drugs and alcohol. 

Now, here is another example.  My best friend was born out of wedlock.  Some people think it is terrible that my parents allowed her to practically live with us, sometimes even having her stay in our home for months at a time.  I mean, why would my parents allow her to be such an influence in my life?  For three reasons.  Firstly, because being best friends with this person was one of the best teaching tools my parents could have ever given me.  Secondly, because being intimately connected to someone who had to live through the hardships of only having one parent made me gain a sensitivity and an understanding of the incredible hurt that comes from this, making me sensitive towards the needs of someone who has grown up with this struggle.  And thirdly, because my family was then able to minister too, love, and pray for her own family.
Now, why was this such a teaching opportunity?  Quite frankly because I am intimately connected to someone who carries the pain of having never known her father.  Her mother had to work her hands raw to provide for the two of them.  Her daughter never knew the love of a father until her step father came into her life many, many years later.  There are a lot of scars that children who grow up without a father must overcome.  My best friend is one of the most amazing people I know, but she had a rough beginning and a lot of pain along the way.  Because of my intimacy with her, I know that pain first hand.  I know how detrimental this is to a family, both in how hard it was for her mom, and how hard it was for her.  I also learned, later down the road, how damaging ex’s can be to the new family that forms years later.

My parents were heavily involved in this relationship, during the early childhood years.  This allowed them to minister to both their child, and another child.  It also opened up doors for a friendship between them and my best friend’s mother, who was very happy to have her involved with us. 
See… here is the problem I see with child sheltering.  When parents try to build a cocoon around their children, in an attempt to isolate them from bad influences, they lose valuable teaching opportunities, as well as opportunities for ministry.  While my family firmly believes that you should shield your kids from the experience of evil, they also believe you need to teach your children to be wise and discerning when confronted with evil. Children won't learn those lessons if they are completely isolated. The isolationist approach merely produces naive children who are gullible and vulnerable, defenseless in a world that seeks to destroy them.

Try as parents might, they can’t isolate their children forever. When the day comes that they venture out into the world, they need to be prepared with discernment skills and wisdom to detect and resist the enticements of the devil and the world.
Now, all that said, let me clarify something.  There are things that my parents avoid.  My Daddy wouldn’t drop me in the middle of a bar and say “guess what, darling, you get to learn about drunkenness and the lust of men today”.  This, obviously, would be a pour choice and would involve a situation which would be difficult to control.  It would also expose me to things that I don’t really need to be exposed to.

There are also things that my parents would teach a 16 year old about, and expose them to, that they would not teach and expose their 6 year old to.  Different ages and levels of maturity dictate what a child learns and when.  We learn about life at a fairly young age, but we learn about it in child’s terms.  We learn the very basics.  We aren’t exposed to it like we are as we become adults, but we know what certain terms mean, even if only because the Bible uses them and we ask our parents what the Bible is talking about.
My parents also send us kids back to the Bible.  They don’t expect us to just take their word for something.  If we disagree, they expect us to go find out why we disagree, and show them where the Bible supports our position.  They don’t force a conviction on us children.  They do expect us to follow the rules of the house and to respect them and their decisions, but if we don’t agree, that is our right.  However, we better have a scriptural reason for why we don’t agree.
I am so grateful that my parents protected me as a child, and on through my teenage years.  I am even more grateful they didn’t shelter me.  See, not only do I know about the world and can stand against the struggles and temptations it offers, due to having been prepared to face them, but I have also grown up with eyes to see the needs of others, not to judge them.

Growing up I was told sin was sin, but I was also told that sin has a strong hold on people.  I was shown that grace, true grace, was more powerful than judgment.  That a heart of love was more effective that a self-righteous heart.  I was reminded that I, too, am a sinner.  I was told that my hidden sins are just as vile as anyone else’s.  I’ve never killed anyone, but I’ve lied.  I’ve never committed adultery, but I have been disobedient to my parents. 
The sin of contamination is serious, because it renders those average, ordinary, everyday, heroes completely ineffective.  Their heart is unfit to love.  Their hands are too busy covering eyes to offer a helping hand.  Their mouths are too busy whispering behind backs to speak the truth of God’s love.  

So, I ask again, where are the heroes?  The answer is that we’ve become a dying breed, and it is getting harder and harder to find them.  And if we (Christians) are not stepping up to the plate, then who is? 
I’ll tell you who is.  The culture.  The culture is ministering to the oppressed, the downtrodden, the unloved, and the needy.  You know what frustrates me the most about that?  I can tell you the culture sure isn’t giving them the truth.  The culture is part of what started their problems in the first place!  So we, the church, are letting the world minister to these people, instead of us stepping up to the plate and doing what God told us to.  We are called to raise our children to be powerful, effective arrows that do damage to the cause of Satan.  But if those arrows aren’t prepared properly, they will be utterly ineffective.

If the church continues sheltering their children, or for that matter shoving them out into the world totally unprepared and expecting them to be a light (another topic, but I had to throw it out there), then where will the heroes be? How can we reach out and help those in need if our kids are 1.)So sheltered they are unable to even cope with hearing about the needs of others (rape, abuse, addictions), or 2.)they never come in contact with those in need because we never allow them to reach into the lives of others because we are worried that the sin will “contaminate” them?   
So what are people in need left with? The lies of our culture, as opposed to the healing power of Christ.

Our children’s hearts should break when they hear about the effects that sin has on other people.  Their hearts should be so sensitive towards the cares of those in this world that they long to reach out in love and show them the truth.
This isn’t how their hearts are being molded, though.  Instead, we have little Pharisees running around.  We have children who look down their noses at the 14 year old who walks through Wal-Mart 9 months pregnant.  Instead of saying “That girl is so brave.  She is risking the scorn of others in order to give her baby life, rather than aborting the child and making sure no one knew about her shame,” they say things like “How disgusting!  I can’t believe that girl would be so irresponsible and go get pregnant.”

That scenario isn’t just for thematic purposes, guys.  A friend of mine was the one who scorned the young mother brave enough to give her child life.  Instead of having compassion for the girl, and reaching out to her in love, she condemned her.  I try not to regret too much in life, but one of my regrets is that I did not walk up to that girl and tell her how strong I thought she was.  I could have opened up the opportunity to bless her, and myself, but instead, I walked away.  Granted, I chastised my friend for her response, and I was the one who defended the girl, saying what a beautiful thing it was to see a young woman in this society carrying her child and giving the baby life, but I didn’t tell that to the young woman herself.
Heroes save lives, guys.  I trust you’ve heard stories, over the course of your life, of someone whose life was saved because someone had the heart to reach out to them in their need.  I have. 

We might never know the ripple effect of reaching out to someone.  We might change their life.  In fact, you might save their life.  And because you chose to reach out, they may live another day.  And another.  And another.  And at some point, they may reach out and save a life as well. 
Unbelievers can see the love of Christ in a dramatic and tangible way when God’s people reach to them.  But if we are so busy condemning them and looking down our noses at them, instead of showing them the love and grace of Christ, how will they ever see?  Who will ride in and save the day?  Who will be the hero?  One of the greatest blessings the Lord has given us as believers is the fact that He uses us as the tools to minister for Christ.  Christ does the work, but we are the vehicle He chooses to use.  

Let me end with these words:
No one sits with him, he doesn't fit in, but we feel like we do when we make fun of him.  Because you want to belong, do you go along?  Know his pain is the price paid for you to belong.  It's not like you hate him or want him to die, but maybe he goes home and thinks suicide.  Or he comes back to school with a gun at his side.  Any kindness from you might have saved his life.

Heroes are made when you make a choice.

No one talks to her, she feels so alone.  She's in too much pain to survive on her own.  The hurt she can't handle overflows to a knife.  She writes on her arm and wants to give up her life.  Each day she goes on is a day that she's brave.  Fighting the lie that giving up is the way.  In a moment of courage her life you could save, if you show her God’s love, forgiveness, and grace.

Heroes are made when you make a choice.

No one talks to him about how he lives.  He thinks that the choices he makes are just his.  Doesn't know he's a leader in the way he behaves, and others will follow the choices he's made.  He lives on the edge, he's old enough to decide.  His brother who wants to be him is just nine.  He can do what he wants because it's his right.  But the choices he makes change a nine-year-old's life.
Heroes are made when we make a choice.

You could be a hero - heroes do what's right.
You could be a hero - you might save a life.
You could be a hero- you could join the fight.


The fight for what is right.
"The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” --1 Timothy 1:14-15

19 comments:

  1. I’m glad you brought these issues up, Kaitlyn. :)

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    1. You are welcome, Jonathan. It was certainly a topic that took much consideration when writing, thus the weeks it took to write. :D

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  2. This was a deeply moving and very true post, Kaitlyn. Thankyou very much for taking the time to write it, and for sharing. My parents too, have protected me, but have not sheltered me. They have helped me to develop a compassionate heart towards those who have made heartbreaking decisions in life. If wayward Christians can learn to look at the lost and hurting person behind their sinful ways, they would have a much greater impact on them than if they simply looked the other way.

    Thankyou again, Kaitlyn; for sharing the things on your heart. :) *hugs*

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Aussie.

      You know something that I often think about, when pondering this subject? We talk about the impact that Christian's have on the unsaved, and we obviously talk about how unsaved people can pull us down... but so many people miss out on the blessings of ministering to people in need. I have been blessed, in so many ways, by being given the opportunity to minister to others for Christ. I would never give those memories up. Even when heartache is involved.

      I think we, as Christians can easily lose sight of the blessings that the needy can be in ours lives, because we focus too much on their "problems".

      I am so grateful your parents raised you this way, by the way, Aussie. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you are one of the most gracious young women I know. :) They did a wonderful job.

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  3. Thank you, Kaitlyn.

    In many ways, I believe my parents have protected me, not sheltered me. But it's hard, for me, anyway, to find that place where you love the person, yet abhor the sin, if you know what I mean. Love them, accept them, help them, yet not condone what they have done.

    This has also been a topic of conversation between my best friend and I, as she's more exposed to things like pregnancy before marriage, etc. than I am. I'll be passing this on to her. :)

    hugs ♥

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    1. I do know exactly what you mean, because I certainly don't have all of this down pat. Sometimes I struggle with loving someone when I have given them sound advice time and time again and they will not leave their jerky, cheating boyfriend. I suppose, in some ways, I get frustrated with them because I love them, but I can struggle to remain loving when someone keeps going back to the sin.

      Also, I understand the struggle from the opposite point of view. If I love and care about someone, I have to be very careful I don't condone something, because it is very easy to do. This is a tough balancing act, one we all struggle with in one way or another. :P

      I hope my post can be an encouragement to your friend, Zoey. Thank you so much for posting! Love you, sweetheart!

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  4. Amen Kaitlyn, thank you for writing this, this is an issue that is very pervasive in the church. Where' we're too high on our holy horses to help people in need... it's sickening and revolting, especially when you see how much those people need it. The only reason 'nice, normal' christians can exist is because someone took the time and the effort to reach out to either them or those who came before.

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    1. You are very welcome, Brendan. I am glad it has been such an encouragement to so many people.

      Your point is valid. Someone reached out to all of us. Why do we not think to do the same?

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  5. It's not often I read a blog post that leaves me unable to express my thoughts on it. Actually, this is the only one I can think of. Simply put, you're absolutely right on all accounts. I'm protected, yes, but not sheltered. I don't think I could stand being sheltered. Reality's too broken for me to stay in safe and comfortable places. When pipes are broken, owners call a plumber. And the world's plumber is Christ. I'll be the wrench.
    As for stepping up to be that ordinary hero, it's so important to do it, as you said. I had an opportunity to do that a couple of years ago (Via the internet of course), and I failed. I've regretted the entire way I handled the conversation ever since I realized how badly I messed it up.
    Is it allright if I share this on Pinterest and maybe Facebook?

    PS. "This, obviously, would be a pour choice"

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    1. Varon. I have to say, you made my day. Since I know you are our famous "one word response" guy, I was shocked to see a rather long response to my post from you. It was a great blessing.

      I love your comment of being a wrench. That is a perfect mental image! I may even put it on a t-shirt.

      I am so glad the Lord used my words to touch your heart and make you think. I too, have not stepped up to the plate at times when I should have, so I know exactly what you mean.

      Please, by all means, do share the post. It is a message that needs to be heard. :D

      May God bless our efforts to be the ordinary heroes!

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    2. I can elaborate on things when I feel elaboration is required and important. I'm glad it could be considered a blessing.
      That'd be cool, to use that as a metaphor on a t-shirt.
      Yes, I'm glad He did as well. Sometimes reminders are important.
      I shared it on Pinterest.
      Yes, may He do so.

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  6. A hearty AMEN! Your post both convicted me and affirmed something I've been thinking about off and on lately. Convicted me that I am very guilty of the sin of fearing "contamination", and affirming my irritation with the idea of "sheltering" children.

    So...thank you for posting that. :) It was very well written.

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    1. I am glad the Lord has been stirring your heart on this topic, Anonymous. I pray He will stir the hearts of many others!

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  7. Kaitlyn, this post has been on my browser's 'Read ASAP' list since the day you published it, and I've finally read it :D Thank you for posting it, and for challenging us not to just sort of fit in with Christianity and drift along.

    Andrew

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    1. I am so pleased you liked it, Andrew. :D

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  8. (I tried to post this a long time before, but I lost the whole post and got stuck trying to retype it. But anyway here I am!)

    I am very glad you posted this. And I agree very strongly.

    The Bible itself does not shelter its readers.
    Except from certain things, such as obscenity, and exclamatory foul language. I am not thinking of anything else it avoids or teaches to avoid.

    One thing to think about is that though what you do is your choice, what you have done is not your choice.

    Here is an example from history:

    10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
    11 And when the Pharisees saw [it,] they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
    12 But when Jesus heard [that,] he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
    13 But go ye and learn what [that] meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

    The Bible gives certain times when a person should be avoided, but they are not the people we would think.
    Here is an example:

    1 Corinthians 5
    9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
    10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
    11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
    12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
    13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

    It seems to me that people would be more lenient towards some one if they called themselves a Christian, and this passage says the opposite.

    Something to keep in mind, though, is that though you should not be sheltered from sin, you should not make fellowship with sinners either. Sinners in the sense of living in sin, not in the sense of having lived in sin. I am not thinking about sinners leaving their sin and coming to be with Jesus (“He that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out”), but with people leaving Jesus to be with them (“A companion of fools shall be destroyed”).

    Another thing I noticed was about the fourteen year old girl who was pregnant. As far as you described, all you or your friend knew was that she was pregnant, not that she was unmarried. However likely it is that she was unmarried (especially today) there was nothing to indicate it. I do not think it would be right to be married at fourteen years old, but it is not fornication, and it may not have even been her choice. She may have not even done anything wrong.

    Anyway, I am very glad you are doing blog posts about important topics, even though they are controversial!

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    1. Thanks for the comments, Patrick. I was happy to hear from you and sorry that your computer ate your first post. :)

      I take a bit of a different stance on the "you should not make fellowship with sinners" stance. See... Jesus ate with men and women who had not necessarily turned from their sin yet.... How are people in sin to know of Christ and their sin if no one ever reaches out?

      Now, I think we have to be very careful in those situations. We shouldn't fellowship in the sense of seeking accountability and advice from people who are living in sin. We shouldn't leave our children in their care.

      Have you seen the movie To Save a Life? If you haven't, I'm not really recommending it. I saw it because I work in those types of settings and my heart's passion is for the kids the movie directly deals with, but it has some issues. Anyways, in the movie, it shows a youth worker who ministered to a very lost kid. And he ministered and he ministered. Even when the kid was a sinner. When the kid called up drunk, the guy still went and picked him up. Why? He didn't want him deciding to drive home and getting killed, and he wanted to talk with him about his situation while he drove him home. The kid was lost. He hadn't turned from his sins. But he eventually turned away from these things due to the ministry of this man and the message of Mercy and Grace he showed him.

      See, to me a companion of fools is a very specific term. It implies intimacy. A companion would be someone you are very close to. A companion is someone very special and dear to your heart. It's not the alcoholic you have dinner with every month and have a casual relationship with. I will drop everything (within reason, of course) if someone needs me. That doesn't mean that they are my companion. My companions are the people I tell my secrets to. They are the ones I council with. They are the ones who help keep me grounded.

      As for the 14 year old girl- you are correct, she technically could have been married, but I doubt it. She very much looked like a young woman of the world, and young women of the world don't get married at 14. At the moment, though, my brain didn't even go there. However, you are right that we should be very careful not to place sin on someone who may not even be in sin. Things are not always as they appear.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Patrick, on the controversial blog posts. :D

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    2. You are welcome!

      I think I agree with what you are saying about companions. Is this what you mean:

      9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

      I did not emphasize this part in my first comment because I was focusing on how if people who claim to be Christians it is more reason to exclude them rather than reason to excuse them, because they shame the name of Christ.

      But you see that it says "not altogether" exclude sinners that do not claim to be Christians. Like you said, I think this is referring to seeking to win them from their lifestyle of sin rather than associating yourself with it.

      You are welcome for the encouragement!

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    3. Yes, I think we are of the same opinion here.

      I enjoyed talking with you about it, Patrick. :D

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