Urban Christianity Meets Conservative Homeschool Christianity

They walk into the brand new "state of the art" gymnasium.  Urban Christianity meets conservative, homeschool Christianity.  I sit in the bleachers and observe and listen.  I hear some comments. ("Here comes that team from D.C. They are so weird!")  I see the looks. 

"Hmmmmm..." I think "Let the judgement begin!" 

Half of the gym is filled with polished, conservative young people.  Brought up in families who are mostly intact.  They sit there in their khaki pants and white polo shirts. Not much cultural diversity. They play the "right"  music, wear the "right" clothes.  Their professors consider them to be the "cream of the crop".   They are beginning to believe they are the "cream of the crop".  They have had the benefit of training, education...and parents who stay together.  

The other half of the gym is scattered with those from Urban America. Not as polished. Much diversity.  Brought up in families who are mostly torn apart.  Some have done time in jail.  There are tattoos.  Funky hair styles. Their professors consider them  to be amazing trophies of God's grace!  They are learning to see themselves as amazing trophies of God's grace. They have not had the benefit of much training,  education...and parents who stay together.  They are just thankful to be here. 

Conservative, homeschool Christianity meets Urban Christianity on the court.  They play the game.  They run. They cheer.  They have time-outs.  While on the court they are on level ground.  They play the same game, wear similar uniforms,  follow the same rules,  and have the same goals in mind.  They want to win!  

Off the court it is a different story.  A mom who is sitting near by exclaims, "LOOK at the boy from D.C.! Look at how he is dressed! OH! BROTHER!" 

"IGNORANT!" I think to myself.  My heart response is just as judgmental as her comment. She is a precious sister, but she only knows what she knows. She is only thinking the way she has always thought. She is only believing the way she has been taught.  

The level ground has disappeared. Two teams. Opponents.  Sitting back and observing each other and making judgements.  Conservative, homeschool Christianity assumes that since what they see externally isn't what they think it should be,  Urban Christianity isn't "godly". Urban Christianity looks at conservative, homeschool Christianity and can't comprehend the life they have lived. Parents who stay together?  Are these people for real?  

Two teams.  One who thinks they are the "cream of the crop". One who is learning to see themselves as God does. 

Both sides needing to see each other in light of the cross.

If you took away the khaki pants, white polo shirts, and conservative hair cuts. If you took away the tattoos, funky hair cuts, and inner-city diversity.  If you took away all the external, cultural differences and labels that have been given.  There would be: 
  • level ground. 
  • All in the same game.  
  • All with the same goals in mind. 
  • All in need of the same thing.  
  • All in need of a Savior.  
  • Helpless to change themselves.  
If they are a true child of God, they would see only the miracle of God's amazing grace in their lives. There would be no "cream of the crop"...only gratefulness that they are HIS

They would be cheering each other on. 

If  we could see each other as God sees us, there would be no judgement. Only a welcoming of a brother or sister who may be different than us, but who is part of the same family.  We would embrace. We would   rejoice in the miracle of each conversion. We would see that the conversion of the conservative, homeschool Christian is just  as big a miracle as the conversion of the Urban Christian.
The sin of pride and judgement in the heart of the conservative, polished, educated student is no different than the sin that landed the inner-city, tattooed student in jail.  Both  made it necessary for Jesus to be nailed to a cross. 
If we are HIS, we are technically on the same team.  We should not be standing on opposite sides, staring each other down.  When externals and upbringing are set aside, we are left with hearts, minds, emotions, thoughts, and spirits  that are needful of being transformed.

I have been living life with Urban Christianity for several years.  I see the Holy Spirit at work.  I love that with most of these young people there is no pretense. They are who they are. They don't hide it.  It's all out there.  It's easier to get to the root of sin when they haven't been taught to cover it up with the right words and dress.  I have learned so much from these young people.  When they walk out on that court...or into life...I am proud of them and so thankful because they are very aware that God alone got them there!  

And I am saddened when they are judged without people really taking the time to get to know where their hearts are at. 
One day we will stand on level ground, before the Savior of our souls. Side by side.  And we will see that we weren't all that different after all!
"For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)

Stop Expecting More. BE More!

You walk into the church and quietly find a place to sit. You purpose to not make eye contact with anyone because you really don't want to make meaningless small talk, nor do you want to get into any kind of in depth conversation. You just want to be left alone. The fact that you even showed up today feels like a big accomplishment!

Life has been so hard lately and you feel like no one has been there for you.

Sitting quietly, you observe others as they make their way down the aisle. One by one they find a place to sit and settle in for the church service. One by one, as you see them walk by, you are reminded of the ways you have been let down.  Thoughts begin to fill your mind and take away the desire to even be in church at all!

  • You look to your left and you see someone who used to be your friend but who has moved on. There was a misunderstanding that was never resolved. Now you two never talk. You feel hurt and misunderstood. 
  • You notice a woman sitting off to the side. You have been going to this church for 5 years and she has never once reached out to you, even when you were the new person. 
  • Looking towards the front you see the person that you tried to talk with last week. The person who minimized your trials by telling you to be grateful for your blessings and then brushed you off. 
  • To the right you observe a group of young people sitting together. They are greeting each other, hugging, laughing and talking. This very group who has talked badly about your daughter and never includes her in anything. 
  • And finally you glance to your right, only to see a person you have longed to get to know. She is so self confident and has so many friends that you feel like you probably have nothing to offer her.  

If it wasn't time for the service to start, and the kids weren't settled,  you would just get up and go home. You are so discouraged.

You expected more from this church. You expected more from the Church.

The Church. It can be a confusing place at times. You walk through the front doors expecting people to somehow be different than the outside world. You expect loyalty, friendship, sensitivity, and an extended hand. You expect compassion,  fellowship, support and to feel included rather than excluded.

You expect more than what you are experiencing. You feel like walking away.

But what if everyone chose to walk away just because they are disappointed and disillusioned with the Church? What if everyone gave up. There would be no one left.  And you know what, if that happened, there would probably be at least one person (if not more than one!) who walked away because they felt disappointed by YOU!  Yes. You. Because as much as we want to believe we don't act like "those hypocrites in the Church", we do. I do.  We have all let someone down in one way or another.  It can't be avoided.

So what do we do?

Stop expecting more. BE more. It must begin somewhere. And when we decide that we are going to stop sitting in the pew reminding ourselves of all the ways we've been let down, and choose to be MORE than what we see...MORE than what we've been...then we will begin to see those people, who we feel have let us down, through eyes of grace.  We will begin to see how we have also let other's down...unintentionally.

And we will begin to purpose to look for ways to strengthen the Church.

Stop expecting more. BE more. 

How can you reach out and strengthen the Church today?