Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I'm learning about Christian community from The Hunger Games...

You read that right. You can learn something about Christian community from The Hunger Games. Did you know? I'm still learning this lesson, but I think best when I write out what is going through my head, so here I am.

I've never been good at being friends with girls. It's so much easier to be friends with boys. Boys get mad, but the next day--or next hour--everything is back to normal and it's like nothing ever happened. Girls get mad and they talk to other girls and get more mad and by the time 15 minutes is up, World War III has been planned and implemented. I know how girls work because I know how I work. I have to fight tooth and nail to overcome some all of my natural tendencies and let God control my tongue (or my texting thumbs) and my actions. It may be in my human nature to sin and respond in anger, but in Christ I am a new creation. Jesus lives in me, and it is in His nature to respond with grace and mercy and love because that is His character. If my goal is truly to become more like Jesus, then I have to bow out of situations and let Him be in control. Please don't hear me saying this is easy or that I get it right all the time. That's not true.
It. Is. HARD. And I get it wrong. Most of the time. But occasionally, God gives me the strength to step back and try to see things people from His perspective. THAT changes everything. When I look at a person and think "Jesus died for them.", it changes how I see them too.

So what does this have to do with The Hunger Games? Let me tell you. (no spoilers, I promise) In the second book of the trilogy "Catching Fire", Haymitch says to Katniss, "You just remember who the enemy is." THAT is our lifeline, y'all! We forget. We are so dumb sometimes. Don't deny it. I know I am. You know you are too. The Bible says we're sheep for a reason. We're dumb. I forget who the enemy is. My enemy is Satan. My enemy is sin. My enemy is my humanness. It is not the girl that sits a few pews over at church. It's not my ex-boyfriend. It's not my sister. It's not the woman who has my dream job and the life I've only ever imagined. I am so blind sometimes and see only the circumstance in front of me and not the big picture. How stupid is it for me to fight against people who are on my side of the battle?!

Ephesians 6:12 says:
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

There's our enemy. And when we're dealing with other Christians, we share a common enemy! It's amazing how having a common enemy can bring people together. I've seen that on display all over our world. Sports fans unite against a common enemy (usually Auburn...). Activists and fighters and survivors and family members unite against cancer and Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis and drunk driving. In my own life, friendships have formed over having a common enemy. And as the Church, don't we have a common enemy as well? Why do we fight so much amongst ourselves? Doesn't that just mean Satan wins a little victory? I KNOW he doesn't win in the end because I believe the Bible is true, but I bet Satan cheers and celebrates every time I gossip about someone or grumble about something or complain about a song we sang on Sunday. He knows if I'm fighting other Christians, I'm not focused on fighting him.

So what should we do? Pray. And just shut up. If someone makes you mad, don't go talk to your girlfriends. Talk to Jesus. He already knows. You don't have to fill Him in on the back story and stir up your anger all over again. Believe me. I'm telling myself this more than I'm telling you. I know from experience that responding with grace is more rewarding and sweeter than responding with anger. I still forget and need reminding, of course, but I know it. It might feel great in the moment to spout off and tell someone exactly how I feel about them. But when I do that, I'm ignoring how God feels about them. Don't I mess up too? Shouldn't I give them the same forgiveness and love that God has shown me? Maybe they don't deserve forgiveness or mercy or grace or love. I don't either.

I was reminded on Sunday morning by a friend who teaches with me that God not only forgives my sins, but He FORGETS them too. I go to Him saying, "I'm so sorry. I messed up again." and He says, "...Again?"

"as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

Will you join me in trying to be more like Jesus in this way? Let's remember who the real enemy is. I know I'm going to mess up, but I also know that God is faithful and He will forgive and forget. Every time. Shouldn't I let Him do the same through me?

No comments:

Post a Comment