Losing Jesus

Many times in my Christian walk, I feel caught in the middle. I’m not conservative enough for some, yet for others, I’m too rigid.  On one view, my opinions might match up completely with the fundamentalist Christian, while on another, I might relate to that of a person with a more liberal interpretation of Scripture. I don’t feel completely home in either camp, and most of the time, I don’t want to.

Last week I was a spectator to the blog world’s ping pong match between those who feel Scripture has a clear mandate for mothers to stay home with their children and those who do not.  Some stay-at-home moms wrote posts exhorting other moms to stay home as God’s will, while other women argued back that God’s will for some mothers might be to work outside the home.  I read some of these posts and left feeling…well…uncomfortable.

Once again, I was caught in the middle.  I stay home with my children, but I honestly didn’t even know there was a verse from Scripture to defend that decision, had I wanted to use one.  I felt like a child watching her parents fight, confused by the argument and not wanting to take sides because she loves both of her parents.

For days I thought about what I had read.  I thought about the blogs passionately defending the idea that a mother’s place is at home with her children, wanting to lead all mothers to that same conclusion, and I thought about those equally as passionate refuting that idea, that while staying home with one’s children is fine, so is working.  Both sides of the argument had their own verses from Scripture. I thought about those who left comments on different blogs saying they were so hurt by the discussion, the implication that they were sinners, and had decided to never read that particular blog again.  And I thought to myself, “How does this happen? Why has this topic blown up into such a heated debate between Christians?”

Because both sides know that they’re right.  Whether they’ve decided that God is clear in His mandate or that there is no mandate, both sides feel in their hearts that they are right.  When people truly believe they know the truth, they are going to want to share, not to leave others in the dark.  And when their values have been attacked, especially a value they have prayerfully received, they are going to defend it.

I don’t know how it is possible for two people who are honestly seeking God’s will, looking for guidance from the Holy Spirit to interpret Scripture, to come to vastly different conclusions. I don’t know how, but I know it happens on almost every topic in Christianity. From politics to homosexuality to alcohol to the movies we watch, there are people on complete opposite sides of the spectrum defending their views as God’s views.

And the arguments are personal because, after all, if you were honestly seeking God’s will to an issue, and He told you His will, what does that mean if someone else says that God told him something different?  Did you hear God wrong, or did he?

Perhaps the problem with all these debates is that they’re missing the point.  While each discussion may have started with Jesus as the focus and with pure intentions, the further and further into the debates we get, the more and more Jesus gets pushed to the side.  No longer are our eyes on our Creator and His will but on defending our own personal agendas. There is a fine line between causing a person to think, to stretch his or her faith, and causing dissension in the church.  And sometimes I don’t think we know the difference.

While we are defending our views on why we should vote for this candidate for president, there are people living under the control of corrupt governments, unable to get clean drinking water.  While we debate whether or not Christians can be pro-choice, there’s a frightened pregnant teenager at our local high school who doesn’t know where to turn.  And while we debate whether or not moms should stay at home, there are millions of orphans in the world who need a family. Instead of watching us debate, the world should see us act.

I don’t know why I can believe something so strongly, see something so clearly in Scripture, yet have my neighbor not see what I see.  I don’t know how someone can make me feel guilty for a view I have when I sought the Lord first.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have to know.  My faith is based on Jesus, and I shouldn’t understand everything, otherwise I don’t need faith.

Our world needs Jesus, not our opinions.  They need us to be His hands and feet, to take His love to those who need it most. And while we should seek God’s will and learn and debate and feel solid in our convictions, we can’t confuse our convictions with the face of Jesus. The issues we debate are important but not at the expense of Him in whose name we debate.

19 thoughts on “Losing Jesus

  1. Love it, well written as usual. Thank you for always sharing. These are issues I have struggled with as well. Thank you for sharing your heart. You have a gift.
    Kristen Waters

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  2. Great post, I'm glad Kristen linked to it. I think that this was central:

    "While each discussion may have started with Jesus as the focus and with pure intentions, the further and further into the debates we get, the more and more Jesus gets pushed to the side."

    The only thing I'd add is that Christ said that it would be our love for each other that would express to the world that we are His. Yet in a Christian society full of division, we only speak that we are *not* His. It is only when we lay our personal feelings and principles down at the cross, and focus on Christ alone, that we can even begin to experience and express the unity of the body of Christ.

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    1. Yes, great point. Unfortunately, it's so hard because we think we are showing Christ's love when we act on our principles, and, at times, we might be. The line gets blurry when we are in the midst of the issue. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Very well said, Jennifer. I think decisions such as moms staying home or working are purely individual, in terms of the husband and wife discussing it with God as a husband and wife team. To me, it's similar to God's call for me to be a physician or for someone else to be a pastor or a missionary. God hasn't called everyone to be a physician, a pastor, a missionary, or a stay at home mom. Jer 29:11 is a favorite verse of mine and let's me know that God has an individual plan for my life and that of my family, just as he has a plan for every other person's life, if they accept it. Thanks for sharing!!

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  4. Great thoughts, Jennifer! I was an observer of the ping pong match as well, and it made me sad. I think often it's so easy to hold so tightly to our views that we forget to love each other in the process and end up heaping condemnation on others. You have raised some important points here…thanks for sharing this! 🙂

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Erin. Yes, I know I have been guilty of loving my side of the issue more than the people involved. I guess we all have the natural tendency to think we are right, and we want to defend it.

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  5. This really spoke to me this morning, because just yesterday I had a deep conversation with a dear friend because of her struggles she is experiencing as the result of her family changing churches. They chose to leave a church and church family that they loved and that loved them. Because her teenage son had become involved in a youth group at a different church and they have attended functions of the "other" church – they HEARD God. They made the decision to make the change because they feel they are led to do so to follow Him. Now she is getting all sorts of well meant lectures that it is not the same doctrine, etc. While it is true that we need to lift up our brothers and sisters and sometimes speak truth when called, sometimes it becomes a similar debate as you've described and Jesus is lost in that concern. Thanks once again for sharing your heart and, yes I agree with a previous comment, your GIFT. Bless you for embracing what the Lord has blessed you with.

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    1. Thank you for the compliment, Linette. The line can be blurry for me–if I had a friend headed down the wrong path, I'd want to share with them. However, I'd also want to make sure the issue was that important and know when to pull back when I've said enough. I think part of the problem is that I forget that Jesus needs to convict, not me.

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  6. I wonder if this debate will ever cease; working moms vs.
    stay-at-home moms. ALL MOMS WORK! And all moms work
    HARD! Whether it be at a 9 to 5 or home all day. The Lord blessed me in that i stayed home with my girls BUT i helped friends who HAD to work outside the home. God surely doesn’t want us to judge anyone; leave that to HIM. Honor HIM in all you do. And, pray tell, where does it state in the 10 commandments, that a woman stay home with her children???

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  7. I don't have time to read what other people wrote, but to me it just seems so incredibly simple: God has a different plan for each different life.

    "Some stay-at-home moms wrote posts exhorting other moms to stay home as God’s will, while other women argued back that God’s will for some mothers might be to work outside the home."

    Some moms do stay home and others go outside the home to work. It's really nobody's business what another mother does because that is between her and God and her and her family. Everybody's plan is different. That's why there are doctors, lawyers, pastors, teachers, nurses, etc.

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  8. I'll give you my thoughts on the matter. Proverbs 31, in my opinion, is good for both sides of the fence. the woman runs a good household, cares for her family, etc; Her husband can be confident in her that she is trustworthy and will not waste his money. On the other side of the coin in proverbs 31:16 it mentions she buys a field and with the money she "earns" she plants a vineyard. It sounds like she does more than just raise a family, take care of the house. Sounds like she does work to earn some money.

    I think God doesn't restrict a woman from working but her children should be a priority. Your Mom was a stay at home Mom and also for awhile worked part time and then as you girls grew, she went to work full time. You were never neglected; whether she was home fulltime or if she worked. So I think it's up to the indifvidual and what she can handle.

    Love, Dad

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  9. Jennifer
    Very interesting to read about this challenge and dilemma
    In Jewish tradition we have similiar challenge and it is often referred to in Scripture to Korath in Chapter 16 of numbers and his challenge to the leadership of Moses.
    Some commentators refer to it as "an argument not for the sake of heaven" – meaning it is for self serving purposes.
    A distinction I recently heard from Rabbi Sacks (chief rabbi of England) was that of seeking truth or trying to be "right". Those that believe they are "right" are ultimately seeking doing so with self serving purpose as Korath. Those seeking truth are open to hearing and accepting other interpretations.

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    1. Great distinction. I know I have personally been guilty of debating for the sake of being right, and I need to watch myself in the future to ensure I'm seeking truth and not some self-serving purpose. I don't want to see division in the church; we are supposed to be united as the body of Christ in the purpose of showing God's love to the world.

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  10. Beautifully written, Jennifer. I agree – we need to love & show grace. And, we need to be and show Jesus to others, rather than telling others what we think Jesus tells them to do.

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  11. This is a very interesting post Jennifer. You did a great job with it. I agree with you and I think that each family needs to pray about their decision and make it with the Lord. He doesn't call us each to the same thing. I also started wondering as I was reading how many of these fiercely devoted stay at home moms were praying for a strong christian woman to be there child's teacher in school this year. The debate could easy turn into a homeschool one if they truly believe all mother's should stay at home. Interesting…Thanks for the post!
    Shelley

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