Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Of Buses and Betrayal

We all understand what it means to be "thrown under the bus"... the purpose can be a little vague, but betrayal is something that is an all too familiar feeling to us as human beings.  I know that I personally am well acquainted with the meaning of the phrase and although the pain of getting beat up under the said "bus" can be intense, sometimes the pain of being betrayed and thrown under is worse.

You feel that you are united to other Christians in a significant and inexpressible way; but there are moments where sin becomes so overwhelming that bonds are broken and backs are stabbed.  What should've been a chain linked arm and arm in spiritual warfare for the kingdom of heaven, becomes a spiritual blood bath against each other.

One thing that I notice in my own heart is the need to justify myself.  I hear the lies and I instantly want to jump on top of it and bring justice!  I hate deceit, but sometimes my desire to rid the world of deceit becomes obsessive and I feel frustrated when my attempts fail.  When I feel like the scape goat in a situation, I bristle and fight it.  When others seek to taint or even ruin my reputation, I fight like a maniac to try and *fix* it all. 

But you know, I would rather someone ruin my reputation and make me the scape goat, then make someone else.  I don't like seeing my friends or brothers and sisters in the Lord suffer... so if it happening to me, means that it doesn't happen to them, I will bear that burden and it is selfish of me to despise being hurt.

It is an attitude of selfishness rising up inside of me that says "I don't deserve this".  Instead of fighting it because of how I feel, I need to fight it because the recognition that the deceit on the villains part will destroy them and bring them to total ruin.  Instead of acting on a selfish motive, I need to act on a selfless motive... an act that is driven by a love for the Lord and His people--Not a love of myself. 

Which is why reputations don't matter to me.  Gossip, slander, hatred, envy, lying, deceit, anger and every other thing that seems to be targeted at the core of my being, all don't scare me anymore.  It does not matter.  What matters is that Jesus is Lord and His way is perfect and more than worth fighting for.

My heart is broken at times.  I feel betrayed and hated--but so did Jesus Christ.  Only He didn't deserve it because He was perfect, and I am hopelessly flawed and deserving of death.  But He has chosen me and bestowed His righteousness on me and I.am.free. (Galatians 5:1)  I don't need anything else.  Being addicted to other peoples' praise is a dangerous thing and one that will certainly let us down.  Friends don't matter.  Having people like you doesn't matter.  Respect, devotion, loyalty and support aren't things that are going to save you.  You're not going to die if people who claim the name of our Savior, then turn around and spew venom from the same mouth they proclaim blessings.  All that matters in this life is that lost souls see the work of salvation that God has wrought in your own heart.

 I feel so overwhelmed with grief at times.  A lot of these blog posts are written from a time where I was going through a painstaking trial and this post is no exception.  I've laid so much on the line and it haunts me everyday.  So why does it haunt me?  Because I had a picture in my mind of how life among Christians should operate and when it didn't happen that way, I felt hopeless.  

One chief lesson I have learned in most of my miserable moments, is that just because things are supposed to happen a certain way, doesn't mean that they automatically will happen that way.  Just because people are supposed to act in a way that exemplifies dignity and noble character, doesn't mean that is what they will default to.  Feeling challenged can be a rather enlightening thing for those around us.  It usually shows the people who surround us what kind of heart we really possess.  The tricky part is that if we have a black heart--a heart of stone, we can hide it for a little while, but the Lord will reveal it all in due time.  Whether for our salvation or our damnation, He will do what is best and that means that our lies and our deceit will come out of the woodwork.  Unfortunately, that means that others are probably going to have to be hurt in the process and that is where I am at right now.  I see how God is using trials and difficult situations in my life to reveal a *greater* web of lies and deception; but He is also using it to show me the places in my heart where I am indulging my own flesh and desires.  He is using it all to grow me and make me resilient and further dependent on Him for satisfaction and happiness. 

When I feel most despondent and sad, I go and I just read!  I just inundate myself and God never fails to comfort me.  The more I delve into God's Word the more He shows me and it brings me such peace and joy.  One scripture that really stood out to me in my reading today, came from Proverbs and was very applicable to some of the current difficulties I am facing...
"Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him..." -Proverbs 27:22

That verse made me see that it does not matter what I do.  It does not matter how hard I try to justify unjust circumstances, a fool's folly will not depart from him.  God has to do that work, and He can use others in a mighty way, but if I scream at the top of my lungs from every roof top I can find, it might prevent others from being deceived, but the root of the deceit will still be there and that is what really counts. 

So as we endeavor to battle against the evil that ensues us, may we cast off all fear we have of our own desires and be challenged to ask ourselves if our motive is for the kingdom of heaven, or for our own wounded egos. 

"The wicked flee when no one pursues...
But the righteous are bold as a lion." -Proverbs 28:1


Salman said...

Superb!!! Thanks for the effort and also thanks for sharing.
Quotes About Moving On

David Price said...

Hey Shelby! Your post title intrigued me on facebook so I thought I'd come over and take a gander. You stated...

"I had a picture in my mind of how life among Christians should operate"
I'm just curious if you wouldn't mind unpacking a little bit of that picture for me. The reason I ask is I have been wrestling with similar issues and I'm interested in comparing notes.

My perspective of what a Christian community should look like has change very dramatically over the past several years. So I'm excited to see someone else working through the same topic.

Shelby Courtney said...

My comment was too long! haha So I'm going to try and leave it in two comments and hope it works!

Shelby Courtney said...

Hey David!

What I guess I had a picture of was very similar to that chain I mentioned in the post as well. Where even through differences, the Body of Christ could unite to combat the wiles of the enemy together. Particularly the young adults. I think that so much highschool like drama pervades, only most of us were home educated, and are now adults who are no longer highschool age. Everyone is jealous of each other, or seeking another persons ruin. I notice this pretty badly about girls, but have encountered my fair share of guys who mistreated others as well. I am a huge people person! I love people and as a result, I want to be friends with everyone. I love discussing ideas and topics where you really come away and feel like you've been challenged and have genuinely learned something.

I guess in my "dream", I see a body of believers who forebear with one another. Where they have the other persons best interest at heart and are not always seeking their demise. For me, I won't lie when I say that I have had moments where I regretted laying it all on the line to try and restore another persons reputation at the cost of tarnishing mine, but honestly, if I can't be self-sacrificing, what kind of Christian am I?

I think one other thing for me, is deception... I understand there being *sin*, believe me! I am a chief sinner! I have bad attitudes towards people, I do not love when I should and I know the wickedness that rears it's ugly head in my own heart. But... and this is a big but, I can see it and admit it. I don't try to hide the fact that I know I am bitter towards some bad things that have happened to me, but I genuinely see it and want to work out of it by God's grace. I think that when deception is so huge and it's among as many of the older generation as it is the younger, we have a bit of an issue. Not to say there won't be an act of deception, but it has to be identified and repented of. No one wants to repent anymore. I know how hard it is to admit you were really wrong, but when it is done, it is so immensely freeing!

Shelby Courtney said...

I think that there are so many hurting people out there, and as the Body of Christ, who has been shown such amazing amounts of love and mercy, we are to reach out to those hurting, those who are outcasts and those who are unloved and show them what it means to be truly loved by Jesus. If they toss it back in our face, fine... if our motive was pure in extending it, then our hearts should break for those who refuse it. But look at all the homeless people, or people living in horridly abusive homes. Think about the people who woke up and had no idea they were going to be raped or murdered today. I just think that we get so focused on our own selfish motives when there is an entire world around us suffering more than we could ever imagine. So when I see a 20 something young woman, become angry at another adult young woman over a guy, or a friend, or anything of the like, my heart sinks because I see how much productivity we are losing. Sure, we all have moments where we sin! I will raise both hands to that, but it's like we can't be united, ya know? It's like we can't get over the hump of our own desires and see the greater good. I've been slammed by the world... but when I step into a body of believers and get slammed too, I have to wonder how bitter and sweet water can flow from the same source. And again, I am not talking about single instances, but almost like a lifestyle. I think that I've dealt with that kind of stuff on the internet and it didn't bother me, but to go to other believers where you're supposed to feel accepted and loved because you all have a common link in Jesus, and be treated like the world treats you, it makes a giant question mark arise in your mind and you wonder what is wrong.

I think when Paul would talk about those who were helping him advance the Gospel, or when he would thank God for whoever he was addressing the epistle to, I saw this little glimpse of how we should think about each other in the Body. How we should be spurring one another onto good works and be as iron sharpening iron, but instead we stab each other in the back. The relationship between David and Jonathan just amazes me and is something that I think is so fantastic! Jonathan wasn't jealous that David was going to have the throne and become king! He *loved* David and even went against the grain of his own father to protect David.

Anyhow, I apologize for getting long winded! It is a fascinating subject to me and one I have had on the brain for a long time. ;) I hope that was all clear and not too scatter brained.

Joenne Courtney said...

Hi dearest daughter -- Just a note to say you have done an excellent job here of NOT making this about yourself, but seeing God's hand in our suffering we have endured and that we are not God and cannot change those who are in sin. I believe this is God's way of sorting out the Believers from the unbelievers. When we suffer at the hands of other self-proclaimed believers, and it is because of their sin, and they refuse to repent or even acknowledge their own sin, then we have to at least consider why they are unable to confess and deal with their own sin. I love that you do not put the focus on them, but on how we are to deal with them and how we can comfort ourselves in the midst of the battle, by recognizing God and using His Word as our guide and truth. We have been deceived and misled and horribly treated, but know this, that God is with us, He is for us and He will reveal all of this over time. You have stated beautifully the Reason for our joy and perseverance. It is all because of Him, our beautiful Savior, Who holds us, even when it doesn't feel like it. You are right, nothing else matters, but Him. He paid the price, He owns us, no one else, we are His and happy to be that and that alone. Good work once again. I have a hard time writing in the midst of such unbearable pain, but you do it beautifully. I love you.

David Price said...

It appears we're struggling with similar topics. I have often asked myself why can't Christians just get along? Obviously there's a call for challenging one another (iron sharpens iron), but for the most part I have seen loads a Christians, reformed individuals love to pitch their tent on mole hills waiting to become martyrs for their belief. We reformed individuals like to pick fights and draw lines. Through the course of my study one passage has really stuck with me and that's Romans 14. Putting those who are weaker before oneself. This has been monumental in my life. Both this passage and really realizing that the law of God is summed up by "love". The confusion though comes with the true definition of love. I don't believe we're are called to overlook the blatant sin in our brother's and sister's life, but I do believe it's important to focus on the fact that they're brothers. The objective should never be to break one another into submission, but to win one another into unity. Anna and I were talking about this a couple days ago. The church universal isn't united as it should be. Why? I believe it's partly because we're immature. We lack the ability to properly discern the body of Christ. The body is comprised of all those who carry the name of Christ. Those who are baptized into the Christ's name. Are they all believers in the ultimate sense? No, I've seen baptized individuals fall away from the faith. After all John 15 addresses this describing them as branches which bear no fruit and are cut off.

Where am I going with this?

Romans 14:17-21 sums it up pretty much for. As I mentioned I love Chapter 14, it is very humbling.

17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

It's about seeking peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Laying aside our own desires even if they're clean and pure.

Shelby Courtney said...

Thank you mom! I love you too!

Shelby Courtney said...

I totally agree! It's like with modesty... everyone has a different definition; however, we should be careful when we know we are going to be around those weaker in the faith. I do not think that means you have to change your own personal style--but, if I think that a sleeveless shirt is fine to wear, and I am around others who find it immodest, I should try and make a deliberate decision to refrain from wearing something that is offensive to those who are weaker in their faith. Now, I do not think if it is something that is accidentally done I would be at fault, but if I wear it on purpose, just to irritate, then my heart is most definitely in the wrong place. Same thing with wine, if I am going to have guests over who disapprove of any alcoholic consumption, then it would be very unloving of me to whip out a bottle of port while they were at my home. :)

I think where I am struggling is how do I love others and remain faithful to the Lord... If someone is being deceptive, what do I do? I can't change them, but if I stand against the deceit, then God could use my standing against it to plant a seed of conviction if He should choose to do so. But I notice that my heart gets more concerned with how I have been a doormat as opposed to being concerned about the other person's soul. It's like going on a "I'm saying all this in love" kick and then saying whatever I want to say and ranting however I want to rant and putting a stamp of "in love" on it. That is not love, that is using love as an excuse to say whatever I feel. So that is one area that I am struggling with. How do I keep my heart in check while standing against evil? How do I stand for the truth and defend my brothers and sisters in the Lord, without letting it wound my spirit and break my heart? I adore Galatians because every time I read it, God ministers to me every single thing I have been set free from. I don't have to worry about all the things I worry about. I don't want to do things out of a selfish motive and I have been set free from the sin that would so easily entangle me into fighting for my self, but I do want to do what is right! I do want to battle against the evil that pervades the modern church. Jude is another favorite because it stresses the importance of standing up for what is right and defending the faith.

It's so hard! But the principle of not offending a brother has been on my mind a lot. And also, there was place in Romans that talked about God being the one to take vengeance and that really stood out to me. I have absolutely no power to change anyone and so it is silly of me to try.

Boy are things tough to figure out sometimes...