I want to talk to you about a hideous and unbecoming frenemey of mine who is sassy in a bad way: Jealousy. No one in the world likes Jealousy but she gets invited EVERY. WHERE. Every time she shows up I’m like, “Gosssssh who even invited her here, can we just not?” but then I remember… I did. It was me who let her into my friendships, my classes, and my walk with God.
And it’s atrocious. And unhelpful. Jealousy in the church does nothing but divide us. We have this weird hierarchy of gifts and abilities and experiences that doesn’t exist in scripture. Paul even wrote to the Corinthians about being jealous of one another’s spiritual gifts: “seriously knock it off or so help me.” I’m paraphrasing. What he actually says is beautiful: There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
It is very easy for me to be resentful of those in the church who speak to God so smoothly and beautifully. When I pray out loud it sounds like a shy 6th grader giving a presentation on seedless plants in science class (I was a shy 6th grader who once had to give a presentation on seedless plants – just stab me). This isn’t how God and I communicate one on one, but as soon as others are in the mix I can not control the stammer. The church is full of really lovely people, frankly it’s easy to be jealous instead of joyous.
Today it seems I am using this blog as a form of really really public confession: one thing in particular that I get quite green eyed over are really impressive testimonies – those really BIG meetings with God. Every story of finding God (I tried to word that in a way that wasn’t to stereotypically churchy but I failed) is incredible because the act itself is unreal, but thanks to that made up hierarchy, I fool myself into believing that sure, maybe all are beautiful, but some are MORE beautiful.
When I hear amazing conversion stories I am celebratory for maybe half a second, but then I feel.. boring?Less qualified? Lame?
A dear friend of mine was an atheist all her life up through high school, having never even heard about Christ. She went to Barnes & Noble to buy a Bible in hopes of being able to oppose the idea of God more effectively and instead what she found in the pages was Jesus. He wanted her right then and there. Now, she is a Daughter of God to be reckoned with.
And I get jealous of this. Because it’s interesting and unique and it’s got that “wow factor”.
As if the purpose of sharing our stories is to “wow” our listeners.
I want to turn over a new leaf. I want to cherish the way He has chosen to dance with me and to celebrate the way He dances with others. He has reminded me that what is truly beautiful is that He has died for my shortcomings to reveal a new creation in me. What is beautiful is that God would meet with us at all.
When I meditate on it, I know that God revealed Himself to me in the way that I most needed Him to. It is beautiful in its own unique way. We are lifelong friends, God and I, and that is perfect for the sentimental gal’ I tend to be.
All I can say about how it began was that He claimed me early on. The earliest age I can recall was when I was three years old: I had fallen into our swimming pool – and ultimately was pronounced dead for 10 minutes before ‘coming back’ but that’s another blog post – and I can vividly remember being underwater. It was calm and peaceful and Christ was with me. I get how sunday schoolish that sounds, but drowning isn’t peaceful. My nephew who was a year older than me (our family structure is so weird, don’t worry about it) saw me fall in and was screaming for help but I didn’t hear any of it. I didn’t hear screams, I didn’t feel the water entering my body, I didn’t notice how my breaths were unobtainable. There is no reason why I should have been anything other than terrified. But I wasn’t, because Christ was holding me. I felt Him and I wasn’t afraid. Even as a child who knew nothing of theology or the intensity of walking with the Lord, I knew when I felt my God.
I get goose bumps when I think about God’s pursuit of me and how early it began. How He didn’t let a moment of my life pass by apart from Him. This is what I need to focus on when that punk jealousy shows up and insists that being raised in the Lord lacks the luster that an apostle Paul type conversion possesses.
There is no room for jealousy (frankly, anywhere) in the church. If you tend to be like me, so envious of the way that God relates and moves with others, I encourage you to “seriously knock it off”. If you’re in Christ, you are a new creation. That is beautiful no matter how it happened.