Sunday, March 07, 2010
Church did not go well today, for me. As part of the leadership, I messed up on a PR opportunity and though I was graciously forgiven, I still feel bad. There is another issue, one I have no control over, no say about but somehow I think I will get some mud on my face with that one as well.
The whole thing makes me think back a decade ago to when my husband, myself, our best friends and three other families decided to start Grace Fellowship, a rather contemporary church in a town that leans on the conservative side. There is a church representing about every denomination and about three Baptist churches for every one of those, one even on the south of town called the "Primitive Baptist", I have always been curious about that one.
We didn't want to start a new church, more often a pastor comes into an area and builds support and starts one. But this time, we were a group of families who saw a need and established a church and then sought after a pastor who fit in with our philosophies and got very lucky!! ( in case he ever reads this)
For many years we were involved in another church, invested in it and tried to help it and basically were pushed out of it with a very ugly smear campaign- in other words we got "churched"
Some did not want my husband to be an elder- so they let it be known that I had a problem with pornography- i.e.- that as an artist I was doing a figure drawing session with nude models.
Looking back, climbing that mountain, I think I left about a pound of my flesh behind, mostly, no actually, entirely from others who professed to be believers.
It is a funny feeling to know that as you are imploring God to bless your endeavors, there are others who are just as fervently praying that those endeavors would fail and that He would protect the world from the heretics, (me being one of those heretics) .
Christendom has always been like this, Paul disagreed with the Council in Jerusalem about many things and sometimes with his own traveling partners, sometimes parting ways for a while because of it.
But to take my art, the gift I so believe God gave me, that saved me through a otherwise rough childhood, to attach something so vile like "pornography" to it, declaring that if I stayed in that church I wouldn't be allowed to teach the children, to know there were meetings to discuss what to do with me, was well... humiliating. As was the little old ladies calling me and begging me to tell them it wasn't true- and I had to tell them it was true, that I was an artist, that I had an art degree and well, yes I did on occasion brush up on my figure drawing skills, like any of the artist that we had talked about from old- who painted wonderful paintings of "Jesus", well they probably also studied the body, did they have a problem with pornography?
Art and children are what I am the most passionate about- so there was no way to cut me deeper. I wasn't alone- many of us got smeared in just as painful ways.
And it strengthened our resolve as a group and Grace is about to celebrate a decade as a church, where the biggest insult we were given at the time, is continually evident- "we will let about anyone in through the doors to worship!" -which has made things interesting~!
But today- as a Christian in leadership, I had to remind myself of something that I started to learn back then- a promise-
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2
I need to try my best, but I cannot be condemned when I screw up! Why- well let me put it this way- Jesus is the "biggest bad-est dude in the universe and I belong to him!" What he is saying here and in other place in the New Testament is that though the idea can be distasteful in our modern era- I am his servant and he is my master- I am under his authority but I am also under his protection, since I belong to him, no one else can condemn me- hands off- he is the only one who can touch me, but he has forgiven me and if you touch me, you answer to him ~~ !
I have sat in front of completely naked models since then and sketched away- asking Christ if it was okay- and fully am convinced it is and that I would have more to answer for if I stopped using the gift He gave me, instead of trying and sometimes failing at using my art and writing for His glory.