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Sunday, December 6, 2009

.75 cent Jesus

The church.
It's made up of many different lives coming together as a body of Christ.
Gathering together to worship Jesus one to two times a week.
Many churches preach the message of bringing in the lost "as is" and just loving on them.
Being Jesus to them I believe would be the correct "Christianese" terminology for this out reach.






But what does this really mean?
I mean, it's easy to cheer people on from the pulpit or place in leadership to be Jesus to others, but it's harder to actually step out and do the reaching.
Consistently.
Not everyone in the church is like this though.
Some actually don't just ask themselves WWJD, they just live it out.
Consistently.



It's easy to talk about reaching out to the city, to the ones who don't know Jesus, but to actually do it when you're face to face...whole other story.
So what if you were visiting a church that professed this stuff and someone in a leadership role approached you at the coffee center.
And the Jesus they left you with didn't match the Jesus they preached about from the pulpit?


If you have guessed something happened at church this morning to spur me to get on my blog and write from my heart, then you would be correct.




My son had two friends with him at church and after the service the boys went to get what they thought was free hot chocolate. A basket of cocoa packets seemed inviting to them as the snow was falling to the ground outside, so they were helping themselves when approached.




Approached by a woman who has a role of leadership at the church.
A woman known by many for her rudeness.
Consistently.
And that is what she approached my son and his two friends with this morning.
Over hot chocolate.
Telling them that each packet of hot chocolate is 75 cents.
And taking Aaron by his shoulders and telling him how he knew this.
How this time it would be "free", but next time they each need to put 75 cents in the money basket.
Not only approaching them once.
But twice in a matter of minutes.



I was packing up my stuff when my very embarrassed son came to me and told me of how rude she was. Knowing the reputation she has of being rude and witnessing it first hand, it was very easy to believe 3 boys over one rude woman.
So, I wrote out a check for $5.00, enough to cover 5 boxes of hot chocolate at Wal-Mart.
I put Hot Chocolate in the memo and went and handed it to her.
When asked what it was for and I said hot chocolate, without taking her eyes off the check, she waved her hand at me and walked away.
With my payment. And her rudeness.




Now as I share this, please know when my kids have come to me before on things, I am not the type of Mom who just "sides" with them. But taking in the reputation of this woman and after driving back to the church to talk with her, I know that I have 3 teenage boys that are not lying cocoa thieves on my hands. Just 3 boys that wanted some hot chocolate.
But above all of that he said she said garbage, this post is about what kind of Jesus we are to others.




So if you were this person in leadership how should you be to them?
Shoot, even if you're not in leadership, how should you be?

In the few moments you gave yourself permission to enter these kids' lives...what kind of Jesus would you leave them with?






BUT.
Let's say, before you approached them, you knew some inside information about them.
Would you leave them with a different type of Jesus?
A kinder one?
What if you knew....


That the 2 boys that came to church with us come from homes that their parents don't care about them. At all. One kid has spent up to four days with us before his dad has called his cell phone wondering where he is.




That yesterday morning Aaron and I attended their basketball game and I was both kids'"cheering Mom" because one kids' mom is back in jail after already serving 4 years and the other kids' Mom just doesn't care to watch him play or do anything.




That the reality of these 2 boys having a dime in their pocket let alone 3 quarters for a packet of overpriced hot chocolate is probably pretty low, especially when I know for a fact both boys receive free lunches from the government at school.




That both of these boys are really on their own. They both live on the north side of town and both get up early to catch a city bus to attend Southwest high school. A school that probably has the most supportive parents in the city. And that's just by looking at how many parents attend the sporting events wearing booster buttons with their kids' faces on them. But not theirs.




That one of the boys is not saved.
That the other boy became saved when he came to youth group with our son 3 years ago.
At this same church.




That these boys will ask to spend the night on Saturday night so they can go to church.
Any church.




That Aaron has been going through some real struggles himself lately at school. And how he doesn't even want to come to this church. And how Gene and I were just praising God he came this morning without an attitude.




So if you had the opportunity to approach these 3 boys this morning knowing all of the things above, would you approach them differently?
Would you not embarrass them and make them feel like they're stealing packets of hot chocolate?
Would you still take the time to make a sign on a hot pink card that says:
HOT CHOCOLATE
.75
A sign you took the time to place on the cocoa basket because you said "Aaron has done this before", even though he said he didn't know there was a charge for hot chocolate.






Because see, it doesn't matter if we know those things or not.


We're either clearly Jesus to others.
OR.
We're not.
Consistently.
When we have the love of Jesus in our hearts, the joy of Jesus comes oozing out of us.
Consistently.
And when we have pride and a need to control then that is what will come oozing out of us.
Consistently.




My husband grew up in a black southern church in Orlando, Florida.
One I have attended with him a few times when we go visit.
When talking with him this afternoon, I said this...


"You know for a fact Gene that the church you grew up in would've never acted like this.
Not one of those sisters in Christ would've approached these boys like this.
Instead, they would've said, "Baby are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Come with me to the kitchen and let me feed you while you sip on your hot chocolate."
Because bottom line is Jesus wouldn't want their measly 75 cents.
He wants their hearts.
And those women get that."


For years, I've heard my Grandfather tell a story of being embarrassed when he was a kid by a "church person".
He's 84 years old now and hasn't attended church since.
That was the Jesus he was introduced to.
And that's the Jesus he wants nothing to do with.






Not too long ago our pastor spoke about the different rooms in a house and how important the "foyer" is to welcoming new people, hurting people...everyone.
Does the foyer of your church have a hot pink sign up?






Being Jesus to "them"...

"Them" might just be 3 teenagers helping themselves to some hot chocolate in the
house of God's foyer.

What kind of Jesus will you leave them with?

A lost soul costs a whole lot more than 3 quarters.



~Many Blessings~

34 comments:

Jennifer said...

Wow Lelia, I am so sorry that happened to the boys. Some people just don't realize the impact they leave on others and it is such a shame. We are the body of Christ, His hands and feet and when we abuse that we hurt others. They see a Jesus that isn't the truth. Thank you for your honesty,it makes me check myself!!!

I hope you are recentering on Him and things are going well!!

Hugs-

Jennifer

Julie said...

Dear sweet Lelia,
This story makes me really sad... I'm so sorry those boys were treated in such a way...

Makes one think....about how they respond....

Thank you friend,
Love,
Julie

Andrea said...

Lelia,
This upsets me so very much. I am sick of people treating others this way. I feel as though I take 2 steps forward teaching hurting people about Jesus and woman/men like this woman come along and shove me back 5 steps damaging the LOVE of CHRIST I have tried to display.
It sounds like to me that someone needs to pay for a years supply of Cocoa so NO ONE is deprived. GOOD GRIEF..the cocoa could have been a wonderful ministry...instead it became something criminal.

Blessings, hugs, love, and lots of prayers, andrea

Acey said...

Lelia,

I don't know if it's the way you have of putting things in writing or just because I know and love those three boy's, but I was reading your blog to your mom and couldn't even finish it. Thanks for sticking up and loving those kids.

Dad

Anonymous said...

Leila,
I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, because I know the feeling. Probably from the same woman at the same church! My heart hurts so bad sometimes just thinking of the way that I was treated and my friends were also treated...I have several friends who never came back to the church, because of situations very similar to this one...something I have noticed is that not only do they act this way, they will turn around and not say something to the next person who commits the "same crime." I never understood that...I feel your pain and frustration on this issue probably more than you know! Situtions like this are never forgotten. I will join with you and pray for the church and this woman...because this is wrong and needs to be address and her heart needs to be softened!

Shannon Beck

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Profound question; profound answer.

Jesus doesn't want our three quarters; Jesus wants our hearts.

Between you and me, we've had quite a Sunday; good thing we're not together. We just might have caused some trouble:)

Thanks for being such a good mother and role model to these young men. You are sowing good kingdom seed, sister.

peace~elaine

Joyfulsister said...

Well you preach it sistah!!!
Like you said a sigh could have prevented this whole misunderstanding and saved those boys an embarrasement moment. Besides Kids and hot chocolate on a colds winter day is always a treat she should have just let them have it because there was no sign and so really it was no their fault at all.

Luv ya Sis... Blesssings Lorie

Pamela (His maidservant) said...

My friend I am sorry...how humbling this is to read. Praying the boys see Jesus despite that women!!

In His Graces~Pamela

Anonymous said...

Wow - I find your posting pretty hypocritical considering that at the top of your post you headline Psalm 19:14. What happened to the words of your mouth and the meditation of your heart being pleasing to the Lord? Certainly handling an offense in this manner can't be that pleasing to Him.

I certainly recognize you may have an offense but the bible says nothing about exposing the offender to everyone whom you can influence negatively. Besides, its really not your offense - it's your boys'. Perhaps wisdom would now dictate that you take him by the hand and lead him in the proper way of resolving conflict. Running to Mommy at his age of responsibility and accountability probably doesn't help his long term prospects of successful conflict resolution. Worse yet, is the example of exposing other's failings, and even worse is spreading the offense to others. Now at least 7 more (number who have posted comments so far) share your offense! Congratulations!

Doesn't everyone make a mistake from time to time? Or is everyone in your world suppose to be perfect, and treat you and your family perfectly. That's just not the real world, and it isn't even found in church. There is no perfect "church." We're all just needing a bit more grace and mercy everyday we live. I know I sure do. I'll bet most people in this church (probably 99%) love you and your family, and would never do anything to purposefully hurt you. I'm curious, did they stand with you in the past? Through the things you've gone through as a family? If the answer is even "yes, sometimes" then cut them a little slack. I'm sure someone has done the same for you in the past.

However, I do recognize writing it out and in this fashion, usually helps us feel so much more holy, sanctimonious and self-right(ous). It does feel good for a while - - but don't worry, that feeling will soon past, and you're left with nothing but your unresolved hurt.

I will be praying for you that in the future you may find 'greater words from your mouth and greater meditations from your heart.

And by the way - just in case your wondering, this is not being written by someone who attended that church in question. I belong to one, and it's not perfect either, but then, neither am I.

Lelia Chealey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great post!

mom said...

My Daughter,

Comments will come from many..some will come anonymously (they think).. some will come with a name. Some will come to you in love and other with criticism and hypocrisy. Anyone that knows your heart will understand this post. Your son came to you NOT knowing what you would do with the information you received (he probably would have preferred that you had said nothing). But you saw the bigger picture.

I am proud of you for turning your car around and trying to handle this problem face-to-face just to have her turn her back on you and walk away. Sis, I really feel that you showed these boys the love and protection of a TRUE AND HONEST mother today.
.
These boys need to see, feel and hear the love of Jesus. It is a shame they saw what they usually see everyday of their lives at home but today it was in the Lord's house. What happened today is an on-going problem and no one in leadership has taken the steps to correct it. Your dad spoke with the pastor about a year ago about this behavior to no avail.

God has given you a gift with paper and pen and the ability to share your heart with honesty using your face and name. In talking to you for many hours on this day, I know as your mom that you were protecting these young men that the Lord has placed in your care. I AM PROUD OF YOU!
I just hope that this will be a teachable moment for all involved and you will not be "de-friend-ed" because you used your blog to share your honest heart.

Anonymously,
Your mom

tiggerdaisy said...

Sweet, Lelia. I'm so glad you posted, but also so saddened by what transpired to cause this particular post.

I've read through the comments and I think your mom sums it up best. Not everyone will get your message or your heart, but Lelia, your post is a teaching. We need to hear about these times so we don't repeat them in the future.

There were 100 different ways this woman could have approached your son and his friends; she chose a hurtful one. In her mind, she is probably justified. In yours and mine, not so much.

I do hope that everyone involved will look at this situation and see how they can grow from it. I know that some of my words and actions do not glorify God; maybe it's because I don't fill myself up with Him constantly. Maybe it's because I don't pray without ceasing. Maybe, just maybe, your post is helping me realize what I need to do so that I don't sell a soul in exchange for a hurtful word, a justified attitude, a haughty pride, or for some pocket change.

I pray that your son and his friends can look past one encounter and see the Jesus other people are showing them. Consistently.

Prayers and blessings,
Rebecca

Kelley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kelley said...

Remember Lelia, God knows all the motives involved here and those who are using His name for personal gain or advancement will one day have to answer to Him, especially if they do so at the expense of children (just because they are taller than us doesn't mean they aren't still children). I know this isn't an isolated incident, as you have shared with me over the years that your parents, sister and daughter have been treated in much the same way....enough is enough and I am proud of you for finally being courageous enough to speak about it. It isn't easy but eventually even Jesus had enough of His Father's name being insulted, leading Him to react in righteous anger. As I said, God knows our hearts and our motives... calling yourself a pastor doesn't automatically turn you into one!

LynnSC said...

Wow Lelia! That post really spoke to me. I so totally understand your heart on this matter. I have seen this happen before... and sadly, I have done it before. Thankfully, my Father doesn't let me rest long before He confronts me with it. This is such a great reminder for all of us that are called by His name to be sure that we represent Him faithfully. I knew where you were going with this... and believe me... you went there. Don't worry about the comments of others... God knows your heart. He longs for His children to do what is right... which will lead others to Him... not turn them away.

With much love,
Lynn

Kelly said...

It's amazing how brave people can be when writing things anonymously....why not rather stand behind what you write and say who you are??
Lelia, I am sorry your son and his friends had to go through this.
What a wake-up call for the church, I wish everyone (including me!) who calls themselves a follower of Jesus would read what you wrote....
praying for us all....

Sita said...

Lelia, I've met quite a few ladies who are so concerned with the 'letter of the law' they forget to love. Unfortunately, many of them are in ministry somewhere, unloved, bitter and meting out pain to all and sundry probably as they were treated. In such cases, I have had to remind myself and now my boys that that is no reflection on Christ and the love He gives, but a reflection of a wounded person.
May God redeem His Name and glory to these boys as only He can.
Blessings to you and well said!

Unreasonable Grace said...

OUCH!

There is never a shortage of legalistic folk in church, huh?

I bet those boys know YOUR Jesus by the way you carry Him around with you. And I hope they can put HER Jesus out of their minds. Praying for them.

kim

Anonymous said...

Odd how the only negative comment is so personal! and made a point to say that they do not go to the same church! Made me sad and angry that my brother had to go through this and his friends. I will be praying for the lady. Hopefully this post opens some peoples eyes because i have a feeling that they have read this! GOOD POST MOMMA!!!
Remeber god is love!!
Love your daughter Alyssa

Sandra said...

Hi Lelia, this was sad to read but unfortunately, it happens and I'm glad you felt led to write about it. I have friends who've encountered negativity in the church and just stop going because of it. None of us are perfect but it doesn't give us the right to treat others so badly. Some of us are strong enough to know the difference but unfortunately, some of us are not and will not want any part of that type of christianity. I'm here for you friend, I'll be praying for the boys and the woman at the church.
Blessings, Sandra

Marlene said...

Hi Lelia, I'm sorry the children had to experience this type of attitude from an adult they should be able to love and respect. I'm even sorrier that your anonymous commenter didn't see the lesson you were trying to teach. I didn't see your message as a way to influence others negatively; I simply saw it as a way to point out how our behavior affects others for or against the church and/or Christ himself. I'm just curious - do you have to pay for coffee as well? At our church a couple of times a month we have donuts between church and Sunday School. They are donated by Sunday School classes or individuals. I've heard adults complain when children take two. For heaven's sake people, these are children. And you know how Jesus felt about children! He would have offered them three! blessings, marlene

Yolanda said...

I am so sorry that this happened not only to your son, but as you said, to two young men that need the love that they are so desparetly not receiving from with-in their own homes.

Honestly, I've never been in a church, where you had to PAY for coffee, hot tea, or hot cocoa.

Want to move to my home town? While we aren't perfect, we also strive to allow the Love of God to be poured into us to pour out onto others.

LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kim said...

FREE HOT COCOA for EVERYONE. I don't Jesus ask the people to pay for bread and fish when feeding the 5000. :)
Loved the story ! And even better because it is true. Thank you so much for letting your child be a wittness to other children.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Wow...look at you Miss Lelia. I don't visit blogland land and you go and write such a moving post. You have moved me to tears. I'm without words or appropriate words. It is so sad to know people who know Jesus aren't continually not being Jesus. I understand we all have bad days but one who continually has a rep for being rude...that's just sad for the Kingdom.

I've read through the comments and though some seem to not deserve any more attention...my heart and flesh cannot reserve...YOU Lelia are NOT a hypocrit but maybe someone who hides behind anonymous does so because he/she is a hypocrit.

I agree, your momma said it best. You are gifted writer and you are a loving person. Your posts are always real and provoke pondering deeper. I always walk away enriched and challenged in my own life.

I better stop because I feel the HOLY anger rising in me. Biting my tongue, sister, because my flesh wants to speak. I just want to hurl...is that unHOLY to say? Hey, I'm not perfect but you know Jesus did portray Himself in holy anger in the temple.

I love you much and hope EVERY read reaps from your deep thoughts!!!!

I think you hit the nail on the head when you referenced your grandfather. Look at the impact that has had on him. I can only pray that the unsaved boy doesn't turn from Jesus because he was given hatred over three quarters instead of grace and love.

Twinkle Mom @ Sunflower Faith said...

That was an awesome and moving post and a straight to the heart conviction for anyone who goes out there "In the Name of Jesus".

Thank you and God Bless You for sharing this.

valerie said...

I'm sorry that your son and his friends were embarrassed this way. Like you said...had there been a sign "Hot Chocolate .75" your son would have paid or come to you for money for him and his friends. I am an adult and I would have assumed it was free too. And, by the sound of this woman she probably would have said the same thing to me, and adult, and I probably would have gotten my feelings hurt. :) There were probably several people who were told the same thing that day.
She could have even said it in a nice way.....like "Oh, I guess I really should put a sign on the basket so people know."
How in the world were the kids to know? I'm convinced some people enjoy the power they feel when they make someone feel lower or just plain dumb. Or, maybe they simply just don't have a very sensitive, compassionate heart. Or, maybe they really are oblivious??? I don't know, but I pray these boys know the reputation of this woman and don't look at the church as a whole in this way.
Thank you Lelia for having such a sweet, nurturing heart. These boys are so blessed to be able to have a friend like Aaron and a family who wants to see them taken care of.
God bless you, my sweet friend!
Love you!

Lea said...

Hey Lelia,
I'm really sorry all of this happened. Reading this will definitely make me more mindful of my actions and the Jesus I show. I hope and pray God's love just shines through this incident and RESTORES every hurt. I'm praying for yall.
Holykisses my friend,
Love ya bunches, Lea

Carol said...

Wow. This was powerful and heartbreaking. I so agree with you. I pray we never put pink signs up in the the foyer of our hearts as we invite others in for fellowship with Him inside of us.

Kelly said...

Dearest Lelia ~ Your heart bleeds such a love for Jesus, and it is so abundantly obvious that you want others to know Him for who He really is and like you do, too!! I love stopping by your blog and reading your thoughts "from your heart" as you encourage, challenge and convict me to have that same passion for Him. And I thank you for that and for your transparency!!

And this story that you relay does make me sad -- not only for the boys involved, but like many have confessed, I, know that I, too, have failed in this way to show Christ's love to others. As someone who has the great responsibility and privilege of overseeing the children's ministry in our local church, there have been times when I know that I have put "things" before "little hearts"; and have expressed myself rudely and impatiently, instead of lovingly and graciously towards them. :(

Yet, I hope I am not misunderstood when I share that it, also, makes me sad to read many of the comments, too, that encourage "righteous anger." Please know and hear my heart, but I wanted to share that I can understand a little of what your "anonymous" reader was trying to say. So, often, when we are offended or sinned against, we wave that banner and justify our response as "righteous anger" instead of seeing that God may be placing in OUR lives an opportunity to "be Jesus" towards that person who has wronged us and show others His amazing patients and mercy.

As you continue to pray about all of this, as I am sure that you have been, I just wanted to encourage you with this passage from Colossians 3:12-15, "And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful."

As I know that you and your family will face this woman again this coming Sunday, I want you to know Lelia, that I am praying for you, dear friend. "Be Jesus" towards this woman, being diligent to persevere the unity of the body, and show those three boys just how amazing His forgiveness and mercy is!! We are GREAT sinners, but HE is a GREAT Savior!

Lelia Chealey said...

Hi Kelly!!! :)
It's so funny because God has really been working on my heart too this week. Thank you so much for your encouragement, I recieve it with my whole heart. I in no means dislike or hate this woman and I don't think I handled myself in the most respectful way when we talked after church. Probably should've waited until the flesh cooled down. :) It sure has made me aware of how I have boldly walked into God's house and treated others I'm supposed to love like crap. So, this has been an eye and heart opener for me, which is always a good thing. Thanks so much for your encourgement done in nothing, but total love.

Lauren said...

Dear Jesus,
I pray that our church show You.
Amen.

Connie said...

Preach it sister but most of all.....you need to get this published!!! IT'S GOOD and a great REMINDER to all of us!!!

Connie

nancygrayce said...

I came over to visit from Connie's blog. Isn't is great that God's greatest gift is totally FREE! That nothing we do on our own can ever buy it, but that He just gave it to us?

Thanks for the reminder that we are the only Jesus some people will ever see and the only Bible they will ever read.