*Note: This post is humorous to me because it’s about how people, at their cores, stay essentially the same… yesterday’s post was about redefining self. I didn’t even notice the apparent contradiction there as I was working on both posts last week. 🙂
I knew a couple who served faithfully at the first church I went to. For a really long time – I don’t know exactly how long it was – they were the backbone. They helped with worship and the youth program, administration, and filled in gaps where no one else was serving. They did some growing up from kids into teenagers and from teenagers into adults in that church. And they were brilliantly in love with God and doing more serving than most people do in a lifetime.
After some time, the couple decided to leave the church.
And all hell broke loose.
People asked ridiculous questions about this couple, their relationships with God, and their relationship with each other. Leadership who had known them since they were kids said things that just… they said horrible things.
About the same time this was happening, I was seriously dedicated to the TV show Smallville. For those of you who don’t know the show, Lana is always trying to be in love with Clark, but she knows he’s keeping a secret from her (the secret is that he’s SUPERMAN!). They date sometimes, and then they break up. They have angst and hurt, and he contemplates telling her about his true identity, but never does.
So… in this one scene, Lana has gone to Lex Luthor and is asking him if she should trust Clark one more time. She feels like he’s changed and the relationship is going to work this time; Lex says something that has stuck with me ever since. He tells Lana that he can’t advise her in specifics, but that he can tell her one thing: people aren’t what they seem to be in any given moment. People are who they were the first day you met them, and every day after that. It’s a whole relationship with history and depth.
I remember hearing that and loving how it applied to the couple who left my church. All through the years, they’d been faithful servants to God. They’d selflessly given time, emotion, energy, money, etc… They hadn’t done it perfectly, but in the years of serving beside them and learning from their example, I’d seen their heart. There wasn’t anything that could have convinced me their relationship with God was horrible, their marriage was failing, or that anything else about who they were had changed. They were servants, and remain servants to this day.
Another example I think of is in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It’s been a really long time since I read it or have seen the movie (so forgive me for messing it up a little). Basically, Lucy tells her brothers and sister that there’s this whole magical world inside the wardrobe, and they’re like, “Are you crazy?”
She feels pretty hurt that they don’t believe her, and they’re upset enough about it that they end up talking to the professor (their adult at the time).
“Does Lucy often lie?” he asks them.
“Well… no. She’s one of the most honest out of all of us, but what she’s saying isn’t possible.”
The professor marvels at the flaws in their education with regard to logic and reality, and he scolds the kids for not trusting Lucy because they know that she doesn’t lie. They know her character and her heart.
People don’t instantaneously become something other than what they’ve been all along. This is true in writing too. Characters act within their nature. If a character is dishonest, he’s most likely to be dishonest if given the opportunity. If he’s shy, he’s most likely to be shy. If prayerful, he’s most likely to pray. Servants with great marriages who love Jesus don’t all-of-a-sudden become evil jerks who’re trying to bring down the church. They sought God before I knew them, and I have confidence that they’ll continue to seek Him if we ever completely part ways.
And it kills me that that’s where we go first. It kills me that a couple who had such an amazing heart for God and service is cynical and suspicious of the church because of so many different wrongs… because we can’t believe that peoples’ relationships with God continue on in beautiful brilliance regardless of their proximity to us. Regardless of how their path spits from our own and takes them a different direction.