Suffering for Jesus
Suffering for Jesus was something I was well acquainted with. I suffered for Jesus by serving in every area of our church without recognition. Giving years to an organization like a church is something we are supposed to do thankfully, in service to God. In Christianity, they call it your “reasonable service”. It’s what we tell ourselves when we’re cleaning bathrooms, sitting in the camera booth or trying to manage sixteen screaming children. We all are supposed to give because Jesus gave for us. I suffered for seven years that way, twice a week, with all my heart.
Suffering for Heaven
Every time the doors opened, I was there. For years, I served on committee after committee and in all the minor ministries within the church. I was faithful and didn’t look for any reward. My heart was right. It didn’t turn sour until I realized that suffering for Jesus meant that the only reward you got was coming in Heaven. With only a few top positions, churches take the cream of the crop, leaving the rest of the folks to support the pyramid. The pastors and leaders seemed to get their reward early. It took me a while to wake up but when I did, I realized nothing separated me from them.
Suffering for Pastor
There was a woman in her sixties serving in a church. I knew her. She suffered for Jesus by never being recognized for anything but being a baker. Every time the church needed some goodies, this older woman took money from her social security to provide a couple of big casseroles. This was where she was recognized. When I spoke with her, she told me she had a passion to speak. She even knew that it was teenagers she was drawn to. The pastor never recognized her spiritual gifts, just her ability to bake.
Suffering for Years
She was there for close to twenty years, an unsung hero. There was frustration on her part but, thankfully, she woke up. When she finally got up the nerve to switch churches, the pastor was angry with her. Not because she left, but because she took the church’s biggest tither with her. I witnessed it, and it helped me in my deconstruction. She felt that she had suffered for years for nothing.
Suffering without Reward
When I approached my pastor, the guy who was sending over fifty thousand dollars a month out to support outside missions, he told me they couldn’t help. Here I had been investing my “time, talents and resources” into his ministry for seven years and now that I needed help to go to Africa, he balked. It’s like a parent who gives to his community but when his kids need something, he doesn’t want to give because that might mean they’d leave home and quit supporting him.
Suffering to be Different
I talked my devoted pastor/father into supporting a group of four people for six months. His total gift, one hundred dollars. He suffered for Jesus and gave us a whole twenty-five dollars a person. That’s when I realized that the system was flawed. No matter what you invested, you were just a support to the machine and not really part of a family that wanted to support you. My desire started yearning for doing things differently. I wanted to support people who had supported me. I wanted to be a part of the family of God. These moments would be shared in my Frustrated Grace series.
Suffering for Truth
The bible mentions “gifts” that God disperses to men. One of those gifts, no greater than the others, is a pastoral gift. Somehow, that gift became elevated above all the other gifts. Then, somehow this gift jumped up to superstar status and had a title? First of all, if you wanted to be “biblical”, nowhere does the bible provide support for the title of “pastor”. Somehow, we got it upside down. A gift empowers a human being to be a better human being within the body of Christ but should never be used to lord over the body.
When I left the institutional church, walls kept falling down. I missed the group dynamic of the institutional church at first, but the more freedom I walked in, the more I was convinced that suffering for Jesus wasn’t what God wanted from me. My life began to take on new colors of joy and soon I was no longer pining away for the religion I had left. The moments that I had with God took on a deeper meaning. Even fellowship, though much less common than in religion, became a treasured serendipity for me.
Suffering, but that’s Life
Today, I don’t have to suffer for Jesus. Life has enough suffering for us to contend with. Now my relationship with God is a support when the world falls apart. I don’t have to ask God what I did wrong to deserve my car breaking down. I don’t feel that I have to pray a bad day away either. Oh, I still talk to God and I still pray. My life is just free from works based righteousness. I don’t do to get and I don’t get because I do. I also don’t get punished for not doing.
One last thing
In getting free of the Institutional system, I’m not “under” anyone else to live my life with my creator. It’s not that I am anti authority, I just enjoy the freedom of a spirit led life. When I made this choice, it was my experience and I don’t push that on anyone else. If church brings you satisfaction, then go. A pastor in Uganda said something profound to me years ago. He said, “Pastor Kimberly, you cannot tell people they don’t have to go to church. If you do, they won’t go.” I looked at him and said, “Isn’t that interesting?”
Available publications by PK Langley
PK writes short stories about life. They are in the form of ebooks for $1.37 each. Get them here.
Religious Deconstruction, The Frustrated Grace Series is now available, with over two hundred comic images on Amazon. You can get a preview of every single one here.
All Things Equal, is an exposition for women and how God
sees them from a very “biblical” point of view. It was what I needed in my first push toward deconstruction. If you are still in a church, and a woman, this is a great book to start. Get it here.
LangleyTown has a specific page for materials that will help you with your deconstruction. Find them here.
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