I used to go to this church where the pastor talked about how each of us reflects aspects of God’s character more vividly than others.
We all know that person that is so full of grace and forgiveness.
There’s the person who cultivates community better than others.
A mother who nutures the people around her.
The boss who serves her team well.
This church was really into understanding personalities. I still remember taking multiple personality tests as part of their membership class.
I thought it was really stupid. I still think it’s pretty stupid.
But I could be on board with understanding the character of God. I figured I could find out what I reflected most about God and learn to reflect the aspects of God I lacked.
3 years into a career in the Independent Living Philosophy, I was burnt out. I quit my job and started working as a kids club attendant for LA Fitness. A few weeks into working there, I discovered that the manager was violating labor laws. The staff was planning to all quit on the same day in retaliation.
A fire was ignited in me. If they quit, not only would they have no jobs but the problem wouldn’t be solved. The gym could just find more workers.
No. I would act. I mustered whatever courage I had and called one of the vice presidents for the district. She was understandably annoyed that a lower level staff was calling her on her cell phone but I couldn’t watch my coworkers get hurt anymore.
The situation was resolved and things got better. I learned that my driving force was advocacy. I was an advocate in every sense of the word. No matter where I was, I would always advocate for people who couldn’t or didn’t know how or were too afraid to advocate for themselves.
The greatest story of advocacy is Jesus. He rarely defended himself but he always advocated for the people society mistreated. The Pharisees oppressed people less educated, with less power than them.
And Jesus was pissed.
He overturned tables, confronted the Pharisees, sat with sinners and scoundrels. He set an example for how we should treat the oppressed. Even more importantly, he showed us how to confront the oppressors themselves.
He was and is the greatest advocate.
I decided I would ask another pastor from one of the other locations for help. I had been fighting for reconciliation with the church I had been removed from for quite some time and thought I would ask for help.
He refused. He said it didn’t seem particularly necessary.
She almost died. I could hear the Holy Spirit ringing in my heart. She tried to kill herself because of what the church did to her. Is her life worth anything to you?
He pointed out my sin.
I could feel Jesus shaking his head in disgust. She has already repented. This is unnecessary. If you are without sin, you can throw the first stone.
The pastor told me I could go to another congregation within the church. He did not suggest his congregation. My heart broke.
I would have offered you a seat at my table. Jesus comforted me.
I mustered up whatever grace I had and said thank you and ended the conversation.
I am learning that not everyone reflects the character of advocacy of God. They don’t see oppression and rise up to do something about it. That’s not a bad thing. Some people reflect his teaching and story telling. Others are good shepherds.
I just know that I can’t watch someone get hurt by the church and not do anything about it.
The church doesn’t need another person telling them what they’re doing wrong. They need real help from someone who loves them and wants to see them be the bride of Christ to the fullest.
Someone told me recently that when they think of my business, they think of the word advocacy.
I really hope I live up to that.