Reflections of a Broken Man

On The Unlovely by StephenMac
August 30, 2009, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Reflections

**Currently listening to: Breaking – Anberlin… concert was awesome on Friday night, but a bit loud… first four songs were indistinguishable :S **

I work in a church in the south west. It is in a housing commission area, which means that the people who leave around the area are often there for a reason. Some of them are there because they can’t work, and the reasons for not working sometimes involve disabilities, mental or physical. Let me make it quite clear that I am not saying that everyone who lives in housing commission is disabled, nor do I want to even hint that I am giving that impression. However, the few people who come to our church from the area sometimes have interesting peculiarities.

I spoke today with a man who suffers distressingly from post-traumatic stress and depression (we had a long conversation about the UFO that he saw). Another regular has a very quirky nature that many people find difficult to get along with, though whether that’s just his personality or something else I’m not sure. These two gentlemen in particular have very saddening and lonely lives. They have few friends, usually no family at home with them, and immediate family are not close by. They are restricted by transport and inability to travel themselves. They are socially awkward, difficult to connect with, and usually emotionally draining.

These are the people Jesus chose to hang out with quite a bit.

It got me thinking today. Church should be filled with the unlovely. Or if not filled, then at least have a significant number. Jesus chose to hang out with the social outcast, the difficult to love, the high maintenance, the emotionally draining. Why isn’t my church filled with these people?!? I’m not saying that I’m a social caste above anyone else, I’m the first to admit that to others, I’m probably just as socially awkward, etc, just as unlovely as these guys that I’m describing. But my last church was the same, filled with mainly well-to-do people, people who were easy to love, easy to get along with. If God chose the weak and the foolish to shame the strong and the wise, then my church should reflect that. Yes, I am weak, and yes, I am foolish: my point is that church should be filled with these people. A friend of mine described them as the poor in spirit. We need to reach out to these people.

Another thought that struck me today was how to connect with them. On a personal note, they are sometimes emotionally draining: I spend much of my time sitting and chatting with them, and by the end of it, I feel exhausted. This may have something to do with the fact that I’m an introvert, and any social contact is draining, but anyway… How do you connect with them? Sharing your life with them is possibly the most important, knowing that they are no more or less a brother or sister in the Lord. Spending time with them is important, and not simply brushing them off because they are difficult. But what happens when this means that other people are neglected? I am also the youth minister at my church, and I love spending time with my group – they’re an awesome group. Sometimes, it’s not easy, nor wise, to mix the two groups for various reasons. And in these situations, how do I balance time with the two groups?

We are all unlovely. Whatever else, we need to make sure that our churches are welcoming for everyone, loving everyone (loving the unlovely), not showing favouritism for anyone, or we are nothing different from the rest of the world.



1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

yep. and yep.
but it’s not easy, it is draining, and that’s part of the reason we should be a church community, not just individuals. we are here to bear one-another’s burdens.
meeting up with paranoid schizophrenics is something i’ve just happened to do a bit, but i find it really frustrating. particularly due to the inconsistency in demeanour – one day fine, one day on another planet.
if you’ve got any wisdom let me know!
all i know is that but for the grace of God there go i. and he doesn’t see us as any different.

Comment by psychodougie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: