[The names have been changed to protect the guilty and innocent]
This morning I tweeted the following:
Breakroom Chatter: Just overheard a lady on her cell say, “What the f**k do you mean you release me in Jesus name?!”
Yes, sir. It was an interesting moment in the history of our building’s break room. It definitely caught me off guard and I was just about to take a sip of my coffee. I had to leave the break room and shut the door in my office to break out into laughter. Imagine someone saying that with an East Texas twang. Yeah, it’ll make you laugh, but the rest of the story will make you upset.
Let me share a quote I posted yesterday to show you why the lady’s question is so significant:
“Bethel is the symbol of fellowship with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abram ‘pitched his tent’ between the two.” – Oswald Chambers
After I read that yesterday I spoke in a whisper, “Lord, show me how this is a reality in my world.” Yeah, the break room is that place where we can pitch our tent between our fellowship with God and interaction with the world. In missional terms it’s the third space. It’s the place where all our worlds mesh and collide. It’s where God reveals himself because we don’t expect Him to do so.
So the story continues. There was another lady who had been sitting with Marla at the time. This lady came by my office an hour later to explain what had happened and this is where the situation breaks my heart for the way some of us represent the church. She said, “I know you’re a Christian, so am I, and I just wanted to apologize for Marla’s expressiveness. She’s not a Christian, but do I care for her.” I told her there was no need for an apology because I could understand the frustration in the question. I’ve asked questions like that before. She went on to tell me the situation that caused the explosion and asked if I would pray for her to help Marla. Here is explanation, as per Marla, and it left me sad:
“Marla has a sister (Irene) who started going to a Pentecostal church after being saved six months ago. Irene’s pastor challenged all the people in the church to invite their family members to church for three Sunday’s in a row so they could get saved. When Marla didn’t show up again this past Sunday, Irene asked her pastor what to do about getting Marla in church. The pastor told Irene if Marla did want to come she needed to call her and ‘release her in Jesus name’ from her life because she would be a hindrance to her spiritual growth.”
Go ahead, scream out loud about how much this upsets you. It definitely upsets me, but it’s not unusual to hear these stories in this neck of the woods. Even so, it still breaks my heart because that is not the way of Christ, nor of his kingdom. I get a twitch in my spirit when people use “religious” or “Christianese” language with people who have no idea of its specific vernacular. So, where do I go from here with this situation? I make myself available to enter into a dialogue if it is afforded. I encourage. I love. I do my best to represent the incarnate Christ.
We can all learn from this situation. Many of us would have been easily offended by the language she used. Chances are we would immediately discount any opportunity to have a sensible dialogue with the likes of Marla. We make an immediate judgment of people without knowing the situation. I know because I do it often. Yet, the Spirit continues to remind me that I need to listen carefully when someone says, “What the f**k do you mean you release me in Jesus name?!”
Running that moment through my head still makes me laugh, but I can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s a serious question with life changing answers. It may have been a lost opportunity for Marla’s sister, but her friend and I understood her angst and frustration. That’s a good thing. My hope is for there to be an update to this post with good news about reconciliation and redemption. Until then I leave you with a challenge from Isaiah:
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8 ESV)
Have you ever had to “release someone in the name of Jesus” for the wrong reasons?
What does that even mean?
How do you handle stuff like that of Marla and her sister?
Have you pitched your tent in between God and the world?