I always struggle a bit in January—do you? I’m not sure if it’s the lack of sunlight, or the residual tiredness after Christmas, or just something weird that happens in my brain; January for me is full of scowls and negative feelings and wanting to cry. It has been even worse this year, partly because I have been hurt by my church and because it’s January, I have been focussing on it more than is healthy. It was something small, not even worth mentioning here (because you will think me silly) but for me, it mattered.
Now, this happens a lot in churches—has it happened to you? The trouble is, churches are just people, and everyone is busy, and trying to prioritise their time, and frankly, we only tend to notice the person playing the music, or operating the sound system, or unlocking the fire door each week, when they mess up. We don’t remember to thank them, but we’re quite quick to give input if we feel they could improve! We also tend to announce what we want to happen, and are sometimes insensitive to what others might want or need.
But I was still hurt. My brain told me not be stupid, it was tiny thing, not important. But the child in me raged and felt bitter, and wanted to leave. I need to be noticed, and I often feel invisible.
The solution to this, for me, is found in a little book tucked away at the back of the Bible: 1 Peter. In chapter 2, Peter talks about how kind God is and it calls us to be like living stones. It says that in God’s eyes we are ‘chosen and precious’. We might not be noticed by our peers, but God sees us. God thinks we’re precious.
The writing goes on to tell us to allow ourselves to be ‘used in building a spiritual temple’. A stone on its own is of little use, but as part of a building it becomes magnificent. I have to let hurts dissipate, I can’t be useful on my own, I need to be part of the larger Christian body. (That’s me told then!)
It talks about offering a sacrifice that’s acceptable to God. But what is that? In the olden days, people offered animal sacrifices, but God doesn’t want that today. In other parts of the Bible, it makes it clear what God does want. He wants us to do what is just, to love kindness, to walk humbly with God. Justice is about being fair and wise. Walking humbly isn’t about banging people over the head with what I believe. And being kind? Well, that’s sort of obvious. We all need people to be kind to us.
Which is why the title is what it is. I think perhaps Christians (me) need to think a little more carefully about how they’re being kind to others. A Christian is the person who holds open a door, who helps with the washing up, who leaves a public toilet cleaner than when they entered. Probably no one will notice, but God will—and he thinks you’re precious.