In the fringes

KCM’s first general meeting was yesterday. Overall, it was a comforting and encouraging night, seeing friends and new faces. I do not want to overshadow how refreshed I felt during the meeting with what I write next. But I write to remind myself that there is no reason for me to get comfortable and believe that everything is perfect.

Because I’m a senior, I didn’t feel a need to get “worked up” over the massive amount of new people flooding the reception area after icebreakers. There was no temptation for me to get hyper over seeing my friends and hanging out with them. I found it easy to be a “free-floater” in the crowd, observing and contemplating. I’ve learned much by being a fly on the wall. In past years, I remember sitting in the back row and watching the stragglers walk in 30 minutes late, fall asleep during the message, socialize with their comfortable circle of friends, and act obnoxious. It reminded me that as bright as KCM’s light is, there are people and places it finds hard to penetrate, not because of those shining–who are sources of such great encouragement to me–but because of the hardness of those who just don’t “get it.” It’s something that weighs heavily upon my heart and can change my countenance dramatically.

I didn’t see too many people by themselves, alone, which was a good sign, but I didn’t assume that everyone felt welcome and loved. I know for some people it might have been overwhelming, especially those from out of state and those who don’t have any friends yet at USC. I know now how the large group of new faces whittles down to a dedicated freshman class plus a few come-and-goers. I am encouraged by the now sophomore class who were freshmen last year, how so many of them are on servant team. But I wonder where all the other people ended up, those who showed up the first few weeks of school but then never again. Many of them may have joined other campus fellowships, but I wonder how many of them soon let the cares of life quench the work of the Spirit in their hearts, leaving the Church altogether. The parable of the sower in Luke 8:14: “And as for [the seeds which] fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.” A lot of the “cool” kids think they are too cool for the Church, too cool for God. I will try and remember the new people I met yesterday and see how many of them end up staying.

At Wendy’s I sat outside because it felt stuffy and hot inside. To my surprise, no one else joined me except the one guy I walked with. There were a few who came out and had conversations with one another. What I overheard weren’t exactly godly conversations. They seemed selfish, immature, and shady. Perhaps they came outside to have their conversation so no one else would hear them. Well…I was there. I felt depressed at how the gospel had failed to pierce their hearts, despite the faithful work of KCM servant leaders. When I think of how they’re “nice people” in the limited interaction I have with them–a hi and a handshake or a short conversation–it just drives home the lesson to never assume that people are mature believers or believers at all just from the face they put up in Christian company. Where I fall short is having wisdom in confronting and rebuking. Too many people would take it the wrong way. We are all sinners.

It was awkward and uncomfortable as the time continued to pass as I sat outside in the cool summer air. When I came home, I struggled to understand how my contentment had turned into anguish. Any loneliness I felt while being in the fringes was my own fault, but perhaps I needed it. Even though I’ve done my best to be humble this first week of school, I welcome a slap in the face from God reminding me never to get too confident in myself. Take care lest I forget…

I’m listening to this song right now, and I’m amazed at how the lyrics express what I’m thinking. It’s based on the story of Hosea and his God-appointed marriage to the prostitute Gomer and how it represented wandering Israel. Jesus is preparing a bride for himself in the Church, and despite her unfaithfulness, he will present her holy and blameless on that final day.

“Hosea in C Minor” by The Listening

Now you’ll carry on, son
Now…now you know
Won’t know its love ’til it’s taken away
And you’ve thrown your own soul into hell for a day
It’s the ransom you owed but a debt that I’ve paid
Yet you’ve hated your freedom and envied the slaves..

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