I was just 13 years old when I came face to face with someone who would forever change the position of my heart.
At the time, I was concerned with boys and popularity alone. I wanted to be known. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be loved. I was a wild child, with the will to do almost anything I wanted to do. But, as my childhood was appropriately sheltered, so much of my innocence was preserved.
No doubt, at 13, I was searching for more. Unafraid to try anything and a natural adrenaline-seeker, there is no doubt in my mind that without a divine intervention, I would have dived head first into alcohol, drugs, and sex. Who knows what sort of damage I would have done to my teenage body and soul.
But I am the daughter of parents with worn out knees. Whether in correct context or not, my parents clung to Joshua 24:15 as their promise from God – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
I will never forget the day I came face to face with Jesus. It felt as if my heart was being gently pulled out of my chest, and it compelled me to walk towards an altar call. I fell to my knees and sobbed. I had found what I was looking for, or maybe what I was looking for found me.
I was known. I was seen. I was accepted. I was loved.
That day, the position of my heart was twisted towards a divine calling. The moment I gave my heart to Christ, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was called to be a minister. I had no other goals. No other interests. No other ambitions. All I wanted was Jesus. I was consumed with Him, and the fire of the Spirit lit up every fiber of my body.
I could not be silent. Like the woman at the well, I ran back to my town and told everyone I knew… “Come, meet the man who knows everything wrong I ever did, but still loves me.” And many of my friends believed.
My number one calling is evangelism, and it always has been.
It was the calling laid upon my life while I was still in my mother’s womb. I am a Christian, an evangelist, and a feminist, in that order. So no other silencing mechanism stings my heart more than, “It seems like you love feminism more than Jesus.”
It’s a lie, straight from the enemy’s mouth, that he speaks into the ears of the religious. Scripture calls Satan an accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:9-11), and he delights in using Christians to accuse one another.
We must never presume to know the condition of one another’s hearts. We must never believe that we have figured out the correct way to spread the gospel, and accuse our brothers and sisters of doing it wrong.
Satan will speak through the best of Christians, if they have even one self-righteous bone in their body (we all do). Remember, even the Apostle Peter spoke the words that Satan whispered into his ears, and Jesus responded by rebuking him – “Get behind me, Satan.” (Matthew 16:23).
If we would only take the words of Jesus as seriously as we take the Apostle Paul’s words, we just might find freedom from our self-righteousness and self-judgement:
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? ” (Matthew 7:1-3).
Judgement is toxic. We attempt to “teach” others the errors of their ways, but we end up poisoning ourselves. Humans are naturally judgmental, but we are called to live among the supernatural.
Every Christian is called to spread the Gospel, but sadly, we live in a nationalistic culture here in America. The Jesus we created is not the real Jesus and the name of Christ has been dragged through the mud by oppressive, legalistic, and self-centered “preachers” and “politicians.”
Therefore, Americans who are not believers are sick of hearing about this “Jesus” who is wealthy, sexist, oppressive, racist, hateful, selfish, greedy, exclusive, judgmental, privileged, and intolerant. America has made Jesus in its own image.
“Why can’t you just preach the gospel?”
Because “the gospel” in America is not the gospel. It’s severely tainted and is destroying lives instead of saving lives. Men and women who grew up in the Church are walking, no, running, away from American Christianity. Unbelievers want nothing to do with Jesus, because they feel more loved and see more justice out in the world.
I wish I could be an old-school evangelist, set up a tent, and let the people flock to the meeting to hear about Jesus alone, but that would only attract other Christians these days.
We must be honest with ourselves; most people are not rejecting Christ because “the truth is offensive,” but because many American Christians are offensive.
If you want people to be open to the real Jesus and the real Gospel, take up a worthy cause and give it everything you have got. On top of that, focus your energy on loving and accepting people, right where they are. Let us be a beacon of hope, restoration, and renewal once again.
We may be surprised how many people start running back to the Church.
“Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
(Often Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi’s life)
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“Unbelievers want nothing to do with Jesus, because they feel more loved and see more justice out in the world.”
Yes, yes, yes, yes. And yes. Nothing more to add. This has been me (a struggling Christian) for the last year. People like you, writing things like this, are what remind me that I am safe and sound with Christ, even when other believers are hateful.
Amen, sister! Xo
God bless you, Jory. This is a beautiful testimony and I for one and sincerely grateful for your ministry and your transparency. Your passion for Christ AND your passion for women blesses me every day as I read your work. The devil will always try to silence you, but I am grateful for your God-given strength in fighting the good fight.
Thank you so much, Cindy! 🙂
Worst of all the words “I think you love feminism more than Jesus” is meant to sting.
So true. It will stop stinging eventually, as it is said often. It is the enemy’s tactic, and a good one.
It says a lot that some see advocating for disadvantaged groups as being in competition with the gospel.
A very good article, Jory, and one I resonate with at several levels. And I certainly agree with you that much of American Christianity is tainted and so is not the positive counter-cultural force the Lord meant it to be. And so that is why you, I, and many others pray and work for the renewal and reformation of the Church.
And that renewal and reformation must include our recovering and embracing the truth that the mission of Jesus the Messiah and his Church are one and the same: The OT tells that when the Messiah came, he would not only be filled with the Holy Spirit and declare God’s life-giving words, but would also perform signs and wonders resulting the sight of the blind being restored; in the deliverance of those entrapped in spiritual darkness and oppression; and in relief and deliverance from mistreatment and oppression from their enemies. “I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who are in dark dungeons” (Isa. 42:6-7, NLT).
Now Isaiah 61:1-6, besides elaborating on the description of the Messiah in 42:1-7, goes on to reveal that the Messianic community, who have embraced his message on God’s kingdom and have themselves his work of reconciliation and liberation, will also be filled with the Spirit and carry on this work of reconciliation and liberation in his name. As Messiah’s representatives, due their carrying on this work, devastated lands and cities will be restored. Thu this passage, along with Joel 2:28-33, forms the prophetic bridge that joins Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles together, undergirding their common theme–that the work of reconciliation and liberation that God began in Jesus the Messiah, is now to be carried on by his new covenant people, the Church, until he returns and brings full deliverance for his people while bringing full judgment on those who have both rebelled against him and oppressed his people
Thank you for this comment, Francis. 🙂
Jory, your strength is unbelievable! I commend you for your use of words to reach deep into the souls of your readers who may feel lost in American Christianity despite reading the Bible, attending Church, enjoying Christian fellowship at Bible study groups, etc. Thank you so much for your writing!
Thank you, Susan. 🙂
“Men and women who grew up in the Church are walking, no, running, away from American Christianity. Unbelievers want nothing to do with Jesus, because they feel more loved and see more justice out in the world.”
Yep. I didn’t grow up in the church, but this, exactly.
I may return at some point (not ruling it out), but for now…life outside is so much better, so much more full of grace–as well as justice. Although certainly there is still justice to work for, out here, too, since we do all live in the same world (in a sense, at least).
I hope the Church changes and you come back! 🙂
I can tell based on your comments section that you most likely don’t have the courage to allow dissenting opinions to show publicly, so I fully expect this comment to only end up hitting your eyes. So be it. If I’m wrong and this stays up, then awesome.
Anyways, you do realize that literally every single apostle and every evangelist of the apostolic age was offensive to their culture, right? Or have you never read your bible? With some of the viewpoints that you have, I wouldn’t be surprised honestly. Why do you think Jesus and all of the apostles (save John, who was exiled) were killed for their preaching? Do you honestly think they were killed for preaching the empty message of tolerance and acceptance of sin that you’re bidding everyone to follow? Nonsense. They preached the exact opposite; repentance. Jesus Christ came to this earth to die for sinners (of whom I am the worst), not to tell them that their sin is okay. Yes, it IS the truth that offends. Far more sickening to Jesus than a person who offends for the sake of the gospel is someone who is lukewarm and seeks worldly acceptance over the things of heaven. He will spit you out of his mouth on the last day and you will spend eternity apart from him if you do not repent and believe in him and trust him for your salvation.
So I charge you to repent of this post and all of this ridiculous thinking and come to a place of submission to Christ. You are seeking to keep people in bondage to sin and your end goal (whether you’re aware of it or not) is to send people to an eternity of agony in hell. That is sickeningly evil. Repent.
I did the opposite of what Jory did. I was a quiet girl. I would have never ended up in any kind of drugs ect culture as a teenager, because I thought reading a book was more fun, and I was not a very social person. When I met Jesus at 14, He opened me up to the world, and for the first time I wanted to travel, to be educated, to go places. I had never thought about the future, but once he was in my life I had vision for the future.
That vision was systematically shut down over the next ten years in the church, where I was told all the things I couldn’t do because I was a woman, or because I was a Christian: go to college at all, go to seminary, get a teaching degree, get a social work degree, get a Ph.D, be single if I wanted to, talk too much about the things God had done in my life – all those things I was told by various Christians, often pastors, were not OK for a Christian woman. If you have not had the experience of being a Christian woman, you don’t know what this is like. Within the church there is a constant policing of Christian women, and you can’t understand what this is like if you have not experienced it.
My experience of how the church treats women and how Jesus treats women is diametrically opposed. Jesus set me free, the church set to work to close me back in. Lots of supposedly well meaning Christian men made it their business to tell me how Christian women should live, and it was all about what I wasn’t allowed to do, the way you are. They cast aspersions on my character, the way you are doing with Jory. They questioned my devotion to God, called me to repentance. The arrogance of all this astounds me. I would be embarrassed to argue to another person that I believe I am entitled to more in life, and that God is on my side in my entitlement. But I encounter so many Christian men who are proud of their efforts to limit women’s participation in Christian life, in life at all, while maximizing their own territory within the church. This arrogance is a deep deception.
Yes Kathleen. Thank you for sharing as I have had a similar experiences.
Absolutely right, Brad
Hey Jory, I finally got around to reading to this today (been a busy week). It was very healing for me. I’m so sorry you’ve had people being so nasty when you’re heart is to bring healing… I can relate so very much. (Oh man can I relate!)
One of the crosses that people with prophetic voices much bear is being misunderstood – kinda makes you understand why most the prophets in the OT were a total mess emotionally! When you are standing there pointing out flaws, inconsistencies, and injustices, many people would rather silence you than entertain the thought that you might be right. And they sometimes use incredibly hateful ways to do it. While your purpose is to bring justice, healing, and a closer alignment with God’s heart, it can be assumed that you just want to smear the Church and God himself. It stings the most when it is supposed to be people who love the One that you are using your voice for. I’ve also noticed that we are most often rejected and dismissed and maligned by the people we are closest to. “Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.” (John 4:44). That one hurts the most.
Thank you so much for this comment, love. It made me cry. 🙂
Thank you for your comment, Courtney. It’s true…Christians have become more known for what they are against, than what they are for, in an American context anyways.