The Foundational Principle The Church Isn't Following

The Foundational Principle The Church Isn't Following

"As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
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I was recently asked the question, "What issue does the church need to tackle the most?"

That question got me thinking. There are issues like poverty, homelessness, lack of clean drinking water, war, and sickness that are ruining lives around the world on a daily basis. However, there is a major foundation we are missing as a body of Christ that is causing people to stay as far away from the church as they can.

Our issue is that we generally stick around with those who think, talk, and act like we do. And I'm not even talking about Christians only being around other Christians. I'm talking about the way that we as Christians separate ourselves into segments based on where we stand on certain issues or what background we come from.

While it's natural to want to be around people you agree with, it's important to gain the ability to be around and love people who you disagree with. And sometimes being around people who have a different view on the world can stir something within you and broaden your point of view. Being closed-minded is a common stereotype of the church, so how cool would it be to see that turned around? Just imagine how powerful it would be to see us as a church becoming as open to other people as Jesus was and still is.

We also talk a lot in the church about how important diversity is, but mostly the word "diversity" is reserved for diversity of races. But I think the word can and should be used in a broader sense. We need diversity of race, yes, but we also need diversity of backgrounds so that we can learn that a person's past does not define their future. We need diversity in the way that we dress so that we can learn to not judge someone by how they choose to express themselves. We need diversity in age so that generations can intermingle and share stories, advice and wisdom with one another. We need diversity in beliefs so that our point of view is not based on assumptions, but is shaped by others' stories.

Diversity and openness may sound like trivial problems compared to the issues going on around the world, but if we are unable to have a solid foundation within ourselves as a body of believers, how can we go out and help the world?

How does it look to an outside person to see a group of people who all love the same God, and yet bash each other for the little differences that always seem to come between us?

The truth is, it doesn't look good. So my plea to the church is to continue to reach out to those suffering in the world, but to also realize that there are people suffering amongst our congregations because they don't feel like they fit into the cookie-cutter Christian mold. Learn their stories, hear their points of view because you can't truly love a person until you know them.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:29-31

Cover Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1Pdgmxl

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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My Relationship With Religion Will Never Be Black And White

and that's okay!

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I was raised Christian let's get that out the way. Growing up in a small town I went to Awana (a children's church group Wednesday nights) and then once I was in middle school started youth group that night instead as well as a normal church on Sundays. If you would ask me from me being really young to probably around 15 I was all about church and building a relationship with God.

After leaving public school and growing my presence online and meeting so many people from all walks of life, I started questioning things.

Suddenly, I was immersed in this community with the best people who just loved everyone regardless of gender or sexuality or race and it was the place I was able to come to terms with something I had always repressed, my feelings towards girls.

I knew the moment I started talking to a girl named Laura that I had feelings for her I would normally have for a boy and because of the people I now had around me I just didn't suppress it. I identified online and eventually to family and friends as bisexual.

My questions started with wondering how my god this loving all knowing entity I had always known was un-accepting and promoted the exclusion of the LGBTQ+ community from the Christian faith. I knew that this community was full of the most loving and creative and beautiful people I have ever met and that was the start of me knowing my relationship with God would never be the same.

As I grew up and have become an activist for the things that mean a lot to me I have stopped attending church and have begun to see that I do not want any part in ANY religion that takes part in shunning anyone based on how they identify. I have been vocal about this to many people some more excepting then others but regardless I will never again take part in something that I myself am not 100% accepted within

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