Why Rebuilding Love

I  ( Chris) have been on a journey over the past year or two questioning everything I know or was taught about God, the Church, and Christianity. I grew up in a Christian home went to church 3 times a week; Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. On top of that I went to Christian school from preschool through high school. I did all the vacation bible schools, youth groups, mission trips; all the good stuff that Christian kids do. Then the real world hit.

I dropped out of high school after two years of 9th grade and then failing 10th. I was going to be 21 at this rate if I stayed in school until I could graduate. I went on to pursue my dream of being an audio engineer working with bands. I went to a recording school for year and landed a job at one of the top 10 sound companies in the country. I began to tour all over the world with bands. Suddenly I was out in the big world living my dream or so I thought. My love for doing sound and touring consumed me. I slowly stopped going to church, or reading the Bible and you know all the good Christian stuff. Fast forward 10 years or so, I now have a beautiful wife and daughter, and still working with sound but more in the corporate audio visual world now. I was still putting my job or love for sound above anything else, including God, my family and friends.

My awakening came with the passing of my Grandfather. He was truly a man of God, who did everything for everyone else first. He was the most selfless man I ever knew. Going through the emotions of losing the greatest man I knew helped me revisit where I was with my relationship with God. I began to seek out who God really was. I wanted to actually find him and not just go along with everything I had been taught.

The Christianity that I knew from before was full of “what’s in it for me” or “make sure you have the smile on your face Sunday morning regardless of what’s going on”. There was constant pressure of not breaking all the made up rules like; what music to listen to, what to wear, when you had to be in church, or the right people to hang out with and so on. Quite honestly it was legalistic crap that is not built on what Jesus taught. It drives a culture of; if you don’t look, act, or speak a certain way than you’re not a Christian. As if what makes us a Christian is built on what we can do ourselves.

What I began to find this time around was the God who created all of us for a relationship with Him regardless of our problems and sins. He made us to love us. I learned that it’s not our sin that defines who we are but the forgiveness of God that does. Jesus did not come so that we would stop sinning; He came so that we could be in relationship with Him. This does not excuse us to sin whenever we want but it does mean that His love is greater than any sin we could ever commit.

The word that defines it all best is Love. Seems so simple and cliché at times but that is what Jesus talked about most of all. As followers of Jesus we are called to love our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Every human on this earth is our neighbor. Not one person deserves to not be loved by us. Most problems people have stem from not being loved or accepted at some point from one person or even many people. The concept is so simple to think about but so difficult to execute. I feel the “Church” in general does an awful job at truly loving others as Jesus does. It’s easy to love someone when it is convenient for us. Too often when it comes to having the conversations with people about their addictions, depression, pain and suffering, we brush them off. We think “Oh someone else will help them” or “why can’t they just get over it” or even worse make fun of or joke about it to others.

I still struggle with putting my work ahead of everything else, among many other problems in my life, but I have a new sense of who God is and what He wants from and for us. I may not have walked through serious addictions, suicidal thoughts or depression, but I have seen it all around me in very close friends and family.  Jesus has used all of them to help break down the taboo walls that I had also built up around it and just start listening, learning and understanding where they are coming from. I don’t normally have any answers, but just listening to them and not judging them shows love.

With the help of God we can Rebuild the Love of Jesus to our neighbors and be his voice and arms of embrace on earth. We can simply show love by just sharing our stories, talking to someone, listening to someone, just accepting someone right where they are without judgment. I want to help create a culture that breaks down the walls of “taboo” subjects of pain, suffering, addiction, depression, suicide, and other life problems. Too often people don’t seek help because society has made it not acceptable to talk openly about our problems.  I want to help start a community that wants to Rebuild Love. – Chris Leonard