I am anti-CHILL.
In my school, that statement is just as bad as claiming to be the Antichrist. Just to clarify, I’m not against the acronym itself. I am one hundred percent in favor of the phrase “Christ has infinitely lasting love,” but I am not in support of the organization. My heart was completely invested until the focus began to shift from finding every possible way to love the student body to finding every possible way to keep the “right” rules and look good onstage. This isn’t one of those situations where I’m against something I don’t know anything about. In fact, I know more about it than most. I was one of the original two girls who wanted to bring the club to our school and one of the original six members of the core team. I planned, spoke during services, prayed over the ministry, sent countless texts, tweeted, led the love team and their projects, and ultimately, I decided, for once in my life, to do something truly bold. I quit.
I have always been the girl who cannot stand up to authority. I have a tendency to just accept things without fighting for what I believe to be right. I recently read in a book, “You should live more radically than you speak.” I’m glad I started with something that matters.
It’s been about a month now, but the core team had a fairly large disagreement over who should be allowed to become a leader. I think it’s important to note a couple of things. First, it was repeatedly announced that we wanted CHILL worship services to be a place where everyone felt accepted and loved and that anyone who wanted to be a leader should speak with a current leader and get involved as soon as possible. Second, the mini sermons were given on topics such as the prodigal son with statements emphasizing the importance of the father running to meet his son as soon as he(the father) sees him(the son).
The disagreement started one night during our meeting when I brought up a classmate who wanted to join the praise band. He happens to have a bit of reputation, but I didn’t see a problem with that. Would it be different for a Christian organization to put him onstage as a part of their praise band? Probably. But, if we were speaking frequently about radical love, we should be loving even more radically.
Over the next month, a lot of judgments were made, statements such as, “People who smoke weed will not be leaders of the CHILL,” were given, beliefs and opinions were laughed at, core team members spoke to each other with condescension, and multiple arguments conspired. I was the only one who consistently argued that each person interested should be given a definite chance, and at one point I was asked, “Are you for us or against us?” My loyalty to the organization had become more important to my friends than what I believed to be right.
It’s amusing to me that we said multiple times something along the lines of, “Don’t ever apologize for making a mistake in an effort to love people,” yet the policy that was decided upon, is rooted in preventing a “mistake” from being made in a decision to let someone be a leader.
If you want to be onstage, as a speaker or member of the band, you have to have a conversation with the core team where they will attempt to discern the reasons you have in wanting to participate and where you are in your spiritual journey. (If you want to be a leader in one of the other teams, you have to have this same conversation with the leader of that particular team.) From there, they will decide whether or not they think you are ready and able to lead in that aspect. Since they don’t want to exclude anyone, if they think you aren’t capable or spiritually in the right place, there are other steps you can take. For example, you can practice with the band, but you won’t be permitted to perform on Friday mornings until they can see evidence of fruit in your life.
I hope you all realize that there is much more to the story that what I have written, but the story isn’t nearly as important as what we can all learn from it. We have become so obsessed with being right that we forget to be gracious. My friends didn’t understand how they were being judgmental, and they didn’t think they were failing to show unconditional love. They failed to comprehend the fact that they were placing more value in having a “righteous” leadership team & worship service than they were in actually taking the time to love individual people. The onstage appearance was more important than the people behind the scenes.
It will never cease to amaze me that those of us who think we are so deep in our relationship with God have such shallow views of grace and love. I’d like to invite you to consider that we, as human beings, are never going to be able to fully understand the depth of grace and love. God’s grace and love have to be so much greater than I can imagine. When I think of the most loving thing I could possibly do in a situation-let anyone and everyone be a CHILL leader- it is only a fraction of true, unconditional love.
Quitting the CHILL was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, and it continues to be difficult even as I scroll through social media, walk down the halls at school, and talk to my friends. I still love every single person involved with CHILL, but I don’t love CHILL. I’m for Christ’s unconditional love and infinite grace, and if that means that I have to be against this popular organization, then that’s okay. I’m allowed to be anti-CHILL, and you’re allowed to be pro-CHILL because no matter what, I’m pro-you. I want to support you, encourage you, and hopefully show you some of the grace and love of Christ.
I think our differences in opinion largely stem from our theological differences because I don’t have traditional southern views on Christianity. We believe different things, and that’s okay. When I was younger, I envisioned the table of the Lord as being a large banquet table in an expensively decorated room. Now, it’s a simple wooden table in a simple room, and I try to constantly compare my life to it. For my friends, there is enough grace and love in simply letting those unlike themselves enter the room. For me, I’m only skimming the surface of grace and love when I offer the seat next to me. I should be offering my seat, the way that Christ offered His seat for me.
1 Corinthians 16:23-24,