river's dream: you are definitely not being stupid! if anyone is being stupid, it's all the people in churches who deny the existence of christians with problems. that's a little thing called hypocrisy...everyone has problems. current statistics say that the percentage of christian teens who SI is no different from the percentage of teenages in general. you are DEFINITELY not wasting your time, our churches badly need that kind of ministry. Look at what Jesus said..."Healthy people don't need a physician, but sick ones do. I did not come to call righteous people, but sinners." (Mark 2:17). If this lady thinks everyone who goes to church is perfect, well, then the religious teachers of our day don't appear to have changed much since Jesus' time.
Liz: hang in there. life doesn't get easier just because you become a christian...actually, it gets harder, which you'll see in time. yeah, things are usually great at first...which gives you a chance to learn about God and develop your faith, so when the time comes to get out in the real world, you're ready. you haven't done anything wrong, and God hasn't left you. maybe it will help to say that you're being attacked because someone sees you as a threat...;) like a backward compliment, almost. you can do it! and we're all right here with you if you need us.
Gina: I really love that verse. I think it can sound kind of scary, to someone who has an image of an angry, wrathful God in the back of their mind somewhere (most of us) but you need to remember that God never stops loving us or wanting what's best for us. I would suggest reading isaiah chapter 1, if you're looking for a better description of how God gets angry. for so many of us, we just can't concieve of someone being angry at us without wanting to hurt us or punish us because of that anger...and that's scary. but when god punishes us, he does it out of love. to see an example of that, you can look in hosea. PLEASE read hosea chapter 2
. It's short, it won't take very long, but it is a great example of God's love in his anger.
Now, why I love this verse...:)
It is sin to deface God's image...and we are made in God's image. Even more so as Christians, because God's spirit dwells in us. So, Christian life involves caring for both the soul AND body. SI is forbidden because it defaces the image of God...and while that sounds scary, it is also beautiful and awe-inspiring because it tells us a little bit about what God sees when he looks at us. Even if you have been told your entire life that you are trash, worthless...this verse shows that that's not true. Not only does God NOT think that ANYONE is worthless...but, he places such worth on us that he takes the violation of what he created us to be very seriously (even when it's us doing it). (you can find more of this in matthew 5, where jesus tells us that what we do to "the least of these", we do to him.) honestly, if he didn't take it so seriously, i wouldn't be convinced that we did really matter to him...like a parent that doesn't care if their child does well in school or gets addicted to drugs...the lengths God will go to so that we can have the best of all relationships with him show his amazing love, because he won't be satisfied with anything but the best for us.
And in Hosea 2, after the wife has everything taken from her, we see the beauty of God's promise of restoration...
“But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble[b] into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.’[c]
17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
and you will never mention them again.
18 On that day I will make a covenant
with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
in peace and safety.
19 I will make you my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord."