“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
“How have you grown in Jesus this year Chelsea?” A rather private question to ask but one I’m happy to answer. As long as that answer is treated with respect and not stunned silence followed by a phone call requesting money. I was an atheist. Swore Jesus was a myth and one I was not interested in. I’ve been there, done that, read up and questioned everything.
After trauma and nearly losing my life all together my atheist heart realized Jesus wasn’t a myth at all. In fact He has taken any punishment I could deserve and loves me more than anyone else ever could.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
This is what it’s about. Gone were my ideas that loving God meant no freedom and a life of missing out. Jesus means a life off freedom because of what God has done. I am free! Free from the judgement of other people, free from the weight of mistakes I have made, and I no longer miss out on the relationship and pure joy of Jesus.
Jesus came to live not as royalty but as a sacrifice. He came with a heart of love for every single person, rich or poor. He spent His time washing the feet of people considered ‘dirty’ by society, He came down hard on the people who the world saw as the most holy. Jesus was prepared to live as a poor man and reach the ends of the earth with His love.
As a girl who grew up skeptical of all of this and visiting many churches, I have rarely seen this in church. And that makes sense, we are at the end of the day far from perfect. Just like I would never expect anyone to look at me and see a perfect Christian, I look to Jesus for that. I fall short but I am forgiven, and that’s the crux of it all. I want to obey Jesus because I love Him, because in a relationship you want to honor one another. Any other reason to follow Jesus is religion and not a relationship.
Earlier this year I arrived in Sydney and began a search for a new home church, somewhere to base myself with other lovers of the Lord and where I can grow. My then non-Christian boyfriend of three years who has always supported my faith also came.
Turned away for our relationship time and time again I have continued to love him and pray for him every day knowing God would answer my prayer as he did. Because when you have a father so beautiful, so loving, so holy and merciful as God, you want that for everyone else too, especially the ones you love as much as I love my boyfriend.
Our first sermon brought up my favourite subjects to debate “millennial chasing their dreams.”
Y’all have seen enough of my posts to know I just can’t bite my tongue.
Well. When that sermon finished I had a few things to say. Q&A came up I just couldn’t stand up fast enough. First week in a new country, first day at a new church…
“Hi, my names Chelsea. I’m an actor. I moved here to follow my dreams. I come from a single parent family, my mum had me and my two siblings to different men (ooh scandal, swallow you’re pride, you’re not perfect either) and was widowed when I was 12. I got a job and supported my family, completed high school, worked hard, got into my dream school, got out of a wheelchair and saved very last dollar I have to move here and chase my dream. What would you say to me?”
“Chelsea, welcome to church. And I would say go for it.”
So that was a good start. I usually get the classic “you can’t be a Christian and an Actor.” Kirk Cameron, Viola Davis, Patricia Heaton, what would you guys say about that?
Time goes on and good things happen, until you feel yourself slipping through the cracks. A pattern I’m familiar with. Your life is just a little too complicated and even prayer isn’t something you’re offered anymore.
“Chelsea, how have you grown in Jesus this year?”
Well, good question with a big answer. You want the whole year? Almost 365 days of growth in Jesus? You’re in for a long reply.
First of all trust. My family have always been my number one. I love them more than words can say. Trusting God to look after them so I can move overseas has been huge. I know what it’s like to trust God to provide your next meal, I know what it’s like to have no social life because of illness, social rejection because of being a Christian or just finances. I know what it’s like to give every last dollar to provide for my family, I know what it’s like to tithe 100%. Trusting God is something that every year I grow a little more in, and this year I trusted Him with what is closest to my heart, my precious family.
Secondly, patience. God works in God’s time. I know this. I sat sick as a dog unable to care for myself and knew that God would heal me and that it was His timing. I worked through my degree making progress little by little and patiently waiting for my role to come. And now I patiently wait in Sydney, auditions every week, singing lessons, expensive rent, waiting for a call from my agent, working a day job and being patient. My acting job is coming, but it’s in God’s timing. I have done all I can and now I have to be patient. I love my craft so much, I love to fill a room with the sound of music, I love to experience what someone else has to go through by putting myself in their shoes and acting, I love the feeling of sweat after a final leap in a dance routine. I adore it. But patience is key and that I have definitely been developing, thank you God.
Third, love. I work in a beautiful suburb with beautiful people who sit on what looks to me like a lot of wealth. Coming from the poverty line back in New Zealand, seeing trophy wives who look so happy, so comfortable and loved, I have had to dig down in my heart and find love. Something only God can give me, because God is love. How do you explain to people who look like they have everything that in fact they need Jesus? By loving them. My customers all know I’m a Christian, I spend up to an hour talking with some sharing the gospel with no fear of being discriminated against or being fired. Because God is worth it and God can use anyone in any place, and I know He uses me. I sit in audition halls listening to beautiful girls talk about their season in Legally Blonde or that cruise ship that hired them and I pray. I make it my mission to love them all and love myself, to not compare myself to them but to love who I am, love who God made me to be.
Lastly, I have been learning to be content. I got good grades at school and could’ve studied many different things at university, but I chose to follow my dreams knowing I could achieve anything with God by my side and a good work ethic. While my friends are getting married, having babies, working jobs that pay them well, I work less hours so I can master my craft more and more by the week, so I can go to church and bible study. I notice how gorgeous people are and often wish I looked like them, and God has been teaching me to be content. He has me where I am, who I am, how I look and with what I have for a reason and it’s up to me to choose to be content.
So, how has a young woman who chooses such a “glam” career grown in Jesus this year you ask? This is the response I gave. And I was greeted with silence.
Followed by the discussion of a meeting to discuss how I can write Jesus on 2018. That my friends, is between me and Jesus. Just like it is for you.
This then followed by very personal questions asking how I will financially contribute to church next year.
This is where the top verses bring me hope. Giving is private, giving is not for a man to do publicly and seeking praise, it is between you and God. It’s trusting God with your money and talking to Him through it. As for where my money goes, I’m sure it’s not hard to guess the ways that I tithe. It is no person’s place to decide who you are and who Jesus is to you. That is your business, between you and Jesus.
How much money you give to God whether it be through church or community work, supporting your family selflessly or giving your time and prayers, that is between you and God and no one has the right to assume God is not in your heart.
Over the years I have experienced so much discrimination from people in the church. Church is a building, a place where people go to worship. Church is a building. Money is just money. Our hearts matter.
“Standing in church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
Don’t look at me to see a perfect Christian. The perfect example is Jesus, the rest of us who love Him will let you down. We are human, all in this mad race of life together. As a Jesus-lover, you can expect me to make mistake after mistake, cry, and learn and know that Gods got this.
God has got this.
Be still, know He is God. Don’t feel guilty because you don’t have thousands to pour out into the church’s bank account, God calls you to come as you are and give your heart to Him. That my darlings, is true love.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?”