“Where are your accusers? Are there any left?”
“Then neither do I accuse you.”
I have the luxury that not too many time on my news feed do political things come up. However, the do come up. I can’t help but laugh at the slogan “not my president” like an individual needs a president, instead of that which it truly is, a country receives a president. I can’t help but notice the venom of not getting everything “my way”.
I’m surprised how many people have fallen in line with this. Surely there’s other ways to reasonably express the same thing. So much time spent on something so disliked. …and why? What difference will it make in the end?
What happened to be the change you want to see? Or is hate a hot seller right now? I wonder: How do we not become the thing we hate?
It’s not just about politics. It’s actual life and character that are at stake daily. I ask myself this questions not because of politics or news feed propaganda, but because I’ve come across (and walked away from) people who cannot be reasoned with. People who are destructive, manipulative, cunning & deceitful yet claiming to be innocent. The struggle was all too real. Too close to home. Too appalling. In the end, I got nothing. No one heard me. I was the trouble maker for pointing out the lies. In the end all I had was this questions: How do I not become what I hate?
In our lives, I believe we learn not just from good examples, but also from bad examples. Yet either way, we can find that this path markers can become more like our aim or goal. We focus on them too much and we never get to enjoy the path ahead of us. We can even get into messy situations or get lost.
If I focus too much on what I despise (for the sake of not being that) there’s a chance I could actually accumulate those same traits, that same path. I could find myself almost hypnotized by it. I don’t want that to happen.
I have to keep a balance. I have to remember that goal and not just the means or the markers. I have to remember I am not the things that I’ve been “shunned” for, and that those who would shun me, don’t know me. They’re unwilling to know me. I have to know who I am, not based upon the accusatory things that others say. I have know truth apart from opinion. …and that’s ridiculously hard. But If I don’t it’s consumingly destructive.
Sometime I get lost in destruction. I forget to move. I forget to cover up and protect the necessary core. I get worked over by those who don’t intend good for me, but wins for themselves. I am in the way. …to them.
These moments can’t define me. I am more than my weakness. I am greater than my strength. It’s something that takes training and self-diagnostics. It takes refocusing and breathing good air. I have to remember what is beautiful, and let that also be an inspiration. I cannot fill my head with what I despise, and then expect that I’ll become better than just that. I need to consider that there is beauty which is still waiting to unfold. I need to remember that I can be part of that (regardless of what others say I am). I need to protect that…delicately.
I need to remember that no matter who “won” that there’s a lot of work to do. Good work.
I am becoming something that I wasn’t before. I need to cultivate that into the good that I want to see. I need to keep my eyes on prize, and not dredge down into previous failings. I need to move forward, because there’s more than just me at stake.
I need to consider whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise… then these thing shall also obtain a place in my mind and my musings. I will not be overcome by imbalance and injustice. I will strive for beauty’s sake.
When my life is over I’m going to leave some things undone. It’s not because of my amazingly over-ambitious and lack-of-totally-follow-through that my personality tends towards. It’s because I’m part of a great legacy that includes that next generation of seekers.
The Saints. The ones spoken of in Hebrew chapter of 11 of the Bible, is one of the most challenging things for me to read, but then to top it off, they add these phrases:
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, …
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
For a long time it killed me this idea of that they did not receive that which they were promised. I mean…that just doesn’t sound like how a good God works, right? Isn’t too much of modern Christianity about receiving some benefit or promise of some kind right? Heaven, ruling & reigning with Jesus, health & power, get of hell free card, direct line with God’s answering prayers service, or something…right?
So how would it possible for the great forefather of Faith to not receive and yet we should still believe God that he will give to us what’s promised? How does that even work?
Well, maybe our biggest problem is seeing ourselves so very independently.
There was an old preacher man how use to remind people, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age” but then he added “But it takes a ‘we’ who wrestle.”
In our faith, we are connected to much more than ourselves. Having faith is more than having something to believe in and then cliches, catch-words, and/or doctrinal stances to back it up. Being a part of a Faith is to live in an ancient city that is eternally young and to find our citizenship to be part of many millions and billions of people who live according to a God-honoring culture. A people who pass on what they’ve had, so that those who come next will do better, be stronger, receive the lessons and build on them, and at the same time continue with the original plan.
Being a part of Faith is like living in a coral reef. the complexity and beauty comes from the compiling of lives into one place, one time, one great benefit… a healthy ecosystem.
Our own personal imperfection or lack, only goes to give others a chance to hook-in and connect, like a puzzle piece, and begin to build in the areas where we can’t reach. And it’s beautiful. We shouldn’t be afraid of a deficiency we have as an individual when we are willing to be one part of the whole. But that’s the trick part right? Since we individually have these deficiencies, then we are shy or embarrassed to connect with what might seem to us more perfect specimens. Or maybe we’re reserved about connecting with those who expose a particular flaw or weakness.
Or maybe we’ve had the crazy idea put into our head of how we (individually) are to become perfect, and therein did not see it as a “we” being the same “we” who wrestle. We don’t tend to see our faith as continuum of a Faith that has been going on and coming into the crux for some time now. Instead we find ourselves to be a modern rendition of something that once was, but has long since been made into moral stories.
We do not understand the value of what we’ve inherited.
But it’s not too late for us, by any means. We can begin to learn -even now- of what great treasures we have come into when we find our imperfect selves connecting to one another and to these old stories with new life still flowing out of them.
Moreover, we don’t have to worry about being a thousand percent correct in all thing just so that we can participate without injuring the beautiful name and legacy. We need to understand how our worth comes from connectivity. This something worth exploring. It’s worth learning together.
There ought to be things that still break our hearts. IF we consider ourselves to be in some relationship or acquaintanceship with God, then there definitely out to be things that still break our hearts in very tender ways.
I struggle to find the words of what I saw.
There are a people within Christianity who claim to love the Jews people, but they believe that something just like the last Holocaust is possible or even likely to happen again. These said people wish to do their part to protect God’s Chosen People. They believe a redeemed Israel will come out of the calamity, albeit a drastically reduced number.
Some times these people speak so factually it scares me to here their casualness.
But it got worse. …
I once heard a vehement Jew…maybe rabbi, I don’t remember right now…say something along the lines of, “Christians just want to use Jews to bring back their Christ! They don’t care about us!“. As if one religious culture could use or manipulate or sacrifice another. I hate how right he may have been. I could only imagine what he’s seen and heard. I know what I’ve seen and heard makes me sick to think about it, even as I search for the words.
These select group of Christians (fore mentioned) had a portion of them give a message/sermon which I heard about after the fact, although I was at the same camp…I skipped this particular “teacher”. He spoke from Ezekiel 39:9-16, and he spoke words of mockery.
One of the other seminar attendee’s gladly recount the summary for me. The theory went something like this: after the Jews survive (barely) another world war, then they’ll see Christ and be humbled, then they’ll have to be on cleanup duty for seven months from all the Armageddon that just occurred, and they’ll become even more humbled. Then after that, maybe they’ll be truly reconciled with God.
My heart broke.
These are the Christians who claim to love Israel and love the Jew? What love is this, that delights in their being kept out of their own Holy City and having to do humiliating unclean work of peasants? While what..? The “Christians” get to hang out with the Messiah, partying because they’re so much more fit to be in the Holy City?
No. I do not hear the heart of God in this. No. I will not be with that crowd.
If that was the only way such scriptures could be read, then let me just say, I would set aside “party time” or “ruling and reigning with Christ” and I would go help the Jews with the disgusting, unclean work of picking up corpses and bones left rotting months after the most horrific battle of history.
These things should not be taken so light-heartedly.
Did this teacher even stop for two minutes to consider God’s heart on these things? Or how Christ works over and over again? How is that Christians can take verses like, “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” or “And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses“, but they are only for Christians?
How is it that there is still this idea that one must clean themselves up before God will accept them? How does one clean themselves up with God’s help?
In case you should become curious what is in Ezekiel 39:9-16 and what does it say… may I just offer another point of view? It’s not about Israel going through more disgrace and humbling. By this point in the eschatological story (end of times story), the remaining People of God have already beheld and meet their God in fullness. They are already a priestly people. Now God has put a new love in their hearts where they can’t stand the idea that something -even something defiling- would stand in the way of anyone coming up the Mount of God and meeting with the true God. Therefore, they’re so fervent, that they willing go out, work as hard as they can, for as long as they can, and they will clear the Traveler’s Valley, so anyone…absolutely anyone can come and meet with God.
They are not doing this to earn merit, but out of Love…the Love of God, which we only gain when we experience a personal encounter with God.
I don’t understand the words “I love you” or “love” itself when people hook with circumstantial requirements. Although maybe we all do. Maybe we’re a people who forgotten how to love other just because …just because there is some unmistakable beauty in the depths of another person’s soul, which our soul notices even before we see it or understand it ourselves.
Even if we fail at this… can we just, please, not put God’s name on it?
Can we just have enough respect for a being that would qualify as God to not try to make him into a tyrant or monster at every other turn? Can we just admit we want points for our deeds? Can we just stop putting other people down even though we find disappointment all around us? Can we have a little respect? Can we hope in beauty? Can we stop being mean to those who brought us here?
If we’re going to were the title Christian, could we just believe in the way Christ Jesus lived, and they things he taught? Could we just look at the scriptures without trying to find our own treasures, and just search for God’s heart instead?
Could we stop saying “I love you” just to make it easier to use people? Please… Please stop feeding your hate.
Can we wash one another’s feet just because Jesus called us to servanthood? Can we just act like the thing by which we identify ourselves as?
Something changes when you know God’s heart beyond the best doctrinal choices. When God doesn’t fit into our given options, we have a chance at expanding our world, our minds, and our hearts.
When Jesus had his infamous “angry moment” in the Temple, flipping tables and driving out the money changers… you need to understand the unspoken things that happened there. The context, if you will. In those days, people sold potential sacrifices just outside the inner temple area, in an area known as the court of Gentiles. It was all the closer Gentiles were allowed to get towards the Holy God of Israel. Whether out of spite, commerce greed, or necessity of the day this area (the court of the Gentiles) had become so packed that barely anyone could walk around in it -because of the buying, selling, and trading taking place- let alone have a quiet moment to worship a still distant God.
So Jesus comes in see all this taking place and quotes the scripture, “My house will be called a house of prayer” …and the rest of the sentence is “for all nations”.
Hebraically, this is how you quote scriptures, in part. Because ever elementary age child learned the scriptures by heart. …or nearly. It’s iron sharping iron to quote part and have those around you quote the rest to you and still understand the greater picture of what’s being said. Kind of like we do with movie quotes nowadays.
So in this famous “angry moment” of Jesus at the Temple, we see God’s heart is broken in that Israel (and their religious system) isn’t taking seriously being the People of God and priestly to all nations. So I can only imagine if there comes a time when the Messiah shows up, and restores the fullness of all things, then these people too will see the truth about even this detail in the covenant.
When God shows up everything changes.
It would be absolutely impractical to have a half love for the Jew now, merely waiting for Jesus to come and rub their faces in it, and to think that will be enough to be a catalyst for their “full salvation”. It’s absurd!
If we want to make a difference in the darkest times, we must know God’s heart. We must know God’s heart beyond doctrinal correctness. We must not despise one we call our brother. We must see the beauty of what God is doing beyond our own selves and our reward.
Love is nothing if it is not lavish and strong to those who are weak and far off. And if our love is nothing, than so are we.
My niece has told me about these parents who are idealistically strict with their teenage children’s romantic interest. As my niece tells me a few of the details I think, Oh no…the Joshua Harris movement…Is that still a thing?
Apparently these parents have made some unspoken but guessable mistakes earlier in their life and in their pursuit of romance, sex, and other things good Christians don’t talk about. There’s an obvious amount of shame still present there, or else I don’t think they’d be so strict with their kids. Especially since this strictness isn’t something they understand in experiential or self-disciplinary, one might guess from their overcompensating ways.
I want kids to have their innocents for as long as possible, afterall you can’t get it back once it’s gone. I agree to that. However I can’t agree that this approach of choosing how your children choose is really the way to bring up healthy teenage kids in today’s society. What happens when they leave home and get to do whatever the hell they want? umm.. hell happens, I’m guessing.
These parents mystify me. I feel sure I understand where they’re coming from and yet I still don’t agree with the conclusion they make. If these parents had made past mistakes which they regretted and they now strictly believe in a sort of holiness living, then what happened to “She loves much because she’s forgiven much”?
Why does shame seem to be the dominate factor? Why are the children paying for the sins of the fathers? Why don’t they trust that they’ve raised their children better and more comprehensively than their parents were able to do for them?
Why is love and romance about dominance in the Christian world?
I don’t know anything about parenting. I only know about being a kid and being an adult. I also have the privilege to know about choosing for myself.
As a teenager I had some good adults around who gave good advice and reasonable tips. I had good brothers who reasonable friends who told me more than I wanted to know… but for the most part it was good advice. I had questions and I people I could ask. There was a conversation that was available to me.
Yeah… so my parents weren’t those people either, you know, the ones you can talk to as a teenager about relationships, love, and what happens after holding hands. But I did have people to talk to. I read Christian books (much to my dissatisfaction), I looked in the Bible, I asked myself questions, I questioned what it was all worth. …and in the end you know what made a difference?
I had this one camp counselor who said this crazy but interesting thing when it was just the girls sitting around talking. She said something like, If the first time I ever got kiss was at my wedding I’d be like ‘Woah do it again!’. We all laughed at her description and she giggled too, but the fact was she was already engaged. She had already been kissed. But I hadn’t. …and I wondered…. how close to true was that statement.
Was kissing something that’s incredible regardless of time or age?
It seemed to me there was this big rush or push to date, to kiss, to make out, to “do the deed”, then …then what?
I wondered if these things were all something to get pass like a mile-marker, then what’s the point? What’s all the talk about?
But if they’re something in themselves, and they don’t lose value over time then that… that sounded interesting to me.
I’m a rare person who got to choose my own sexual fate, and I got to do that as an adult. I know not everyone gets to choose what happens to them in regards to sexual experiences. There at things that are stolen, there are things that are coerced, there are deceptions and lying-promises that are made and broken, and because of that, not everybody gets to choose for themselves.
So there’s an accomplishment here. If these previously mentioned parents have been able to keep their kids safe this far, and to teach them truth about what’s valuable, and how to be considerate others and not use people to get to your mile makers, then as someone who was formerly a kid, I have to say trust your kids! Let them choose.
IF you raised your kids right, then they should be able to continue in right on their own. And that trust you place in your kids might just go a long way into building a relationship between you and them.
If you think you raised your kids right, but just in case you think it’s better to “protect them from trouble” then, truth is they’ll find a way to get into trouble anyhow.
Teach your kids trust, not dominance.
Teach your kids how to make good choice so that they can become better people. Keeping them ignorant to choices will only work for limited amount of time, then it won’t work at all. Help your kids to make better choice than you made, but don’t force them to pay for your regrets.
Eventually your kids are going to taste freedom, eventually your kids will do something stupid, eventually your kids will be adults. For now, teach them from love and not from fear. Let them choose, let them grow up, and teach them to do that in healthy way.
I’ve come to see that Christianity is starting to have a major personality split. Maybe it’s not a new thing, maybe my seeing it is new.
Since news of the terrorist attacks in Paris I’ve vaguely watched the reactions of people, but even with attempting to mind my own business, I’m still shocked by what I do notice.
Hate, self-preservation, my rights, “those people”, blame-game, responsibility shift, closed-hearts-closed-eyes, politics first God second…maybe second, …and that’s just to mention a few.
Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am.
So it turns out Christianity sometimes means modern Evangelical Christian, and all the crazy things that goes with that.
Other times Christianity means one who seeks God’s own heart, and all the crazy things that goes with that.
Apparently it is ok to be a Christian hate our current political enemies and anyone we think might be slightly related to them, and still say your prayers, go to church, and pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is heaven“, ect.
Apparently sometimes politics has to do what it has to do and we all should huttle together under that, and then later on we can pray for “those people” when it’s safe to consider them as actual people again. In the meantime, however, it’s best that we use our social media to let everyone know how despicable they really are.
Apparently if you’re part of the modern day Evangelical Christian, then it’s ok.
However, I suppose if you want to seek God’s heart at all times there might become some struggles like:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.“
Maybe Jesus gives bad advice?
I mean it’s not like Jesus expects the world to change if we live according to his words right? And of course, it’s the responsibility of the modern Evangelical to change the world, right? So maybe we should just reconsider these Jesus words. Maybe if we only apply these words inside the “church” system, then we can get them to mean something that could make Jesus right and us right at the same time.
…Or maybe we could be challenged that we have a God who believes the way to change the world is a different kind of wisdom than that which the world itself uses. The principalities use one kind of “wisdom” and then God uses a different kind of wisdom. And the two wisdoms cannot be consolidated into the best of both worlds. Nor do they need to be.
There use to be this old saint who would always say, “Crisis reveals, and ultimate crisis reveals absolutely.”
We aren’t even in trouble yet. There is a crisis on our doorstep and so many want to ignore it and tell “those people” to go away. Go to “other Muslim nations”. This reveals who we are. What we’re prepare for. What our character is. …and not as a nation, but as a people. A people who claim God is Love. A people who claim to have the answers. A people who claim they don’t understand why the youngest generations are leaving the “church” and not coming back.
Last time on the Church and Isis we considered what it means when Jesus talks about being the Good Shepherd of his flock, and how this means we shouldn’t just give up on the lost sheep around us.
What I am saying is IF you are a Christian, then you have a responsibility. This is not a time to wait for politics to clear things up or for “the church” to get itself together. Your responsibility is to: love one another. Pray for your enemies. Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with your God.
And if you can spare yourself at all… then do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.
Is that enough to change the world? Or is just enough to change who I am? If me, then maybe you. If you then maybe one more person. You do the math. It’s God’s wisdom. Is that enough in this age?
I made the mistake of flipping through some comments on social media other day, about things that related to the Paris attacks. …Generally related. I didn’t find much about the people who are recovering, and what’s being done to help them. I didn’t find stories about the hundreds of funerals there will unexpectedly be now. I didn’t find any news about what Americain band was playing during the time of the shooting in the theater. Instead I found hate. Sadly it was readily available and flippantly posted.
Facebook, in its usual style, made a way for people to change their profile pictures to be overlaid with the French national flag. Many people have respond and chosen to do this. Even they posted venom. Not specially towards France, but towards reguees who are fleeing these same deadly attacks in their home countries, because they might be the terrorist themselves. They might be spies. They might be dangerous.
They might. What of it?
Does anybody remember or know what it’s like falling love? It’s risky. There’s a chance the other person won’t like you. There’s a chance the other person is really a jerk. There’s a chance you two aren’t actual compatible. It’s a chance that one takes, when you choose to further love, friendship, or honesty. It’s risky. It could even turn out badly. Do you remember? Has anyone warned you? Because it’s true.
There’s an old saying “you take the bad with the good” and when you attempt to care about others, it’s just a risk one takes.
Love doesn’t cure everything. But Love makes an attempt to bring forth the cure. Thats what changes the world. Love isn’t ignorant, but it is courageous. Some people hate courageousness, because it’s scary, because it’s change, because it’s beyond what they’ve limited themselves into. I know… I’ve seen it.
We aren’t those people.
In the 1830s America made a permit blemish on her history that can’t ever be undone, and ordered what is now known as the Trail of Tears. The government believed it would safest for the Indians to move onto their own prearranged lands or “camps” further away from the “civilized” areas of this growing country. In the 1940s America again grouped a race of people into questionable treatment in confide areas of “government camps” “for their own safety”. In the 1940s the Nazis also grouped the Jews into ghettos and “camps” “for their own safety”.
In the late 1930s there’s an infamous story about a large ship filled with German Jews who were promised passage to one of the islands in Caribbean. Before the ship arrive the country changed its mind, and refused to give refuge to these desperate passengers. According to that story, that ship sailed all the way up the coast from Miami, FL to NYC no one granted them passage nor would they let one passages step off that ship.
Fear ruled. If they’d come from that country how bad could be for them to return to it? According to the story, it’s believed that none of the Jews on that ship survived the Nazis occupation. We had a chance to save a boat full of people, if not a few dozen. As a country we refused them all. That’s the worst part. No one was saved and we let it happen. It’s now part of past we can’t change, but instead we must consider.
I get it, people are scared. I see Muslims have the bad rep in the world today. Okay….. But what’s about the Christian Syrians and refugees? Do you know that they also may be seeking freedom? What about those who hope in a different and better life for their kids?
Do we remember that behind this mass we see as “refugees” and immigrants, that there are actual people there? There are Christian brethren, there are seekers, there are hurt wounded, scared, hopeful, praying people there.
At this point the question doesn’t seem to be what do we think about taking refugees in, but do we believe in people anymore?
Do we believe that Love has the power to change things? Do we believe that our lives effect others lives? Or are we comfortable cloistered away from danger, away from others that it’s not our problem, because it doesn’t effect our lives?
It effects me.
Do you see people when you see the pictures of the refugees and immigrants? Can you see any people? Find one. Find a face. Find a family. Think about them. Love them. Pray for them. Hope for them. Consider them.
Love is dangerous. It’s risky, it’s scary, it’s unpredictable. And in light of all that, it’s still worth it.
Find one. Love one.
Because that’s how you change the world.
Today, fear is not my author. I hope we all remember that we have a choose. We have a voice. and we are but one. One makes a difference.