Many things have been weighing on my heart and mind lately as we close out another year. This year has been one of the most intense and rewarding years in my personal journey of faith. As we end the season of Advent and our hearts are most reflective, these are the things that are stirring in me and what I pray that God reveals to the church as a whole so that we may return to our First Love and be the body that Jesus envisioned that was exemplified in the book of Acts.
Now, this is my current journey of faith and I understand that we are all in different phases of our walk with Christ so I realize not all I share will be agreed with and perhaps it may even cause some backlash. Everything we say and do, must be measured against the Word of God and I want to clearly state that these are truths that are resounding with me and so far in comparing it to the Word, I believe these thoughts should challenge us into closer relationship with Jesus.
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s been a huge political year and a year of many tragedies that have highlighted hot topics like gun control, sanctity of life and the such. My question to us all is how often do we put the hope of our future into the hands of politicians, legislation, celebrities, the economy and even Christian leaders. How have we forgotten that Jesus is our hope, our present and our future? Could it be that we have readily embraced a western mindset of entitlement, privilege and if we just work hard enough, we deserve every material manifestation that makes our life in Christ a walk in the park? News flash: the areas where the Gospel thrives the most is where there is suffering, brokenness and yes, even persecution.
While we have been spending our time claiming that Jesus was a Republican and picketing everything that we decide that we are against, the enemy has been having a field day keeping us distracted from our First Love and in turn, we are no longer loving our neighbor. Heck, do we even know our neighbor? We say “hate the sin, love the sinner”, but we don’t really mean that. We’re great at the first part of it, but maybe we hate the sin because we see a reflection of sin ourselves and it’s easier to hate the “greater sin”. What would be more productive: picketing at an abortion clinic or loving the girl who is scared out of her mind and inviting her into your life no matter what choice she makes? We have to think long term when it comes to the Gospel, it’s not just about stopping an abortion (before you crucify me, I believe every child has a right to life) but about lasting fruit that can only come through authentic love…and that means putting yourself in the position to jump off the cliff of compassion. This means entering someone else’s suffering, pain and insecurities and the beautiful redemption is that God heals us too when we allow this vulnerability.
People crave community for a reason. They want to be listened to, understood, known. It is how God created us. I submit that maybe the “hot topic” discussions can just be a doorway into building relationship with someone we wouldn’t normally “associate” with…relationship does not mean we condone a belief or lifestyle but that we care enough about someone’s soul to listen and try to understand and identify with a person even if it makes us a tiny bit uncomfortable or the traditional church mad at us. At the root, it’s not about the issues, it’s about the person being loved and accepted. The Christian culture has created it’s own industries to the point that if we never wanted to interact with the “world”, we honestly don’t have to…what a sterilized, unfruitful life! I’ve come to think that our community should include people that we do not agree with ideologically, morally and spiritually – how else can Jesus be made known, how else can we be the salt? Instead of being salt, the church has become vinegar. This is the greatest tragedy of our time.
Understanding that Jesus came to establish a new way, a new Kingdom. We sometimes confuse our patriotism for righteousness…and though there is a war going on, we forget that it’s not one of flesh and blood but a spiritual one and the weapons of our warfare must change. The church culture has gone from one of faith in action, caring for the poor to one of self-defense and control both of which are rooted in fear. I challenge you to find Jesus teaching violence anywhere in the NT. I’m not advocating rebellion, but revolution. Everything about Jesus was counter-cultural to the political and religious scene of His day…now I’m starting to see a huge similarity to the religious culture of our day and the one of His day. The people were looking for a Savior and expected Him to come through political channels to establish His Kingdom on earth. We are looking for that same thing now, the earth is truly groaning and never more than now have I felt myself pleading for Jesus to return and establish true justice and peace on the earth. But friends, the Bride is not ready. We don’t understand that the Kingdom is about downward mobility where we decrease and He increases – not through our picketing, but through our genuine and authentic desire to see the Kingdom of God come to earth through His love in us.
Many of what I’m sharing on this post may have you wondering if I’ve “backslidden”, but my heart is after Jesus and His truth alone no matter what our cultural traditions have engrained in our belief systems. I’m exploring the tension that keeps us balanced in our seeking of His truth through His Word in a very sick and diseased Christian culture. In seeking and longing for Jesus, I find that my greatest and most time consuming activity is unlearning. What would happen if we let the truth of the living Gospel completely undo our prejudices, which in turn would allow the Savior to be lifted up and ourselves humbled.
May next year be the year of a new way…the way of Christ beautifying His Bride…it starts with me and it starts with you.