Our reflection and our prayers during difficult times.

I know I’m not alone in this. This week has been a challenge. Lots of time spent reflecting on the situation(s) back at home, e.g., pandemic, international relations, politics, religion, racism. However, even more time was spent reflecting on the status of my own heart. I definitely prefer being busy on the field and not having to think about this stuff. I’ve been spoiled by some of the people we serve. It’s such a privilege serving the poor and marginalized because their simple and thankful and gracious attitudes rub off so easily. It’s almost hard being a jerk when that much (unexpected and undeserved) love is poured out on me, every day. At the same time, I’m thankful I’ve had this time to pray and reflect...and live outside of our bubble for a season.   

 

As I prayed yesterday lyrics to a song I really like (Supermarket Flowers; don’t laugh!) came to mind. “A heart that’s broken is a heart that’s been loved. A life with love is a life that’s been lived.” I’m not sure why but these lyrics made me think about how broken we all are. Whether we know it or not, whether we are left or right, whether we are black or white...we are all so broken. Yet, in Him, that brokenness...it’s not all darkness. There is love. And, where there is love there is hope. But, it’s up to those with Love to represent Love well. 

 

What has made me sad is that many of us (me included) tend think the problems of today are always “you” and never “me” or the problems of today are mainly due to the divide between “left” and “right” when in reality the bigger problem may be (just may be!) the divide amongst ourselves (i.e., Christians). The problem may actually be me. Me?! As I was writing this entry a quote from the book “Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk” came to mind.  

 

“I would submit that the greatest challenge is actually within Christianity. It’s the temptation to build the structures and institutionalism of Christianity but without a parallel commitment to Jesus. It’s politicians and even Christian pastors and leaders who sprinkle on a pinch of Jesus into our thinking, speeches, or sermons but often in a way that fulfills our agenda or goals. In other words, using Jesus to promote nationalism is simply not the way of Jesus. This is the danger of cultural Christianity that eventually, and predictably, produces cultural Christians rather than disciples of Jesus.”

 

“From a political perspective, cultural Christianity is when our theology is held captive by our politics rather than our politics being informed and even transformed by our theology. The danger of this predicament takes us back to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were tempted to be like, or even to be, God. In other words, the oldest sin in humanity has been to conform God into our image. So, as we read the Scriptures, if we’re never offended, convicted, disrupted, or stirred by the Holy Spirit, it’s quite possible that we’ve conformed Jesus into our thinking, liking, and...image.” 

 

“So, what are the dangers and implications of cultural Christianity? Imagine a Christianity that conforms to a culture — in all of its shifts and changes — and no longer adheres to the scandalous, radical love, grace, teachings, and life of Jesus Christ. Imagine an institutional Christianity that’s obsessed with power, influence, and platform without a commitment to the counter-cultural commitment of Jesus Christ; a commitment to empire rather than the kingdom of God.”

 

My prayer is that we, as Christians, as His church, as leaders (political or religious or whatever), can refocus on Jesus as our hope. May He restore our brokenness. May His love in us break barriers and cause real transformation (as anything else is just a bandaid). May He unify us and not divide us. May we live well and represent Him well. May His name be glorified above all other names. 

 

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By the way, Lily and I both very much dislike (especially in the Christian community) the recently used catchphrase, “being silent is being compliant”...or something like that. I mean, we understand the bigger point...I guess. However, there are people who are more like Lily and less like me (thank God). They aren’t as outgoing. They aren’t as vocal. They are more prayer warriors. They are people that “live out” their convictions way more than they “talk” about their convictions. As Matthew wrote in chapter 6, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” May we spend a little less time doing (though not saying doing is innately bad!) and a little more time focusing on what He’s already done for us. May that truth ultimately empower us to make the changes He wants us to make...however uncomfortable that may be for us.

 

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