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Thursday, May 19, 2016

I Checked My Cynicism at the Door, Last Night



Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (NIV).

This post is overdue.

There have been some moments, over the past few years, when I haven't recognized myself. 

If I'm honest, they haven't all been bad.  Change and growth are really important, and sometimes these things are so transformative that we come out significantly different than we began.  The good changes have included things like standing up for what's right, even in the midst of controversy, and recognizing that God has given me a unique voice that should, indeed, be heard in order to bring glory to God.  The time for silence in the face of oppression is over.  At least in my life, that ship has sailed, and I never want to call it back to port.

However...

We must be kind.

Sometimes I am afraid that it is too easy to embrace the oxymoronic...

Here's an example...

Sometimes I get so passionate about passivism that I start sounding violent.  Um.  Nice.

I started thinking about Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Violence cannot drive out violence.  Exclusion cannot drive out exclusion.  Lies cannot drive out lies.  Deprivation cannot drive out depravity.  Power cannot drive out power.  These are not Kingdom values, friends.

Matthew 11:25, "Jesus said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children'" (NIV).

II Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (NIV).

I Corinthians 1:27, "God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful" (NLT).

Please, let me be the first to admit that I have sometimes struggled for power. 

I repent. 

I am done.

Last night we were privileged to hold our first speaking engagement for Via Illuminate, and here's the thing.  A small group of people from a traditional, local congregation stepped up in multiple, tangible ways to show that they do, indeed, care about the least of these.  I haven't seen enough of that lately, but I saw it last night.  And let me tell you this.  The thing that touched my heart most deeply was the senior pastor who prayed for forgiveness for the times when we (the Church) have not seen the least of these as desirable or sought to meet their needs.  Friends.  There are still good people in the world.

Sometimes I feel as if it's difficult to just survive to the breakthrough moments, but they're there.  They're coming.  Keep surviving.

And again.  Be kind.

There is so much disagreement in the world.  There is so much disagreement in the church.  If you want to fight, it's not difficult to find a platform for that.  But I wonder how many of us really want to fight.  Maybe, instead, we might like to share our stories with one another and then determine how we can best work together, in our great and wonderful diversity, to bring redemption to the world... since that's what we all actually want, anyway...

May we listen to the narratives surrounding us that compete for our attention.  May we listen to understand, not to counter.  May we recognize the value of all people and seek to show love in ways that are the most inclusive.  May we remember that we do not have it all together and we have not arrived. 

Being weary is dreadful.  May we, instead, be gentle... and humble... and may we carry one another's burdens.  May we be holy.  May we love like Jesus.
 
L.

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