Friday, January 21, 2011

Rebel Savior.

In an age of pious rank and social inequality Christ walked the earth ignoring every predisposition of the educated elite or spiritual giant of the time. He looked deep inside the hearts of humankind and challenged the status quo to create an equilibrium never witnessed since the Garden of Eden.

Regardless of family genealogies, regardless of gender, regardless of academic status, regardless of rank, ethnicity, occupation, disability or socioeconomic status Christ came to love and to serve and to save all…equally; our one true equal opportunity Savior.

Ignoring the self-imposed and self-inflicted laws of humankind, Christ came to adjust our thinking to a deeper thought pattern and understanding pointing to our hearts. No longer would the priest or law-keeper judge our actions. Rather our heart, our motive, would be our judge.

“You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.”

“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: 'Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.”

“You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.”

~Selections from The Message, Matthew 5.

In an age of political warfare regarding the practices and promises of earth, Christ is here waiting for us to wake up to what is real. In an age of a separating gap between wealth and poverty, Christ is waiting for us to take note of the growing margin of inequality in the world. Will we notice or will we comfortably ignore that is “other” than us?

Will we pat ourselves on the back for our righteous church attendance as we drive past the scoundrels on the street wishing them a speedy trip to prison for wearing black and questionable piercings?

We will radically and rebelliously change what was for what needs to be for the sake of the “other” and for the call of Christ?

Don’t tell me of your traditions. Don’t talk to me about your laws. Share with me your love for people. Share with me what you are willing to do so that Christ reaches the “other”. Share with me the equality that you attempt to create to reach the “other”.

Don’t tell me of your comfort level or the bubble you live within. Don’t talk to me about a dying church when a giant thriving body grows down the street. What are we doing? Do we wait to die in order to serve the dying or do we radically and rebelliously change what is for what could be?

Don’t accuse Christ of working on the Sabbath. Watch Him thrive and save the “other” in his rebellious and radical way. Watch Him elevate the sinner, welcome the woman, and kiss the children. Watch Him scorn the politician, the rich and the pious.

Until we look at the heart of people, until we walk away from our comfort, until we greet the “other” right where they are, whether in a bar, the street, the mall, or the back pew, we ignore the great equilibrium that Christ intended for the church.

The church is not a locked building where only one demographic is allowed. When you ignore what clothes us, this withering human flesh, all that remains within us looks the same. The heart within you is what Christ sees; not your color, not your job, not your political affiliation or national residence, not your age, not your gender, not your bank account, not even your faith denomination. He sees you. He sees your hate, your love, your lust, your faith, your commitment…your motive. He sees you.

Limiting His work to our knowledge is futile. He is beyond our wildest limitations.

Rebel Savior, save us. Save us from ourselves.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Love Letters.

When my husband and I were dating we had a long distance relationship

during the summer break. It stunk. Needless to say, absence did make the heart grow fonder and we wrote letter after letter after letter to each other. Clearly, this was pre-email. Yes, I am that old. At this point, my daughter would ask if a pony delivered our mail.

I cherished his letters. I still have them tucked away wrapped up with a ribbon. Sometimes he would write me during his breaks at work and only have a napkin to use as paper, but he would write a letter on that napkin and mail it anyway.

I think I drove our mailman nuts because I would wait for him to show up and then just stare at him as he stuffed our box. Then I would dash like a madwoman and tear through the mail discarding all my parents’ bills and junk mail all through the house till I found something addressed to me. I read those letters over and over and over during those long summer days. I would hang on every word and evaluate every sentence. I could almost hear Dave's voice through his pen especially when he was saying something funny. I like to believe that our letters kept our relationship alive during the long wait for the next semester to begin.

When my daughter started school and I began to make her sack lunch everyday, I would write on her napkin a little note telling her that I loved her or “Have a great day!” A month into school, I cleaned out her backpack to find every one of those napkins tucked away. I asked her why in the world she kept her napkins. She responded, “Because they were notes from you, mom.”

If you are anything like me, you struggle with throwing away your kids art work especially when it is something sentimental. My son loves to draw pictures of our family together, and in every picture we are all holding hands. One of these days, he will deny this so I’m writing it down and laminating the proof that he loved his parents and his sister so much.

All these ‘love letters’ are precious to me. There is something special about them.

I wish so much that I could treat scripture like my love letters because essentially that what scripture is. These letters, these compilations from believers of the past, are our connection to an experience that we will never witness physically.

Scripture shares with us the word of our God, yet we so quickly dismiss studying it or memorizing it. We even make fun of some believers for carrying bibles with them everywhere or even carrying bibles in to worship. We hesitate to quote it out of fear. We discount learning it. We don’t believe it applies to us. We don’t believe the authors understand us. We question it's relevance.

My mother made me carry my bible into worship every Sunday morning and Wednesday night starting as early as age three. It became another appendage to me. I am thankful for that. I want the same for my children.

I can already hear the naysayers saying, “Bible knowledge won’t get you into heaven.” You are right. It won’t. But I don’t want to stand before my creator and say, “Oh, I had your love letter. I just didn’t have time or care enough to learn about your sacrifice. You’ll forgive me, right?”

Furthermore, I refuse to teach my children that scripture is unimportant in their walk of faith and I find it alarming that so many parents disregard scripture in their children's spiritual education entirely. Shame on us.

If I knew that my sweet husband never read the letters I sent him it would crush me, even now, fifteen years later. If I knew that my daughter never cared about those napkins I sent to school with her, it would make me cry. If I thought for one second that my sentimental son didn’t know how much I cherish his drawings it would kill me.

Don’t I owe my Creator and my Savior and the men who walked before me some attention?

God help me to read your words. Help me to dive in and study every single letter, chapter, verse, and word. Help me to commit to know you. Help me to write your words on my heart and the hearts of my family. Father, speak to me through your love letters.