We are only asked to love and offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose the endings or the choices people make. That’s not our job. We won’t solve all the mysteries and we don’t need to agree on everything. People do, people feel, people cope and their resolutions are not for us to judge. People are here for us to love, and in this they will know the One that first loved us.
The first time & now
The Protestant Reformation was the voice of protest against the medieval Roman Catholic Church. It was necessary and it helped the RCC weed out some its own issues. Men are never infallible and this includes the leaders of any church. During that time Christianity was the assumption — people weren’t challenging it as a whole. The protest was in the church, by the church, and for the church.
We live in a time that could be described as Post-Christian. Christianity is not the assumption; it has to prove itself to a skeptical people. We live in a different era than the Reformation, yet much of our reactions come across in the same way. We protest! We protest immorality, Disney, Planet Fitness, abortion, gay lifestyle, and when I was a kid ‘secular music.’ This stance looks ridiculous to anyone and everyone outside “the club.”
Eventually Christians will need to not just tweak their ways and ideas but a reactionary shift is needed — a new reformation. This has the possibility of leaving whole sects and denominations in the dust. This is partly due to our naivety and insistence of rehearsing again, “Give Me That Old Time Religion.”
Evolution doesn’t ask for permission
You feel the shift — you know we’re in it. You sense the change. Admit it. Things aren’t working like they once did. So now what?
Our sails aren’t catching a wind, but that girl has a motorized propellor thingy she’s been trying to show you. I know it’s different than the sails you’re used to. The doldrums don’t care; the wind isn’t even listening. The smooth water watches and waits wondering what you will do. It longs for your prow to cut through like it once did.
In your heart you want the same thing as the propellor girl: slicing through the waves, traveling great distance, cargo and wind and destination. You’re both the same really.
After some time you’re going to get sick of sitting there—annoyed but not annoyed enough. “I could travel at least as fast as her but without making all that ruckus,” you say under your breath. “I actually think we have moved a bit and I have to believe we will move more again tomorrow. I have hope!”
Three times the sun and moon crawl over the sky. The stars bring entertainment to the night. You hold onto hope and for good reason, you’ve been here before—you think. The wind makes a grand entrance meeting again it’s canvas companions. You shout excitedly, “Ha ha! We’re back! Let’s move!”
You arrive and feel pretty darn good. After all, you only lost a few days and you even made it to shore without all that bothersome noise. Your contentment is short lived however, as you spot a sign on the shore.
Attention: The gods have collectively decided to take the winds away to another land. There will be no more wind in this place. Continue on.
Hopelessness and fear grip your inner voice, “what will we do now?” Thankfully the gods have mercy and remind you of the powered propellor thingy and the smiling girl you loathingly met at sea. She’s not hard to find either. She has pamphlets that share everything you need to craft your own noisy motor.
It will take time, you have to learn a new way. With patience, humility, openness and perseverance you build and learn and adapt. You’re not stuck, you’re adapting. Heck, you’ve seen more ocean in your decades than the nonstop silly shrieks of this girl could ever imagine.
It will take some time to get going again. You can’t just set sail like you used to. But when you couple her knowledge with your wisdom you will travel safely and effectively to new areas—areas you would have never known.
Hope is not lost. Sailing is not dead. The ways may change but the purpose is still the same.
We are called to hold our hands against the wounds of a broken world, to stop the bleeding. —Don Miller
Imagine with me the love that could be loosed from the depths of your soul. Look at the possibility of truly loving unconditionally. The actual healing of humanity is a real possibility. It’s not about filling our seats. It’s not about a new program to draw more people into your deal. It’s not about getting people to say some prayer.
It’s about truly touching that broken spot. It’s about breaking down the walls that separate. It’s about no more “us” and “them.” It’s simply US. It’s WE. It’s the collective human experience. It’s breaking into the human condition together.
What could this look like? I like to think of it as nations, people groups, the transcending of all barriers: races, gender and sexual orientation. It’s a oneness but we don’t think is possible. It seems far fetched. Some would say, “Its ridiculous! You aren’t taking into account the fallen world. You’re naive!”
I believe when Jesus taught His disciples how to pray it wasn’t a silly, naive prayer. The phrase, “On earth as it is in heaven” can take on a much larger scope if you let it. Usually it’s correlated to physical healing or financial issues. While I do believe that those are included, its much too small a picture. I once heard a person say,
Our job on earth is to prepare a place for God to come down and live.
The last book in the Bible talks about a time like this.
Heaven offers restorative justice to the ones broken by fallen humanity. The gospel message is one that paints a picture of who God created us to be. The gospel message shouts, “It is finished.”
Reformation stops the circle
It’s hard, it can hurt, but it’s necessary. I believe it’s not out of our grasp. God’s doing something and I want to be a part of it. And you want something more I know it. It is burning inside you. You’re scared, you wonder, you are looking and watching. You want the same thing as me. We want to love. We want to be WE.
A few days ago my sailing metaphor bothered me. I had this idea that sailing was more like God pushing us and the motor was more like mans way of trying to make it work. Then I realized that at one point in history one could say adding sails to a ship was also man’s way. Just let the waves push the boat. So today we can see the motor as yet a newer, better way to harness the same natural laws that God created.
They didn’t ask you
We just ate, enjoyed a conversation with a human face or our phone. But sometimes something more insidious is at work.
It’s a globally accepted and understood problem to have a piece of spice or food stuck between your incisor and canine teeth. It happens to us all. It’s part of the human condition and it’s accepted as being a problem that we all want help with.
I noticed a long time ago that I only get healthy, living food stuck in my teeth.
If a stranger lets me know about the cilantro in my teeth I’m grateful. If a close friend tells me the same, I’m grateful.
What the heck is my point? We don’t mind help from someone we don’t have a heart connection to when we agree it’s a problem. The flip side is when someone offers help with something we don’t think is a problem. Do you see where I’m going here?
Stop standing up
They said Lord, Lord we’ve done all these things – we surely are Christians. Yet He said, “I never knew you.” Telling people you’re a Christian doesn’t mean anything. Politicians tell you that for one reason. The plumbing company lets you know with their fish logo—what’s the point? Who cares!?
The person vocally standing up for their morals and sanctity of marriage lets you know they are a Christian. But again I ask, “for what?” What exactly is the point? Is your marriage better for your stand? What is the fruit? That’s how Jesus said he’d know us, by the fruit that comes from our lives.
In the Bible those guys did all the right stuff: prophesied, raised the dead, delivered people. I imagine they’d also be the vocal ones for traditional marriage. If what you’re doing causes no lasting fruit you are just a loud symbol, a clanging gong — both annoying sounds that drive people away.
This is a passage from the book If You Feel too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
We parked and made our way excitedly to the door, and as we took our place in line I heard it: “You’re going to Hell!”
The man’s voice was loud and unkind, directed at everyone arriving to the show. He shouted about “fornication and homosexuality,” angry answers to questions no one was asking. In the first moment I was shocked and then I was sad and I was walking towards him.
“Do you think this is working?” I asked. I told the guy that they needed to stop, that they were only doing damage, offending everyone. I told him people respond to love, and that I could hear no love in their judgements.
A message, “You’re going to Hell” is an awful introduction to a God who desires to love and know his children.
We tell people how to vote and think and live. We judge. We are quick with our answers and slow to confess our questions, maybe even slower to meet other people in theirs.
Do you feel like we are circumambulating again? Are we walking in circles again?
The younger generation is watching carefully to see if they want to follow us. So far it doesn’t look good. They aren’t interested in your morals. They are however looking for genuine love and compassion.
You may not be standing outside an event shouting. If you are please stop. No one’s listening. No one cares.
The question is, are you drawing anyone or are you just making noise? Are you shouting, “It is finished!” or giving out todo lists?
Do you need people to feel like they need to change to come back to the father’s house? How do you know they aren’t already there? That’s what the older brother did in the story. He did everything right. But the father didn’t require anything. In fact he said, “you are always with me and everything I have is yours.” Then he threw a party with all the best stuff.
Could you throw a party for people that don’t deserve it? I want to be able to.
Let’s stop the circles. I’m tired of the circumambulation.
We can move forward. We must move forward.
Peace and wholeness on your journey.