Wednesday, November 07, 2007
So I have been dialoging with people in regards to how we see community as a Christian. I have become more and more challenged in regards to my pattern of thinking.
Where do I begin?
I have realized that I have not been blogging much lately, travel, marriage and work have kept me pretty much away from the computer at home...okay...plus...the computer was stolen...ya...that bites.
I have watched as the inner city has become darker and darker. More crime, more crime and less action against it. During a ministry experience my wife shared with me a story of someone who said the street was calling them. I asked her if she knew what that meant. She didn't. So I shared with her my thoughts as I lived it, and know the draw of the street.
The smell. There is a night smell, which is often sweet in aroma, you can smell the trees, the grass. Nature at it's best...but that is not all. There are the sounds, the sites and the adrenaline rush of getting a fix. Be it drugs or sex...there is a draw. It is a deep pull toward something you know is not good for you, yet you long for it at the same time. Often the longing beats the not good for you thought.
So what is one looking for when the street calls your name. For me it was validation through anonymous sexual encounters. I knew where to go, when to go and what to do.
It did not matter how my day was going. I could be totally connected with people, being social, having the time of my life, and then I'd go home and it would call me. It was as if I needed the icing on top of the cake that I had already consumed. I wanted more. I wanted the intimacy...as false as it was. I wanted the validation, as degrading as it was. I would go to all lengths to get the need met. No money changed hands, but I was selling myself short. I was selling myself for a quick fix to solve any emotional response that came up within me. If I felt anger, joy, sadness, despair...any emotion...I would go and find pleasure.
Now I have come to realize that the need for validation, and intimacy are legitimate but not in regards to getting them through anonymous sexual encounters. But I also realize that looking back, there were few people who could or would understand what I was going through...or who felt safe for me to share this with. Who wants to hear about another sexual fall, or getting drunk or high and then spending hours on the street, sleeping with who ever took a fancy for you or took initiative to pursue you.
Little did I know that Jesus was there. He was with me, walking with me, knocking at my heart. Yet no one shared that with me...no one called me on my behavior, no one asked how are you "really doing"...instead of just accepting my "fine" as written in stone.
I learned the hard way...I had to come to the end of my rope...myself...and with Jesus knocking a little harder than the world.
I know now that Jesus was teaching me by the holy spirit that I needed to live life different, that I needed to feel the emotions, rather than, quickly numb it through sex. I needed to feel. I needed to feel intense pain, in order to heal, to grieve, to mourn, to then be able to stand, dance, rejoice.
So how does one do that...how does one take a stand for themselves and say no more. No more will I sell myself for a quick fix?
Where do we fit in with that person?
Where do you fit in with me?
Are you willing to go deep with someone, are you willing to die for someone, are you willing to give till it hurts, care about someone till you weep uncontrollably? Are you willing to risk having them be a part of your life, your family? Are you willing to be robbed, cheated, spit at, scorned? Are you willing to be Christ in the flesh?
I think we have it backward as Christ followers. Yes, we are Christ followers, but as we follow, do we obey? Do we do the things we are called to do, so we feel good? Do we do the things we do because it looks good? Or are we getting messy? Are we following Christ or being like him? We are called to be Christ, to finish the work he started.
In looking inward, I have a long, long way to go, in taking risks, in stepping out into the boldness that Christ has birthed within me. I hear him speaking to me and it scares the life out of me...and it should. IT SHOULD! I should not be afraid to die. Die to my own flesh, my own desires and wants. I am selfish, that is my sinful, worldly nature. I care far too much about my life.
Western living...hmmm, we (me included) have been programmed to think, if we don't have this or that, we are less than.
I wonder sometimes when I see the public school systems under attack, gangs, shootings, prostitution, bullying and I wonder...where the hell are the Christian's? Oh, excuse me, they are in private Christian schools or being home schooled...far away from the evil of the public realm...are they being trained to be the SALT and the LIGHT? Are they actually living out their faith, making it real to themselves through being involved in those from other cultures, faiths and denominations? Are we training our children to walk the walk and talk the talk? Are we showing them what life is like on the outside of our comfortable homes, with little risk?
Maybe, I think about these things, write about these things because I live in the inner city, and see little change? I see few people standing up, and I am scared that it might be me, who is being called to take a stand...and then realize that yes, Christ is calling me to make MERCY and JUSTICE my friend. To be the extender of grace, yet call forth justice against drug dealers, slum landlords, corrupt cops, politicians and AAAHHH, it scares the crap out of me, because I feel so insignificant. I don't have the letters behind my name or government credentials, so who will listen to me?
Paula and I have been praying about a vision for our lives as a couple and we have one. To feed the hungry, to bind up the broken hearted, to look after widows and orphans and to set captives free. What a vision! We do all this as we surrender ourselves before our maker, our King and say...use us Lord! No matter what it looks like or feels like. Because it is not about us...it is about you, who have commissioned us and called us forth, to lay down our lives and serve.
We are praying for a home...a sanctuary that we can house people. We are calling forth a mansion on a hill top. We are calling for it, we are boldly asking for it. A very good friend sent me this verse today, and I wept as I read it...
“I am the Lord”, he says, “and there is no other. I publicly proclaim bold promises.
I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner so that no one can understand what I mean.
And I did not tell the people of Israel to ask me for something I did not plan to give.
I, the Lord, speak only what is true and right.”
Isaiah 45:18b – 19
God, we boldly ask for that which you have promised for us...a home, an inheritance for our children, refuge, and our daily bread.
I pray that you who read this may feel inspired to join us in a revolution...a counter culture way of life...because the one who inspired us...was just that!