The implicit search for truth is an uncanny presentation of courage. One must muster the power to see past their own myopic point of tension in order to develop a plan of change. It is change that we struggle with not difference. Change requires a total rebuilding of what we have held on to for so long while difference recalls upon past or present realities that will inform. Change calls for reformation instead of acceptance. For most it is easy to accept people but it is hard to change ones heart about what they have done. The old cliché, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is parenthetically used to soften the ugliness that we harbor within our Christianized hearts.
The body of Christ has mangled the relational aspects of the Gospel and pawn them off as cheap jewelry. We have forgotten how to love with unadulterated, fierce intensity but replaced it with rhetorical sidesteps of utopia – “skubala.” The Gospel presents love with a captive freedom that harnesses beauty. It invites us all to the table of the Eucharist/Communion with the intention of robbing us of our pride, misconduct and hatred in order to pollute us with sharing, honesty and love. It is the Gospel that renders us to places where we may not understand but allows us to wrestle with the Spirit of God to unpack our confusion.
The body of Christ has conflated the Gospel with self-righteousness only to find that they are violently incompatible. The Gospel is only suitable for a perichoretic situation that represents community with high awareness. The importance of self is lost in the push to secure love for all. There is no self-identification due to the overshadowing pursuit of community –no one is free until everyone is free. If we lived within that frame of thought greed, hunger, and racism would be wiped out by the next day.
That is the Gospel –the anomaly of the church.
I wonder often about the rhyme and reason for life having its ups and downs- Why do decent folks suffer? This thought frames most of my day as I wrestle with the importance of trying to live faithfully for God. Words appear to have little or no affect upon your life but become bridges to success for others. You become the very antithesis of what you share because the prayer you share for others has little or no benefit for you. A call on your life appears as a burden that hinders you from effectively being responsible.
I find myself in this place…wrestling with mediocrity and bleakness. I am encouraged but yet mildly disappointed. Trying to configure the system of God is a daunting task mainly because it has become a system rather than a relationship. The relation aspect of God gets lost in translation many times because my human-ness cannot comprehend my suffering while it appears God does nothing –so making God into a system puts the onus upon me to find the error that I have committed. The mystery of grace becomes the anomaly-a kairos moment- instead of the norm that is extended to all in the kingdom of God.
But prayer, meditation, and worship remove the systematic elements and bring me back into relationship. A prophetic push begins to escort me into peace where understanding does not always equate to pure clarity. The peace is in knowing who is escorting you through the suffering.
It is this prophetic push that awakens your strength in the struggle.
This prophetic push…
- highlights a call to service through and in your responsibility.
- brings encouragement when times get tough
- breaks down your tendency to overlook God
- place you in a position that requires worship
- surrounds you with those who will guide, strengthen, and help you make it through the day
- will meet your needs one way or another
- will teach you more than you can ever imagine
- will ultimately transform you
The struggle is real but God has given us the solution and love is truly attached to it.
….in the struggle but deciding to be great today.
The dark chasm of reality speaks to our souls differently. It beckons for us to weigh the very nature of our morality levied against the backdrop of scripture. Do we, through our deeds, warrant the grace of God through our efforts? The answer is no, but I ponder on the thought as I wrestle with our aptitude toward service.
I am not trying to redefine the grace of God –by no means –but trying to come to some conclusions about the importance of service. For it is in service where the church has managed to find a disconnect. We have the facets of programming down but we have not understood service. We have mis-defined service as something you attend instead of something you do –service has died as a noun instead of transforming into a verb.
It will be through service that the church regains a prominent hold in the community. Our programs are good but they will only serve as connectors and not sustainers. We must engage with the work of service that is continual and productive; a service that highlights the grace of God in totality done in a spirit of humility.
The church has missed the opportunity to grow intrinsically because of the unique position that it holds in the kingdom of God. It is quite possible that we have fallen prey to our own victories. The words of Bain, as he slaps Batman around, speaks volumes, “ Y[our] victories have made you [us] weak.” The fact that we have the presence of the almighty on our team we have managed to stop doing any work. We have made this selfish play that God has our back and all we need to do is show up. Well in some sense that is true but we still have to do the work. Preachers still need to study the text, singers still need to practice the song, ushers still need to smile, greeters still need to greet, etc. The goal is to be unselfish in our service to the Lord without it becoming just part of the program.
Just my thoughts…
There is an ever-present danger when living an incarnational life. The vulnerability of this space posses the ability to instill humility in leadership through the rigors of life. The closeness that is fashioned in such intimate containers unmasked all pretentiousness and facilitates true authenticity. The pressure of incarnation produces “fresh” ministry that addresses problems but will definitely redirect those locked in the process to reshape their preconceived narratives.
The realness of incarnation centers on the fact that at all times you are actively present in life. It is this perichoretic moment as Jurgen Moltmann would say where “we are ‘habitable’, for one another, giving one another open life-space for mutual indwelling. Each person is indwelling and room-giving at the same time.” This becomes reality for many as they journey through the process of incarnation. Incarnation invites others to either join or destroy. The easy work of incarnation is mythical at best but painfully articulated within the body like the ink of tattoos-simply works of art. It takes a tremendous level of humility to navigate through streams of unfamiliarity sometimes just to encounter a dislike.
One who embodies the methodology of incarnation intuitively or mystically unearths evil aspects of racism (really prejudice) through vulnerability. This unveiling of self as Eboni Marshall Turman denotes in her work Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation, becomes counter-intuitive to “the negative and positive poles of a dichotomous racial hierarchy.” In other words, the more that I am authentically locked in the imago dei (image of God), in my human flesh, following the guidance of God, the greater the potential for others to become uncomfortable around me -especially those who make it their reality to dislike me based upon human flesh only. Their adjustment is to use “identification as the power play.” So no longer is the imago dei the primary issue but racial hierarchy now guides the perspective.
More to come…
On December 26, 2013, I turned 40. To some it may appear to be trivial but for me it was something monumental. For about the last 15 years I never thought that I would see 40 years of age. It was not that I was so reckless or anything of that manner; I just never thought I would see this happen.
It has been a couple of days since my birthday and I am starting to reflect…
1. The next 10 years of my life are going to have to be power-packed. Financially, I am not where I would like to be in order to retire (if needed) and definitely not at a place where I want to be in order to take of my parents. So it is time to grind.
2. For so many years I have lived beneath my capabilities because I did not want the responsibility of success. The result of my reluctance has put me in place that has produced my financial issues. It is not that I haven’t been productive but that I could have done so much better. So as I view 40, I see where that lack of giving a 120% has hindered my growth and progress.
3. In the past three years my body has started to break down from years of hardcore sports and military injuries. So I have bad knee, repaired elbow, high blood pressure and diabetes. The need to get back into top shape is paramount as it could become an issue of life or death.
There are many more things that I have reflected upon but these three ties into everything that I am thinking through. Turning 40 heightened my awareness to navigate a change in all areas of my life to be better- to be great and give 120%. I have come to grips with the fact that I never wanted a job that was about money but wanted a job where I could transform people life. It has been a long road these 40 years but I have settled on the fact that I am a servant here to help others get to the finish line- whatever that looks like in their context.
Let’s get it this year and grind it out-building mind, body and soul.
I put this sign up in my office…
DECIDE TO BE GREAT…TODAY