This Journey…

June 17, 2020 § 2 Comments

Through the years, I have learned that if I don’t see the Christian Faith as a journey God is leading me on, then either it has grown stale, or there is something in my character that is resistant to the ongoing work of God’s Spirit within – often manifested in how I respond when my long-settled opinions and comforts are challenged. Defensiveness is usually an instant signal that the challenge is hitting home, and something needs to change.

We can’t simultaneously claim to follow Jesus, and then refuse to change, when it challenges our lifestyles, our vocations, or our long-held views.

If you follow Jesus, he will challenge your conventions.

He will take you to unexpected places.

He will confront your sin.

He will demand a willingness to live in the scrutiny of the gospel.

He will force you to see your views and commitments through his eyes, and then demand that you change when they are incompatible with his.

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, Africa

unfinished1 is meant to reflect my journey of faith, to put into words the working out of that faith; the struggles, the revelations, the insights, the weaknesses, the sins, the fears, the failures, the depths, the fresh discoveries, the immaturities, and the shallows, with hopes that as I wrestle with mine, that you will with yours. It will not always be what you assume, or want, or like, or hope, or expect it to be. Where would the challenge and joy of discovery and fresh thought be in that?

Right now there are a myriad of voices out there, attempting to shift the balance of opinion to their political or social views and biases regarding race. They are born of strong convictions and long held positions.

They represent friends on either side of the aisle – friends, past and present. They are family. They are Black and White, Cops and non-Law Enforcement. They are Conservative and Liberal, Democrat and Republican.

Somewhere, in between the spaces and lines, there are answers that only reside in the gospel. These answers transcend the choices we see and hear out there. Because Jesus isn’t Democrat or Republican. I have long said, in the pulpit, and in this blog that he is more liberal than liberalism, and more conservative than conservatism.

He certainly did not save you in order to preserve your opinions. He saved you in order to rescue you from yourself, including your opinions!

Right now, we are in a moment that the Church can’t pretend isn’t there. It has me wrestling through what it means for those of us who follow Jesus, regarding preconceived notions about race, poverty, affluence, crime, justice, and the Church itself, to name a few.

Is it possible for us to learn something new in all the madness?

I have to believe that it is!

Our society has become so volatile, and sadly, the Church seems to have been sucked in. If you question your own long held ideas, you are either sliding down the slippery slope of liberalism, or embedding too deeply in conservatism. These are the lies we believe when our faith is shaped by politics and social constructs, rather than the renewing power of the gospel (Colossians 3:10).

I think of Peter, who loved Jesus and followed him as one of the disciples. Peter had a blindspot in his view of people other than Jews. He was a racist. As a Jew he held to the purity of Israel, defined and protected by ceremonial rites that were intended as temporary gifts of God to serve as shadowy glimpses of Jesus, rather than unending requirements of law. Peter’s friends protected his position. And his religious zeal enabled him the convenience of feeling righteous about his disdain for non-Jews.

But he was wrong.

And he remained unchallenged in this posture, until the apostle Paul confronted him (Galatians 2:11-14), after which Peter could no longer live out of his settled paradigm.

When the Jerusalem Counsel met to discuss the merits of admitting non-Jewish Christ-followers into the Church, who did not observe the historic rites (circumcision) into the fellowship (Acts 15) it was Peter’s change of heart that stood out: “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they [non-Jewish believers!] will” (verse 11).

My challenge to you is to resist letting your political position inform your faith, but to measure your settled convictions against the backdrop of the scriptures – because you follow Jesus. Forget party lines! Forget news cycles! Resist extreme views and theories! Resist sensational online articles that justify whichever posture one wants to argue from! Assume headlines and storylines to be misleading!

Live above all that! It will make the journey all the more adventurous, all the more meaningful, all the more beautiful, and all the more astonishing.

After all, Peter was right. It is God’s grace that saves us, God’s grace that claims us, and God’s grace that keeps us.

There is no better news…

grace & peace.

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