Stepping off my Soapbox

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I love being right. It’s one of my favourite things ever. The allure of things such as quiz nights and games like Pictionary is the chance to be rewarded for rightness. It’s something inherent in my personality, I was always very black and white in my younger days. It’s something that must have made me insufferable at times – you know, that kid that’s raising their hand so high to answer a question that it looks like they’re about to pop a fufu. As with most characteristics, there is both a shadow side, and a strength side to this. Along with my moral policing of my friends, it also meant that I had a hunger for truth and a conviction to live out what I believed to be right.

I recently listened to a podcast called ‘The War is Over, if you Want it to be,’ by Brian Zahnd (Word of Life Church – I highly recommend, btw). Amongst other things, he highlights the current social media climate, pointing out that it seems that for many of us, rightness trumps relationship (no pun intended). Ouch. That got me. Although my black and whiteness of yesteryear has long become much more nuanced, I realised that my mind has been following some really unhealthy tracks in this regard. I often feel genuinely justified in thinking that it’s ok to disregard authentic relationship with people that act in a way that I perceive as wrong. At times I almost convince myself that Jesus stands on my side and would back me up 100%. Which is pretty sick.

It’s not that rightness doesn’t matter; I believe it really does. But things get a bit blurry when the issues we are willing to battle over are often a matter of perception. Do I believe in absolute truth? Yes. Absolutely. However, none of us individually have the all-encompassing global view and insight on any one issue that would constitute complete understanding.The irony that strikes me is that if younger me got the chance to meet me now, we wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on so many things. So many. I was passionately convinced of so many things that I now know were just plain wrong (like my conviction that I had a future as a gymnast – despite the fact I couldn’t do a cartwheel or touch my toes).

My best friend at primary school was from a Mormon family, and I remember us having a conversation one day trying to figure out what the differences between our faiths were. After a short discussion, she said that their bible had Mary Magdalene in it, while I said I thought ours was just Mary. End of discussion. Sorted. And on we went with our merry friendship. I LOVE that! What mattered was not who was right or wrong, despite the fact that we obviously didn’t really have a handle on our respective religions; what mattered was that we were buddies.

When you look at the New Testament, it’s so very clear that Jesus was much more interested in loving people first, and from that place he taught truth. He was happy just hanging out with people, regardless of the fact they were oftentimes societal outcasts, and most certainly not your average pew-dweller. In fact, you only see him getting super shirty with the Pharisees; the people who were obsessed with being right. Let this be a lesson to us all – and a red flag next time we’re tempted to start standing on our righteous soap boxes at the risk of breaking relationship.

Our search for truth is vitally important; but not nearly as important as our quest to live out a Kingdom life by loving people the way Jesus did.

Much love,
Deb x

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Wading into the Political Quagmire

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I’ve purposely steered clear away from engaging in any political comment on Facie regarding the coming election. Although, I think I may have mentioned something over a year ago when I genuinely thought it was a joke that Donald Trump was running. The whole thing is making me feel tired on the inside. All the fear-mongering, nay-saying, predictions of certain doom (and its best friend gloom).

I told Caleb recently that although I’m trying to make writing a regular discipline, I only want to blog when I actually have something to say. And today, I really want to say something. I know that I’m only adding my voice to the millions. I’m hoping that this will be a non-anxious voice.

The thing that keeps hitting me in the face, is that as Christ-followers, this changes NOTHING about the way Jesus has called us to live. If anything, it highlights it. Earlier this year when I was having some medical issues, the doctor told me that it looked like I had a mass on the south wall of my bladder (who knew your bladder had a south wall?). It was unusual, and they couldn’t rule out cancer. I had to wait several days before I could get in to see a urologist for what was an unmentionably uncomfortable procedure (except to say that it involved a camera…and my bladder…). We were driving home from church the day after the initial scan, and I just remember saying to Caleb, “This doesn’t change anything. If I do have cancer, it’s gonna suck so much. But it doesn’t change the way Jesus has asked me to live. It doesn’t change his goodness, eternity, or His long term plan. It will change what daily life looks like, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals.”

I’m not saying the current election won’t have massive ramifications on America and the world. My little knowledge on the inside workings of US Politics largely comes from The West Wing (and on that note, may I just say, ‘Bartlett for President’?) But I do understand that there are implications for the future of the Supreme Court, unborn children, refugees and migrants, and countless other very, very important issues. But does it change the day-to-day example for living that Jesus set? Not at all. Jesus Himself was born into a time of political instability. I think Christians often think of him as apolitical. I can’t get onboard with that – why else would the leading powers want him dead? His politics were subversive. They transcended the political ways of human rule. They pointed people away from the sovereignty of the leaders of the land, and instead to the Leader of the Kingdom.

The same applies today. Regardless of what the rulers of the land dictate, our political mandate is a higher one. One of hope, of love, of caring for the orphan and the widow, of kindness to our neighbour. Christians living under all forms of peaceful or tyrannical government have had the same mandate. It has not changed. Panic about what the future may hold, is not the Kingdom way. Jesus himself said, “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” (Jn 14:27).

So perhaps we could see the current political uncertainty as a cool opportunity to put into practice the politics of the Upside-down Kingdom. A chance to be peaceful in a time of anxiety. An opportunity to be kind in the midst of vitriol. A moment to hold hope and joy in the face of an uncertain future. I, for one, intend to (metaphorically) hum the old Sunday School tune at the coming days, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

And that is the last you’ll hear from me on the subject!!

Over and out friends,
Love you,
Deb x