Thursday, July 21, 2016

Human Problems, Holy Response

I'm not saying that the issues we're talking about so often today are not real issues; they are. But these are human issues. These issues do not reveal to us anything real about the world at all. They are the stories of ourselves, and we are but vapors in the wind.

Where we get to the real heart of the story, where we start to understand the heart of God, is in figuring out how we respond to these issues, how we work through them. How we love each other.

That's all I'm trying to get at. We're spending so much of our time trying to define the problem, trying to put our finger on what it is about race, about sexuality, about sex, about authority, about economics, about whatever, about this world that defines us when the absolute truth is that defining the problem does not get us anywhere closer to solving it.

It only separates us further.

And there's no separation in God's story. There's no pulling apart. God did not create Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden so that they could figure out how different they were and go out to claim their own stakes in the world. They were given to each other as gifts, to be together in this amazing community. With God. God did not give Jacob twelve unique sons so that they could decide who was bigger, better, smarter, stronger, this, that, or the other and go out and find twelve different communities to be. They were one nation, one tribe. One Israel. Jesus did not call twelve disciples and bake them each their own loaf of bread; there was one loaf, and they were each given a piece of the one loaf. Paul did not plant churches throughout the region so that the church could be one thing in one place and something else entirely in another; they were one church.

We are still one church.

We are still one people. 

All this time we're spending trying to convince ourselves that we're not, trying to convince ourselves that our stories are only mildly tangential to one another, trying to convince ourselves that we are living worlds apart is doing nothing to help us capture what it is that God desires from us as His people. 

Yes, there are real problems in this world. Real human problems. Real problems of our own making when we look in the mirror and see anything less than the heart of a real human being looking back at us. Yes, we have to figure out what we're going to do about the issues that seem to plague us, as men have always had to figure these things out throughout the history of time. 

But the answer is not in defining the problems. The answer is not in defining ourselves. The answer is in discovering God, getting back to the heart of things, and coming together as one community - a community of image bearers who bring our incredible God right down here into this dirt in flesh and bone and blood and love. We have to stop fighting with each other and start fighting for each other. But in order to do this, we have to know what we're really fighting for.

And what we're really fighting for goes far beyond what we think the issues are.

What we're really fighting for goes far beyond racial tensions. It goes far beyond equal rights. It goes far beyond opportunity. What we're really fighting for pierces into the very core of every single one of us. We're fighting for heart. We're fighting for hearts. We're fighting for the image of the invisible God that is knit within our very beings.

Listen, I know. It's not easy. It's not easy to look past the headlines, to tear down the walls we've been so busy building. It's not easy to long for heart in a world that lusts for status. I get that. I have been accused, not a few times, of living in a dream world. Of pursuing something that doesn't seem to fit with our present reality. A pastor once looked at me, in disbelief, and said, "Well, yeah, maybe in a perfect world." Yes, exactly! In a perfect world.

Brother, I am a citizen of Heaven; I live in a perfect world.

In a perfect world where I can fight for you from a place of love, where I can go after your heart in whatever cage it's been trapped in, where I can long and labor to give you the space to become the creature of God that you were create to be. In a perfect world where when I look at you, I don't see the things the world sees; I see what God sees. In a perfect world where when I look at you, I see a reflection of Him. Because there's something incredible about you that truly is the image of God. Have we forgotten that? Are we willing to remember?

We have to step up. We have to do something. We have to figure out community again. We have to figure out heart again. We have to fight for each other. And I'm glad we're having these conversations. But let's not lose sight of what's really at stake here, and it's not the headline. 

It's the heart.

And it's not the issues of our day that will define us; it's how we respond to them that will reveal the kind of people we are.

It is my honest prayer that we are a God kind of people. 

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