So for those of you who feel this far more personally than I do, who have witnessed the system working against themselves and their communities, I’m sorry that I was too afraid to stand with you even in this very small way. That was cowardly.
Discussion looks for common ground. Debate looks for battle lines. Discussion addresses misunderstandings and honest questions. Debate addresses straw man arguments. I for one am weary of debate.
I think we have a tendency to allow occupation to drive vocation to drive identity. When someone says “Tell me about yourself,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I’m guessing it has something to do with your job or your studies or your accomplishments . . . However, what’s your first thought if you ask yourself, “Who am I?”
There’s this stubborn uncomfortable thing about grace though. Yes it’s free in that it is a gift to the one who receives it, but it is costly to the one who gives it. As the recipient of grace, I see its cost, and I can’t help but be changed by it.
That’s the point of Easter. Hope is alive. Hope is real. If I really believe that, it will change the way I engage in this world.
In the last two years, I have learned that I must talk about ideas and doctrine and beliefs, but I must talk about them in the context of my own story. For a person to want the Gospel, he must see how it’s relevant. When it comes down to it, if I am to be on mission I must be willing to be vulnerable.
There’s a story about G. K. Chesterton, a Christian Englishman and writer from the 19th Century. In response to an article in the newspaper which finished with the question, “What’s wrong with the world?”, Chesterton wrote a letter to the editor which said simply, “I am.” I identify with that. I am more often than I care to admit part of the problem. I’m frequently one of the ones in the way of Dr. King’s dream becoming a reality.
Perhaps, Luke structures the end of his narrative on the explosive beginning of the church with this slow-moving court drama to call his readers like Paul to engage the power structures of their day with the Gospel. Perhaps, Luke intends to call his readers to love those around them enough to speak the truth in grace.
I’m interested in a theology that is immersed in “nowness” – one tailored for being in the midst. I think the Bible has a lot more to say about God meeting us in our pain than it does about explaining it away.
Despite the fact that life got harder, that my cares were mounting, I hadn’t lost the respect of others around me. No, I had the respect of all those who mattered in my life. But . . . I wasn’t satisfied. It wasn’t enough. I came to find out I needed love more than respect. I had to risk losing respect to take a step closer to intimacy.