25.2.12

A story

It is in our stories, and our song, that we are united.

I used to think that I wanted to be a good Christian. That I should read the Bible every day because otherwise I wasn't worthy of God's love. Church taught me a "them and us" mentality - we had something, a salvation, that made us better than those who didn't. I thought that if I smiled enough, and lifted my hands enough in worship, and taught enough Bible studies in Sunday school, that I would be a good Christian. And maybe, if they were lucky, the rest of the world would realise that our way of life was better than theirs.

And then one day, Jesus broke me. I don't know when...maybe it was when I looked at all my friends and realised that I wasn't the only one that was striving for recognition in the wrong places. Maybe it was when I stood in the driveway of a women's refuge in South Auckland, and shared a scone with a little girl who had no earthly father to love her. Maybe it was when I wept as thousands died for capitalist greed in the Middle East. Or maybe it was when I realised that Jesus loves every human being that was ever born more than we could ever imagine. And I was only one of them.

I think that we forget that we are family. My sister and I used to ask Mum which one of use was her favourite, and she would always answer "Neither of you - I love you both the same, so much." I was always comforted by the answer because I knew that no matter what, my sister and I were a team. She is there for me, and I am there for her, bound by blood and love. We share the same whanaungatanga, the same history, ties, ancestors. And we are loved the same by our parents.

It is the same within all humanity. We are brothers and sisters and gender-bending lovers. The blood that runs through our veins is the same blood that stains the rivers red in the war in Congo. The hearts the beat in our chests are the same as the broken hearts of those who lost their loved ones in 9/11. And the wrinkles in the corners of our eyes are the same as the wrinkles that line the faces of kaumatua mourning the loss of their youth to violence on the streets of Aotearoa. And no one is loved more or less by God. We are all abundantly loved with passion and fire.

I don't think Jesus is not about who is in and who is out. I don't think that He is not about who goes to church and who doesn't. I think that He is about healing your wounds. I think that He is about a good eternity, and he is also about making this earth a Good earth of love and freedom and understanding. Just because a person is a Muslim, or Jew, or Hindu, just because someone doesn't attend a megachurch, just because someone is imperfect, doesn't mean that they are unloved by God. Martin Luther King Jr. said "I believe that in some marvelous way, God worked through Ghandi, and that the spirit of Jesus Christ saturated his life. It is ironic, yet incapably true, that the greatest Christian of the modern world was a man who never embraced Christianity." I think that these are wise words from one of the greatest Christ-followers of our century.


Now, I see Jesus everywhere. In my friends who come off the street and in to my home to eat with our household every week, I see Jesus the most. Because every time I tell someone from work, or university about where I live and what we do, they think I am crazy. And to be honest, I probably am...but aren't we all? And isn't that where the beauty lies? I think that to follow Jesus, we all have to be a bit crazy - in the kind of world we live in, to feed the poor and clothe the homeless isn't what we would call normal. But as I look into the eyes of my friends who honour me with their presence at our meals, I see an acceptance that am in love with. My friends teach me what it looks like to be loved.

I once loved someone that couldn't accept it. They thought they were unworthy of God's love, and they couldn't accept God's grace, and they ran away from God's embrace. And I didn't realise it at the time, but this paradigm existed with my love as well, which eventually was transformed in to regret and pain and wondering. But I learnt, over time, that if we cannot accept love, then we cannot love others, because to love our neighbour as our self means to be able to accept that we are worthy of the same love. I think that a lot of the worlds pain stems from this problem. 

If we could just accept this transcending love, and let that overflow in to an abundant love and passion for others, no matter who they are or what they believe, then a lot of people would be saved from their pain.

3 comments:

  1. Jesus: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.... Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.For I have come to turn

    ‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household." Matthew 10: 21; 34-36.

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    1. I don't quite know if this verse intended to validate or invalidate my post, but I find that is has been quoted out of context...verses 21 and 22 ("Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death") is written in the context of persecution - Paul is talking about how the disciples may be persecuted by all, even those loved ones, for the Gospel that they are spreading.

      Almost 10 verses separate these from verses 34:36 ("Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household."), which talk about something different, in my opinion and research. Jesus has, in the previous verses, been emphasising the importance of acknowledging God first and foremost in our lives, and after 36 He reiterates that His grace is to take priority in our lives. So, as He is sending out His twelve disciples to spread the good news (verse 1), He warns them to be ready for persecution (verses 16-23), to not be afraid (verses 26-30), and to remain steadfast in their love for Him first and foremost, and they will be blessed (verses 37-42).

      To quote those two sections together and without context seems to me to be taking the Scripture and manipulating it to mean something else, perhaps. Although I don't doubt that Jesus didn't come to bring peace, or to placate (as it can also be translated). I don't suppose that Him riling up Jewish leaders and being crucified was very peaceful for society in that day...in fact, I would suggest that the sword He brought was that of justice and righteousness.

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  2. Olivia, you should read this book called Weird by Craig Groeschel. I think you will like.

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