To be so bold…

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10 NIV)

I’ve read this verse many times. But during this last read through of the letter to the Galatians, this verse popped off the page of my Bible and smacked me across the face. I had to stop for a moment and think through what Paul was talking about, what he would be talking about, and why, seemingly out of the blue, this one verse seemed to be grabbing a hold of me with no plans to let go any time soon.

Just prior to this verse, Paul is discussing the reason for his writing to the Galatians, namely the fact that the church in Galatia was being influenced by a group called the Judaizers, who were teaching that Gentile believers had to obey the Law and become circumcised in order to be truly saved. In other words, they had to become “Jews” before they could become fully Christian. Paul called this “another Gospel” and strongly rejected this teaching (“let them be accursed” – that is about as strong as rejection as you can get!).

After making this declaration he writes the words I quoted above. I can imagine that speaking against this group of teachers and bringing curses on them was not going to win Paul any popularity points. But his devotion was to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not to the teachings of man. He was called to be faithful to God, not to the Judaizers, or even the Galatians for that matter. His single-minded focus on that one thing caused him to be bold in his assertion that this teaching and any other that goes against what Paul and the other apostles had taught from the beginning be soundly rejected.

Oh, how I long to be so bold.

True confession: I’m not always so bold.

Many times, I waver, hem and haw, or just plain keep my mouth shut out of fear. Fear of being wrong. Fear of being humiliated. Fear of being rejected. Not by God, but by man. By people. It seems that so many times I am good at dishing out the opinions and commentary, but I don’t really want to take it. I like being right too much to be told I’m not, even if it’s true. How prideful and short-sighted.

Much of the time I wonder if there is something wrong with me. That I am somehow not smart enough, not spiritual enough, or I don’t believe strongly enough. But the questions, all those pesky questions, never go away.

I want to know all the things. And by all the things, I mean ALL the things. But there is no possible way for me to know ALL the things. In order for that to be the case, I’d have to be God. But wait a minute – isn’t that what Satan wanted? Isn’t that what got him thrown down to earth? Isn’t that the line he used to tempt Eve – you will be “like God”, knowing ALL the things (my translation)? How did that work out for us? Not so well. Knowing all the things is not what it’s cracked up to be – and we don’t even know it all! But what we do know is enough to get us into a mess of trouble.

Everyone believes that their set of particulars are THE way to know all the things. Well, maybe not all of them, but all the things we can know. It’s amazing to me how many people I read are so fully convinced they are correct and others are wrong – where does one find such confidence? Half the time I am flailing in the water, crying out for Jesus to help me.

But I don’t want to be seen as uninformed, even though information comes at me far faster than I can ever hope to process it. I don’t want to seem flaky, even though half the time that’s exactly what I am. I want to continue on with the illusion that I can know all the things, even though deep down I know for certain I cannot. So, I sit silently in fear. Fear of what others will think of me, as if they are thinking of me in the first place (that pride thing again…I can’t get away from that pesky pest!).

I don’t know what I don’t know, but I do know this much:

I am saved only by God’s grace shown through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am not saved to simply sit in a safe little church house and receive my blessings.

My salvation redefines my identity.

My redefined identity changes my priorities.

There is no conflict between speaking of right belief and right practice. It is possible – and in my view important – to talk about both at the same time.

I can’t reconcile believing in Christ and not caring for and about the disenfranchised and oppressed. And by caring for and about, I mean doing something as the body of Christ to alleviate the suffering.

God is bigger and grander than our systematic formulations of Him. We should never stop seeking understanding, but we should also not depend solely on our intellect to acquire knowledge and understanding of God.

Emotional and intellectual faith can and should coexist – in the same person.

Ultimately, my primary desire should be to please God. If I am still trying to please people, I cannot be a servant of God…

Oh Father, help me to be so bold.

Default position…

Initially, this was going to be a series of tweets. But once I started writing, I could not stop…

I am not an SBC member. But I am a Christian woman who has encountered unwanted advances from a “pastor”. Thankfully, I was not assaulted, but it could have easily happened. The thought of bringing the incident to the attention of the deacon board of the church was so incredibly frightening to me that I refused. Instead, I and my father confronted him privately. But although he confessed privately to us that what he did was wrong, he would never acknowledge it before his congregation. So, I left. He remained, and continued on with his behavior, ultimately leading to disastrous consequences. When I learned this, I felt guilty. What would have happened had I come forward?

The same thing that is happening to all of the women coming forward today. I would have been shamed. I would have branded the whore, the seducer, the liar. I would not have been believed. And the wounding that had already occurred by his initial action would have been compounded by the character assassination I would have endured. In the end, sadly, the outcome for him would have likely been the same: he would have remained and continued down the same path that led to his downfall.

It saddens me that I can predict this with such certainty. But I know how it works. And it is wrong.

We are taught that to be good, Christian women we must submit to our male authorities. We are further taught that men are given the charge to shepherd and lead. But what happens when a man does not shepherd and lead well? What happens when a man uses his leadership role to abuse and exploit? Is there any safe space for a woman to testify to abuse at the hands of someone who is supposed to protect and lead? Are we honoring the image of God in either the man or the woman when we shove such sins under the rug, instantly assume the woman is lying, or traumatize women into silence?

And if this is the culture we inhabit – one in which a woman who does come forward is further dehumanized and debased by those whose purpose is to protect the reputation of the man and the fragile hierarchy of the institution – why are we then surprised that women choose to stay silent? If the outcome can be predicted with such brutal precision, self-preservation will cause someone to shy away from exposing herself to further abuse.

If the first instinct when I woman comes forward is to demand to know why she waited so long, or question if she is “sure” she was assaulted, or to simply call her a liar, why would a woman ever come forward? Would you? Why must we “wait for the facts” before judging the man (even if all the facts are laid bare before us in stark relief), but instantly judge the woman coming forward and brand her suspect?

Would you come forward in such an environment?

There so many qualifiers I could place on what I am seeking to convey here; so many “What about”, or “What if” scenarios that can be put forward. No one would say such cases are easy, or that wisdom and discernment are needed to separate truth from fiction. But if the default position is always to suspect the woman and protect the man, then there is a problem with how we are doing things.

My heart is sick about what I am witnessing in the SBC. Even though I am not SBC, my solidarity with believers transcends denominational boundaries. This is a wound on the body of Christ. It is a self-inflicted wound. And it hurts all of us.

We are supposed to be the light of the world. We are supposed to be pointing people to Christ. But we are acting just like the world.

Shame on us.

On with it…

At the risk of stating the obvious, I haven’t blogged in a while. I think about it a lot, but just never seem to have the gumption to do anything about it. I seem to have a love/hate relationship with this whole blogging endeavor. I wouldn’t call myself a great writer, but I do love to it. Words are so important to me, and I use writing to sift through the crazy in my head and make sense of it. My journals are filled with the innards of my thought process on all manner of subjects, and very little of it ever makes it to my blog anyway. But over the past five or so years, it has been less so.

As we near the end of one year and consider the new, I have been thinking a bit more about blogging. Notably: Is it worth it for me to maintain my blog going forward? Is it worth the money I spend to maintain my domain name for my blog? Plainly stated: Is it worth it at all? The answers to these questions depend on the day and my mood – and what I’ve read on my Twitter feed.

Blogging was my saving grace when I was in seminary. Back then (2004 – gosh, has it been that long?!), blogging was relatively new. I could blog in relative anonymity, knowing that only the few people I told about the blog would ever happen across it to read it. I used it primarily to help me organize my thoughts around what I was studying. It was an electronic record of my theological reflections as I grew in understanding as a seminary student. I loved it. There was no such thing as “Black Twitter” or “Christian Twitter” – or any kind of Twitter – back then. Facebook was not a “thing” at that point. Pre-social media was a peaceful time…such fond, fond memories.

But now, blogging, vlogging, tweeting, and all manner of social media expression are a way of life. Anyone can start a blog and write about whatever they wish. Facebook and Twitter have become public forums to express whatever you wish, however you wish, to whomever you wish. And if you don’t agree with the prevailing opinion of the day (sometimes the hour), you will be blasted, shamed, and otherwise humiliated for all the world to see.

It’s difficult to know when you’re going to offend someone. And some days it seems that no matter what you say, someone, somewhere is going to take offense. Social media has given us all the ability air our grievances for all to see, put the offender on “blast”, and blow up someone’s online life with 280-character bites and a Twitter thread. Normal people living their normal lives say one wrong thing and they go “viral” in 10 seconds or less, often with alarming results. We feel freer for whatever reason to spew venom on social media on people we don’t even know, and not care at all what the consequences of those words will have. It is our “right”, after all…

Even for Christians.

And I say “we” because I have been an active participant in this sort of thing more times than I would care to admit. It’s so easy to read, react, and then think, especially when your reactive vitriol gets a decent number of likes or retweets. But if it were ever to happen to me, I would be appalled and indignant. And so, I hesitate to show my cards, lay them out there for all to see and scrutinize. How utterly hypocritical, right? Shamefully, yes.

See, this is the thing: I’m no expert. Yes, I went to seminary. I know big theological words, and I’m not afraid to use them. I love big theological words – not because I feel special or superior for knowing them, but because I’m a nerd. I am a theology geek, and I love it. And since I often write about the Bible, I want to be as sure I can be that I’m not writing something crazy or heretical. But expert? I’m not. I’m just an ordinary Christian with a love for writing about Jesus and passion to share it with others.

But here I am, wondering if it is even worth it anymore. I have thoughts, lots of thoughts, about lots of things. Theological issues, social justice issues, race issues, gender issues…boy, do I have thoughts! And opinions! Lots and lots of opinions! But when I journal about those things, I hesitate to post them for a number of reasons: 1. because sometimes my thoughts and opinions are just plain over the top, rough around the edges and are better kept hidden away in my journal; and 2. because I know in the back of my mind that the possibility exists that something I say might trigger someone and take things where I don’t want them to go. Not because I’m some important somebody with a platform; but because that is the way of the Internet. It is way too easy to go “viral” these days for all the wrong reasons!

I also know that I will not be Black enough, liberal enough or woke enough for some – or conservative enough, demure enough, or proper enough for others. Someone will deem me extreme, while another will consider me a sellout or an oreo. And although I’ve heard all of these things more than a few times in my life, it is no less exhausting and dispiriting. I resist being labeled.

But we love our labels.

But I cannot live out these labels in ways that will please everyone all the time – no one can. So I will not try.

My task, my desire, my GOAL in blogging has been to share the love of Jesus and passion for the Word of God that points us to Him! I want to share the truth of God’s Word. I desire to be more biblically literate; and for me, that literacy must entail sharing what I’ve learned with others. I lament the biblical illiteracy that has infected the American Church. I want to play a part, however small, in reversing that trend. If I need or am compelled to approach touchy subjects like race or gender or the like, then so be it. But the goal here is to share words of life, not pick apart our current social or political situation.

Somehow that has gotten lost in all this other….stuff. And while this other stuff is important, it was not the original purpose of this blog. I just get caught up on these rabbit trails and one thing leads to another…you know how it is! But fruitful discourse on issues so weighty cannot be had in these settings, at least as far as I have seen. Or better put: There are those who are expressly called to such a ministry, but I am not one of those expressly called people. So, I stay in my lane. It comes down to this: I have been trying to be something I am not, and it is time to correct course. I am an ordinary Christian who loves God, loves His Word, and wants to share His Word with others. That’s it.

My thoughts and convictions on issues of social concern are largely born out of my local reality, the community in which I live, the local church family to which I belong, and the personal relationships I have with flesh and blood people in my sphere. This is not to say that I am not aware of or do not care about more global issues. Or that I won’t talk about these things as context and conviction require. But I think the difference is one of focus. My focus is considering how to know God through His Word and live a life that faithfully reflect that truth. That focus will require discussion of hard topics, but the limits of the medium will require some humble realism on my part. What I share on a public forum is only a snapshot of a much more complex life, too complex to truly express to people I cannot see and hear and hug and share coffee with (coffee is a must).

This is not a cop-out; it is a conviction I hold, a conviction that shapes how I desire to write and minister and love. Because a part of me is compelled to share in this very public way. But only as far as I deem that it is bearing fruit in my life and the life of whomever happens to read what I have to say.

It may seem unnecessary for me to go to these lengths to explain myself. After all, who am I? I am an unknown, I don’t have a public ministry to speak of, and my readership is relatively low. Chalk this one up to my trying to organize the jumbled mess of thoughts in my head into a coherent conviction. A re-calibration of sorts so I can start off this new year fresh and centered anew on why I began to write in the first place.

Now, on with it…

Righting the ship…

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I think it’s time for me to reestablish why I blog in the first place.

I first started blogging when I was in seminary. Blogging was new and exciting and I loved it! I never really blogged for anyone in particular; I was really just trying to flesh out the things I was learning in my classes, and blogging seemed the perfect outlet for that. At the time, the blogosphere was not as congested as it is today; there wasn’t this competition of sorts for clicks and followers. It was just a simple way to connect my thoughts with my words, and have a record of it for all later times.

Blogging is now an industry in and of itself. Competition is fierce, even in the Christian sphere, and it’s so frustrating to me. I’m not expecting to offer anything new and amazing; I just seek to witness to the things the Lord has taught me, to help myself remember His goodness, and hopefully, help you remember as well.

But why do I write? Much of what I’ve written lately has been about what’s going on with American politics and culture. I am a new junkie; I’m also highly opinionated. Those two things are not always a good combination. Social media has trained us that we have the right to voice our opinion on anything at anytime to anyone in any way we see fit. What you say in public is fair game, right? I suppose. But we seem to have lost our ability to be civil in the process.

Which brings me to the point of this post. It’s time to right the ship here. When I reworked my blog, my original intent was not to become a political commentary page. As much as I love a good debate, that is not my desire. My desire is to uplift and encourage.

And, to state the obvious (I hope), I am a Christian. I happen to believe Christianity is true and that there are good reasons to believe. Unfortunately, we Christians have not been living that out well lately, and history is littered with examples of ways in which we’ve slapped a Christian sticker on things that aren’t even remotely so. But that doesn’t make it any less true. I don’t wish to add to the pile of grievances that could be used to obscure that truth. I want to be a witness to it, not the focus of attention.

So this post is a manifesto of sorts, a recallibration, and a reminder of why I started to write in the first place.

I am a woman who loves Jesus, loves to sing about Him, and tell others about His Word. I have opinions. Lots of them. Ask anyone who knows me well. But my task is not to share them with everyone. There are other more qualified people whose opinions and recommendations are far superior and more valuable than mine. So I wish to defer to that gifting in them and get out of the way.

But my gifting is much simpler. Love, pray, sing, teach.

Love Jesus – Because He loves me first and best. The desire is to shift my heart and focus on His love for me and making that the fuel the drives my passion and work. Prayer and Bible study; solitude and silence; praise and worship. And this love is not complete until it works its way through me to others in my life. It cannot end with me. It’s not about just more information per se, but more connection. Connecting what I know to what I do.

Pray – This is the backbone of relationship with God. It is not talking to the air; it is a living, breathing relationship with a real God and the true God. That He has so condescended to give us such privilege is amazing. How often we take it for granted and don’t talk to Him regularly. How can we expect that relationship to grow? It can’t, simply put. We cut ourselves off from the supply of love, comfort, support, and strength that He wants to provide for us when we neglect to pray.

Sing – This is my heart. There is no other way to explain it or define it. Singing is my heart language with Jesus. I speak to Him most intimately there – He speaks to me most tenderly in those moments. Healing happens. Peace is restored. It is when I feel the most alive.

Teach – For me, the learning circle is not complete until I share what I’ve learned. That’s how God wired me. This is not exclusive to spiritual things. But teaching about spiritual things is my favorite subject. I seemed to have forgotten that along the way…It’s time to return.

More later…grace and peace…

 

What am I forgetting…

During my second year in seminary, I participated in a trip called a “Sankofa journey”. The word “Sankofa” is a word from the Kwi language of Ghana and translates to “go back and get it”. There is a proverb that uses this word that says, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten” (Wikipedia).

In the spirit of this proverb, a Sankofa journey is a walk through history, a discovery or rediscovery of a forgotten past. For us, that meant traveling to important places in the story of the Civil Rights Movement. We started at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, site of the Civil Rights Museum, and the place where Martin Luther King was murdered. We then traveled to Birmingham and worshiped at the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four little girls were murdered in a bombing; we walked through the park where attack dogs and fire hoses were unleashed on young people marching for the right to cross the street into the all-White business district. We spoke to one of the women who marched that day, and learned why Birmingham’s nickname was “Bombingham”. From there we traveled to Selma and then to Georgia before journeying back home.

For me, the most profound moment of our trip was when we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The bridge is a huge arch, and as we made it to the top of the arch and looked down, I could imagine in my mind’s eye the imposing line of police officers mounted on their horses, billy clubs in hand, defying the marchers to continue their trek to Montgomery. They were marching for the right to vote, and the officers were tasked with stopping them. In one breathless moment, they stood, protesters and law enforcement, face to face. No words were spoken in that moment. And then it happened. John Lewis was one of the marchers in the front of the crowd, and as they took their first steps over the county line, the officers charged forward, pursuing the marchers back over the bridge, beating and tear gassing them.

None of these marchers were armed. They were not violent. They did not fight back or resist. They simply wanted the rights of full citizens of this country. And they were beaten for it. I cried that day as I walked. I cry now as I write this post.

Many people would say that we need to forget the past. That the reason we can’t move on is because we refuse to forget. I would disagree; I would say it is because we refuse to remember.

The history of my family is the history of slavery; of Reconstruction; of Jim Crow; of lynching; of Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. It is not for pity that I remember, but for strength. It is a reminder that what I am today, who I am today is due in large part to the very real suffering, strength, vision, and courage of those who came before me. It would be a dishonor to their sacrifice to forget.

I do not remember to make people feel guilty.

I remember because it encourages me to go forward. It teaches me lessons to take down the road with me. I cannot compartmentalize my life to edit these things out. I’m a “what you see is what you get” kind of girl. I am not ashamed of my heritage; and I am not fearful of my future. This is the life story I have been given by my Father in Heaven. I want to use it for His glory. And to do that, I must be real about it.

On this day, I choose to remember. I choose to go back for what I have forgotten, so I can press on with greater wisdom toward what is ahead.

Because freedom is never free.

Forgetting is not an option…

This weekend I read a very interesting quote from Elie Weisel: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” He made this statement during a Nobel Lecture on December 11, 1986. Weisel, a Holocaust survivor, knew that of which he spoke. How much more poignantly can you define helplessness in face of injustice than the Holocaust? The atrocities of the Third Reich defy comprehension, and all those who were led to their deaths had no power to change their fate.

Weisel did not survive his experience in a Nazi concentration camp to become a bitter man filled with hatred. He went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his efforts to advance the cause of human rights around the world. This was his life’s work. And I wonder if, as a young boy, he would have imagined a world in which he would be called to such a duty. The circumstances of his life and his people made it so, and we are enriched by his presence and the message of his life. If we choose to heed the wisdom of his counsel and his experience.

When I read the speech from this this quote originates, I am struck by another interesting statement:

Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered. New Year’s Day, Rosh Hashana, is also called Yom Hazikaron, the day of memory. On that day, the day of universal judgment, man appeals to God to remember: our salvation depends on it. If God wishes to remember our suffering, all will be well; if He refuses, all will be lost. Thus, the rejection of memory becomes a divine curse, one that would doom us to repeat past disasters, past wars.

We are called to remember. Remembering is hard; it is painful. But it is necessary.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Lenten season. Not all branches of the Christian church observe Lent; I grew up in a tradition that did not. But over the years, as I’ve learned more and more about the liturgical calendar, the more I have been drawn to this season of reflection and repentance. Of remembering. It is a way of focusing the heart on the significance of the cross.

Remember that you are dust; and to dust you shall return.

These are the words uttered as the ashes are placed on your forehead in the shape of a cross. It is a reminder of need. The need for salvation, for restoration, for healing. It is a confirmation that the Christian faith is about remembering; just as the Israelites who were called to remember their deliverance from bondage to Egypt, we are called to remember our deliverance from bondage to sin. And in our remembrance, we live a life of faithfulness to God our Deliverer.

We cannot do that if we don’t remember. Not to wallow in our sin and misery, but to build courage and resolve to live our future differently than our past through the power of the Holy Spirit. To live toward the promise we’ve been given through the deliverance we’ve received.

We also must remember that sin still lives in the hearts of men and women. And that our world is fallen. Fallen humanity build institutions and structures that then perpetuate that fallenness. This can produce horrible consequences, some so far reaching that they live on for generations. If we do not take the time to remember, and to face those realities with the courage and willingness to change them, we are doomed to repeat them; the cycle will not end.

We are living in a time when much of what has been a part of our history as a country is repeating itself. I firmly believe it is because we choose not to remember. We don’t want to remember because it is not pleasant; it doesn’t fit into our identity of an “exceptional nation”. It is jarring to our sense of self as Americans. I get it. But in refusing to see our past as it is, good, bad, ugly, we risk destroying what we wish to protect. Choosing to forget means we risk repeating the ugly realities of our past. And in fact, we already are. And lest we think this is something that is only happening “out there”, we as the Church in America must face the uncomfortable truth that we look much like the rest of our culture, and have since our beginnings.

Every year, it is customary to consider something you wish to “give up” for Lent. This year, I choose to give up fear. I choose to give up forgetting. I must remember. And even when I am powerless to change things, I still must speak. I must protest. I don’t know why this is so strong in me; it is burning in my belly. Perhaps it is a outworking of my faith in the God of this universe, who is making all things new. But I cannot separate my individual faith from my place in community. Where one is wounded, we all are wounded, whether we realize it or not.

I realize this is not the popular path. But it is the only path for me.

Because for me, forgetting is most certainly not an option.

Grace and peace…

An impassioned, sincere plea…

I said I was done talking about politics…so…I lied. Not purposefully; I really wanted to be done with this topic. But I have more to say, apparently. So…

This is an appeal to my Christian brothers and sisters. I have a major concern with the way in which the church is so wrapped in the American flag that we have become indistinguishable from the rest of American society, especially when it comes to how we talk about politics and views we oppose.

I am still fighting within myself to decide if my place in all of this is to be active within the political sphere. So much of it drains my spiritual vitality, and I wonder if that is reason enough to retreat. But one thing I do know is this: the enemy has so blinded the hearts and minds of many people that no amount of truth telling will help unless or until the Lord moves miraculously to remove those blinders. And it has to start from within. It has to start with the church.

My appeal here is directly to the church versus to the American culture at large. Our witness is being damaged greatly by our allegiances to political parties. The polarized atmosphere of our country right now is tense and intense. Both sides are deeply entrenched in their version of how things are, convinced wholeheartedly that their way is correct and the other side is too blind or stupid to see it. The way conservatives talk about liberals and liberals talk about conservatives is just plain awful and dehumanizing. And what distresses me more than anything is that I see and hear these dehumanizing words being written and spoken by Christians about people who are not Christian, or their Christians brothers and sisters who are on the opposite political side. This should not be.

We are currently in a sermon series about words at my church. Of course, one of the major passages about the tongue, James 3, was the subject of one our sermons. In James 3, the tongue is described as “fire” able to “[set] on fire the entire course of life” (ESV). Hyperbole? I don’t think so. How many ways can we get ourselves in a world of trouble with one word or sentence? A careless comment or ill-advised statement can destroy a relationship in a split second.

So I am going to get a little personal here for a second. I am a Christian. I believe in the Lord Jesus, I depend on Him and Him alone for my salvation. He is my refuge and strength. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that He was raised from the dead. God is my Father and Creator, and to Him I owe my whole life.

I’m also a Democrat.

My political affiliation in NO WAY negates my relationship with my Lord. In deciding to be a Democrat, I cannot say that I agree with their entire agenda – I certainly part ways with the official Democratic platform on certain social issues. But I am not alone. In fact, there is a group called “Democrats for Life”, who for the most part agree with the Democratic platform with one glaring exception – guess which one. I resonate with this group. This is my brand of Democrat.

Why do I feel the need to defend myself here? Because when I was a Republican, I looked down on those amoral, evil Democrats. Liberals were idiots and worse, destined for the deepest pits of hell (and no, I’m not being hyperbolic here; I’ve heard these things said, and I’ve, sadly, said them myself). I spewed all sorts of hateful things out of my mouth about Democrats – about people, made in the image of God. And then I went to church and praised the Lord every Sunday.

Can you feel the dissonance with me?

Now I’m on the “other side”, and I see the hurt those words cause. The doors they slam shut. The hope for dialogue and points of possible agreement they quash. And I have to temper myself, because it would be so easy for me to swing to the opposite extreme.

So, for the purposes of this post, I want to appeal to my Christian brothers and sisters. I pray you will hear what I’m trying to say:

I peruse my FB feed and read some of the things that are posted. Conservatives trashing liberals and liberals trashing conservatives. And it all makes me so very sad. When I read them on pages of people I know are Christians, it just plain hurts. It’s like a punch in the gut. It is a blanket dismissal of a person, and their ability to think critically and form informed opinions. Yes, some people blindly follow whatever lead they’ve received from family or social cues; but it is unfair to make that assumption about someone simply because they have an opposing view.

It is not an excuse for either side to say “Well, the other side does it”. That is not how Christians should think or act. And please hear me when I say this: I am not sitting in a place of judgment, because I am guilty. I stand before you to confess my own sin, to fall on the mercy of God and say that I am need of a heart change. I see this out there because it lives in my heart too.

And so I say this: For any posts I have ever posted that have been derisive, personal attacks on conservatives writ large, I apologize, with no qualification.

The most important words in the phrase “Christian brothers  and sisters” are *brothers*, and *sisters*. I am your sister. You are my brother or sister. We are children of God, and as such, siblings in the family of God through Jesus Christ. We don’t have to agree with each other everything; but we are forever linked to each other by our shared profession of faith. We are the light of the world. The church is the light of the world, not a particular country or political party. We are the salt of the earth. Are we shining light? Have we lost our saltiness?

These are the questions that keep me awake at night. Not whether or not America will crumble. It is a certainty that if the Lord tarries, the empire that is America will fall – it is a manmade kingdom and will go the way of all other manmade kingdoms. But the Kingdom of God stands forever. No matter what…

More later…grace and peace…