Tuesday, August 20, 2013

By our love

Let's just get this out of the way first.  I like to judge people.  I'm especially fond of judging people who judge me (or might judge me) first.  That's fair.  Right?  Justified even.

Except it's not.  And that's how I found myself wide awake in the middle of last night repeating in my head, "Judge not, lest you be judged."  Apparently the Holy Spirit doesn't take naps.

I like to judge people I don't know about things they should or shouldn't be doing.  I have an opinion on situations I know nothing about.  I want people to see me as a whole picture offering grace for my faults and love for my insecurities, but I don't want to do that for other people.  Ever really.

Oh, I can act spiritually appropriate when I have to.  I can offer endless grace to people I love and like.  I can forgive and forget anything you do.  As long as I want to.  

And it's possible, on a good day, that I'm not as bad of a person as I think.  Maybe.

As I returned to the Gospels this morning, I paid attention to how Jesus walked.  We don't see him gossiping with the disciples.  We don't find him telling everyone about the woman at the well.  You know, as a prayer request.  We just see him loving all people all the time.

And it isn't that he's just a nice guy who doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  He stepped on everyone's toes.  In love.  To make them better.  To make them like Him.

I'm called to do the same.  Not to those I want to.  Not to the ones who are like me.  Not when I feel like it.  Not when they don't judge me.  Everyone.  All the time.  

It doesn't mean I can never have an opinion.  It doesn't mean I can't verbally hash things out with my people.  It just means at the root of who I am, in the midst of any situation, in response to every injustice and every hurt, I love.  Bitterness will kill me.  Anger steals my joy.  And being mean spirited makes Jesus cry.  And I try not to do that!

Not because we know everything.  Not because we're more spiritual than the rest of the world.  And certainly not because we have it all together.  

No.  They'll know we are Christians........by our love.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Praying for the world

I fall onto my unmade bed dramatically pushing three dogs a bit here and a little there so we can all fit.  "Life is tricky," I say to no one in particular, but  I guess to them.  They continue to chew on their new bones oblivious to my wonderings.

I grab Shine, my formerly abused rescue dog by the ears and say, "It is!  It really is!"  She licks my face and returns to her bone. 

The world is a mess and really, it always has been.  We just now have immediate access to every last detail, real or imagined, of every single event in the world today.  As if it wasn't enough to have the actual story, thanks to social media we now get all the speculations in the process.  I don't have cable for a lot of reasons, but one of the main ones is the news.  I don't like it.  I don't want to watch it.  And it stresses me out. 

But I wonder sometimes as a Christian if that's the right approach.  Jesus didn't bury his head in the sand when the going got tough.  He figured out how he could help and he did.  And I want to help!  I'm just not sure I can solve the Middle East Crisis, world hunger, or countless other worldwide tragedies too awful to mention. 

As I was talking to a friend later that day, I remembered a story from the monastery.  I asked one of the monks how long it took for them to find out about 9/11.  He said, "5 days."  He didn't offer how he found out and I didn't ask.  "Didn't that stress you out not to know?"  He looked at me like I was crazy.  "I cannot be stressed about what I do not know."

Of course!  But these are people that have devoted their lives to prayer for themselves and for the world.  How can you do that if you don't know?

Wiser than I (duh) he gently said, "Every morning when my feet touch the floor I pray for the world.  I ask God to bless it and keep it and to give those who walk upon it peace.  How could I know better than God what the world needs today?"

That gives me peace.  I can't fix worldwide problems by myself.  I don't have the political or financial resources to save a country from famine.  And I certainly can't comfort every single hurting person in the world today.  But I can pay attention to the world that surrounds me.  I can offer a cup of cold water to the homeless man with an oxygen tank on the side of the road in 100 degree weather.  I can hold the hand of the dying woman in the nursing home.  I can show up where I am.

Thanks to that monk, my prayers for the world have changed.  I still pray specifically for needs as I know about them, but generally I just pray that God would walk among us.  That He would bring healing and hope to a hurting world.  And that if I can help, He would show me.