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Please allow me to spend a moment in someone else’s shoes.
If our mayor one day announced that half of my house now belonged to my neighbor, and forced my family to live in the other half while the new family spread out in what used to be my bathroom, bedroom, and study…I would be very angry. And if this new family invited their relatives to move in also, taking more and more rooms, forcing me into the basement, my anger would only increase. And if I took this injustice to the US Supreme Court, only to have them rule in favor of my neighbor and move my family into our garage while my neighbor’s family took over my entire house and changed the locks, I would despair. And unfortunately, if I’m completely honest, this despair might even turn to violence.
The violence would NOT be justified, of course. It never ever is. But I must admit that if I were pushed into a corner long enough, I just might throw a punch. Or fire a rocket.
But let me also step into my neighbor’s shoes.
After being viciously mistreated in our last neighborhood, if the mayor gave my family legal right to half of a house in a safe neighborhood, in a neighborhood where our family tree began and where we once lived long ago, I would gratefully accept. Even if it already had a family in it. And in my thankfulness for a safe home and fear of ever going back to the abuse of the old neighborhood, I would most certainly invite my loved ones to enjoy the security of this new home. Even if it already had a family in it. And if the other family got angry and violent and threatened my kids, you better believe I would fight back. Every dad has the duty to protect his family.
The violence would NOT be justified, of course. It never ever is. But I must admit that if my family was threatened long enough, I just might throw a punch. Or drop bombs from fighter jets.
I’m learning that this conflict cannot be reduced to “good guys vs bad guys”.
One of my heroes (Christian peace activist Sami Awad) explained to us that this conflict is NOT simply Israeli vs Palestinian or Jew vs Muslim…but it’s ultimately a conflict between those who want peace and those who don’t. There are wonderful, peaceful men and women on both sides (I’ve met many of them), and dangerous saboteurs on both sides (which we see on the news all the time).
And so, personally, I’m not trying to decide which nation is 100% right so I can 100% support them AGAINST the other nation. It’s just not that simple. But in the name of Jesus, I want to find and support the peace-makers on every side. These are really dark days, but we can’t give up.
Hey friends, just wanted to give you a little family update. The big news…
(1) Henry started first grade today. His first full day of school…riding the big bus both ways. And although he was a little nervous last night (and bouncing off the walls with excitement this morning), the day went great. Such a big kid! Here’s a pic from right before the bus picked him up in the morning…
(2) Mac is just about to turn two, and may be the most charming terror I’ve ever seen. Somehow the cutest and naughtiest person at the same time, he makes us laugh constantly. The other day, Shauna walked into the room and Mac said “Looking good, little Mama!” We almost fell on the floor…
(3) Shauna is happier than I’ve ever seen her. She’s intentionally NOT working on another book in order to soak up a great summer with her boys, and we’ve been having a ton of fun. But she’s also really looking forward to diving into a few more teaching/speaking opportunities this fall. (If you live in the Chicago area, she’s speaking at Willow this weekend.) And next week, we celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. I’m sooooooo freaking thankful for her…
The last couple years have been intense in so many ways, but for some reason this season is quite sweet. All is grace. Thanks be to God.
I grew up believing that the goal was RIGHTNESS. What God cared most about was making sure I was correct in my beliefs…and then, of course, becoming the police for everyone else’s beliefs. It never occurred to me how UN-Jesus-like I was, but that wasn’t the goal! Here’s what Richard Rohr has to say about believing ideas…
“We operate with the assumption that giving people new ideas changes people. It doesn’t.
Believing ideas is, in fact, a way of not having to change in any significant way, especially if
you can argue about them. Ideas become defenses.
“If you have the right words, you are considered an orthodox and law-abiding Christian.
We burned people at the stake for not having the right words, but never to my knowledge for failing to love or forgive, or to care for the poor. Religion has had a love affair with words and correct ideas, whereas Jesus loved people, who are always imperfect.
“You do not have to substantially change to think some new ideas. You always have to change to love and forgive ordinary people. We love any religion that asks us to change other people. We avoid any religion that keeps telling us to change.”
I’m currently reading and being blown away by “Present Perfect” by Greg Boyd. His basic premise is simple: The present moment is all that’s real. “The past is gone. The future is not yet. We remember the past and anticipate the future, but we always do so in the present. Reality is always NOW.”
And so central to being a Christian is learning how to remain open to God in every moment, “for the only life we have to surrender to Christ is the one we live moment by moment.”
This simple concept is profoundly messing with me. Really.
I’m embarrassed to admit how many hours (or even days) I can go without actually connecting with the God I’ve committed my life to following. And so I become merely a member of the Christian religion (the hollow, institutional version of something that used to be beautiful), instead of joining God in His Movement to love the world. I don’t want to live that way.
But thankfully, most of Boyd’s book is spent encouraging us to realize that we’re “not awake”, and then giving tangible practices and exercises to help us wake up to the Loving God who is always there.
“The moment we surrender, we are home. In fact, the moment we stop chasing and clinging we discover that we never really left home….we find we are surrounded each and every moment with a love that infuses our life with a worth and significance that couldn’t possible be improved on. THIS is the home we were created to eternally live in.”