Yep. This song…
So, if you’re aware of much of the conversation that happened in the last week or two in evangelical Church land, there has been a lot going on.
If you’re reading this, first things first. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that Christians invite people to Church to join the Kingdom, which is supposed to be a beautiful & life changing thing, and then drag you into the mud to debate which among us is the most right. And I’m sorry if you’ve ever been “less right,” and been ostracized or kicked out of places for it. Frankly, us Christians can be idiots.
This whole debate has become polarized it seems. It seems like my twitter feed got very liberal in the last 2 weeks, as people railed against Mark Driscoll and his claim that Jesus isn’t a pacifist. Few are in a middle, most are picking sides. Sadly, the Church will be the only loser in the debate. Marching our way in to obscurity continues to become our best skill.
And I find myself wondering, if I’m pressed, where I fall on the whole thing. Like many things I consider, I feel a tension in this. It isn’t just an either/or, cut & dry issue. Here’s why:
God is (in the Christian tradition) the perfect mix of love & justice. His unconditional love & grace trump my failures. And His justice trumps even the most powerful court. Sometimes, I think justice & love look like tough love. Sometimes, we burn our hands and learn that Dad was right when he said not to touch the stove.
That said, justice requires action. Love requires action. Sometimes, both of those things require bold action.
The old/new covenant:
Reading the old testament, it is a bloody mess (and I don’t say that in the british sense, it’s actually bloody). Wars, killing, repeat. Even penance requires blood. And then the new covenant comes along, and Jesus takes all the weight of violence and justice on Himself, and suddenly, we don’t have to be violent. We’re free to not shed blood, and still be forgiven, because blood has been shed on our behalf. The war to end all wars, one could say.
And so you have this pull of tough love & freedom, and my natural tendency is to pull to the new covenant and say we don’t have to fight. Our fight is done. I can be invested in peace exclusively.
But then I think about moments that would call me to act. What if my wife was being attacked by a rapist? What if my kids were assaulted by a predator? Do I say “the battle is the Lord’s” and wait for God to execute justice? Not at all. One of my friends made this statement, and good or bad I agree with it: People who prey on kids remind me that I’m capable of murder. And I am. If someone attacked my wife or kids, I would do my best to kick that person’s ass. Sufficiently. And if it came to me or him, you’d better believe I’d choose him.
I think about my kids, and the world they are growing up in with regard to this. I heard a story of a kid who’s being bullied by their peers, and had hand sanitizer put in their water bottle. If that was my kid, what do I do in the situation? If my kid gets in a fight, do I say don’t defend yourself, just ball up and wait for someone else to break up the fight? I want my kid to defend themselves. Or to defend someone else being picked on in the same case.
Of course, the pull is that defending yourself doesn’t mean violence exclusively. Justice doesn’t equal violence by any means. When I’m honest with myself & my theology, I think it looks like this: scripture teaches to strive for unity, in the Spirit through the bond of peace. That means that my goal is to live in peace. If the new covenant is true, and what Jesus said is true, my goal is to live in peace. To take care of the orphan and the widow. To tend to the marginalized. That is a peaceful endeavor. Not something that requires violence. It means I beat my weapons into tools that build life for people in need.
But I think it also means that in some cases, a punch is necessary. Tending to a person in need or at risk may involve more than words at times. Or it may require a tool to be used in an unconventional manner.
And I think those things are okay things. My heart to defend my wife & kids is (I think) a reflection of God’s heart to His bride, and his sons & daughters. He is clearly capable of massive displays of power (Old Testament), yet He chooses to fight for grace and love (New Testament). That is our fight. We are capable of many things, and ultimately it’s an issue of where our trust and hope lie. Mine ultimately is peace, but not at the expense of all things.
Where do you fall on this one?
phenmenal song. LOVE this album.
love these guys. glad pete yorn is still out making some great tunes too.
Jonathan Weisman, congressional correspondent for the New York Times talks to us tomorrow about “the underachieving 113th [congress]”:
Terry Gross: So what did the Congress accomplish so far this session?
Jonathan Weisman: Almost nothing. This is a remarkable Congress. The 113th Congress has passed about 13 public laws. By the end of this week maybe there will be a 14th…but right now their rate of passing laws is about half the 112th Congress’s rate, and the 112th racked up fewer laws than any Congress since World War II, so we are really on pace to have one of the least productive, if not the least productive Congresses in history.”
image via abc news
I mean… Wow.
This is probably a top 10 song. Love this tune.
I’ve had a lot of jobs in the last few years. I moved from a job I loved to lots of filler jobs, and into another one I love. My first job I loved was working with teenagers. I loved their energy & how brave they can be. But they are (and so are we) grossly over-programmed.
Kids are trained to take “the test” well, and that for colleges to give them scholarships, they have to play 3 sports, be a major role player in band, join NHS, be active in local civic and/or religious group, and have at least one job. All while finding time for hobbies to make them well rounded. To quote a youth worker I love & respect a lot, “we’ve over-programmed the hell out of our kids’ lives.”
We adults aren’t so different really. We want to perform well, be versitile, move up the ladder quick, commit to teams & projects that will serve our end goal of getting a great promotion that pays well so we can retire sooner. We want to eat like crap, but always be losing weight. Drive the right car, have the right family. It goes on and on.
It’s exhausting, right?
What if we said no to some things?
Think of it? What if as we settled in, we found the things we are really good at, and made sure that we were centered around those things?
For example (and I say this with a level of confidence but don’t mean it arrogantly), I am pretty good at connecting with people. I can start up a conversation with a total stranger, find out what they value, or what their organization values, and find ways to partner with them (my office partners & resources the non-profit community). I have my share of struggle with my job, sure. My calendar and my inbox control me far more than I want them to, and it wears me out. But pair me up with a group doing something beautiful to help their community, and my ears & heart light up like a sunrise.
For me to be good at what I do, I have to say no to things. My boss always advises me to guide projects. Not control, but guide. It’s genius really. And I have the freedom to set up qualifiers and know that if these qualifiers don’t match up, the best option is to say no.
It is phenomenally liberating.
I have other things at the office that I dabble in and enjoy, sort of like an office hobby (that just happens to give me an added piece of on the job skill too). I’m a social media junkie, and that hobby has led me to have some great opportunity (and job security) come along. But, I also know that if I get bogged down, my hobby has to go for a bit. I don’t manage partners and run social media. I manage partners, and in my free time I get to dream about social media, and have input on it. You know how much more I enjoy it because it’s not a responsiblity that affects my job security? I get to dream about something fun.
As a father of 3, I have a serious dog in this fight. Ultimately, here’s what I would love to challenge my kids to: do one to two things well. The rest is just your hobbies. Not so my weekends free up, but because I don’t want my kids to learn by age 10 that they are forever trapped in a rat race of who’s the most over-committed. The state of culture & mental/emotional health has taught me plenty, and I think my kids deserve better than that. My oldest seems to be very athletic, and he kicks a ball more straight than any other 4 year old I’ve seen. I’d love to see him find a sport he loves to do that. Be a soccer player, skip basketball. It’s not your game. You’re a kicker, not a shot taker.
The other piece of this, is that I allow my kids the gift of failure. If I don’t push them to be the best at everything, they can find what they’re good at, and what they aren’t good at too. Knowing what you don’t do well is as much a game changer as knowing what you can do well.
Look at your calendar. Your work, your free time, your plans. Dream about it. What gives you life & energy? Build your life around doing that thing. And the extra things you enjoy? There are your hobbies. Create space to fail. You’ll refine yourself, as well as your loves as you go.