It was the best of times . . . it was the worst of times.
I am referring to this week. Some people see this week as a major victory for equality and justice. Some see it as a major blow to marriage and family. And still others really don’t care one way or another but are scanning social media for what to think.
These are the same people who still can't find their TV remote, but that is a different story.
Regardless of what you think or feel (or whether you are just numb from the countless blogs that are weighing in on it) things are now different. But times of change are important to revisit your core - your foundation. In my life, when things change I know that it is time to take stock who I am and what I am made of.
And I don’t mean politically – I mean spiritually.
See, it is a mirage to think that all of this really matters. Who you are and what you believe can never be changed by courts or referendums. Let's face it - the only thing you are responsible for is the state of your soul (not the state of the union). So here are five things to return you to center – take care of these things and the rest will take care of itself:
· Keep an eye on your own marriage and sexuality.
Christians seem to have a lot to say about marriage and family that cause arguments. Here's a question: Who in the world would argue with a zero divorce rate? That is something that would make me take notice. Let’s push for that. Yes, I know that there are good reasons to divorce – abuse, abandonment, unfaithfulness among others – but imagine a world in which Jesus followers repented of this and never went back to it. That is where the real work is. If we love marriage and value the family – let’s get off the Internet at night while our wives are in bed. Let’s not flirt with the guy in accounting because we don’t get the same attention at home. Stop raging at your children. Quit lying to your parents. That is when the world will look to believers as having something to say about marriage and family.
· Find the real enemy.
Followers of Jesus will always have enemies. Get used to it. The Bible says that we battle enemies seen and unseen. If you are asking me, however, I would say the biggest enemy right now doesn’t live in this country. It would seem to be that those guys standing on a beach cutting the heads off of 30 people because they are Christians. On the shores of Libya these guys pointed to Italy and said, “we are coming for you.” Make no mistake – they weren't talking about pizza. They see Italy as the seat of the Church. They will slaughter us while we are kicking the shins of appellate courts.
· I need to stop living by appearances.
Sometimes I wonder if my faith will ever deepen to a point at which I don’t care what other people think. So much of my decision making and understanding of Jesus has to do with what my actions look like versus whether they are the right thing to do. We all have varying degrees of what David Elkind called an “imaginary audience.” We can be in a constant state of performance. The flip side of this leads to thinking that we can go somewhere to be anonymous. It can lead to us think that what we do when no one else is watching is okay. It is not okay. It comes down to integrity – what we do when no one else is watching is really what we are doing in the presence of God. This is at the core of so much of our hypocrisy. How we talk to our children, what we do on dates . . . that is the biggest battle for the soul of our faith.
· We still have to figure out what it means to serve others.
Sometimes we think that following Jesus means we have been given a tool belt to work on the world’s problems – we haven’t. If anything we have been given a servant’s towel. Jesus was the first one to use this metaphor – He washed the disciples’ feet. The God of the universe stripped down to a towel and washed people’s feet. Think about it – there were orgies going on in Rome at the time. A robust slave trade was happening all across Northern Europe at the time. Tribes in South America were killing people to serve their gods. There was a lot to do in the first century but Jesus washed feet. He wanted to remind us that we are transformed by how we serve others. The point of serving isn’t renovation of existing structures but self-transformation. That means when I serve someone it isn’t license to tell them what to do with their life. Serving changes me and that may lead to their renewal as a person, but when you serve in order to change them you are attempting manipulation. Keep it simple and let Christ work on you - that is what changes the world.
· The truth is a person, not an idea.
One of the most important things I can keep my eyes on is that Christ is alive. And as the truth – I don’t need people to understand God, I want them to have a relationship with God. So often we look at the truth of God as if it is a list of ideas that people just need to agree with. The truth is a lot more than that. In fact, Jesus called Himself the truth –which means truth is a person. To come to the truth is not to agree with me, coming to the truth means that someone encounters God and the slow process of life change takes place. Don't push the truth, let the truth invade you and Christ will take care of the rest.
We already have a lot to do with just these five things. Let's get to work.