Friday, August 8, 2008

Disclaimers Don't Work

I try to put disclaimers on things I think will offend people, hoping they will just not read it and move on to the next post... however, human nature steps in and the minute you tell someone not to read something, that's the first thing they want to do.
I'm not criticizing anyone because I do exactly the same thing. A door says, do not open, and my first inclination is to open it. I really have to refrain myself from doing things I shouldn't, quite often, because I always thinking I'm missing out on something somwhere. (I tend to be the last one to leave parties, because I hate thinking that if I leave before someone else, then the fun will really begin without me... yeah, I'm strange like that).
However, I often think people open doors of being offended without every processing what that means. I do it all the time. Jump to conclusions, label people a certain way because I don't agree with them, and that's always a dangerous thing.
You have to follow through to understand what's really going on, and grace must be exhibited, because if you are anything like me, I'm constantly thinking and reforming opinions, and more often than not, have more questions than answers. That has to be ok.
The odd thing is, I read a lot. Too much sometimes. I go to too many classes, and talk to too many people. It is true, the more you know, the more you wish you didn't know. Knowledge is an amazing thing, and we should continue to be life learners, but when we only know in part on earth, it can get really messy really fast.
My attitudes toward the attitudes of the suburbs didn't come from no where. It came from studies of the history of the church, looking at the lives of people like Martin Luther King jr., Mother Teresa, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jim Elliot, and Shane Claiborne. It came from reading lots of sermons by Jesus where he accosts the rich (because he didn't love them? of course not! But because of their attitudes towards their need of God!) Where Zacheus gives so much money away to the poor. The story of the rich man and Lazarus. The story of the sheep and the goats; a story which shows us that both the righteous and unrighteous do things out of the overflow of their life (read the story again... the goats thought they were going to heaven... it was sort of a shocker for them not to go).
I process all of these things in my mind, and I still ask the question of why we strive so hard for material wealth? I love rich people, don't get me wrong. They need Jesus as much as anyone does. My students and friends and neighbors in the suburbs need Jesus as much as the kids in Africa do, but showing them that need is so much more difficult. Often I encounter goats, who think they are going to heaven, but don't live out the lifestyle christ calls us to. Often I encounter people who love the life of Mother Teresa but are unwilling to live like her. And that is where i reside in deep question. How do you enable people to see the discontinuity between their attitudes and actions?
It's not that all rich people are going to hell (because honestly, not a single American would make it to heaven then, according to the world's standards on wealth). But, I still have to reconcile scripture in my head and heart where Jesus is harsh towards the comfortable, and comforting to those who don't have anything.
I don't think it is always the issue of possessions (I have to be careful, or I'll become Shane Claiborne, and people will be very angry... so just read his book "the Irrisitible Revolution" and we'll call it even). There is more to it than just possessions, it's the purpose of our possessions. It's the attitude we have towards our possessions. It's the level of our dependency on God.
That's why I think Jesus says it's so hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven, because they have forgotten how to depend on anything but themselves and the value of a dollar.
To clarify, this is where I am afraid of going. I'm afraid of becoming too comfortable with things, and not comfortable enough in relationship with God and others. The danger for me, is that as I am transitioning (I'm not saying where I am is a stepping stone to the next thing... I'm saying I just moved here 3 weeks ago, and have to learn how to live in a different state, different socio-economic area, etc. People didn't get that last time, so i need to clarify) I will get in a routine that places me in a virtual island where I forget to reach out to those around me. That I will become what I am trying to teach people to come out of.
Like I said... there are usually more questions than answers :)

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