When I was a little girl, I loved stories. My mom used to read to me all the time, and I learned to read at a pretty young age just by sitting with her and absorbing as she read to me. She read me a lot of stories from the Grimm brothers’ giant book of collected fairy tales, and the copy she had was so old and worn that it no longer had any covers. These stories didn’t always have happy endings, but the best ones did. The prince would show up, the princess would be rescued, the land would be healed, and all would be well. I don’t think the desire for a happy ending is limited to little kids. I think all of us secretly want and hope for a happy ending for ourselves, too – but if I’m being honest, I just don’t think happy endings exist. Let me explain. (more…)
A couple of years ago, I got into an intense theological fight with my closest friend. We are both Jesus girls with big bleeding hearts, and though we have a lot in common, we don’t share exactly the same passions and callings (which is perfectly okay!). We were discussing helping and serving others, but the conversation shifted when we started drawing lines between fellow believers and those outside the church. My friend mentioned that she thought it was more important to take care of other Christians than it was to take care of others outside the church, and that the church should be our priority. I totally disagreed with her, saying that those without Jesus to rely on needed our help more. I imagine Jesus looking in on our disagreement and facepalming. Here we were, arguing over how best to love others – instead of just doing it, just loving whomever was in reach as often as we could and in whatever ways we were able. We eventually realized that it’s okay for us to have different passions in this area – my calling might be to reach beyond the walls of the church to those who are suffering and introduce them to my friend Jesus, and my friend’s calling might be to build up the church from the inside so that we will have a healthy home to bring those hurting ones into. Both are needed, both are important. Neither is greater than the other. Both the believer and the unbeliever are precious to Jesus. He still leaves 99 to find the one, but the 99 are still just as important to Him. And as someone who has been both the 99 and the one, I am so grateful.
What if we can even take this a step further? In addition to acknowledging both needs as valid – reaching out to welcome people into Jesus, and making a welcoming place for them to come home to – what if we could blend these actions together? What if the church as a whole began intentionally and radically welcoming those who have historically felt pushed away or marginalized in our society? (more…)
Brave ones out in the wilderness who sometimes feel alone in the church, maybe this is for you. I’m gonna be really honest: some of the things folks do in the name of Jesus are head-scratchers to me. Sometimes I wonder if we’re all reading the same Bible.
In the middle of their speeches about how refugees and immigrants are a drain on our society and our resources, don’t they remember the verses where God tells His people to treat the foreigner like family?
In their disdain and indignation that the poor or homeless or single parent or struggling should pull themselves up by their bootstraps with no handouts and no hand-ups, don’t they see the Scriptures where God tells His people to leave some of their crops for those in need, and care for the orphan and widow?
In their adoration of weaponry and war, don’t they remember that Jesus cautioned Peter to wield his own weapon responsibly, telling him that he who lives by the sword will die by it, so lay it down?
In their rants about acceptable and unacceptable kinds of sexuality, don’t they see the verses where Jesus stands over a woman about to be executed for her adultery and tells her He does not condemn her? (more…)
Can I be really honest and tender with you, friends? Sometimes I worry.
With each new thing I write, I worry that if I am my authentic self, it will offend you. I worry that I am not enough, and at the same time somehow, too much. I worry that I, not just the content of what I say, will be criticized for being too liberal, too conservative, too Christian, too heretical, not in line with this or that particular interpretation of the Scriptures. As a woman, I worry that even using my voice at all to teach or speak on God and the Bible will invite criticism from people who believe God only gives that ability to men. I worry that what I see in the Bible – an upside-down Gospel and a God who is impossibly in love with us, all of us, no exceptions – might contrast so sharply with what some folks have been taught that it will cause backlash and division if I speak up. I worry that I won’t be able to stand up for truth under the scrutiny. (more…)