So. Very. Interrupted – Week Two
Before I begin with the outline of the numerous knock-my-heart-upside-down moments I had after re-reading this week, I first wanted to simply point out something I’d like for us all to keep in mind.
No, not your Foster Grants or Oakleys.
No, not the part of your eyeball, that, along with the cornea, helps to refract light to be focused on the retina. Yes, I googled that. Sorry, Dr. Super-Hero.
But, I’d like for us to prayerfully examine the lenses we all look through every day to see the world around us. What area of our life is so prominent that all other things that come into focus in our world filter through it first. Let me explain, because there are a few to choose from.
Political lens – Your views on people, religion, economics, service, regulations, etc. are filtered first through how you view the issue politically.
Emotional lens – You find it difficult to separate your views from your emotions and are often drawn into something or away from something because of how it affects your feelings.
Intellectual lens – Your analytical brain tends to take over and desires things to ‘make sense’ or ‘work out right’ because in order for you to process something, it needs to line up accurately.
Biblical lens –This is the lens that filters everything through Jesus and His Word first. How you treat people, see people, and relate to people and this world is first lined up with Scripture. Not your political party. Not your emotional past. Not your prior knowledge base. Just Jesus. Just the Bible. Period. (Oh, that the church would see through this lens first!)
We are all passionate about something. We read a book like this one and we’re made even more aware of which lens is prominent in our lives. Maybe we weren’t aware at all. But, now, when faced with such strong conviction, we see which knee-jerk reaction we take (I take!) and that tells us which lens rules our vision. Those lenses are important. They are relevant. They just shouldn’t be most prominent.
I want to encourage you (and me!) and challenge you (and especially me!) to truly seek out what lens you look through first. May each of us do everything we can to simply look through the lens of Scripture, straight into the heart of Jesus and just.do.what.He.did. Act like He did. Live like He did. Serve like He did. For His glory alone. Regardless of if it makes us sad. Regardless of whether or not it ‘makes sense’. Regardless of which political party serves like this one. Just be like Jesus – regardless of all else.
With that said, let’s begin –
“I was content letting Jesus do the messy work and I would just talk about it. Or, I made it fit, inventing a way to merge it with my normal context. Sure. He hung out with lepers, but we don’t really have a leprosy epidemic anymore, so I’ll just be kind to customer service reps and telemarketers, which is about the same sacrifice…am I right?” (pg. 51)
Oh that I wish this wasn’t true in my life.
I feel so proud of myself when I am kind to the telemarketers who call during dinner and for some reason my children I’ve lost my brain they sucked it out of me! and I accidentally answer the phone instead of screening the call like I normally do.
Awww. That went well. Most people would have hung up on them. Been ugly. Said rude things. But, not me. I love Jesus. I was kind with my words and tone of voice as I cut them off and told them with my sugar-coated Southern accent that we “just weren’t interested” and then hung up before they could say another word. In Jesus’ Name, of course.
I’ve purposely avoided eye contact with homeless people, justifying in my head how ‘they’ll just use it for booze’.
I’ve rushed right by the elderly people at their once-a-week social outing at Wal-mart. I have no time to smile and chat as they wait in the front of the store for their nursing home bus to pick them up. No time to talk. Just. No. Time.
I’ve heard story after story of kids at my husband’s low-income public school who have such horrid home lives, it makes me cry. But, have I ever gone up there to just pass out hugs? Stickers? Smiles? High-fives? Nope. Not even once.
But, it’s okay, because I was nice to that telemarketer once. I’m good.
My world = population: me.
“Not only was communion a symbolic ritual, it was a new prototype of discipleship. “Continuously make My sacrifice real by doing this very thing” Become broken and poured out for hopeless people. Become a living offering, denying yourself for the salvation and restoration of humanity. Obedience to Jesus’ command is more than looking backwards; it’s a present and continuous replication of His sacrifice. We don’t simply remember the meal; we become the meal.” (pg. 54)
This was a big one. Here Jesus totally took one of their reverent traditions and turned it all around. He became the actual sacrifice and the ritual-meaning all in one. This must have been so weird for them. So beautifully, humbly, perfectly weird.
I love the way she described what God told her about this. Yes, we revere this tradition. Yes we remember His actual body broken and His blood spilled. But it doesn’t end when we throw away our little cups and napkins in the church lobby trash cans.
We become the meal.
We lay down our own agendas, our own dreams, our own pride, our own lives and be broken for others.
“Mercy has a cost: Someone must be broken for someone else to be fed….Death in me = life in you. Broken so someone else is fed. “Feed my lambs”
This would be an impossibly tough notion to relate to, if it weren’t for my three little rascal children. I nursed each of them for about a year.
It wasn’t always fun. Mastitis is from satan.
It wasn’t’ always convenient. No date nights for months on end.
It wasn’t always comfortable. Twenty-four extra ounces pumped a day. Ouuuuch.
It wasn’t always easy. Oh, how I miss you, occasional margarita!
But, for me, because I was able to nurse, it was something I wanted to do for the benefit of my children. I was willing to sacrifice for them. Endure pain for them. My first child had fourteen teeth on his first birthday. I’ll leave it at that. I was losing nourishment because God made my body for all ‘the good stuff’ to go to the Mama-milk first. I was willing to be broken like literally broken nipples! Ugh. for them to be fed.
Whether you nursed your babies or not isn’t the issue. Motherhood in general feels that way sometimes. Cold dinners. Outdated and stained clothes. Lack of sleep. Days without bathing. Overgrown roots. And don’t even talk to me about stretch-marks. And those aren’t even the really hard things.
Watching your kid get picked last.
Seeing your child’s heart broken.
Hearing their angst and pain from school.
Praying they drive home safely.
Pick the right spouse.
Follow hard after God.
Years and years of pouring ourselves out so they can be fed.
Do we regret it? No.
Do we always enjoy it? Heck no.
But, we do it because they mean more to us, than us.
Jesus did that and SO MUCH MORE for each of us.
And for each of them.
The ones we overlook. The ones we judge. The ones we look down upon.
His blood was poured out for them. Our lives should be, too.
Pretty much ALL of pages 58-59…ending with “Being accused of white guilt was nothing; the only tragedy would be missing all that wheat for one confused weed – who might someday turn into wheat if I show up on his street corner often enough, handing him food as he calls me a racist.”
We cannot base our service on our feelings, on our preferences, on what makes us happy. Jesus wasn’t into having a happy life. He led a perfectly holy life. And I feel confident He cares much more about our holiness than our happiness. I know this from personal experience of how He has used my greatest unhappiness to bring His greatest holiness to my life.
If only He didn’t have so far to go in me. If only His work stayed ‘done’ in me. Thank you for not giving up on me, Jesus. Thank you.
May we see the weeds for how He sees them; future wheat.
Remember friend, you, too were a weed. And Lord knows I was a big, fat, pesky one.
I’m so grateful, Lord.
Just. So. Grateful.
“I am learning what it means to descend…The pursuit of ascension is crippling and has stunted my faith more than any other evil I’ve battled…The path of descent becomes our own liberation…We are released from the idols of greed, control, and status. The pressure to protect the house of cards is alleviated when we take the lowest place…I had no idea how tightly I clung to reputation and approval or how selfishly I behaved to maintain it.” (pg. 64-65)
Sigh. I feel like a twenty ton elephant has been lifted from my heart.
Perspective is one of God’s greatest gifts.
He wrapped it up and handed it to me on my couch and my life will never be the same.
Oh how I pray that someone out there is released from this rat race today. Oh I pray, Lord, that you open the eyes of someone who has loved you but not lived for you.
Help us all to realize that this life really isn’t at all about what the world says it is about. IRA’s, cushy retirement, square footage, small waist, clear skin, happy-all-the-time…it isn’t eternal Lord. Help us to be eternally minded, but while we do earthly good.
Keep our eyes fixated on you and your calling for our lives.
Keep me low so that You can be high.
Make my name nothing so Yours can be great.
Give me no credit, no glory, no fame. Sola Deo Gloria. Today and always, Lord.
You can have all this world. Just give me Jesus.
Matthew 23:12 “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
“The needy world isn’t interested in God because he might secure their promotion or deliver an offer on their house in a wilting market. By the millions, they are running to the cross because the love a redeeming Savior is too intoxicating to resist. Jesus is their hope and inheritance, and they glory in Him despite crushing poverty, political upheaval and endless instability. They already live at the bottom, in Jesus’ zip code.” (pg. 67)
Oh that my life would be one not lived with God as my own personal blessing vending machine. May I not seek my will and then ask Him to sprinkle His blessing dust all over it. May I praise Him in rain and darkness. May I join others in their rain and darkness and shine my light with them. May the ‘good life’ be one I never desire again. Oh that people will look at me and see Jesus and not just another chick in a Christian t-shirt who looks remarkably like everyone else in and of this world.
“The rest of the world struggles with hunger and sickness, but we have to conquer the disease of greed and ego, which are notoriously harder to cure…I suppose that’s why Americans are the richest people on the planet but plagued with depression, suicide, and loneliness. We’re furthest from the freedom that exists only at the bottom, and that liberation that money can’t buy.” (pg. 68)
Isn’t this true?
The things of this world that promise fulfillment only leave us feeling more empty. Yes, even those of us who claim to be Christians. Because we literally have the world at our fingertips, we don’t see how good we have it. I do not discount people’s pain. I do not devalue their genuine struggles. But, statistics don’t lie. We are the richest. Yet, not the happiest. We should be ‘full-filled’ because we have every stinking thing around us that should fill us up. Yet, it doesn’t.
I’ve heard a saying that when you truly hit rock bottom, the only way you have to look, is up. True for our country. True for me. But, I do pray that when we look up, it isn’t longingly at the next rung up the ladder. But, instead, at the One who is there with us at the bottom, standing over us with His scarred hand outstretched, ready to pick us up, dust us off, and welcome us to His level of freedom we’ve been searching for all our Christian lives.
“It could be that Jesus will lead us to a place where we ourselves don’t even know whether we’re holy, where all we know is that we have work to do, where we have to obey the word that we’ve heard in our heart.” (pg. 70)
I underlined parts of this quote Hat referenced by Richard Rohr, because I want to be clear that Jesus calls us all differently. His blessed Holy Spirit prompts, reminds, teaches and convicts each of us according to His will. It would be ignorant and prideful, not to mention blasphemous, for me to insist I know God’s will for you. That I know how He has called you to specifically respond to the words you have read.
But, I do know, if we are willing…He will faithfully strip us of us until all that remains is Him, His will for our lives, and His love for others. This goes for each of us. If we will let Him.
James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Luke 22:27 “But I am among you as one who serves.”
“Become broken and poured out for others, constantly make this real, desire with desire to sacrifice, resist the power politics of the Benefactors. But, with His closing statement, He called Himself a servant, making this worldview nearly impossible to spin or misconstrue. Is this not why the gospel is such great news for the broken? Jesus redefined the nature of greatness, which has always rung hollow for the least and last. He took its connotation away from power and possessions and bestowed it on the humility of a servant.” (pg. 71)
James 1:9 came to mind. – “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.”
I will admit that this made me cry.
All of a sudden, I pictured, in my overly vivid imagination, their faces. The least and last – their actual faces became burned into my mind’s eye. All the faces of those society has ignored, abused, judged and neglected. I pictured them suddenly learning that they were valued. I pictured them receiving this news personally from Jesus. He walked up to them, looked them in the eye, smiled, and said, “You. Are. Great!”
The look on each of their faces was similar to that of one of my children, who sleepily walks in on Christmas morning and sees a room full of presents.
Doubt mixed with faith.
Unbelief of their good fortune.
Pain is released.
Hope is renewed.
But, not because of stockings or Santa.
All because of Jesus.
I couldn’t take it. Face after face came into my head. Older black man, dirty face lined deep with wrinkles. Young Hispanic mother, couldn’t understand my words, but knew my heart’s message. Young Asian teenager, with angst released and freedom embraced. Abandoned African toddler, just looking for someone to love them.
Face after face after face of God’s kids came into my head. And I.just.lost.it.
These are the great ones with me now. Here at the bottom. Where I hope I forever live.
James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
And I will close with a dream in my heart, spoken perfectly with her words –
“I dream of a church that is once again called great, even by our skeptics, because our works of mercy cannot be denied.” (pg. 71)
Amen and amen.