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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Coming Back to the Table

I keep revisiting the subject of social justice because I have yet to come to a resolution on the topic. Like, What does this look like biblically? What is the healthy approach? What does it look like for me and in my life? And how does that all conflict or compliment with the global and popular methods?

I don't have answers. In fact, I have more questions. For a while I felt that the subject needed to be put on hold and removed from the table for a while so that other things could be attended to without the distraction of how it all applies to helping others because I needed serious help and attention and there were things in my own life that had been dangerously ignored at the expense of helping others. So it was necessary for it to be out of the way for a while. Then I found that I actually couldn't even bear to look at it I was so fatigued and so worn out from it all that it pained me and even aggrivated me to look at the subject. So I didn't.

Now I feel like it's starting to inch its way back onto the table of discussion and I'm filled with thoughts and feelings I can't navigate through on my own.

Jeremiah 22:16 says, "He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know Me? declares the LORD."

You know I think that before, for me, I used to behave as if my ability to follow through on my actions determined my proximity to God rather than my proximity to God determining my actions. As in, when you know God- this is what you'll look like.

So a few years ago I would have read it like this: If I want to know God and if I want things to be well then I will judge the cause of the poor and needy. Whereas now I read it like this: When I know God and am close to Him then it naturally follows that things will go well and I will naturally be defending the cause of the poor and needy around me.

My perspective has shifted from something I must do to something that will happen naturally when I am alligned with Him. This is not true for me at present. Although I feel closer to God than ever, I can't say I recognize this output happening in my life. And honestly, I think part of that is to do with my own doubts and hesitations on the subject and part of that is because, up until very recently, it all felt very off limits. For me, I don't want to jump back in and do things the way I did because I know where that path leads- burnout and compassion fatigue. So if I'm going to answer a need then I want to do it in a way that isn't just what's best for the receiver but also in a way that's best for me the giver. Sadly, this isn't the popular way; to factor your own needs into the social justice equation. So it's hard to know what's the "right way" to go about it all. But maybe there in lies the key; if you are close to God does the output flow in a healthy way? Are our responses to social injustice done in an unhealthy manner because of our lack intimacy with the Father and His heart (both for ourselves and for those around us)?

I'm chewing. I'm ready to discuss it again, which for me is a big step.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"Well, is it really working?"

In attempts to be gentle, gracious and kind towards those who think and live in ways contradictory to our own thoughts and lives, my friends and I adopted this phrase of "Well that's what works for them."

The overly submissive wife...."Well that's what works for them."

The religious volunteer who's a workaholic...."Well that's what works for them."

The church that's all missional but zero homecare...."Well that's what works for them."

The church producing copy after copy of the same "type"...."Well that's what works for them."

The pastor who has his PhD in delegating and ordering...."Well that's what works for them."

And for a while it stiffled and silenced accusations and oppositions of thought and rhetoric, but it got to a point where it just wasn't doing it for me anymore because it all began to pose a new question, "Well, is it really working?" And the answer I've found is both yes and no.

IS IT REALLY WORKING FOR THEM? Yes. Yes it is. It absolutely works within the confines of the world which they and their culture and their chosen influences have created for it to work. As it's been said, "Perception is reality." In other words, how you perceive things is your reality. Anaïs Nin, a writer in the early 1900s, said, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." My belief structure determines my thought structure and my thought structure alters and paints my perception and my perception paints my reality. 'It is what determines whether I see a piece of colored cloth as just that or whether I see it as an enemy flag. It is what determines whether I see as stick as merely a stick, or whether I see it as a religious staff (https://www.hawaii.edu/...).'

The problem is that my belief structure has determined my own thought structure and my thought structure alters and paints my perception whichin turn paints my reality. My beliefs have taught me to see God in a certain way just as their beliefs have taught them to see God in their own way; which is how it ought to be by the way! If we all see God the same way, what is there to learn from each other. And if we all read Scripture the same way, what more could we possibly ever learn than what we ourselves perceive? But the problem is that in my reality, it's not working for them. And of course, it's hard to not be baised about one's own reality. So I can't just judge one reality beside another because realities are based off something too fluid. Even what one would call an "absolute truth" is tainted by perception. What then is concrete enough to be able to stand up against people's realities when even God Himself is colored by them?

And here's where I break down and I realize that I just have to shut up and let God be God because only God can break down those kind of unseen walls to where He, and He alone, is able to gently invade their perception with the True reality of His heart and character in a way that does not offend their perception, but encourages it to open up and allow Him into their reality in just the way that He is revealing Himself. The beauty is that He meets me where I'm at, not where you're at; just as He meets you where you're at and not where I'm at.

I may see an innevitable collapse when I look at some churches. I may see a withering soul when I look at some people and their situations. But that is my perception. It doesn't make it any less true. It doesn't make theirs any less true either. The trick is, I believe, to tap into God's perception that we could look and see His reality. That would indeed be a gift beyond comprehension. Such a glimpse might even be called bringing heaven to earth.

Sometimes things are so undeniably unhealthy, a fact proven by the rubble it leaves behind in its wake. Sometimes our conscience demands we speak out against certain realities and perceptions. Perhaps because we have caught a glimpse of God's perception and we see the ways in which one reality contradicts His intended reality. Perhaps not, but I think in those times it is best to do what one feels is best according to one's own conscience and to do so gently. To not merely debunk one reality against another, but to gently woo and coerce another's percerption to invite in the possibility of another reality and let them decide what to do with it.

Both silence and action present their own set of trials which, in their own way, seem to always pose the question, "Well, is it really working?"