love

A Scary Story

A Scary Story

“Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear,  and do not dread it.  – Isaiah 8:12

So I’m at a conference last year and I go to a workshop to hear one person I wanted to listen to. Turns out he wasn’t the main speaker. Liz bailed about 20 minutes into the talk…I wanted to, but there weren’t many people left at that point, and I felt guilty.

Nothing stuck out to me about that talk until the very end. The speaker decided to share a story about a taxi ride he had taken recently. The story had seemingly had nothing to do with what he had been talking about. (Though to be fair, I wasn’t paying close attention by this point.)

He told us that his taxi driver was a Muslim.

He told us that this taxi driver was going to marry multiple wives and have multiple children with each.

Why? Because that is how they plan on taking over.

And the moral of the story?

Your governments should not be letting all these refugees into your countries, or else “they” will take over.

Do you feel that?

Do you feel the fear creeping up the back of your neck? I did.

That little story fit a narrative many of us have been conditioned to believe. The “other” has sinister plans, and wisdom requires us to keep them at arm’s length to ensure our safety and survival.

My biggest problem with that story? Jesus.

Whenever fear about personal safety makes us want to cross the street to avoid the bleeding injured man in front of us, it is a good time to reconsider what it means to be a follower of Jesus. What did he say about the hurting person…about the person in need? (Let’s not even get into Matthew 25.)

I’ve thought about that story many times since. And it makes me angry every time.

I don’t know if the conversation actually happened, or if the speaker made it up.

If it did happen, I don’t know that this isn’t just one random taxi driver who believes he is going to procreate his way to world domination. (Make love not war!)

But I do know that the speaker tried to make us afraid. And if we allow fear to take root, we become willing and able to turn our backs on those who are in need. Not only that, at the same time we are able to feel justified, righteous, and godly while doing it.

Love calls us to faith-filled abundant life. Fear causes us to bunker down and protect what is ours.

But what if? What if the story is true?

I don’t know. But I know I choose love over fear.

(the image with this post is one I saw this summer…and shows the perfect example of choosing love over fear)

This was originally posted at thewilsonsindublin.com on 8 October, 2018

Posted by bob in faith, 0 comments

The Bishop and the Singer

After seeing headlines all weekend saying “Bishop Apologizes for touching Ariana Grande,” I watched the video. 

I am angry.

I am frustrated.

There are a number of things this brought up for me…

1) The bishop’s behaviour was completely inappropriate. To watch a person treated that way by a someone claiming* to represent God…how does that not make you angry? How does that not make you grieve? (I am not calling into questions this person’s faith. I don’t know them. But in this incident, they did not act Christ-like…they did not demonstrate love for their neighbor.)

2) What struck me most in the video though was something I have seen and encountered in far too many…the attitude too many religious leaders project that says, “I am the most important person in the room.” I can do and say whatever I want because of who I am. People are constantly telling me how wonderful I am. I’ve even started to believe it! And, because the people around me do not hold me to account. They excuse my bad behavior and again tell me how wonderful I am! It is why you make fun of someone’s name in public. It is why when you issue a lame apology (see number 4) you continue to make assumptions about their ethnicity. It is the same type of thing that allowed Paige Patterson to behave the way he did for so long before finally being called to account. Humility is sadly lacking in a lot of what passes for Christian leadership.

3) One of my daughters said, “this is why people my age drop out of church.” It isn’t that we need better worship or messages, or some other type of new program to reach millennials. They see stuff like this and think “why would I ever go to church?”

4) If you use words like: If… or Maybe…or But, it is not an apology. If I did something to hurt you, I apologize.” That s not an apology. I once had someone tell me, “I’m sorry for whatever you think it is I did to you.” That wasn’t an apology either.  I guess I could write a how to apologize  post, but in meantime, if you don’t know how to apologize without using words like if, maybe or but, perhaps you could just google, “how to make a real apology.”

There are some other things I’m working through as I think about this. But those are my top of mind thoughts. And after getting them out…I’m still frustrated.

 

(the image above is one of the Celtic High Crosses at Monasterboice)

Posted by bob in stuff in my head

Playing it Safe

hideWhat if?
What if I start a new business and it fails?
What if I try to reach out and make a friend and they reject me?

What if…

Have you noticed that when our brains start playing the “what if?” game, they almost always focus on the worst possible outcome?

“What if I start a new business and it takes off and I am able to create new jobs for some people and provide a product that improves the lives of others.”
“What if I reach out to make a friend and we hit it off and they become one of the most important people in my life.”

Never mind…that probably won’t happen…it’s a great dream, but we know what happens to dreamers, right?

The thing is, this “what if” exercise we do is really about fear.

I’m afraid of what might happen…afraid I might fail, so I will do nothing. Even though there is a reasonable possibility that it could make my life so much better, I will just stay where I am…because it is safe here. And we all know how important it is to be safe, right?

The topic of fear and safety has been a big one the past week. That seems a normal response after what we all watched in Paris last weekend.

And it has led to one of the major humanitarian crises of our time being discussed and dealt with, by many on the basis of our fears.

What if we let them into our country and some of them are terrorists?

What if they come and destroy our way of life?

What if…

In response I’ve seen the story of the Good Samaritan shared a lot this week. Jesus telling us to love our neighbour…regardless of whether she is one of us, or an outsider…or a stranger. Or even of a different religion.

One of the arguments I’ve seen shared in response is, basically, “sure, we’re supposed to love our neighbours, but Jesus also told us that we’re supposed to be wise as serpents.”

The point being, Jesus wouldn’t want us to put ourselves in danger.

Which makes me want to ask, “have you actually read the bible?”

There are these people in history called martyrs. And actually, there are martyrs today living in places like Syria who have been raped, enslaved, beheaded because of their faith in Jesus. (I mean they haven’t had to deal with red coffee cups yet but that might be coming too.)

I posted this on Twitter yesterday…

Jesus didn’t tell us to love our neighbour with qualifiers. Love him unless he might be dangerous…unless you feel your safety might be put at risk.

I mean, think about these two verses for a minute:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.

Luke 12:4

Wait, we’re not even supposed to be afraid of people who could kill us?

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.

Luke 6:27-29

Jesus shares a parable where a guy gives some money to his servants and goes away. He comes back and asks what they did with what he gave it. While some of them made more money, one guy buried his money in the ground…to keep it safe. Because he was afraid.

And Jesus says, “Do see how wise this person was? He avoided risk because he was afraid for his safety and wanted to protect what he already had.”

Oh wait, it was the exact opposite.

Jesus doesn’t commend that guy…in fact in the story, he is the biggest loser.

Jesus said the reason he came was to give us life. Life to the full.

Follow me, live life as I live it and you will have an abundant life open up before you.

Why does the bible caution us so often to not fear? I believe it is because fear leads us in the opposite direction. Rather than life to the full, fear leads to a life that gets smaller and smaller as we try to protect our little scraps. Jesus tells us the quickest way to lose the abundant life he has for us is to try and save it.

When we put our efforts and energies into protecting the little piece of pie that we have, and miss out on the feast that God want us to share in.

We can’t trust God and be guided by fear.

We can’t love God, and not love our neighbour.

Posted by bob in stuff in my head, 1 comment