"This current state of humanity is unnatural. Humankind (as we know it) has been tainted, perverted, distorted from it’s intended nature, and, as a result, all men are hopeless." #GospelNaturalness
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen;
Nobody knows but Jesus.
Today’s been a crazy day on Twitter for the Church. Matt Chandler made some super conservatives mad with his (pretty not offensive) language. But then this article starting circulating like crazy: Coming (Back) to America: My One Fear by Thabiti Anyabwile.
I’ve stayed silent about this whole Mike Brown/Ferguson stuff. It’s just better that way. But when I did decide to comment, I chose my words poorly.
In what was never supposed to come across as accusatory, spiteful, or disagreeing, I posted a series of tweets directed at Thabiti that seemed to completely disregard his fear as a parent. I took away the humanity of it all and simply reduced his feelings down to logic.
And I can try to defend myself. I can try to explain my angle. I can try to tell Thabiti (and anyone else who saw this exchange) that while I can’t tell him from experience how it feels to be part of the physical minority, I can remember being a kid at nine years old, not knowing if dad’s going to make it home tonight from the Fifth Ward in Houston, TX. I can think back to the times I’ve asked my dad what it was like having to kill somebody in the line of duty—not unlawfully—and having him tell me of the sheer realness you feel after the fact.
So I’m here to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Pastor Anyabwile, for the tone which I had with you. The internet has a bad way of twisting the tone of someone’s words, even though that person is, in fact, the author of them. I’m sorry, Pastor Anyabwile, that there is nothing I can do that will lead instantly to widespread equality of races in the United States. I really do wish I could. To be a Christian is to desire what God desires—no partiality. The Gospel is not partial. God is not partial. We should not be partial. But we are fallen.
My heart is full of sadness over the broken nature of this world.
Tears have been shed over the fact that I could have—in some form or fashion—offended, upset, or hurt one of the pastors that I have looked up to the most since being introduced to his teaching. I’m not typing this flippantly. I’m sincerely troubled by the thought that maybe Thabiti misread what I was trying to say.
If I spoke too quickly, Pastor Anyabwile, I apologize. I really do. And if this is any kind of consolation to you and your family, I will have you all specifically in my prayers during these times of racial tension.
Grace and peace,
Prepare our hearts, O God
Help us to receive
Break the hard and stony ground
Help our unbelief
Plant Your Word down deep in us
Cause it to bear fruit
Open up our ears to hear
Lead us in Your truth
Show us Christ, show us Christ
O God, reveal Your glory
Through the preaching of Your Word
Until every heart confesses
Christ is Lord
Your Word is living light
Upon our darkened eyes
Guards us through temptations
Makes the simple wise
Your Word is food for famished ones
Freedom for the slave
Riches for the needy soul
Come speak to us today
Where else can we go, Lord
Where else can we go
You have the words of eternal life
We sang SGC at my church today. YES.179 plays
Great job @walrusaudioeffects. Wonderfully built, amazing sound. #mayflower
I’m about to take a moment to be very real with you. Every year since I have been in youth, our youth group has attended one of the LifeWay camps—MFuge. This year, the theme was “Be”. Each day, the pastor and curriculum would teach on a trait that we should “be”, and one of them that really resonated with me was, “Be real.” Maybe it’s lame. Maybe it’s campy. But there’s a rawness of being broken or confused that Christian community lacks today.
If I haven’t talked to you about it yet, I’m going through some weird feelings about my church. Let me make one thing clear right from the get-go: My church should not take the blame. My church is not doing anything wrong. We just differ in opinions. Our missional mindsets are different at times. Our doctrine is different at times. Our idea of what discipleship looks like differs.
No one is in the wrong here.
Well, except for me about some things.
You see, I’ve found myself getting frustrated throughout this whole process. Frustrated with my peers. Frustrated with my worship leader. Frustrated with my youth pastor. Worst of all, I’ve gotten frustrated with God at times.
God—the same God who has graciously given the Gospel message, revealed to men through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration—is the one who I have grown frustrated with.
You know, Jesus had a huge opportunity to be frustrated. In fact, He wouldn’t have even been blamed to have been frustrated.
Look at Matthew 21.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple,“Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
Matthew 21:12-17 (ESV)
So, we have this picture of Jesus walking into the temple with red fiery eyes and flipping over tables and stuff, kind of like what I remember these comics having in them** when I was a little kid.
But Jesus doesn’t exactly do that.
Sure, He gets frustrated, righteously. I mean, after all, this is the house of Jehovah, the God that had led the Israelites out of captivity and through the wilderness; it should not be treated like a marketplace.
But Jesus, in His perfection, turns His righteous frustration into blessing. He fixes the problem by attacking the root of it (i.e. He confronted the sinfulness of the merchants and beggars), and then doesn’t let it linger. He immediately goes to begin healing a blind man. He immediately goes to serve and show that He is the Son of God, the Promised Messiah.
When I reflect on these actions of Christ, I realize something: My frustration is not righteous. Sure, what I’m fighting for might be. What I want to see happen is most definitely according to Scripture. But that doesn’t give me reason to grow weary in my efforts, no matter how fruitless they may seem. Instead, I should be following the model of Christ: attacking the problem at the heart and then moving forward.
So, to those of you reading this that I owe an apology to, it is coming. To those of you reading this who have grown frustrated with your church, or with the bigger, collective Church: attack the problem at the heart and move forward. Anyone can be stagnant. Don’t forget to move forward.
And maybe the battle you’d decided to fight wasn’t worth fighting.
**These comic books were the most exciting parts of my really really young-aged trips to our local Christian bookstore at the time ‘For Heaven’s Sake’. Seeing them on Amazon brought back so many memories. Also, they probably are actually as bad as the reviews made them out to be…
Not only are we saved from the punishment of sin, but we are no longer slaves to unrighteousness.
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