Why I am pulling out of online debates (particularly through social media)

A few years ago I was apart of a church plant here in Kentucky. To say it didn’t really work out would be an understatement. There were many reasons why the church fell apart, but one of the things I learned from that experience was that I had a lot to learn about sharing the gospel. I was pretty young and I had been involved in a specific denomination for many years prior to my move to Kentucky. Through my involvement, I developed a pretty small worldview. I had questions, but I couldn’t see beyond my own predispositions. I was blind.

The notion that Elizabethtown needed yet another church was naive. I had only been living here a few short months before the plan to “bring the Word” to this town was birthed. I had visited many churches in the area and even found a home at one church for a short time, but all the while I was looking at the people through a very narrow lens. I had decided that my way would be better. I had decided that I knew more and had the answers these people were obviously needing, even if they weren’t looking for them.

I was ignorant.

It should be noted that when I finally left the church plant, the majority of its members weren’t even from Kentucky.

Over time, I realized that much of my issues had to do with me and my failure to listen, my failure to have an open mind, and my ridiculous need to be right. And not only that, but when the scales finally fell from my eyes, I learned that I was wrong…about a lot. I realized that Kentucky had a lot to teach me.

Four years later… do I still feel like a fish out of water? Everyday. Ha! Some of the things I have learned have caused me to take on new postures. I have found myself landing on ideas that I never dreamed of just a few short years ago. And I find that in most cases, I am still speaking a foreign language here. And that can be tough.

One of the things I talk about often is this idea of bringing the Kingdom. In the gospels, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God being here and now. His life, death and resurrection began a brand new movement of people living sacrificial lives, becoming peacemakers, living in community, and dropping all concepts of entitlement including material possessions. This idea of bringing the Kingdom meant that Jesus is king and He is our Master. We can’t serve more than one.

All of this has led me to some pretty radical ideas about politics, social justice, living sacrificially…and minimally. I don’t have it all worked out yet, but slowly I am finding myself wanting to shed more and more stuff-things like possessions, political positions (I no longer participate in the voting process), insecurities. And each one of those things contains layers of all sorts of little things. Its a life long process. I’m exploring ideas of pacifism, vegetarianism, Christian-Anarchy, all in hopes of bringing the Kingdom of God to this world in whatever small ways I can.

I say all of this because while all of these ideas have been rolling around in my head, I have participated in many debates online regarding racial reconciliation, the rights for the LGBT community, as well as theological conversations. And so far…they have all, for the most part, been pretty fruitless…which is a painful realization…but also a much needed one.

The position I speak from is not of a democrat, or evangelical, or anything in between. My world has flipped completely upside down and when I have gotten caught up in these heated discussions, I start speaking in terms that aren’t really apart of the social norms. It’s as if I skipped about one hundred steps in the conversation and I end up losing the ear of those I’m trying to talk with.

Recently, I read an article and discussed racial reconciliation with a person of color and I realized that I can’t be the hero in this conflict. As a white person, I want to right the wrongs of injustice, be a voice if I can, and show my support of non-white communities. But the debates are taking a strange turn. To be a white ally sometimes means condoning revenge, perpetuating hate, and fueling anger. This doesn’t sound like the description of peace I was hoping to be.

Outside of my Kingdom perspective, I get it. I understand that the wounds run deep…deeper than I can probably ever fathom as a white person. I understand the need for justice and for a balancing of the scales so to speak. But in the Kingdom, there is forgiveness. In the Kingdom there is hope, grace, and peace. In the Kingdom, black, white, male, female, young, old, all walk in unity, serving the only true King. This is the only true hope that can be offered to the world.

While I can empathize with people of color, I can’t impose my kingdom views on anyone who doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about. That is a completely unfair position to take towards anyone no matter what color their skin. All I can do is live out the Kingdom in my own life as best as I can. As a white person who wants to bring the Kingdom, I will continue to empathize and listen to my friends of color. I will continue to love and humble myself to learn as much as I can from people who are different from me. I desire to lay aside my own junk and live sacrificially for the good of others. But don’t confuse that with some liberal-political, civil-rights agenda. I have one aim, and that is to share Jesus with the world. To let them know that the good news is actually the BEST news. That humanity is restored only in Him. That peace, justice, and restoration are only truly found when we choose to follow in His footsteps.

My hope is that the movement to become agents of the Kingdom will grow and Love will ultimately win. We are loved…every single one of us. We are all corrupted by evil tendencies. I often feel like the chief of all sinners. But I wont give up, I wont lose hope in a better tomorrow. One full of life and laughter. One where we are fully alive, free to love, and all hate and darkness has been completely expelled. Look to the cross. Jesus found each and every human being worthy to suffer and die for…even the chief sinners. And that is the greatest news. That all lives matter to Him. Every. Single. Life.

Advent: Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tonight, after dinner, we sat around the table and talked about the word advent. My kids are ages 10, 8, and 6. They are still a bit young to understand what this season of waiting means beyond their own anticipation for presents on Christmas morning. They understand the story of Jesus’ birth, and Bryan and I continue to share with them who we believe Jesus to be, but they have yet to truly experience advent for themselves. In time…

This year, advent has become much more personal. Over the years I have often prayed “Come quickly, Jesus!”, but never on a level so deep. My prayers used to be from an “escapist” mindset. “Lord Jesus, get me out of here.” And recently they have taken on a whole new meaning.

As I walk through dark shadows, I find myself fearing the evil and losing sight of the Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is here and now, but for those in the midst of suffering, we just want out. We want the pain to be gone and admittedly, I selfishly think only of my own relief and forget the hurting world around me…the world in which I am a small part of. And my hurts, are also the world’s hurts.

There is hope. I am clinging to that!

I wake up every morning and I face the anxiety, the nerves, the potential for another panic attack and I keep moving. I am frustrated with this illness, I scream at the heavens, I snap at my husband. But mostly…mostly I am just waiting. Waiting for healing, waiting for relief, waiting for my resurrection to come.

But I am also thinking of the world around me: Ferguson, Isis, friends who are dealing with their own health issues, broken relationships, addictions, financial woes. Everyone is walking through their own tunnel and we are all waiting. We all long for the world to be made right. And advent is that active hope that one day…it will be.

I think about that time in scripture where we read about the Glory of God departing from the temple…gradually moving further and further away from the people of Israel…until silence. This is one of the saddest stories in scripture. (Ezekiel 10)

Hundreds of years passed by before the birth of the One who came to bring the Kingdom. This was/is the Kingdom in which everything is/will be made right. And as we wait for His return, we have a job to do. We are called to “actively wait” (advent) by praying, loving, serving, feeding, and comforting. These are the ways that we usher in the Kingdom, that we welcome the Kingdom of God into our everyday lives.

When we live into the meaning of adventĀ our prayers change from “Lord, get me out of here” to “Lord, may your Kingdom come”.

We long for His Kingdom and we do our part in living His Kingdom out so that those tears dry up, those wounds heal, and lives are restored here on earth. This is my prayer during this season of Advent. Join me? Pray for me? I will be praying for you.