Last night, I had the honor (as I do every Friday night and Sunday afternoon) of sitting with the high school ladies for a Friday night bible study. And, as I always do, I opened the floor up for discussion of current events. We talked about this week’s election results that brought us the hope of President-elect Barack Obama coming into office in January 20, 2009 and bringing change; for better or worse. Many of us were confused about the California Propositions 4 and 8, and how to reconcile the way we feel/view the “civil right” to homosexual marriage vs. what we read in the bible. (I couldn’t resist opening up the bible to Judges 19…I blame it on my Hebrew Prophets class.) *Disclaimer: I LOVE people who identify as part of the LGBT community, in or out of the closet. That’s right. Hannah Lee LOVES homosexuals. Very much so.
So anyway, we talked about how many (of our) students have recently been pitted against each other and their beliefs (usually from their parents and churches anyway…sheesh, not even their own yet!) in class debates. These young Christians were often at a loss for defending their opinions in a way that was politically astute, Constitutionally relevant, and socially acceptable. Not that those are the most important criteria for believing or having convictions and personal opinions, but in the secular classroom where the bible holds no clout, it does.
I did my best to pass on what I’d been told as I struggle through these issues, and tried to bring it home (since it WAS bible study) to having a heart after God, no matter what the issue at hand… and remembering that regardless of what we’re arguing, hearing, feeling, or debating with whomever, wherever, the Christian life is all about a covenant relationship with God who is Love, who created the earth and all its inhabitants, and not only knows how to effect good and commands His people to live in a way that is good and perpetuates good, but also desires and lobbies INTENSELY for the good, success, prosperity, peace, happiness, and wholeness of our world and its inhabitants, us. In fact, so much so that He’ll do, and has done, whatever it takes to make that happen.
So why’s the world so jacked up, when it was made to be so good?
Why’s humanity so messed up?
Why’s there rape and abortion, abuse and divorce,
murder and suicide, and on a mass scale, wars and genocide?
From where I stand, it’s just that we have CHOICE about whether or not we want to trust and believe Him (His word in the bible) and give this “I have loved you with an everlasting love” and “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE” crazy promise thing a shot.
Despite it all, I really do believe and am convicted that God *is* LOVE.
He is also the sole and most stable source of supreme GOODness.
And this goodness was expressed and manifested perfectly in Jesus.
And…my being Christian is just this: a trust, a faith that the above said (based on the bible) is all true,
and a commitment to live what I believe…
…a life that’s bent on knowing and understanding God and His love better (can’t do it w/o the bible and church, though I struggle all the time with both), living by His commands (Love Him, love others), and imitating Jesus (truth-speaker, bad “law” breaker, justice-taker, inspiring teacher, life-bringer, people-thriller, and overall awesome person who stuck up for the little guy then and still does now) as best as I can. (Which is why I’m still in the United Methodist Church, actually. Social justice makes my heart burn.)
However, I sadly recognize that many of us Christians forget these truths and lose sight of why we’re doing what we do (ie praying/fasting/voting for Prop 4 & 8) and watch hurt and angry protesters demonstrate in front of religious temples on the 9 o’clock news on KCAL tv, cross our arms, and shake our heads, muttering to ourselves, “See? That’s why. How can people like these have happy marriages or make good parents?” Well, maybe some of us should be watching that and asking ourselves and one another, “How can we show that we love them? They are no different from us, really. (They are not really “they” as in “the other.” They are an important part of “we.” Just as African Americans are an integral part of American society and have always been though the majority once assumed their inferiority…just as too many of us do now of the LGBT community.) How do we help make their (and thus our) lives better without ignoring, abusing, or compromising on what we believe is true and good, according to the word of God?”
Fortunately, young people are more open today to opening their minds and hearts to the reality of our mutual brokenness (“There is none righteous, no, not one”) and the reality of God’s sovereignty that covers everything in Love. They know there’s no need to fear or hate as many of our elders had. And so we sit in a circle, passing around chocolate and brownies, and look at one another as we share our hearts, ask tough questions, and marvel at the complexities of being alive, standing for something you believe in without quite knowing how to explain to others why, being loved, loving others who aren’t quite like us, and best of all, feeling humbled together at how much we all don’t know but are trying to live well despite it…with the hopeful faith that the word of God contains the clues and instructions for bringing true hope and change into the world, and that we’re in this together.
Some of us older kids remember making fun of “Kumbaya” song circles where we all held hands and sing…or at least we hear stories about people who did, and laugh cynically – but only in imitation of the more jaded of our leaders. Well, I think the times are changing and though we don’t know the significance of or understand the history of these movements (ie early christianity, reformation, jesus movement, azusa street revival), we are beginning to hear the old refrains of fresh hope, renewed faith, and revived dreams come into our mainstream melody again.
Come by here, my Lord, come by here.
Hear me crying, Lord, kum ba yah.
Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya.
O Lord, Kumbaya.
(Kumbaya – “come by here” in Gullah, the Creole dialect spoken by the former slaves living on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia.)
And before I lose my guts and start thinking critically…
God bless the young.
God bless the man who’s been chosen by heaven and by the people to lead this nation and our young at this crucial hour.
God bless America.
God bless the Earth.
God bless the world.
And God bless me and you and all those we love.
But above all, God, we bless you, we need you, we seek you, we depend on you.
And Jesus, we eagerly await your return and the deep, abiding, and ultimate change for good it will bring.
“They shall hunger no more,
neither thirst any more;
neither shall the sun light on them,
nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them,
and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters:
and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:
for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;
and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city,
coming down from God out of heaven,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and he will dwell with them,
and they shall be his people,
and God himself shall be with them,
and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said,
Behold, I make all things new.
And he said unto me,
Write: for these words are true and faithful.”
In heaven, I know it said there’d be no more sea, but I’d still like to be scuba diving with baby turtles and sting rays (who are more interested in explaining ocean life to me than stinging me). (maybe in a virtual simulator? c’mon…^_^; but I’ll probably be busy feating at the banqueting table!)
I wouldn’t mind perfecting my non-existent surfing skills too.