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A Common Cry

This is an incredible time to be alive. I think back often to how life just got better and better throughout my childhood. It began with hideous floral sofas, Walkmans, a big console TV (the remote being nothing more than a far-off fantasy), and phones that kept us on short leashes. By the time I reached adulthood, solids and stripes had replaced ruffles and flowers, tiny iPods magically played music with no tape or disc at all, televisions could be carried under one arm (remotes included), and cordless telephones were quickly being surpassed by pocket-size Nokia wonders. We caught fireflies at dusk, slept over at each other's houses whether our parents had ever met or not, and found incredible joy in Happy Meals with no fear of what was to come.

It would be impossible for me to distinguish how much of the changes I remember as fact pertained to actual progress in the world and how much correlated with my own change in perspective as I grew from child to adult.  All I know is that my world got better and better, easier and easier, while somehow becoming harder, faster, more panic-inducing, more competitive and cunning, ruthless and cold at the very same time. Somewhere along the line we stopped chasing fireflies and started climbing ladders. We stopped comparing Santa gifts and Spelling test scores and started comparing life stories, skin color, social statuses, and ego sizes. We assume those walking harder roads than we must have gone off course somewhere. We are so preoccupied with trying to climb higher, faster than our neighbors that we forget to ask their names or pause long enough to hear the answer when we ask how they are as we grab the mail out of the box (and surely not the morning paper anymore).

Convenience and technology at our fingertips have blessed us with ease our grandparents never dreamt of, but they have also brought along plenty of unexpected baggage that sets us up to fail right from the start. By and large, like some odd phenomenon, those who have held to the core values of the Word and lived it out are either shining like diamonds or looking like the strangest people in the neighborhood about right now.

In 2018, We think we can analyze anything and develop a plan that will make it succeed based on studies and statistics. I'm the mother of children who simply would not be here if not for the wonders of modern medicine and I was the teacher of children unable to speak with their mouths, but who are able to convey their vast intelligence thanks to technology. I really appreciate my minivan doors that open on their own and people I love are unspeakably grateful for their prosthetic devices. There is still really good along with the bad. There's nothing new about that. (Ecclesiastes, anyone?)

I am seeing something new though and I kinda love it.

Reading between the headlines on the news and listening intently for hope in the noise of social media, I'm seeing a trend I cannot get enough of. It's like my little theory that life has gotten better and better is actually true and the hunch that it all is slowly coming unraveled in some beautiful way is true, too. It's like the Word is fulfilling itself as His Kingdom is coming and our God is the promise keeper He always claimed to be.

It's like we have scratched and fought, studied and analyzed, divided and judged long enough here in America, and there is a common cry floating to the surface of this sea we are all drowning in together: love.

We all, every one of us: every gender, race, political party, economic status, and belief, are crying out against injustice and demanding love in return. We are demanding change. We are demanding more. Suddenly, the dividing lines really don't matter so much anymore as we are all losing in this fight of hate and we innately know we were meant for more.

This is incredible news for all of us, but especially for Christians.

Friends, our Jesus IS love.

He has been misrepresented by so many for so long. We all, every one of us, have denied Him, grown impatient with His timetable and taken things in our own hands, hurt His children and exploited His church for selfish gain. Some believers have been so burned by man that they have resigned themselves to serving Him quietly in their homes and lives, knowing they will never find the courage to enter church doors again. They've not lost hope in Jesus, they've lost hope in His people - in you and in me. We might argue they're disobeying by forsaking community if it weren't for these logs in our eyes.

"If sinners be damned, at least let them leap over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unsprayed for."
Charles Spurgeon

We can disagree on theology and agree on love. 

He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it? And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."
Luke 10:26-28

Like the lawyer with excellent religious credentials mentioned here in Luke, we can try our best to obey the law ourselves and work to reveal weakness and falseness in others' teachings, even the teachings of Jesus Himself, but we are wasting our time if we do not love. Jesus went on to silence this man's question by analyzing the law with him and then teaching using a parable as He so often did. He told of a man who had fallen among robbers who stripped him and left him half dead. People of all walks of life walked right on by him. A Samaritan saw him and had compassion on him, binding his wounds and taking him in to care for him as his own. The lawyer was forced to realize the true neighbor was not the one most like him or who agreed with all his beliefs or looked most like him - the true neighbor was the one who showed him mercy.

As we walk along our roads filled with luxury, familiarity, comfort, and convenience, we will inevitably come upon our brothers and sisters who have been beaten and left half dead by this world. Who will we be then? Who will we be to them. We get to choose.

Will we be searching for reasons not to help? Will we be so set on our destination that we step around them and never slow our pace? Are we such hurting, bitter people that we will keep going because we don't think anyone would help us if we were the ones in that condition? Or will we be love? Jesus IS love and He's alive in us, that we may be His hands and feet in this world that keeps getting better and better, easier and easier, while also becoming harder, faster, more panic-inducing, more competitive and cunning, ruthless and cold (if not for us, then for our neighbor) at the very same time. 

May we stop assuming those walking harder roads than we are must have gone off course somewhere and remember just how far off course we were when Jesus found us, had compassion on us, bound up our wounds, and took us in as His own. He didn't stop with us and we must never forget that. His rescuing, healing, redeeming love was for every one of us: every gender, race, political party, economic status, and belief. They are crying out for more because they were created for more. Love.


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