Words, walls, and the winning way of Jesus

In the days after the November 3rd election, I scrolled through my Twitter and Facebook feeds, reading posts from people with crosses, fish symbols and scripture references in their taglines, that left me grieved.

They used words like, “go to hell,” held up their Bibles, guns, favored-candidate’s flag, and accused other Christians on social media of being “baby-killers” and “lost” because they pledged to pray for a pro-choice democrat if elected. In response I tweeted this question:

“Christian, if you’re cutting people off, calling them names, mocking and slandering them, how exactly are you loving your enemies?”

But simply sub-tweeting a pained reply to what I read on social media isn’t going to make the difference I long to see.

One of the writers I follow on Twitter, recently said:

It’s easier to write a book about a subject than to live the subject in a low, slow, & consistent way. If we think we’ll make a bigger difference in the world thru publishing our message than by simply living our message, God will (hopefully tenderly, softly, kindly) correct us.” – @lorewilbert

Social media and the internet make it easy for anyone to write anything. But as Lore points out, living the words we publish in a, “…low, slow & consistent way,” is the real world-changer. The incarnation of our words is a demonstration of power. To persuade a group of people to like what you say or repeat what you say is a kind of power. But to take the words you say and live them out changes lives.

It was easy for me to post my subtweet response on Facebook. It will be much harder, and much more an evidence of the power of Christ in me when I love the people who post such things, the same way Christ has loved me.

I’m convicted that Christians are called to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), do good to them (Luke 6:27), pray for them (Matthew 5:44), go above and beyond to show them unearned kindness (Matthew 5:40-42) give to them (Romans 12:10), speak words of grace (Collosians 4:6) and truth with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:14-16).

It feels weird to say it, but my “enemies” are people who use mean words on social media to demonize people they don’t agree with. Living out what I wrote, “low and slow” means praying for those people. Taking actual time out of my day to move my lips and complain to God, not social media, seeking mercy on their behalf just as I have been shown great mercy from Jesus. And if possible, meeting with them personally to humbly listen and share the truth and grace of Jesus.

Jesus is clear. The way he has prescribed and empowered us to follow him is from a humble, gentle, yet bold posture. A posture that doesn’t use words to tear people down or prop yourself up. The way commanded to us is a way of wisdom, self-control and gracious speech. But, is there a time for Christians to mock or use name calling?

In the Bible, Jesus called the religious leaders who tied heavy burdens on their followers and used them for financial gain a, “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23).

In the Bible, Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:27) in an ancient showdown.

These examples make us stand up and cheer! We latch on easily to the person with the wittiest comebacks and sharpest jabs. We hear meek Jesus put those Pharisees on blast, and Elijah drop the mic on the prophets of Baal, and we arm ourselves Biblical support for mocking and name calling.

I doubt that any of us can, with a pure heart, call another people group a degrading name, or make fun of another religion’s gods, in a way that fulfills Christ’s commission to make disciples. But even if there are times when such shocking words are spoken with humility and boldness, these biblical examples don’t prescribe a mode of operation for Christians.

If our mode of operation as Christians turns from the humble, bold way of Jesus, to the in-your-face, mocking, proud, name-calling way of the culture and wayward leaders, I fear we will offend our neighbors and enemies and wall ourselves in tight from all opposing views so well, we will lose the chance to win them to Christ.

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle. – Proverbs 18:19

I love the smell of freshly baked bread

I need to expand my vocabulary. “Yummy”, “cool”, “weird”, “beautiful”, and “awesome” are used way too often. I get tired of editing myself for the multiple use of the same words. Texting is NOT helping. I really don’t know all the texting abbreviations, but I’m starting to find myself wanting to write a colon followed by a right-end parentheses (it just took me about 30 seconds to recall what that smile is called… sheesh!) in places where I would express a smile or happy emotion. This has got to change!

I took my boys, and a friend of my youngest, to an indoor play place.  It’s guaranteed hours of play without many interruptions.  Smile.  They sweat and smile and chase each other through gigantic tree houses.  And I get hours of time to read or, as in today’s case, work on preparing for an upcoming Bible study.

I thought Tamar would give me a run for my money trying to put that study together.  But as it turned out I had so many pages of gathered treasure from that study I had to seriously cut it down to keep it a women’s Bible study length.  Rahab, on the other hand, is proving more difficult than I thought.

I’ve heard Bible teachers say meditating on what the Bible says is like a cow chewing her cud.  She chews, her stomachs process what she’s chewed, she regurgitates and chews some more.  I like the baking analogy better. Studying the Bible is a kneading, setting aside to rise, kneading some more, rising more, process.  I read through the passage several times.  Make some notes.  Walk away.  Then later, while I’m driving, or at the gym, or getting ready for bed, thoughts that smell like freshly baked bread waft through my head.  Hopefully I remember them when I get to place where I can write them down.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.- John 6:35

My sister had a second surgery on her wrist today.  The first was to put a plate and pins on her seriously fractured radius.   Apparently the surgeon measured wrong and now there’s an 8mm difference in the length of her radius on her fractured arm compared to the other. An error of 8mm in bone length at a joint is a big problem, according to the surgeon, and is the reason she has less than 25% range of motion in that wrist.  This has had such a huge impact on her.  She was doing a Crossfit workout when it happened and now, with the poor range of motion and a follow up surgery, she has been unable to do what she loves- Crossfit!  She would tell you the Lord changed her from the inside out.  And He used some of His people at her local gym to encourage her along the way.  I know this is a vicissitude ( A new word.  Smile.) for her.  And the same Lord who began a good work in her will be faithful to complete it.  But in the vicissitude it just plain sucks.  It hurts, its hard, you can’t see ahead or explain why.  You just want out.  Our assurance is that this too will pass and He’s working it all for good for us who love Him.  I’m glad my mom and the people at her gym and her husband are all there for her during this.  I wish I could be too.

Rahab’s story brings up the issue of faith and works.  Is it faith or is it works that saves?  I’m glad the Bible gives a real answer rather than a nice, neatly packaged explanation.  It’s not an answer we like to hear.  It makes sense, its truth, its total grace, complete mercy, but its not an instant credit in eternity answer.

Everyone is in a hurry… They want me to help them fill out the form that will get them instant credit (in eternity). –  From Perseverance: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

We all live what we believe. We know it to be true.  Our lazy, selfish nature takes hold gladly of the instant credit answer.  But the faith that saves, works.  The faith itself is a gift of God, not from us.  We can’t boast.  Our response to the gift is the evidence that it was received.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! – James 2:18-19

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.- Ephesians 2:8-10


Characterized by talk or walk?

I made pico de gallo tonight to go with our chicken fajitas on corn tortillas with avocado. Yum. I had no idea pico de gallo is literally translated: rooster’s beak.  Turns out that pico de gallo was eaten using the thumb and the forefinger therefore resembling a rooster’s beak.  You can learn all kinds of things on wikipedia!

This weekend and upcoming week I’ll be single-momming it.  Parenting was definitely never meant to be a one person job.  Tomorrow is baseball all day.  I’m looking forward to Sunday!  Monday and Tuesday are hurry-up-and-finish-all-your-required-screenings days at my school.  Wednesday is a short day.  Thursday a very long day.  And Friday an out-the-door-for-fall-break-at-1:45 day!  Then two glorious weeks of school nursing cessation!  Two weeks of taking every opportunity to be with my kids and husband, not just going from one task to another.  Two weeks of more time outside in cooler mornings and evenings.  Fall is a favorite season for me.  You feel fall here, you don’t see it.

These scriptures have been in my mind these past few days:

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.- Proverbs 31:26

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.- Ephesians 5:32

Proverbs 31 is the famous ideal-woman/wife passage.  When you read thru the verses that describe this woman of virtue, there’s more describing what she does than what she says.  From what I can tell, in God’s economy, a woman of excellence is mostly identified by her actions, not her words.  Although her words are important.  In fact, when she opens her mouth it’s noted.  Wisdom comes out and a teaching of kindness.

Ephesians 5:22-33 talk about the relationship between a husband and wife.  At the end of this section Paul says, “This whole thing about the roles and relationship between a husband and wife is about Christ and the church.”  He didn’t say it was about male vs. female.  It’s a mystery, a picture of something greater.

So I was thinking.  If a wife is a picture of the relationship of the church to Christ, and Proverbs 31 talks about this ideal wife/woman and her many actions and few wise words that reveal her virtue and her reverence for the Lord, maybe the church should be more about action and very selective about words.

Talk is cheap.  We say we go to church.  We call ourselves Christians.  We put fish symbols on our cars and write Christianese on our Facebooks.  Nothing wrong with any of that.  But is that the large portion of what we’re known for?  Or is it our actions?  It should be.  We should be known as a church, a people group, who fear the Lord by actions like the woman in Proverbs 31: carrying for those in our families, reaching out to those in need, working to provide for our needs, and speaking wisdom and teaching kindness.

Christ said people would know we were His by our love for one another.  Not by our cheap talk.  By our actions.

I’ve been thinking about this because of Rahab.  Not exactly the model of godliness, but she is a noted model of actions that speak much more than mere words.

And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.- James 2:25-26