Via 2 Kings 6.8-23: God’s prophet doesn’t come to take an existing side. The prophet stands alone in between, for the sake of peace both for his own people, & those who war against them. The prophet doesn’t represent the concerns of his/her country, but the heart of the Creator.
Nobody who tells you to be afraid tells you the truth. God’s prophets tell us “there are more with us than with them”—& that’s not about an army. That’s about chariots of fire, that represent the nonviolent force that is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord!
I want to tell you that God is still raising up sons & daughters to prophesy who have not been bought off with a seat at the table of so-called power, which is no power at all. God still has prophets who haven’t bowed before an idol. You aren’t alone—look again, see 7,000 more!
Mythologies of false gods have done less damage in the world than the mythology that people who know of the true God are somehow separated from Him based on their behavior. Sin won't keep God away from you, but shame will keep you trying to hide from God.
The cross was not a legal loophole God the Father needed, like some accountant, to get your "sin problem" off the books. The cross was God's way of dealing with your shame problem, so nothing would hold you back from Him. There was NEVER anything holding Him back from you.
Repeat: the fact that you are not "together" is not keeping you from God's presence. Rather, your shame is what keeps you from being awake to the One who would indeed bring all of you together. The root of every addiction is shame, not naughtiness.
We have intentionally obscured the unambiguously clear, unifying message of the New Testament, in all of its diversity—that God’s agenda is to transfigure the world through nonviolent, self-sacrificial love. That is the Jesus way. There is simply no way around this.
I mostly have tried not to put this in divisive terms. But at this point, I find it hard to take any Christian teacher/teaching that doesn’t take nonviolence seriously. How will you instruct me if you have no regard for the rightful Lord of the Church?
If you have a theology of atonement that you like, congratulations. If you have prophets who perform miracles or give words of knowledge, good for you. If the nonviolent sacrificial love of Jesus is not the central message, I am not interested.
I’m not moralistic at all—perhaps problematically so. I’m fairly terrible at “living right,” among other things. Where I do hear a call to sanctification—God calls us to surrender anything that keeps us from being on mission. What hinders me from living out holy resistance?
What would it look like for you to drop the “law”—shame, unnecessary guilt, Puritanism—but attempted to submit anything to Spirit that keeps you from living out your calling to the full? Made it less about righteousness, & more about usefulness in God’s kingdom?
I don’t really believe in giving up random things to feel morally presentable somehow. What I do believe in, however much I falter, is conforming a life to a higher calling, the discipline of giving your self, to something larger than yourself. Consecration for a particular task.
I couldn’t take notes fast enough on Otis Moss Jr. & @om3’s tag-team sermon. But I loved their reading of the demoniac in Mark 5 so much, I’ve got to at least give you movements: The man had been in shackles & chains, was “formerly incarcerated.” #CDFProctor
The “10,000 policies” of the empire are constructed to fracture identity, so that people are never able to know their own name. Thus when Jesus asks the demoniac his own name, “he can’t speak, but his issues speak for him.” @om3#CDFProctor
A mentally ill person who has known only negative experiences with religious communities (with rabbis) can only imagine that Jesus is coming to torment him.
Prophetic movements start from the margins, gathered around disenfranchised voices. Precisely because they are on the margins, they hear some things clearly. When they get power, people listen to them...but the leaders aren’t in the same proximity to listen to the Spirit anymore.
I don’t say this with judgment. It happens to all of us. Once we become experts on hearing/speaking for God, we forget we only heard God before because we were on the outside, where God always is. So by the time we become experts, we actually don’t hear God so well.
The caution is against presumption. We get more influence, & we start to think God has favored or blessed us more...we believe we especially know the voice of God! The truth is, any “influence” should make us more suspicious of our own discernment—not less.
I’ve had folks tell me they get tired of me talking like I do now. That’s more than fair, cause I’m tired of talking about the things I talk about too, & even more tired of thinking about the things I think about. Frankly, I want to crawl back under the covers & go back to sleep.
You know what I want to talk about? I’m not being sarcastic here—I really DO want to talk about a new season, or how your comeback starts now, or how God is gonna turn it around. I want to say something vaguely but universally hopeful. I love to preach things, that preach easy.
The trouble, is that none of these things are universally true. The people who we actively oppress will not be free, because we tell them to think free. The people who we actively place in cages will not be free, because we tell them they are no longer slaves. It’s NOT. TRUE.
It’s a heavy time for so many. I haven’t felt like saying anything hopeful about it, cause I’ve got my own sadness, & I don’t always want to be hopeful. Sometimes I just need to feel what I feel. But if it’s helpful, brief thoughts on depression, suicide, & hell. No disclaimers.
Hell is a real place. Have you been? It’s where your stuck inside your own despair, trapped in your head, can see no way out. I’ve visited a few times, & thought I was over—wanted to be over. I’ve stood over the non-metaphorical cliff, ready to make that last call.
If you’ve been to the darkness—really—you know how strong the tide pulls you out. Anything to silence the voices, forget the flickering reel in your head, & let go into the night. You think there is a hell worse than this? What, a cosmic marshmallow roast worse than losing hope?
Every single dangerous theological idea I can think of (as in, theology that ACTUALLY RESULTS IN KILLING PEOPLE) comes down to one massive misreading: who/how God chooses (or, who God calls/elects/predestines, whether speaking of Israel or individuals who are "saved").
First of all, Israel as a modern nation-state has no connection whatsoever to Israel as the people of God in our Old Testament. But for a moment, let's grant that it does. Why does God call Abraham/Israel? So that through him/them, "all the families of the earth shall be blessed"
The historic story of Israel as the people of God is not the story of God calling a few at the expense of the many, but of God calling a few for the salvation of the many. Anything good God ever did for Israel, ultimately was for the sake of "all the families of the earth."
Hebrews 13.12-13: “Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.” My, my. Go TO Jesus. Where? Outside the camp. Why? To bear rejection alongside him.
No matter who you are or where you are, conscious awareness of God’s presence will come & go. But I’m convinced that many of us rarely sense the presence simply because we don’t go to Jesus where he is—outside the camp, outside the gate.
The two disciples encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus—not in Jerusalem, where the temple is, but on the road away from it. You don’t have to find God in the temple. God is on the road...because on the road is where you are.
We’ve fallen off of some wagons, jumped on to some others. You got a raise or lost the money. You got drunk or sober, married or divorced. People were born, people died. Nothing could stop the rising. Your accomplishments didn’t speed him up, your failure didn’t slow him down.
Love got up, in his own sweet time. Death was conquered. Maybe you don’t believe it. So? What you BELIEVE won’t make it more or less true.
Resurrection is God's responsibility. #easter
Life conquered death & there's not a thing we can do about it. Receive it as gift, doubt it, be wayward or devout-it's happened & happening. Resurrection is not an edict or summons, but an invitation to know the open secret humming beneath all created things-DEATH IS NOT THE END.
Ideological purity will give you plenty of room for self-congratulation & superiority, but there’s no grace in it. People move, shift, grow change—& the folk that ought to cheer them on the loudest attack them the hardest instead, telling them they haven’t come far enough.
Isn’t it better to affirm any steps toward life, love & justice—“hey good job taking these small steps! We believe in you! You can do it!”—rather than ripping people for not coming all the way? People who just left Egypt don’t need to be lectured while they are in the wilderness.
(Especially by somebody who’s been on a new shore for all of, oh, 10 minutes. Somebody shout with me right here...you’re barely out of Egypt yourself, & you got lectures for people who are still in the vulnerable, in-between places?!)
You can survive. You can survive when you've lost all rational reasons for wanting to survive. You can survive off of the primal, animal instinct that says it's not your time to go, no matter what the voices in your head try to tell you.
You can survive out of sheer morbid curiosity as to where your story might yet land. You can survive off of one garbled, half-sincere prayer. While not recommended for long, you can survive off of rage, or the refusal to give your enemies the satisfaction of watching you quit.
You can sing to yourself when you have nobody to sing to, preach to your self when you have no congregation. You can fall in love with the sound of your own voice, & not apologize for it. It's terrible revelation, I know--to see all you need to live in inside, not outside of you.
It never ceases to amaze that the president of the largest Christian institution for higher learning in North America consistently collapses the language of Christian faith with idolatrous nationalism. Nor does it cease to amaze that you literally have NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT JESUS.
Further, 1) I'm not a "Christian leftist." I am a Jesus-ist, a kingdom-of-God-ist. I believe Jesus' call to the kingdom transcends my allegiance to any particular nation-state. I'm not interested in telling Caesar how to run Rome, but telling Christians not to worship Rome/Caesar
2) I do find it hopeful that you are able to make the connection between Trump & Caesar. Follow this further...the proclamation of Christians in the first century that "Jesus is Lord" carried with it the implicit statement that "Caesar is not," which is what got them killed.
Dear twitter friends: these days have felt heavy to me. I’ve not said a lot, b/c I haven’t had a lot to say. But feeling a little freed up tonight, maybe I’ll make up for lost time with a few unconnected thoughts. Not super coherent, but a glimpse into my heart-however random:
1) A “platform” will not pay your bills. “Influence” doesn’t automatically translate into anything quantifiable at all. Let him/her who has ears to hear, hear.
2) We are so terribly fragile. Seriously. So much smaller & more helpless than we project. We are all middle-schoolers, walking around with our lunch tray, hoping we find a safe place to sit down. We are children. If we grasped this, we’d be so much more tender. To everyone.
I try to not riff/give “hot takes” on everything—I too easily could rant constantly. I prefer to be generous/edifying as much as possible. But for better or worse, here’s me letting out the monster that ever runs beneath my normally jolly, ostensibly encouraging exterior self:
I read the inflammatory piece on “shitholes” from Rod Dreher, & the flap over the latest asinine thing John Piper said about women in ministry. I’m torn between two responses: a) eye-rolling b) the same thing I feel when people report something crazy Pat Robertson says...
...that is to say, “who the hell is still paying attention to these persons, & why?” Dreher & Piper occupy different spaces, but are largely the same person: pseudo-intellectuals who sometimes impress folk a half inch above crass fundamentalism who think they sound “smart.”
So you keep hurtling down the path of deconstruction...good! I’m not afraid of this. God is an arsonist, regularly setting fire to systems & structures (especially religious ones) that keep out the Spirit’s wildness. If it can burn, let it burn. If it can be shaken, let it shake.
God is full of mischief. You couldn’t be more disruptive than God is if you wanted to. The question for you is...will you stick around for the new construction, on the other side of the deconstruction? Taking it all apart is exhilarating at first, then gets boring after awhile.
Will new practices take the place of the ones that stopped working for you? Will new community replace the one that failed you/or that you failed? After you’ve dissected the corpse on the table, & coolly examined the anatomy...will you sign back up for magic & wonder again?
Blessings to the intuitive folks out there—exhausted from every link they click, feeling every sound bite like a paper cut; & the folks just trying to keep their hearts open, with constant chaos in the air. Clear the hard drive of your heart. Disconnect. Remember your true name.
Blessings to the sensitive out there, who can’t stop feeling the brutality in the air, settled in your bones like winter’s chill. Blessings to the over-stimulated, about to collapse under the weight of your own wanting. Hear the call to fall/come apart, into Spirit’s sweet rest.
Blessings to the ones who still feel, despite your best efforts to numb yourself, for whom the pain runs deeper than the alcohol or pornography or food or approval can go. May Love flood every hole in your soul, by surprise. May delight wash over you, uninvited.