this is dark…

Death is horrific.

It is purposeless and devoid of meaning. Death is violent and visceral. It’s abusive and unyielding.

We strive to bring meaning to it. We hope and pray for purpose in the darkness, but there is none. And that’s terrifying.

We say it’s all a part of Gods plan, but it’s not.

It was never the plan.

The loss that comes with it is crushing. If it hasn’t yet, death will fundamental change the way you see the world. The world is never the same.

The relationships is lost, and with it part of you is lost. It can’t be redeemed, it’s never coming back.

And how do we feel?

Sadness? Nothingness? Profound pain? Less than whole?

We call this grief.

Greif is the response to the loss of that which we love. When we love and that love is ripped from us, torn away in such a permanent manner that it cannot be reconciled we grieve. It’s what our love pushes us to do.

From time to time I volunteer with grief support groups.

I can’t tell you often I’ve heard people struggling through their loss say “I wish it was me.” How many people would give anything to bring the wholeness back into their lives. Who plead for anything the fix it, willing to give up everything, knowing in the depths of their soul there is nothing to do.

Death is darkness in a way nothing else can be. It’s to permanent. It’s to one sided. There is no going back and there is no way to process or reconcile once it’s happened.

What’s done is done and it can never be undone. That relationships can never be anything more or less than it was. Old wounds can’t be address and past trauma can’t be reconciled. They will remain open and unfinished.

This is the power of death. What death takes with it, we can never get back.

I told you this was dark.

But it’s love that longs for an answer. It’s love that desires renewal and change. It’s love that demands we try to find meaning.

But we’re powerless. This darkness has no meaning and it’s everywhere we turn. We are left with the simple reality that we must accept that we can do nothing more. That horrific, pointless pain has come and we cannot change it.

But what if we weren’t?

What if we could redeem it? What if we could reconcile all that was lost?

Wouldn’t you, even if it cost you dearly?

It’s the deep and unwavering love God has for us that caused Him to reconcile the death now a part of all of us. It was the crushing grief over the loss of relationship with us, the undeniable change in how we now interacted with Him that drove Jesus to do something.

Hate had nothing to do with it. Sin so greatly grieved the heart of God that His love motivated Him to do whatever it took to make redemption possible.

We so desperately miss the point when we make it about sin. It wasn’t about abolishing sin but about redeeming all that was lost. It was about a love so deep and a God who could do something we can’t.

Who could bring life to the dead and redeem the unredeemable. Who loved all of us, the dead parts as much as the rest.

It was grief motivated by love.

How did we ever let hate into the equation?

Advertisements

a hateful God

This idea is far less formed than usual and that’s saying something because few of my ideas or things I write about here are particularly well formed.

They are often more of a glimpse into something I’m currently considering, but have been pondering for a while.

This is a far more raw kind of thought. While in some way or another it has crossed my mind, it’s never been exactly this clear.

Can God hate?

I feel like I write the follow sentence every time, but I guess it’s just part of my charm (or lack of creativity, whatever works for you).

It’s seems like the obvious answer is yes, but I’m starting to worry that it creates some serious problems.

And this is the raw nature of this particular idea. I’m working and thinking about the implications and possible problems that a God how can hate creates, but these ideas are really new and not fully formed at all. So if you see an obvious issue here I’m interested. I’m just starting to roll this idea around in my mind so any new ways to approach it are helpful.

I’ll lay out how I got here and the starting point for the possible problem I see.

It started with justice. Specifically the notion that we may put our idea of justice onto God rather than look at God for what He means when He talks about justice. Quick recap, so much of God’s work is restorative it stands to reason that His justice would be similarly restorative rather than mimic our punitive process of exacting justice.

This idea stems from a God who describes Himself as love.

God is love.

And so God’s justice must be love. It must take the form of love and be a display of love. Everything God does is an expression of love because He is love. To do something that isn’t loving would be counter to His nature and His essence.

As a tree can’t be any less a tree, God by virtue of His nature will be love.

So how is the hate we often ascribe to God an expression of love?

How is hate a loving act?

How is hate not counter to the very nature of God?

Most we agree that we shouldn’t hate people. We should love them, but I’m wondering if the type of love we are showing is God’s love of a projection of our broken understanding of love.

I was reading a blog earlier today and the writer was talking about how we should react with love no matter the situation. The write then went on to describe all the people we should love.

Gays, lesbians, transgender people, heterosexual adulterers, atheists, white-lie tellers, good-churchgoers-without-a-shred-of-grace–any and all people who have issue with the hard words of Scripture–these are not our enemies.”

I posted the following comment

“I know for myself. If the way I was defined, labeled and grouped was based on a list of things people hate, I would struggle to find any reaction not matter how well intended as a loving one.”

And so again I’m left wondering, how do we lovingly hate?

Are we called to only love parts of people? To parcel them into pieces, those worthy of our love and those that we get to hate.

Is that the radical love of Christ or ours?

It may be, but I’m far less sure that’s how it’s supposed to work than I was in the past.

you’re already broken

I’m not trying to make you depressed, I’m saying you already are depressed. – Peter Rollins paraphrasing Kierkegaard

I was thinking the other day about brokenness.

I do this a lot.

I was thinking about community and how we can have community that allows for brokenness. I was thinking about it because I think, to be blunt, the communities most of us are a part of and have built are unable to connect with those who are overtly broken.

And it has nothing to do with them. It’s alllllllll us.

I was sitting in home church and it was the time of the night where we ask for pray requests.

Silence.

This was a room of 6 adult men, mature Christians, and there was nothing. To me this is the problem that our communities face when we invite in people with overt brokenness. We are so good at hiding our damage that 6 of us can sit in a room and say with our silence “I’m good.”

I am not good, I’m broken.

I think as church folk we’ve been taught to hide our brokenness because our happiness and our completeness ties directly to how well we know God.

If we are a good Christian we will be whole and complete, so when we say we are broken we are saying “I’m a bad Christian” or “I don’t know God”.

Think about it. Look at the songs you sing at church. God is great, God saves, God fixes, etc. So if you have been in community for years and are still not great, saved, fixed, etc. then you must not know God.

So we hide.

But what does that mean for someone overtly broken?

My dad was disabled. He walked with crutches, then a wheel chair. He was in constant pain. He couldn’t hide it. His brokenness was out there for everyone to see and I guarantee that’s part of why he connected so well with people as a pastor. There was not façade or mask. You could go and share your brokenness because you knew he understood.

For me that’s what our relationships and community need to look like. Open about our struggles, sharing our brokenness so that the people we are in relationship with can share theirs. Setting the precedent that you’re not perfect and your life is messy so that other will feel safe inviting you into their messy lives. Give space for those who feel like they can’t hide their brokenness to connect and feel like they aren’t the only one whose life isn’t perfect.

This starts with us. It’s long beyond time we stop hiding and saying everything is ok. Your already broken, it’s just a matter of how long you want to run from it.

beauty and brokenness

“But a certain sign of grace is this
From a broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt”

Wholly Yours by – The David Crowder Band

I’ve been involved in church since forever.

Not like a little involved but deeply entrenched in the church since the day I was born. My father was a fantastic minister (you’ll hear more about him in the weeks to come) in a thriving church. My mother was heavily involved as well.

My older brother was the youth pastor there for many years, with whom I volunteered for 9 years, and is now a senior pastor a thriving and growing community church.

So when I say that I’ve been involved in church, take me at my word I’ve been involved in church.

Over the years my opinions and my revelation of who God is and what He is calling us to be has changed. One of the biggest changes has been in relation to ministry. My whole life I was taught and encouraged that ministry was important and necessary for a mature Christian.

Weird twist I noticed over the years. I would talk with people about ministry, or compassion whatever word you want to use, and there was one theme that came up a lot.

To be clear it never came from my mother, father or brother but was just a part of church.

The theme was one of getting healthy before we serve. The idea that we need to get to a specific level of personal health and intimacy with God before we could really get out into the world and live the great commission.

People would say things like “I just need to get closer to God first” or “I’ve got some things God and I need to sort out before I can get into service.”

Somewhere along the way it became the norm of a large portion of Christians to think they need to whole and complete FIRST. That once they were whole and once they were really connected to God they live the compassionate life.

I think we’re really missing the point here.

I love the lyrics from the song at the start. The idea not just beauty in brokenness but beauty from brokenness. Then to take it a step further and say; beauty can come from brokenness because of grace.

That is marvellous.

That is life changing.

That is never be the same kind of revelation!

Why?

We don’t have to be whole! We don’t have to be fixed or all sorted to serve. We don’t have to be perfect or totally connected to God to start.

We can be broken and still share beauty.

I think we’re often told either directly or indirectly to get ourselves clean up and sorted, then go and serve. Once you’ve gotten good enough you can because to share love and grace and God.

I’m telling you categorically you can do it today. You can do it in brokenness. You can do it in darkness. You can do it right as you are this very moment.

And here is the best part. If you really want to be whole, if you really want to be connected to God, then love others.

Share God’s love and grace and you’ll find some of what you’re looking for.

The excuse that we’re not whole is part of what is holding us back from being whole, from being what we were made to be. To love and live in community and the share the life giving grace and experience of knowing Jesus.

When we wait to be whole we are taking away God’s chance to let Jesus burst forth from the brokenness of our lives.