The gift of lost luxury

I don’t know what to share on this blog these days.

I  don’t have a ton of time right now. Two jobs.  A pilot study.  An internship. Full time school.  Writing is just having to take a back seat for a season. I’ve assumed, that’s why these pages have stayed relatively empty, but, if I’m honest – there’s another problem: I don’t know what to say anymore.

There is a luxury I have lost. It is the luxury of sharing opinions publicly that never threaten your closest community because they all agree with you. 

It is luxury that belongs to those who have an inner circle occupied by people who share their worldview.  And, from my limited experience – at least for me – that luxury was hardest to resist in full-time ministry.  The ‘higher’ you climb in the ministry ladder, the easier it is to find yourself surrounded by people who occupy the same bubble you do.

It’s sneaky.  Because that luxury doesn’t free you from fear of what others think.  You still worry about how people perceive you – which is enough to convince yourself you are bold in the Gospel and a warrior for the truth.  But there is no intimate rejection on the line.  You face the rejection of strangers, the rejection of the world, not the rejection of family.  At the end of the day, you don’t have to go home to someone who will feel desperately misunderstood and damaged by your words.  You are ‘safe’ in your close relationships.

I have lost that luxury.  Now I have to think about the words I write on this blog.  Now, I replay things I’ve written before in the name of ‘boldness’ and I wonder how they might misrepresent my great Gospel to the very real and precious people who make up my now diverse community. 

Community – a word I was taught somewhere or some time to believe was reserved for the like-minded.  I get where that comes from.  I see the ‘everything in common’ verses in Acts the same way you do.  But I also see my Jesus breaking bread with a diverse crowd. I see him eating with those who had nothing in common with Him. And I see Him most resistant to sit with those theologians who might articulate doctrine with the best of them.

I wouldn’t want that luxury back.  I am caught in a glorious and I hope – honoring – in between now.  Where I have to watch my words closer than ever before – and at the same time it feels like I don’t have to watch them at all.   I have lost the luxury of unpacking theological truth in isolation.  It’s not censoring to make sure I don’t offend.  But now I have to think if what I write is an experience of Him: if it’s the truth or if it’s just truthful words. There are true words that if said in the wrong time and place with the wrong context become instruments of the devil. 

I’ll tell you a terrifying reality. 

I have found a world outside of full-time ministry that is disturbingly refreshing. I have found people who are not threatened by opinions and belief systems different than theirs. I have found that the most offensive and craziest thoughts – when shared in the context of a mutual respect and genuine love – rarely produce enemies.  As predicted by a man moved by the Spirit of God long ago, my views are often perceived as foolishness, but I have found a world where that has very little bearing on how people feel about me.  I have found a community where respect for a human is not dependent on agreement for their beliefs.

I have found friends that don’t need me to conform to them to belong.  That are not afraid when we disagree. That don’t need to call in the cavalry to help convert me to their own views.

And Church – it makes me afraid for us in deep deep places.  Because I should have found that world inside the walls of the church.  We should be the best at offering the belonging thing.  We should be the least threatened by people who think differently; the least desperate to denounce someone publicly over a differing theological position.  Our hearts should be the slowest, most unlikely to beat faster when someone talks about a worldview that is different than ours. Cause His truth is safe.  And He has all authority in heaven and earth.  And He is not threatened.  By anything.  And He is in us.

I am eternally grateful for losing the luxury I once had. I’m glad I’ve been infiltrated. Because it has been supplanted by incredible people who are – not ministry opportunities – but friends; community.  I don’t know who I would be without them, and I know He has persevered me through them. 

They’ve given me Him.  All I’m saying is I want to be sure to give them Him too.

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