I don’t know what else to do except cry, and cry out. This about torture in the name of “cure” and this about one man’s God complex terrify me. After two suspicious deaths the fact the Echo Wild Game Rangers was allowed to continue to torture children boggles my mind. And, the idea that 21st Century Americans, especially the more than 50% who are women, willingly submit to, give money to, or even listen to men who believe and expect others to believe women should be discouraged from competing in the marketplace with men, and not be paid the same when they are, because they are women flat out frightens me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to combat such ugliness. When those I believe ought to be doing something, are actually the most able to do something, but chose instead to turn their backs, bury their heads in the sand, or worse agree with the perpetrators of these dangerous deceptions I honestly wish I could stop believing. I want to quit, to give up altogether on God on the Church on humanity.
But I can’t.
The God I believe in deserves more. Those I know who truly want to love God with all their hearts deserve more. And the few who continue to stand in the gap, continue to call attention to the harm being done, continue to pull heaven to earth by walking like Jesus to the best of their flawed human abilities deserve more.
I appreciate news sources like the Huff Post Gay Voice not because I agree with all their verbiage but rather because without them more and more extremists would get away with turning the United States into a less free, less tolerant, more theocratic, and more frightening society. Their call to arms (physical not military) may sound out of sync with the love Jesus messages many prefer to hear on Sunday morning but the truth is sometimes in order to love Jesus we need to act radically. In order to love Jesus we need to swim against the current. In order to love Jesus we need to risk hearing the Spirit speak to us through unlikely sources. I doubt Moses expected a burning bush. I imagine Balaam was pretty surprised when his donkey spoke. David understood his friend Johnathan spoke for God but it took the death of his oldest son before Pharaoh began to listen. My point is, we often ignore what we don’t like to hear, what seems contrary to our preconceived ideas of how life is supposed to unfold. And honestly, being people of God doesn’t guarantee we’ll get it right.
The Israelites were God’s chosen and yet they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Heck, they missed the Messiah, the one they had been looking for ever since they left Egypt! They told themselves they knew what to look for. Even though God spoke to them through the prophets they begged for a king. They convinced themselves they could trust their leaders. They believed, sincerely believed, they knew the signs and would recognize God whenever He showed up. I believe their belief was no less sincere than our own. I also believe we have their mistakes to learn from if only we are willing.
The Israelites were given prophets but wanted a king. We have been given the Holy Spirit yet prefer to put our trust in human leaders instead. We give them nice titles–pastors, prophets, teachers, and apostolic leaders. We tell ourselves they’ve been appointed by God, are the man of God in God’s house, and speak for God–the word of God–when they speak. But honestly, how many of us can point to a burning bush as evidence to our claims. Don’t get me wrong; I am NOT calling any of our leaders evil. I do not doubt their desire to be counted as good leaders. Nor do I question the sincerity of our individual desires to love God. What I am saying is that like the Israelites we have gotten off track. We have let fear and laziness have a foothold in our thinking. As a result we place unnecessary burdens on ourselves as well as those who would run to Jesus if we let them.
Love is not easy. But, it is a much lighter burden to carry than the book of the law. Casting off judgment, setting aside our lists of dos and don’ts and ins and outs, and simply meeting needs, sharing what we have, and listening to one another’s stories is enough. Just after Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary…and I will give you rest…My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” the Pharisees criticized His disciples for breaking the Sabbath. Jesus replied to them, “I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Of course, Jesus was talking about Himself but the Pharisees couldn’t see it. Let’s not make their same mistake. Let’s instead take every opportunity we can to see Jesus in our midst. Even if later we need to ask, “When did we see you thirsty and give you drink?” let us go out into the world carrying cups of water and loaves of bread rather than stones of condemnation.