time is ticking away as we prepare and prepare only for another week of classes, the gathering, visitations, church, retreats, studies, weaving class to flash before our eyes.
what are we doing here? on this earth?
we are re-thinking "the gathering" (our spiritual outreach to college students). on our way home last night ryan said "yes, we have moved to the dorms to reach out to these students, but now we are still expecting them to come to us on our terms: that they want to know Jesus." the truth is...they don't. they have been hurt/burned/turned off by a legalistic and punitive version of religion practiced by their parents or parents friends or grandparents and they want nothing to do with any of it. can you blame them?
they have never felt an ounce of relevance for the story of Christ in their lives. most of them don't know the story, and they don't care. the more we try, the more we feel like we are just spinning our wheels.
we are here for "evangelism" (please keep reading). i have never liked that word because to me it feels like one of those politician phrases or words they use to make something bad sound good or something normal sound really incredible. i also think the word has a bad reputation. like, it's my way or the highway, you're wrong and i'm right, follow my rules and you'll be fine. just like all things/people with bad reputations...they probably earned it. i'm sad that that has been some people's misinterpretation of Jesus' message and i'm sorry to the people who have been hurt by that idea of Christianity. THAT is not why i'm here. i'm here because he story of Jesus has turned my life upside down and i can't sit still about it. i have to tell people the TRUTH and how they handle it is not something i can control and it definitely doesn't change how i treat them. BUT telling them about the truth is not all. i have to LIVE like he lived.
i MUST take care of poor people. i must love them and have their back and share my things and my money with them. and i must do this not to "win" them onto my Jesus team but i must love them just to love them. because that's what He did and that's what i'm expected to do when i accept that he saved my life. i must accept that when he told the rich ruler guy "sell everything you have and give it to the poor" that he wasn't speaking metaphorically.
in the same vein i must love these college students just to love them. i have to learn about them, what makes them unique, what they value, understand how they've been hurt, find out what this life keeps throwing at them that they cannot handle. i want to do that. if i love them for any other reason then because God loves them then i am doing it wrong. how wonderful it would be if one day it clicked with them that i love them because of the incredible life-giving love that God has given me, but if it doesn't, i will love them just the same. but i can't sit still, God isn't sitting still, he is moving, fiercely pursuing our hearts, and i must do the same.
pray for us. pray for me. pray that the overwhelmingly relentless love of Jesus keeps flipping my life upside down on a daily basis and that i'm never able to be still or be quiet as long as i live.
i feel like besides his Word, another book that God is using to flip my life and my world view upside down right now is the book "Blue Like Jazz" by donald miller.
i just want to quote a couple of paragraphs from that book. ps i highly suggest you read this book but not until after really, as in actually, challenging yourself with the teachings and life of Jesus. it's not as neat and tidy as we make it out do be, and i don't think our lives would be either if we were really living the way he does.
middle of page 100
"there is something quite beautiful about the grand canyon at night. there is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what he is doing. they hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz. and as i lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. of course, i had always known He was, but this time i felt it, i realized it, the way a person realizes when they are hungry or thirsty. the knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. i imagined Him looking down on this earth, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for her. i know a little of why there is blood in my body, pumping life into my limbs and thought into my brain. i am wanted by God. He is wanting to preserve me, to guide me through the darkness of the shadow of death, up into the highlands of His presence and afterlife. i understand that i am temporary, in this shell of a thing on this dirt of an earth. i am being tempted by Satan, we are all being tempted by Satan, but i am preserved to tell those who do not know about our Savior and our Redeemer. this is why paul had no questions. this is why he could be beaten one day, imprisoned the next, and released only to be beaten again and never ask God why. he understood the earth was fallen. he understood the rules of rome could not save mankind, that mankind could not save itself; rather, it must be rescued, and he knew that he was not in the promised land, but still in the desert, and like joshua and caleb he was shouting, "follow me and trust God!"