Hat tip to Jeff Overstreet on another great blog entry, Looking Closer – Into the Wilderness. Blogs like this remind me why I started reading and following this guy so many years ago, and haven’t regretted it since then. He’s definitely enriched and challenged my life in untold ways.
Here’s an excerpt:
I’m beginning to believe more and more every day that we can measure how well we “love your neighbors as yourselves” in part by considering how willing we have been to welcome, listen to, read, and attend to the testimonies, art, and writing of people who believe differently than we do.
Increasingly, I’m convinced that if we are too afraid to listen graciously, and without fear, to those who disagree with us… if we don’t open their books or go to their concerts, if we can’t read their editorials without snarky comments, if we don’t strike up conversations with them at the cafe with the one who is Different… we won’t know the rewards of obedience to “Love thy neighbor.”
That tells me that much of what I was taught in “Christian community” as I grew up—how to protect myself from “the World”—was actually a lesson in to excuse myself from the hard work of love.
One of the best things that ever happened to me was my breaking out of the ghetto, so to speak, and exploring the larger world. I still remember quite clearly just how the walls were drawn and built around my life and interests, whether something was Christian or not. But I also remember the walls not being built on sturdy foundations, and often the walls were misplaced depending on what topic you were looking at, who you were talking to…any number of factors. And while tearing down most of those walls has been an incredibly liberating and encouraging thing in my life, it also has come at a cost, for once you grow up, it’s hard to go back to being a child again.
As the pastor at Fusion says, it’s important to be childlike, but not childish.
I love how Jeff says he is a “recovering Evangelical” or a “recovering jerk”. I myself am a recovering jerk, and know how much more I have to go (and probably haven’t a clue as to the true distance). If I could erase the last few years of my life, maybe even the last decade, and do it all over again, I’d be sorely tempted to do so. But the least I can do now is repent, beg forgiveness, ask to be humble, and try to live in grace toward others and even myself.
Thanks again for the challenge, Jeff.