The life of a disciple of Jesus is always on the grow. If we commit to follow Jesus around through life it means we will never settle into a way of thinking or being, never retire and ever be on the look out for ways and means to share our experience, strength and hope, even as we continue to gather all that in through staying on the grow with Jesus. If we ever come to think we know all there is of what Jesus has to teach us or, that we have in us all of him he means for us to have, we will soon find that what we have has been transformed into an idol that bears a striking, uncanny resemblance to our own selves.
We keep moving on because he does. Every day will bring new people into our lives, new opportunities to apply what we know, situations that stretch us beyond what we know-where he can grow us further. It’s an amazing journey that he calls us on. The past is gone. Whatever we have done for him and with him is gone. There is only this day with these ones, staying as close to him as we possibly can so that when he whispers to us just what to do in this right now we will be able to hear him-and zig or zag according to his call and counsel. That sounds more than a bit adventurous, doesn’t it? I am not the man I used to be, and by God I will not be the man I am today. Onward and upward-for Christ’s sake-and mine!
The only reason to move on in our thinking or actions is because he keeps moving on. And if we want to stay with him for the adventure of our lifetimes, we will too. I’m in! You?
It’s been an interesting and deeply moving week at the helm of Heartsong. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the helmsman. I hope to God Jesus is. But I do get to stand at the helm with him and on behalf of all of the Heartsong tribe who follow him differently together. It’s been interesting because of all the response that has been generated by some comments I made about our MIC (Memphis Islamic Center) neighbors across the street from us that was picked up by the national Fox News website. The responses range from attaboy to hateful, but for the most part even those who question our wisdom are not questioning our faith and are (I believe) trying to be helpful.
Our response to whoever inquires is the same one I encouraged you to make to any of your friends, relatives, associates and strangers whose paths you cross who inquire of you why Heartsong is practicing this radical hospitality. Get a real puzzled look on your face (which is hard to do in an email) and say, “We are loving our neighbors.” And if they ask how we are going to witness to our faith in Jesus to them, get an even more puzzled look on your face and say, “We are loving our neighbors.” To say much more than that would be to veer into politics and away from the fact that we doing what we are doing because our Lord would have us do it. We are living out WWJDIHWU (what would Jesus do if he were us).
Jesus said that people would know we are his disciples by our love. It is the same quality with which God loves us. God does not wait for us to love God first; God does not require that our hearts be pure. There are no conditions to God’s love.
The dear people of MIC whom I have met have only returned our love with their own. As they come into Heartsong each night their eyes have been wet with gratitude. If they had negative images of Jesus followers in their hearts, after experiencing grace coming to them through us there is now a positive experience in their hearts and minds that I pray to God will root out what they have only heard, or worse experienced, by some who call themselves Christian, but have not shown his kind of love to them.
I am proud to be a part of a tribe who is willing to wrestle with their own negative images of a people, and let the love of Jesus root out what they have heard or worse experienced by those who take the name muslim, but do not live the peace that way teaches. I am convinced to the bottom of my heart and mind and soul that Jesus is proud of us too.
Last Sunday at Heartsong we talked about that part in my bible that was labled, “The Cost of Following Jesus” and I said I would lable it (if only they would let me), “How To Find Your Specfic Purpose In Life”. We all share the same general deep and wide purpose in life-to give and receive love-which comes out of our created identity (i.e. who we are). If you don’t know who you are I will let you know right now. You are a daughter or son of God-that is who you are-that is your chosen by God identity.
Of course to actually enjoy life that way, we have to choose God back. The way God has provided for us to do that is to get to know, learn to love and spend life with Jesus. It is in doing that we each find our one in a zillion specific purpose in life. My purpose and yours is to give and recieve love, but just how is Steve (or you) supposed to do that in this moment, with this one in this situation? That is not a science, but an art. And the art is learned by continually following Jesus and letting him guide us into every now-specifically.
The bible passage I was drawn to that spoke to that (which in the DRSSV* I call, “How To Find Your Specific Purpose In Life”) is Luke 9:57-62. Read that in whatever version you desire. Here is the DRSSV of it: vs. 58- “If you follow me you will not put down roots, stake a claim, won’t retire-won’t in any way settle into a way of thinking or being. vs. 60- “My deal is not with your parents, not with your spouse, not with your children or grandchildren or boss or country. My deal is with you for the unfolding of your specific life purpose.” vs. 62-“If you want to follow me-follow me now. Everytime you don’t is a missed opportunity-some of why you were sent to earth passing you by.”
It is in saying “yes” to the Lord Jesus that every specific life purpose unfolds-a day at a time-a situation at a time-a person at a time-all the time. Live it UP!
*DRSSV- Daily Revised Steve Stone Version
From time to time there is controversy among Jesus followers about when or at what point loving someone is giving license to their beliefs or behavior. It may be possible to err on one side or the other. On one hand judging beliefs or behavior is hard to separate from the one in a zillion person espousing them. I always want to be careful to love the sinner (at least from my perspective) while not liking the sin. That was some great direction from my Big Mama (about 5’4″ and near ’bout that wide). She more lived it than said it. On the other hand some people’s beliefs and behavior are so intolerable (hateful, harmful to themselves or others) that we have to take a firm and strong stand against what they are doing and hope they are able to separate themselves from it and be always ready to help them find their way.
Some areas are gray. Take homosexuality for example. At least it’s gray for me. Is it learned behavior or environmental or genetic? Would that make a difference? Heartsong has an official stance on the issue-rather on the people who in their hearts and minds whether in practice or not see themselves as homosexuals. If you want a copy of that statement as approved by our council, email me or call the church office and I will see that you get one. In a nutshell (and I do hope you read the whole thing) it says that while the issue can be debated as to whether it is a sinful lifestyle or not, we do not believe we have to “solve” the issue in order to love the people.
I have a fantasy that guides me about responding to this issue (and others) and the dear people who struggle with it more than I will ever have to struggle. When I stand before our Daddy to give an account of how I spent my life following Jesus I would much rather hear, “Steve, you were really soft and way too tolerant on the homosexuality issue”, than to hear, “It just crushed my heart every time you hurt one of my dear daughters or sons with your hardness and intolerance.” If you had to hear one of those two things, which would you rather hear?