I think the passages we’ve been swimming in lately are very convicting. The Scriptures pierce our skin and souls and explode from the inside out, scattering our long-held notions, ideas and beliefs all over the floor, leaving us to decide what we’ll recover, if anything at all. The writer of Hebrews says (in 4:12), “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Alive, active, sharp, penetrating, dividing, judging – all of those things are not exactly what we particularly like. We do things for lots of reasons, but being penetrated, divided by words sharper than a double-edged sword is not an easy Sunday morning. Or any morning, for that matter.
These chapters in Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians tell us to value others over ourselves and our desires, our rights. Nothing about this is a default setting, is it? We don’t wake up thinking how we can serve our neighbor, how we can allow the traffic to merge in front of us, how we can make ourselves smaller, make ourselves last. Yes, He said the last will be first, but that takes a gargantuan leap of faith. We have to be last first, and in a culture where last is nothing to be, it feels like a rigged game.
Of course, it is, but not in the ways in which we are accustomed.
So we come and read, listen and hang on by our fingernails. We go, sometimes kicking and screaming. We are in a rushing river, knowing we are supposed to be swimming upstream, but simply staying where we are is enough for today.
I’m calling this Encouragement, and it’s different from other posts. (I wrote a book once where I collected these posts and they made up the 2nd half, I’ll do that again with the 2nd book which is fairly close to finished – this will not be included, this is just for us, today.) I’m thinking about you, how you continue to come and open yourselves up to these words written hundreds of years ago, even though it requires an extraordinary vulnerability. You are courageous beyond measure. It’s funny, I’m writing that you are immeasurably courageous in acknowledge that you have been wrong, misguided, lost, that you are not in fact perfect. In a culture that takes such great pride in a viciously desperate need to be right, you are the exception.
You follow. You serve. You plug into a community not to get, but to give, as He did. You would much rather tie the towel around your waist and wash dirty feet than have yours washed. Do you know how remarkable that is? You say, sure, I have the right… Sure, I can, but should I? How will that affect my brothers and sisters?
We have been conditioned to climb the ladder by any means necessary, stepping on all those in our way. You wonder how to lift them, how to keep them from stumbling.
You are creating a whole new world, where faith, hope and love are the primary values. It’s hard, and super scary to stand so counter-culturally in a tsunami of opposition. That’s why we have each other. When we hold hands and reference lyrics from a punk-rock song, we affirm that even though we are scared, we are not alone. We are here, now, today, and the greatest of these, then, now, and forever, is love.
You are beautiful and wildly inspiring in your exceptional devotion to Jesus. So, continue, fam (as the kids say), let’s take this one step at a time, I’ll hold your hand if you hold mine, and we’ll keep moving forward together.