It was a book about all the evils of Common Core and the indoctrination of America’s children by Obama and honestly, it rocked my quiet, little world on a Saturday morning.
It wasn’t because it was the first time I had ever received this sort of package, because it wasn’t. But this time, instead of just being overwhelmed with shame, I remember standing in the shower with hands shaking. I remember questioning every decision my family had made in the few years prior to choosing public school. I remember feeling nauseous and lightheaded and embarrassed. I remember feeling violated and condemned by someone I didn’t even know. And then, in a crushing moment of reality, I felt violated and condemned by the truth that I probably did know the person who sent it. But who?
I lost half a day wondering about who sent the book, why they sent it and whether their intent was for my good or for my harm. I considered that their intent was to do me good; to arm me with the truth as they saw it in hopes that I would change my mind about our schooling choices. I lost half a day talking with Jesus about things we’d already agreed to, like school and our neighborhood and our church. I lost half a day trying to make black and white things that Jesus has intentionally left gray.
And I lost half a day trying to wrap my head around the simple fact that our good intentions towards one another have the potential to thwart the work of the Holy Spirit in one another.
When we, as followers of Jesus, choose to impose our personal convictions upon other followers of Jesus, we take the amazing grace that covers all our individual convictions and we tax it, making our convictions look like the law we’ve all been set free from.
Instead of hearing one another and recognizing the work of a good, good Father in each other, we let fear creep in and do the talking for us. When we see that our friends and family are treading the road less traveled, the one that runs across the railroad tracks or right in front of the Title I public school or out to the Parks and Rec field or out to the county jail, we rush in with the urgent need to rescue or redirect or rebuke.
And sometimes, in our fear of the unknown, we cast our brothers and sisters out of the family. We see their different paths as rejection of the norm or an abandonment of the safe fold of the church. We fear for their children. We fear for their lives. We fear their different choices demonstrate a condemnation of our choices. We fear that the different path will change the relationship or that we’ll be challenged to also travel the narrow road into scary places. We even fear that they’ve turned from the Jesus we know and turned towards some liberal, human rights activist, Peace Corps version of Jesus.
But I believe that on our worst day, we fear that our fear will be unfounded.
We fear that our friends and family will start living in such wild abandon for the things of Jesus that their zeal will shine a light into the fearlessness that is following Christ.
We fear that we’ll wake up and realize that all that we’ve been conditioned to fear or turn from is just the smoke screen keeping us from abundant life.
We fear we’ll find ourselves looking headlong into a hazy horizon of unknowns, trying our darnedest to hold onto what we see but walking towards all that we can’t.
We fear that the same Holy Spirit whose been whispering words of reckless living to our friends will start whispering the same sort of nonsense in our ears.
We fear we’ll eventually start listening and obeying and welcoming something like The Great Wrecking into our lives.
And we fear truly walking in freedom because freedom in Christ isn’t free.
Y’all, I used to believe that apathy was the biggest killer in the American Church. I used to believe our churches were full of lukewarm people warming pews and writing tithe checks.
Now I’m not so sure.
I’m beginning to believe that fear is our chief enemy.
Fear of the world cripples us and turns us inward.
Fear of man keeps us doing what keeps man happy with us, even if it means denying Christ in order to keep peace with our church or small group or family.
That’s a hard thing in swallow because I don’t believe any of us would say we intentionally strike fear in one another to force assimilation. But if we were to take a good look at ourselves and really consider our base level fears and our personal convictions, I think maybe we’d realize how often we use our words to try and speak over the things our brothers and sisters in Christ say they are hearing from the Holy Spirit when those things are contrary to what we believe is right or best or most safe. I think we’d be surprised to hear how often we discourage one another from running our races simply because the race seems scary or counter-Christian-culture.
In our desire to preserve the purity of the Gospel and the purity of our families and the purity of our churches, over time, we’ve created a culture among us that has its own code of conduct that keeps us safe.
And y’all, our man made code of conduct is thwarting the audacious, radical, upside-down kingdom building, life giving up, FEARLESS conduct that is demanded of Jesus-followers.
Nobody wants to live under the law, especially the law we write and impose upon one another.
When we impose man-made rules to keep us safe from the world, we teach a theology of fear to that same world who is watching us.
When we condemn one another for standing on the wrong side of all the gray areas, we model a god who cares more about behavior than relationship.
When we hold up a standard of living based upon what we see happening in our big, scary world, we puff ourselves up and deceive ourselves into believing that we alone can save.
When we hold one another to personal convictions or use fear as a weapon to modify the behaviors of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we nullify the Gospel because in Jesus, grace abounds and fear is conquered.
And grace changes everything.
PSST: The subscriber winners of the 3 Boxes of FUN are Lana Smith, Addie Talley and Heather Schlender!!!