But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously. Micah 6:8 (The Message)
Post by Guest Blogger: Passionate Pro-Life College Gal
I have had a personal relationship with God for as long as I can remember. However, I have heard His “call” on me in college, e.g. what He is leading me to do with my life according to His Plan. Alternate to many points of view of my peers, I am learning to think that college is not the “do all be all” and that there is something of my education which is to be used for His Kingdom. It has become increasingly clear to me that marriage and family ministry, as it has never been done before, is what I need to be spending my time on (more on the specifics in future blogs perhaps). The problem I am facing is “eesh”, how do I explain that to my parents? That conversation goes sort of like this:
“Yes Mom and Dad, you are paying thousands of dollars for me to go to the best public college in the nation, to ultimately graduate and do something for families.”
I have worried, how do I explain what was clearly God’s leading to me? I did not want it to sound like I wanted a “Mrs.” degree, harkening back to the goal of many women in the 1950s, you know, go to college to find a husband…I didn’t want them (or anyone else) to conclude, “Why even get educated”? I explained to them that I wasn’t boy crazy and I wasn’t trying to make marriage the goal of life for anyone, but I do think that I had a very real calling to work in this field, on many levels, and infuse marriage and family ministries with a completely different spiritual dimension.
Human marriage points to the marriage that is the ultimate goal of life: marriage to Christ. As it turns out, I’m about to embark on a glamorous high-profile career of…wait for it – working for my church for a thousand a month? I am just trusting God on this one…and I am happy and thankful to report that my parents “get it” and are pleased with my desire to hear and respond to God’s call on me.
So what does that look like?
In working in the family and marriage ministry, I have realized in some cases, we are going about reaching people all wrong! Yes, we need educated people, who specialize in cultural and family issues in the pro-family movement. More importantly, we need innovators, people like my pastor at church, who are passionate and excited to try something new. What is accomplished when two sides of thought and culture are angrily screaming into the wind at each other? Angry Noise without a whisper of respect. That is all it will ever be. We need to stop throwing hatred at the culture war, not even to throw writings and pamphlets and ideas (although there is a place for that), but to acknowledge that Christianity is actually losing the culture war and it/we need some fresh methodologies to enhance the fight, without throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.
I am sensing this weird undeniable tension in the faith community whereas there is a feeling we are losing the culture war and simultaneously, it is a badge of honor for Christians. (and a horrid saddening tragedy for the loss). Inter-Church persecution can justifiably be like this as well, yet in this case there is an unholy twist I think, that the Church is using the excuse of righteous persecution to people outside the Christian community to justify the mistakes that we have made in this battle. I wrote an article entitled “What We have Done Wrong,” which I’m happy to share, to which a reader assured me no one would like because I bashed everyone and every side within it. When did “losing” for Jesus become an exalted virtue regardless of our own actions leading up to this defeat? Especially if they were less than holy…
Now, you may expect that I will launch into a new evangelical ballad on staying out of politics, or a Young-Life strategy that relational evangelism is the only best method and the only thing we should be doing in this world. That is so very wrong. Politics is actually a remarkable tool God has given us to help us end institutional sin and injustice to people! I’m sick of this “change the hearts not the law” talk, when they were never meant to go against one another. Not ever. If there ever was a perfect example of institutional sin and injustice, it was the lack of Civil rights for people based on the color of their skin… the Civil Rights laws that were implemented helped change the hearts, minds and FUTURE of a lagging nation. (there have been other examples since). But as I alluded to earlier, such culture war reform doesn’t mean we abandon the war, we just need to regroup, get a couple new generals and some new ideas.
Far from abandoning political action, I still get mad when my mentors have told me I better not have political signs in the yard, or have a bumper sticker. Oh but what does that bumper sticker say? Isn’t there a difference between “Abortion is One Dead, One Wounded,” which make people think in new ways, or “Help After Abortion call 1888 …” and inflammatory ones “Abortion: infant genocide” (again, true, but not helpful!). Sometimes it is a tough line to draw, admittedly.
Now, your friends influence you very much (so readers, pick good ones!). and my friends have softened me in all of this. But I still have a sparky “yell out the truth and be righteous” streak in me, but I have to find healthy expression to it so it doesn’t become over-righteous. So all of these aspects to myself sometimes war within me, how can I be a women full of the fruit of the spirit, including gentleness, and still understand when it’s time to get angry and overturn some temple tables? I’m an activist through and through, it’s my God Language (everyone needs to know their own!)
Here’s one way I’ve begun to figure this all out, for these sides of me are another of the mysterious Christian paradoxes that make our life so rich. When we protest at a Charlottesville abortion clinic, we used to bring signs. These turned women off to us. What we had written was TRUE, and sometimes the truth hurts. But this was truth without love. This was justice without mercy. I read a sidewalk counseling guide that made stuff clear to me: protests are valid! But not while sidewalk counseling! Duh! There is a time for every purpose under heaven. And right when a baby’s life and a mother’s heart is on the line, it didn’t matter that our signs were true. It mattered that the message wasn’t working.
My Straight Paths
You can probably sense in my writing that I still wrestle with the balance and the wisdom of all of this. Of course King David did too, as he proclaims his utter pure hatred for his enemies, but then asks God to purify Him if there is any offensive way in Him (Psalm 139). Being honest with God in prayer is the logical start to all of this! Sometimes it’s only through making mistakes that I’ve learned important lessons like Listening and Loving, understanding that when people don’t have God-what they are doing is rational to them even though it is destroying them, and that I am just as much in need of God’s grace as they are. I have to ask myself, where would I be if He hadn’t revealed Himself to me? How can I judge the person who does not believe in Jesus Christ? No, rather we must judge the church! How can the Church be better?
So where does that leave me now? Still on this journey towards figuring it all out. I don’t have all the answers. But I’m beginning to know this: one doesn’t have to sacrifice depth to evangelize, inreach for outreach, or zealousness for gentleness. All of these things, like the heart and the law, are actually friends. I cling to this: Jesus loves me. He made me as I am. He knows my weaknesses and strengths! He sanctifies. And thus Micah‘s ever quoted words of mercy and justice end with this: and WALK HUMBLY with your God.
“Dear Lord I pray today that my strengths don’t become weaknesses: My planning not worrying, my ambition not selfishness, my speech not wounding, my emotion not crippling, my friendships not idols, my processions not entitlements, my perfection not obsession, my morality not unfair judgment, my resolve not stubbornness, and my knowledge not pride.”
Please feel free to leave a constructive, well- thought out comment. No vitriol, no bashing, or it will not be posted. Thanks. “The Management” 😉
- Have we lost the Culture War? (4christcrowncovenant.wordpress.com)