I’ve been reflecting this week. Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We had some good conversation with our 7-year-old about why we honor Dr. King, and what he fought for. We also kind of, sort of, made him cry a little bit in describing slavery. Oops. Not our intention, but after comforting him and reminding him that we had past that time in our country, we did remind him that we needed to remember how horrible it was to ensure we make better choices in the future.
Its hard to tell him about Dr. King’s work in the 60’s, and answer his questions. We told him about segregation and ‘separate but equal’ – that was anything but equal. Of course he asks ‘so its not like that anymore, right?’
Hmmmm. How to answer him? Yes, in many ways it is better. Yet, its not ‘better’ in that we aren’t there yet. We still have work to do. A lot of work to do. And by ‘we’ I mean all of us. Every single person. Every gender, every color, every religion and no religion, every income level, every political belief. ‘WE’ have work to do. I’m going to make it simple.
‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ – Martin Luther King Jr.
‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.
While I submit these genuinely timeless quotes from Dr. King, I find that race is only one aspect that relates here. Yes, our country – our world – has a lot of work to do in the matter of race. The reality is, we have a lot of work to do, period. Hate comes in so many forms. Jealousy, discontent, bullying, superiority, judgment.
Guerilla Christianity is focused on my path and thoughts on Christianity. I’ve mentioned before, but it bears repeating – when I talk to people who have moved away from the Christian church, one of the most common reasons is the hypocrisy of other Christians. Those who stand up in church each week as pillars of the Christian community, but seem to be working from an abridged Bible.
Disclaimer – I remind everyone again that these are my opinions, and I encourage you to have your own. I do not intend to speak for the entire Christian community – I speak for myself. – End Disclaimer.
Why? We seem to get so bound up in ensuring that we are ‘higher’ up than others that we find ways to cut them down, even in our own thoughts. How often do we fail to understand someone who is struggling with mental illness, who is dealing with circumstances they have just chosen not to share with you? How often do we assume others have knowledge or abilities, when frankly they may not.
‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about.’ – (there is some disagreement about who to attribute this quote to. Many sources say Plato, but others say Philo. Ian Maclaren and John Watson are also potential sources.)
Why is kindness so difficult? Why do we judge instead of understand? Why do we speak the words of the importance of kindness – especially as Christians – yet fail to show kindness in our actions?
I think its fear. I think secretly we still see salvation as a Draft. We know we’re not going in the first round, because – hey, saints. We just don’t want to miss the cutoff.
Another reason – we don’t really understand how grace works. We don’t understand the idea of being washed clean through our faith. We choose to continue to carry the burdens of our sins, and are desperate to reassure ourselves that in our infinite imperfection, at least we aren’t as bad as them.
‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ – Theodore Roosevelt
‘Be kind whenever it is possible. It is always possible.’ – the Dalai Lama
Embrace your flaws. Embrace your imperfections. Embrace forgiveness. Embrace grace. In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was a little annoyed to find out that she could have gone home anytime by tapping her heels. The ability ways always inside her, but she had to go through what she had in order to believe it. Each of us who believes in the salvation Christ offers has the ability to release our burden at any time and find our home in our faith. Some of us need to go through a hard journey to understand that.
‘But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’- Romans 5:8
Reflect on that. Close your eyes (ok, finish reading this paragraph first, unless you’ve learned to read with your eyes shut – in which case – carry on), sit back. Take a couple deep breaths. Absorb that Christ died for you before you did a single thing to deserve it – with full knowledge that there was no way you every could deserve it. Reflect on the kind of love that was offered simply as a gift.
If we can offer even a fraction of that perfect love to those around us, with no expectation of getting anything in return, we may just get somewhere in this human experiment.
‘All you need is love.’ – the Beatles.