Sunday, August 17, 2008
Best Friends, Coffee and Jesus
Kasii and I were out drinking coffee at a charming Dunn Bros by my place in the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis. I was rambling as usual and she was lovingly listening as usual. She is one of those friends that you could go out with a million times over and on the one millionth and one time you still have so much to say to each other. It is the best, considering one of our favorite things is conversation.
Among other things, towards the end of our conversation we talked about Jesus; what an interesting individual. In my last blog I wrote about how He seemed to always get it right. How did he have the authority to love someone and call them out on their shit at the same time? I love the story of the woman at the well in John, chapter 4. Please go and read it if you are not familiar. Jesus is brilliant! He dialogs with the Samaritan woman. He is showing compassion and love just by talking to her as it was taboo to talk to a woman and a Samaritan one at that. He talks to her about her life and totally calls her out on the fact that she has her 5th lover, who is not her husband, at home in her bed. She was so transformed by this encounter that she went back and told everyone she knew that she had met the Messiah and that it was Jesus of Nazareth.
What about the woman caught in the act of adultery in John chapter 8? Jesus saved her from being stoned for her sin with the most glorious line in history (you will have to read it, I won’t spoil it for you first timers) and then tells her to leave her life of sin!
As a Christian I often get caught in the tension of that age old one liner, “love the sinner, and hate the sin.” What does that even mean? How can you truly love someone while you hate what they do? Our Pastor is preaching a series right now called “Loveable.” It is more or less about why people love Jesus, but don’t so much love the church. In his first message he tackled the “love the sinner…” phrase. We have kinda blown it was the gist.
I don’t think I’m alone in wondering in amazement about what this simple enough phrase means. If all you do is love someone and never address the issues they are dealing with, are we just sugar coating and scared? What if by loving and accepting you slip into condoning? Are we supposed to condone and tolerate? I have often thought if you love someone as you are called to do by Jesus Himself, can we not just rely on the Holy Spirit for the transformation of that individual?
There have been so many messages of hate sent out there by Christians who are so misguided. People have passed so much judgment on others. I would die before I would do any of that. So maybe I do tip toe a bit more than I should. I am just so passionate to recover and restore that sometimes I don’t know what to do. All this rambling leads me right back to Jesus. He didn’t seem to have this problem. He had such beautiful timing.
As Kasii and I were discussing this we brought up how He did not act of His own accord or will. One thing I mentioned in our conversations is how in Mark chapter 1 we see that Jesus woke up while it was still dark out to go and pray. Kasii responded that it was the ache He had inside for His people and world that He had to go and kneel before the Father in prayer. I thought to myself, how marvelous! Jesus lived with the ache from the tension of being in the world, but not of it everyday of his life! He longed for heaven yet He knew He was called to rescue and recover humanity. Therefore, from the moment He opened His eyes in the morning His heart couldn’t do anything but kneel before the Father in prayer. The pain and the ache were overwhelming.
That is when it hit me. I understand a little more of Jesus, because I think that He now understands a little more about me and because I can find part of my story in His story. As mentioned in my last blog, I often live in the tension of a world so beautiful yet so ugly. My Aunt often says to me, “Ri, you want to live in the garden [of Eden].” The thing is, we are not in the garden, even though we were made for it. So of course our souls that were made for beauty are grieved by darkness and evil.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus inaugurated God’s restoration of humanity. However, right now we are in the middle of what theologians call, “the already and not yet.” God’s project humanity has begun, but we have not been fully restored. That time is coming. I long for the Spirit that Christ had inside of Him; I long to be more like Jesus everyday of my life. I need to take His cues. I need to see how He lived and made it through as powerfully as He did. As people of God we are all called to be like Jesus and all that He encompassed. Wow! How tremendous! It certainly is no easy task, but I am up for the challenge! I have to be!!!
Coffee Jesus Painted with coffee and tea.
Painted by Peter Youngblood and Troy Picou of Grand Rapids, MI.