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I call myself a Christ what?

October 18, 2021

Yes, I know, some people will be offended by this, but please hear me out. If you know my story you know I grew up with abuse and poverty for much of much childhood and early teenhood. At 16 I was ready to give up on life and commit suicide. As the thoughts formed and the planning began, I was approached by a young man who asked if I knew that God loved me. My response was not very kind (to say the least). If God loved me…why years of hell? But I also knew that I needed something bigger than myself to take make it through the next years of life.

That was 46 years ago. I have tried to live by the standards of the Bible, mostly falling very short of it, on some days doubting, other days thankful for a faith that keeps me going. My favorite verse in the Bible is probably Micah 6:8 “What has the Lord required of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”. Some people use the Bible to condemn people, to be ‘better than’, to create rules to judge people. Some people take some verses and smash people over the head with them. Some people live amazing lives and bring joy to others and comfort to many. There are many stories in the Bible I don’t understand, many sayings that seem so out of the realm of God’s love and care. Sometimes I, myself, pick favorite verses to justify my thoughts and actions. But overall Jesus’ teachings have influenced my choices, my decisions, my actions.

When I read Micah 6:8, I realize again how balanced God is! We cannot live by mercy alone (that would create anarchy and lawlessness) and we can’t live by justice (judgement) only (that too would create horrible systems). There always needs to be a balance. And that balance cannot exist without also a God to whom I am responsible (something bigger then myself).

I have been thinking about the ancient thoughts of “thin places,” the places where heaven and earth seem to touch and create something beautiful. When I see mercy done well (not in a placating sense), I see a thin place. When justice is done to the poor of our community, I see a thin place. When someone walks well with God without hammering others, I see a thin place - a place where heaven and earth connect.

Someone in a travel log spoke of ‘thin places’ :

“Thin Places are ports in the storm of life, where the pilgrims can move closer to the God they seek, where one leaves that which is familiar and journeys into the Divine Presence. They are stopping places where men and women are given pause to wonder about what lies beyond the mundane rituals, the grief, trials and boredom of our day-to-day life. They probe to the core of the human heart and open the pathway that leads to satisfying the familiar hungers and yearnings common to all people on earth, the hunger to be connected, to be a part of something greater, to be loved, to find peace.”

When I look at the current news, when I hear about tick-tock challenges, when I look at the lawlessness in our world right now, I am more determined than ever to do my part to be more aware of the ‘thin places’ in my encounters in this world. As a Christ follower I want to live out mercy and justice, as I walk with God.

That is one of the reasons why I lead LifeLine CDC, a non profit that is about empowering neighborhoods to thrive, by not just doing hand-outs (mercy) but also by empowering people, letting them discover their gifts and abilities and provide opportunities for justice for them.

But I cannot do this in a vacuum, I need to have a ‘higher power’ to guide me and direct my steps. To step into the ‘thin places’ in life I need a God that is bigger then me, I need the God of the Bible in my life, best represented through Jesus Christ.

I am still trying to live into the Biblical values. So, if you see me and I am not doing things right, know that I am trying, but that I get it wrong sometimes, still learning myself to live out mercy and justice while walking humbly with God.

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