Wednesday, August 11, 2010
You Always Find What You Are Looking For
"When will we acknowledge that we don't have it all together and happily accept the gift of grace? When will we grasp the thrilling truth of Paul, 'Someone is reckoned as upright not by practicing the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ.' Galatians 2:16"
-The Ragamuffin Gospel pg. 139
We all have struggles. While visiting Toronto and working with various missions the struggles were obvious: homelessness, starvation, drug addiction, alcoholism, and hopelessness. When my group came back they were excited to do similar activities in our downtown area and I affirmed that... with an addendum. We are the local church, called to serve our local area. The population of a suburb does not have any less of this disease than a downtown area- their symptoms are different and maybe even worse. Many cannot or will not change without hitting rock bottom and how do you hit rock bottom in the midst of upper-middle class careers, amiable marriages, nice homes, coffee shops, and well-policed streets? I do not envy the poor's position in the world but Jesus said, "You are blessed when you are at the end of your rope." (The Message)
I neared the end of my rope this last year in the midst of months of unemployment and relocation. Fortunately, we had family to support us, take us in, and give us opportunities. But it was humbling and evaluating all the same. It was during this time I had my "conversion to optimism". My wife handed me an article from my favorite magazine that asked the reader to name five famous cynics and- even if you could- name what the contributed to society outside of critiquing another person's work and heart.
Not long ago an article was published in a major paper documenting the effort's of a friend of mine to bring the story of Jesus into places that don't usual hear that Story... or even if they have heard think it wasn't meant for them. The story made it's way to college where some seminary and undergraduate students- before a class started- were vocally condemning my friend's efforts. Unfortunately- for this group of students- a professor stood in the back of the classroom listening. When class started he asked a series of questions, "Is what is being done really un-Christian? Do any of them know this person? Or have attended when the Story was being told? Have any of them done ANYTHING outside of be a student that works in classrooms and on theories? Have any of them had THEIR hearts torn apart by people they don't know?" ... and then he dismissed the class for the day.
A family member of mine were sitting across each other at lunch just the other day. He said sometimes "young guys" want to do things in the church that "just won't work or aren't practical". I asked him what he meant (since he is- seriously- one of the smartest people I know) because it seems like as I watch things like www.poetice.com and TOMS those are idealistic, impractical, and unreasonable. That the entire premise of what the Rabbi calls us to is unreasonable. "That's a great point he said."
What I want to say is this: we can be cynical, angry, or apathetic but we are only going to get out what we put in. You will find hopelessness as you look for it. You will find unchangeable people as you look for them. You will find bitterness as you look for injustice. Don't give up hope- and I am preaching to myself here- keep your head up, believe that people can change, that things can improve, that joy is found in each moment of the day. You will find those things are you look for them too.
... or don't and join the legion of nameless, hopeless, and joyless cynics who will not mark the world. Your choice.
I'm making mine.