There’s a prayer meeting at my church tonight. Instead of feeling energized by the thought of praying with others, an unexplained tiredness falls heavy on me. Maybe I should go home to rest. I won’t be missing much, will I?
In some hills of the USA’s mid-South, much of life is lived on the front porch. Neighbors stop by unannounced for a glass of sweet tea or cup of coffee. No invitation is ever necessary.
God loves us. Most of us know this. But how many of us feel it? Paul knew that understanding God’s love was a difficult proposition. He believed supernatural revelation was required even to get started (Ephesians 3:16,18). God’s love is so large and our comprehension so small. How can we ever truly understand His love for us?
Technology is helpful, but it can also hinder communication. As the apostle John told Gaius, it’s hard to fully convey all that is in our heart when we’re not with the other person (3 John 1:13-14). If John were writing his third epistle today, he might sign off: “I don’t want to call, text, or tweet my thoughts. I hope to come over soon, and then we’ll talk face to face.”
Charles complained to his friend about some lower back pain. He was seeking a sympathetic ear, but his friend gave him an honest assessment. “Your back isn’t your problem,” he pointed out. “It’s your stomach. Your stomach is so big it’s pulling on your back.”
Reconciliation. It’s God’s heart for people to be restored in relationship with one another across differences in culture, race, and class. This is vital, but sometimes it feels so big that we don’t know where to start.
The Grant Study has followed the lives of more than 250 Harvard graduates for 70 years to learn what makes people happy. It revealed that positive emotions make us more vulnerable than negative ones—in part because they expose us to rejection and heartbreak. One man had received a box of 100 loving letters from his patients when he retired from practicing medicine. Eight years later he proudly showed the box to a researcher and began to cry, “I don’t know what you’re going to make of this, but I’ve never read [them].”
Do not judge others” may be the most popular verse in the world. It’s the one phrase from the Bible that everyone seems to know—and often misapply. A former politician continued to text inappropriate photos of himself to strangers even after he apologized and resigned in disgrace. He angrily told a disgusted voter that he had no right to judge him. Pope Francis, when asked about gay priests, replied, “Who am I to judge?” I believe he meant that it’s not his job to judge people’s sins, but many mistook it as an endorsement of a homosexual lifestyle.
A young man wavered between two worlds. Would he roll with the gangs in his neighborhood, or walk with Christ? Although his father struggled with addiction and his mother suffered from schizophrenia, his grandmother prayed for and encouraged him to follow Jesus. Christian hip-hop artist FLAME admits that there was a time in his life that he tried to fit into both worlds. But today he has a degree in biblical counseling and is attending seminary. And his top-selling albums contain street-savvy beats and inspiring Christian messages.
A pastor wanted to break his church out of their formal traditions and nudge them in a fresh direction. He sensed that the congregation’s formality was discouraging the local community from walking through the church’s doors. So he began to take small steps to help them change.
A question I often hear (and also ask myself) regarding diversity is this: “God calls us to reach out to those who are different from us, but how far are we supposed to go?” Is it enough to serve and minister to people who are different, or are we called to do more?