How to Wreck Your Life – On Purpose.

“The world is broken and remains that way, in spite of our efforts to help it. This is beautiful in a way, because it breaks us of our self-dependency. In a world that refuses to be healed, we must face the fact that we are not the heroes of our stories. It teaches us to rely on something bigger than ourselves and teaches us the source of true compassion.”  – Jeff Goins. Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life.

Wrecked

One week before leaving for Africa, I picked up Jeff Goins’ first book Wrecked. Since I already have the pre-order of his second book – The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing, I’ve got some catching up to do.

In the first few pages, Goins suggests the American Dream has left many of us dying of boredom and ennui, because suffering is an integral part of the human experience and a lot of us successfully avoid it.

But without a willingness to sit quietly in the paradox of glimmering joy and gritty, carbon black suffering – equal partners in a fully realized life – we’re half living, suffocating under the pillowy down of our unchallenged comforts.

It’s an interesting theory that we somehow already know is true.

Before I started following Jesus like I mean it, I would have chuckled at the coincidence of picking up this book a week before I leave for a bush village in Africa.

But I don’t believe in coincidence anymore.

This is What Love Does – Oklahoma.

Before I started paying real attention to Jesus, I didn’t know Christians like Jeff Bethke existed. But this little video, performed by Bethke, a Jesus loving, scholar-poet, went up last year and now has nearly 25 million views.

Maybe there’s something to it.

I avoided Jesus for ages because I too have a problem with the Crusades and I don’t believe any US political party or denomination has a corner on Jesus. In fact, when I actually read the gospels, I snorted at the irony.

It was first-century religious and political leaders who killed Jesus, and he warned us to watch out for them. That is not my opinion, it’s in all four gospels.

I met Bethke at the Love Does Stuff conference. He’s 23. He’s never been to seminary but he’s a reader. After reading the gospel like he meant it, he read Bonhoffer, Tozier, Keller, Chan and Goff, authors who have rejected the idea of Jesus + __________.

It’s just Jesus period.

When asked by a lawyer what the greatest commands were, Jesus gave only two: Love God. Love others. And frankly, in tornado-wrecked Oklahoma today, we are actually doing a rather good job of that.

This nation, the one supposedly “gridlocked by political and religious division” is praying together in our messy melting pot ways. We are weeping for Oklahoma and pulling strangers from the rubble. That is what Jesus wants. That is what love does.

So if that’s who we are in crisis, why aren’t we that in calm? Why do we need disasters to eclipse our quotidian spitefulness?

Because we’ve bought into the same old religious/political lie that killed Jesus. We are separate, we are different, so we must be afraid.

But if Oklahoma proves anything it’s that we’re not separate. We are one, but we’ve got to pull each other out of the rubble – even people we don’t like. As Bob Goff said over the weekend,

“He (God) is going to send all sorts of people with different life orientations your way. Does that change one thing about what Jesus said?”

Love God. Love others. Period.

On Bono, Love and Freedom

Bono (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s Friday and I’m reading the book of Galatians in The Message translation of The Bible.

I love that translation because it’s beautiful and easy to read. Bono likes it too. Here’s what he said about it:

“There’s a translation of Scriptures that this guy Eugene Peterson has undertaken. It has been a great strength to me. He’s a poet and a scholar, and he’s brought the text back to the tone in which the books were written.”

These days, Bono may be more famous for his debt relief work than he was with U2 – well maybe not – but something happened to Bono that made the world’s poor weigh heavy on his heart. I’ll bet The Message had something to do with that.

So here’s the Apostle Paul writing to the Galatians (5:13-15).  It’s so smart. So huge. I wanted to share it with you:

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom.

Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out – in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.

Word! Have a great weekend everybody!