24 August 2008

Preemptive Healing

Christians place such a large emphasis on cleaning up after people once they've messed up. We have help lines, pregnancy decision centers, rehab programs, counseling sessions, outreach programs for kids in detention centers. We tell drug addicts that God can help them overcome their dependency. Cutters that God can heal their emotional wounds. We are challenged to be the Good Samaritan to people in need.

God has the power to change people, and He can definitely use us to help. But what would it look like if someone had cleaned up the road to Jericho before the man was beaten up?

What if we, instead of waiting for someone to get hurt, broken, and dejected, took the measures to make sure it didn't happen in the first place? Some support and personal attention could prevent someone from becoming an alcoholic. A seminar on godly stewardship could prevent someone from falling into bankruptcy. Sitting down with a pre-teen girl and explaining her how to select a boyfriend could prevent abuse and maybe even divorce.

It's time we start affecting people with the love of Christ before Satan even has a chance to get a hold of them.

"Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people."
-Isaiah 57:14

15 August 2008

Violence Resistance

A couple days ago I made a visit to the Somali community at Capital Park Apartments. This was by far one of the worst visits I've ever made. The little girls were hitting and taking things from each other, trying to be in control. The boys incessantly argued over the rules of the games and who could do what. Hayou, the popular little four year old, jerked on my arm and cried when I packed up the art supplies. Two fights broke out among the boys, each time with two boys rolling around on the ground, wrestling each other. By the time the day was over, my stress level had doubled. How could kids be this violent in just a two-hour period of time?

It's not just the Somali kids. Last week, when I was teaching my kids a Bible lesson on Wednesday night, we discussed what God's peace looked like and how to implement it into the world. We imagined what the world would look like when there would be perfect peace. Ironically, the kids were everything but peaceful. They were egging each other on to anger, hitting and kicking when they thought I wasn't watching. Or sometimes when they knew I was watching.
One of the middle-school aged boys shocked me and stopped me dead in my tracks during my lesson. "I don't think that a world with peace would be very fun," I immediately questioned him why. "If there wasn't any violence or killing," he replied, "there wouldn't be any good movies."

A chill rose up inside of me. Movies. The number one reason why we have become so desensitized to violence.

It's amazing how much violence we justify in movies. It's not real, so therefore it's ok. Or telling ourselves that just watching a violent movie isn't going to cause us to go out and kill someone.
There is something completely wrong with those statements. God hate violence. Period. Even if we aren't necessarily going to mimic what we see, even the visual images and notions of killing and death are despicable to God.
If we claim to have Christ within us, then viewing scenes of violence should affect us. If the Holy Spirit resides in us, seeing murderous scenes should sicken us.

If God hates something, His followers should hate it too.

08 August 2008


A couple of weeks ago I went with my friend, Pat, to visit a Somali family on the west side of Columbus. That visit was different from anything I had experienced at Capital Park through Commissioned. The apartments were noticeably nicer, but drug dealing and violence was much more rampant. Further, I've mostly interacted with the kids and haven't spent too much time with adults.

Pat introduced me to a short Bantu woman named Hawa. At 21, a little older than me, she stood below my shoulders. She wobbled around the apartment, trying to maintain her balance with a child in her womb that was due any day. That day, Pat and I assumed the roles of social workers. I helped her husband with employment applications and called the clinics to verify Hawa's pregnancy checkups. Pat called the Franklin Family Service department for food stamps and asked the electric company to mercifully wait until the family received their welfare check before cutting off their power. The whole day proved to be stressful, but it was really eye-opening to see how Somalis like this family lived on a daily basis.

Yesterday wasn't so stressful, but it was fascinating learning more about their daily life. Mohammad, Hawa's husband, kept disappearing for days on end and refused to attend to the needs of Hawa and their two daughters. Hawa's girl friend just received another wife in the house, and she left her husband because she hated living with another woman. Another woman in the community stabbed a girlfriend her husband brought home one day, and a 19 year old boy was shot in the stomach and died due to conflict in the drug ring.

Last time I was visiting, Hawa told me how afraid for her safety, health, and financial problems. Tears began to well up in her large, dark eyes. Before I even knew what I was saying, I impulsively said, "Let's pray." I was rather shocked at my own boldness. What would this Somali woman, a Muslim, say to this? To my astonishment, Hawa simply agreed. As she closed her eyes and grabbed my hand, I just stared at her in disbelief. I think I was more surprised by what I had just said than she was.

People just like Hawa are in desperate of hope. This made me realize how I've been trained to mask my belief in Christ so as not to offend anyone. Not just with Muslims or people of different faiths, but with non-Christians in general. Why have we bought into this lie that we're suppose to shield and withhold our beliefs from other people?
Paul writes in Romans that God is a God of hope, and hope does not disappoint us (5:5, 15:13). We have the Hope, so why hide it from people who desperately need it?

03 August 2008

"Give Me the Book!"

This past month I have been approaching my daily personal Bible study differently. I haven't been studying. At least, not the way I've grown accustomed to studying. As a Biblical studies major, I've been trained to examine commentary and analyze Greek words. I've been realizing how much this has sucked the desire for God's Word out of me. It lost its life and dynamic. It was too objective. The God who wrote it even seemed dead.

This past month I've been reading Genesis. At first I consulted commentary on it, but then I noticed that I was reading more commentary than I was actually reading the biblical text. I started reading it. Really reading it. No supplements. It's helped me renew my awe and longing for it. The Bible is finally quenching my thirst once again.

I remember sitting in a class at the beginning of last spring semester, wondering what on earth I was doing there. The whole course was dedicated to John Wesley and his interpretation of the Bible. I couldn't believe it. I was learning about John Wesley instead of Jesus. We watched an introductory movie to his life, and a phrase caught me off guard. "Give me the Book!" the actor quoted him. "At all costs, give me the Book!" This simple phrase prompted me to immediately drop the course and change my major.

But I think I'm just now finally starting to understand this phrase. New commentary is constantly being written. I even helped one of my profs write one this summer. But is it really needed? Do we really need more interpretations about the Bible? Do we really need more Christian books telling us how to live and taking the place of our Bible reading?

I'm sorry, but Rob Bell is not the vicar of Christ. Shane Claiborne's words are not infallible. Even Max Lucado, Donald Miller, and C.S. Lewis' words were not directly inspired by God.

Why do we think that these books are more exciting? That Claiborne is some kind of radical fundamental when it was Christ who rebelled against the Hebrew traditions of the day? Hung out with prostitutes and drunks? Even claimed to be God Himself?

If the Bible is static and no longer relevant, then it is the dead words of a dead God.

01 August 2008

Mourning Morality

This summer I'm taking Intro to Sociology at the OSU Delaware branch, and I've loved the new classroom environment. I've learned so much just within these last two weeks of classes. Since I've attended Christian institutions throughout my entire school career, this is my first exposure to secular education. This class has challenged me and prompted me to think about my faith in ways no other theology class ever has.

Everything I've been contemplating has been thought provoking, but there's one concept that has especially stood out among all the others.

Every belief, every thought, every decision I make is based on my choice to follow Christ.

I've always known that my spiritual life wasn't a separate entity from the rest of me, but this class has confirmed that Christ saturates every part of me. Unconsciously, all of my values and beliefs are centered on the character of God.
It's really frightening to hear some of the other students' point of views. They have no framework of morality. Whatever is "true" or "good" or "acceptable" is determined by their own judgment.

Morality is dying. It's perfectly ok for everyone to hold their own set of truths. The most frustrating part is that "my" Truth cannot be transmitted. They don't understand the way I think and establish my moral decisions. Without Truth as their moral foundation, they cannot understand or grasp the way society is suppose to be.

So many Christians mourn this death of morality, but maybe it's time we throw off the black garments and figure out a way to dig up and revive the truth of God that has been haphazardly placed in the grave...