Friday, July 16, 2010

A Different Kind of Hope

Sometimes it becomes difficult to separate Jesus from his followers. As in "if a Christian says something, they must be speaking for Jesus, right?" Well, no. Not exactly. Don't get me wrong, that isn't a condemnation of Christ-followers; rather, it is simply an acknowledgment of reality. Many Christians act as if they know God's will, and that their words are direct from the Creator himself. An "agree with me or else" kind of attitude. It is no secret that I have become very disillusioned over the years with the church. Non-capitalized. I see many differences between what churches teach and what Jesus taught. I see a difference in focus between Christ and many of his followers. Myself included. (By the way, any time I rail on the church or organized religion, know that I'm not claiming to be innocent myself...I'm speaking about myself and to myself as much as about anyone else.)

I've written often in this space about my growing passion for the broken and marginalized. Developing my heart for poverty and need is perhaps my most important goal at the moment. My home church (the Vineyard in Colerain) has recently started down this path as well, jumping on the World Vision bandwagon and pushing the book The Hole in Our Gospel, which I cannot wait to read. Sitting through my pastor's sermon about God's heart for the poor last Sunday was one of the best church experiences I have had in a very long time.

Yet, even as I see my church (and many others) beginning to focus on the broken and empty and starving and alone, I still hear Pat Robertson saying that the earthquake in Haiti was vengeance from God. I can't escape Republican talking heads spouting that we should scrap the welfare system, despite the great good it does for many Americans in need. I see judgment placed on the poor and alone, on victims of AIDS and other diseases, on single mothers and children with no fathers. If that is what being Christian is about, I want no part of it.

But then I read this and am renewed:
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
Psalm 146:7-9

That is the God I want to follow. The one who champions the oppressed and hungry. The one who heals the sick. The one who sustains the fatherless and the widows. The God who does the things I wish I could do, who loves the people I wish I could love when I cannot. I've seen God painted in many different ways over the years, as a warrior and a lover and a creator and a judge and a king. But God as a provider, a sustainer and a father to the broken, oppressed and alone is by far my favorite.

Hearing those words gives me hope. Hope that I can see the oppressed and hungry find real improvement in their lives. Hope that the fatherless and widows will experience love and strength in a tangible way. Hope that God might show me that love too. I've written before about acting in the name of hope, about doing things with that idea in the back of my mind. I'm certainly not backing off from that at all; I still believe that hope is acting in the name of truth, consequences be damned. But I'm starting to realize that those things I am passionate about are also God's passions. My hope can and will certainly manifest in actions, but now I believe it can simply be a state of being. Living in a perpetual state of hope. Maybe these are two different manifestations of hope, maybe they aren't all that different. I don't quite understand everything about that, what implications it has. But it is exciting to think about.

And so on...

1 comment:

  1. Kev, this is awesome! It's so encouraging to read about you being excited about serving and empowering the marginalized.