The politics of Jesus: serve widows & orphans. Welcome foreigners. Prefer outsiders over insiders. Be kind to sinners and tough on saints.
Being back in the States is interesting. We love it here. We love the country, the people, the way things work, and about everything else. But (you knew there was a "but" in there somewhere).... Americans feel confused to me. The Christian community feels confused to me. Half of my friends are offended by how the LGBTQ or transgender community is treated. The other half are offended that we're tolerating such behavior. Half of my friends love Trump and think that any good American ought to vote for someone who wants to "make 'Merica great again," and half of my fiends are horrified by Trump. About half of my friends think Muslims are misunderstood and wonderful people. The other half are very skeptical of anything Muslim. Half of my friends think the Middle East is crazy and scary and that ISIS is taking over there - and eventually, here. The other half, thank the Middle East is the best place to live and has the best people anywhere. I'm being as literal as I can be when I say "half." It feels split down the middle. I'm speaking of my own personal friends not Americans in general. So who's right? It's the story of my life. I live in two worlds. A conservative Christian American world where the politics and religion lean fairly far to the right. And another world that's extremely tolerant and focuses mostly on grace and love. My friends on the "right" tend to focus on truth and facts. My friends that lean left want more grace and a better feeling. It's the same with my friends in the Middle East. In Lebanon, half of them are pro-Hezbollah and the other half think they're the devil. In the Gulf countries, half of my friends aren't sure which is more scary - Iran or Israel. While the other half are busy ignoring both. This is what's pushed me over the years, to focus on Jesus. I'm confused. Honestly. The world feels confusing. Who do we vote for? What do we think of immigration? Muslims? ISIS? Gay marriage and how to label bathrooms? Are we to be nice and kind or hold the line for truth? Or both? Jesus was full of both grace and truth. Jesus was both kind and hard-nosed. He let sinners off the hook all the time and drove religious leaders out of the temple with a whip in hand. He seemed to know when one or the other was most needed. But I don't. I'm not Jesus. I'm just Carl the Confused. Which is why I stick to simply....Jesus. That's why we host a gathering each year where we focus on Jesus. Not issues. Not even what we should do because of.... Just Jesus. Simply Him. He provides the answers if we'll just listen and learn. I think we'll hear from him this July in the mountains of Colorado. I know I need to!
I've been asked a lot in the last two days about my thoughts on Orlando. My thoughts are not complicated - here they are: It saddens me that we feel the need to put everyone in a category and then either demonize that category or venerate it. The "Muslim radical" who did the killing. The "gay club" that was the site of the killing. We are then tempted to demonize "Muslims" and venerate the "LGBT" community. All of a sudden bunches of people are pro-LGBT. Really? Where were they before this? And Trump makes more sense when he states we should keep all Muslims out of 'america. Really? It didn't make sense three days ago. We have short memories. We're reactive rather than proactive. What about this simple thought - there is real evil in the world. Some people give in to that evil and are overcome by it, doing violence to those around them. And there are normal humans (the rest of us) who mostly want to live and love and have a decent life. We're all searching for God. For truth and hope and joy and friendship. Some of us end up being the recipients of those given over to evil. Suffering is horrible and real and effects us all. We mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. There is no "us" and no "them." We are in this together. Looking for and finding life. And those of us that know ultimate life is only found in Jesus - share that. With people. Not categories. People.