First steps on the journey of faith and community

Category: Dialogue keeps us connected and protects our gravity (Page 1 of 3)

February 16 — Who should I listen to?

Dialogue keeps us connected and protects our gravity.
Everybody gets listened to, but people who make and nurture disciples and who make love happen get listened to more.

listenToday’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read 1 John 4:1-15

Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us.

More thoughts for meditation

Not all thoughts are created equal. Some thoughts are from “the world.” Some are from God. We have to discern who to listen to. In the recent history of Christianity the listening has been all about who has the best rational argument—whoever makes the most accepted point (or whoever can afford the most screens) gets listened to. But Jesus does not say, “You will discern my followers by their production values.” We are known by the fruit we bear. Those who reproduce lifelong disciples of Jesus are people who deserve our ear most of all. People who demonstrate life-giving love get listened to more than people who just think they deserve to be listened to, by virtue of how society sees them.

The truth just told is getting more radical every day. Postmodern dialogue is supposed to be value-free—true love is supposed to be not having a solution or imposing your own thoughts. Dialogue is supposed to be about co-creating our own reality. This might be why the Congress cannot come to any conclusions—only the people who can win the dialogue get the power! It would be better if they would listen for evidence of the Spirit of God at work and follow it with gratitude.

In a circle of hope, gathered around Jesus, everyone should be heard and honored for who they are. But we discern whether what someone says is from God or just from themselves, or worse, from the fallen parts of our world. We try to form what we say and do to be worthy of Jesus so we are worth listening to.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Be clearly seen and heard in me today.

Your pastor or cell leader may not be the main leaders in your life. Who talks you into thinking or feeling things that you know aren’t from Jesus? Are you being led by people who shouldn’t be leading you? Do you listen to the loudest voices or to the voice of Jesus? At least acknowledge the influences that move you. Ponder what it would mean to stop reacting to what they say. (It might be good for them, too).

February 15 — Following Jesus is what makes you a rebel.

Dialogue keeps us connected and protects our gravity.
Jesus is living the greatest mutiny ever – we should not waste our rebellion on each other.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt 

Read Hebrews 3:7-19

Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.

More thoughts for meditation

If you follow Jesus, you are going to be seen as a rebel—both within American church culture and popular culture. But merely being a rebel is not the point. The point is to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is what makes you a rebel. Otherwise, you are just a rebel.

Being subversive is kind of “hip.” Following Jesus transcends the latest expression of human rebelliousness, which is usually what being “hip” is all about.

Being rebellious is kind of necessary; there is so much to rebel against! Following Jesus is our rebellion. We are for the kingdom of God, not just against what we left when Jesus called us.

All this seems kind of obvious until we consider how often we feel like rebelling just for the sake of not following. We often abuse the people closest to us because they are easy targets for our rebellious desire; they provide us the safety to express our deceived hearts—being cool, or being contrary. This reaction is as regular as a cool, “You go on without me” or a hot, “No, I am not going to be the one to take out that trash!”

It is ironic, at least, that in the church, which is made up of all of us, that someone would rebel against it—”No, I am not going to submit to the ‘man’ by singing that song!” It is like hating your own body, something sick people do sometimes. Jesus is leading us in his great mutiny against sin and death. Being in mutiny against the mutiny is being in league with sin and death isn’t it?

Some supposed mutineers are really just tools of some unsubversive system—”No, I don’t love Jesus, but I have a lot of causes that I do love and that I can control a lot better.” Some supposed mutineers are really just preoccupied with avoiding people who are “other” than them—aren’t as cool, aren’t as as organic, aren’t as as holy, aren’t as engaged in mission, aren’t as poor, or aren’t as “whatever” as they are—”Yes, I come to the meeting most of the time. But half the people there are jerks.” They are basically tools of their own rebellion, aren’t they?

The point is to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is what makes you a rebel. Otherwise, you are just a rebel.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Soften my heart to listen so I am not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Take a minute for self-assessment. Do you look down on someone because they are not as radical, cool, holy or unsubmitted as you? Are you getting your sense of identity from not being who you disdain or getting it from being like Jesus?

February 14 — Respect everyone’s struggle for wholeness

Dialogue keeps us connected and protects our gravity.
Engaging in healthy dialogue is what keeps us real. We want everyone among us to experience respect and understanding as they explore what they think and feel.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read Colossians 3:1-17

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.  In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

More thoughts for meditation

“Do not lie to one another.” Among the things that means is: “Engage in the healthy dialogue of becoming one’s true self.” We are all being renewed. Healthy dialogue is crucial to the process. No matter who we are or where we come from, Christ is all and in all—so we can risk giving voice to who we are and to what is happening with us; we can risk being known and loved.

Our cells are the factory of this process of renewal. The dialogue of truth and love in them creates safe and challenging places where we can work out the scripture (like the one for today) and have the truth and love of it work on us. The cells are all about not lying to one another—exercising mutual respect. We need to protect one another’s capacity to live into truth. Bearing with one another forms a safe place where people learn not to lie and become true.

When someone is caught lying, we don’t merely say “Aha!” It is easy enough to catch someone not being their true selves. When someone lies, they should find us clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. They should find us outfitted for wading into the restoration process. Forgiveness is the chief weapon we have in the fight for one another’s wholeness.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Give me confidence to clothe myself in my true self today and not lie.

Imagine yourself talking to the people you will meet today. If you are wearing your true self, clothed in Spirit-born traits, how will you be talking? What would you like to not say that is less-than-true to Jesus in you?

What do you experience among us that lets you know how much we respect you? What experiences of respect to you help create? Make an authenticity-building atmosphere of dialogue and mutual acceptance.

Today is Valentine Day! Get to know the famous pastor and martyr at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

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