Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mind Your Business

The Junior High girls soccer team I coach had a big rivalry game last week.  Our team was the defending champs, facing the team that has played us for the championship the past 3 years.

We pulled up to the field of the opposing team and saw them practicing on the field, getting ready for the game.  By the time we had exited the bus, gathered our equipment and made our way out to the field, they were gone!  Nowhere to be found.  As the girls set their belongings down beside the field, we discovered what happened to the other team.

With a roar, they came running out of the school toward the field screaming and waving their arms (Braveheart Style).  They then proceeded to try to intimidate our girls in every way possible throughout the 1 hour warm-up period:  screaming chants, lining up single-file with arms crossed at mid-field while staring down our team, and leaving the field 2 more times to re-enter with more screaming.

The girls on my team didn't know how to respond.  "What are they doing?"  "Why are they acting so crazy?"  "Coach, they're really pumped up, we've got to do something!!"  Panic was setting in.  The intimidation was working.

The way I saw it, we had 2 choices:  Respond in kind, or keep doing things the way that's helped us be successful.

And so I begged our girls:  "Mind your business.  Ignore them.  Just be yourself and do the things that got you here.  If you change to respond to them, then you won't be playing your kind of soccer."

This greatly parallels the experience of the Christ-follower.  We are given a formula for success:  the imitation of Christ (1 Cor 11:1).  As long as we continue in the imitation of Christ (loving our neighbor, sharing the good news of God's grace, embracing those who are weak) we will always be on the right track, regardless of the changing circumstances around us.

Recently, I have had several conversations with other Christians and received email forwards that aim to alert Christianity to the dangers of the movement of Islam.  They point out the fundamentalists who push for jihad and talk about how Islam desires to take over our country.  The implication is that we should be aware, alert, and afraid, so that we can fight against the coming "enemy".

But what is the point of this?  Does this skeptical/judgmental vigilance of "the other team" really help me to be more effective in my imitation of Christ?  Does suspecting my Muslim neighbor might really have faith-based political motives help me to love him or others better?

Or does it cause me to adjust my game?  Do I change my pursuit of faithful living to adjust for the new worries that surround me?  Does it cause me to judge my neighbor at the expense of loving them?  Does it cause us to pursue effectiveness at the expense of faithfulness?

Jesus was once asked if the Jewish people should pay taxes to the godless Caesar.  Jesus took the coin bearing Caesar's image and responded, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God (Luke 20:20-25)."  Translated, "focus on your purpose with God, and don't pick fights that don't need to be picked."

We don't need to worry about Caesar...or the Muslims...or even the (dun dun dun....) anti-Christ.

We should take a loving stand for the way of Jesus and his priorities whether or not there exists anyone who feels differently.

We should "play our game" effectively, regardless of what "the other teams" are doing.

We should mind our own business.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Lied: an open letter to Kali

Dear Kali,
I lied to you.
I told you that everything was going to be ok…that daddy would always take care of you…
…and that monsters weren’t real.
We came back from our trip and I tried to put you to bed, but you remembered the monster you saw before we left. The one in your window, that looked like a frog.
I argued that you didn’t REALLY see any monsters—that they were just cartoons like Dora and the Cookie Monster.
But you argued better. You HAD seen something. Something dark. Something scary. Something MORE THAN A TALE.
Ok, maybe you didn’t. But maybe you did.
After all, it’s real. Evil is real. Danger is real. Death is real.
And whether or not you were facing it now, you will. WE ALL DO.
Sometimes we just try to ignore it. Drown it out. Distract ourselves. Run from it. Pretend it’s not happening.
But there is a war going on. A spiritual war. Between good and evil. And we are in the midst of it.
It’s not enough to live life as though it’s fiction. The same Bible that presents the truth that frees us shares this story of urgency.
But I’ve tried to sweep it under the rug…to only talk about life as though everything comes up roses--hoping that somehow, by positive thinking or just ignorance, good would naturally prevail.
But at some point, I have to look you kids in the eyes …me knowing the truth, you knowing the truth, and actually talk about the truth.
So here’s the truth, for when you’re old enough to understand:
  1. There are monsters, both human and spiritual and they will try to hurt you.
  2. Bad things will happen to you, and it will always break my heart
  3. I cannot guarantee that I will always be here for you, no matter how much I want to be.
  4. As long as I’m alive, I will love and comfort you and continue to introduce you to the One who CAN guarantee that He will never leave you or forget you.
  5. With God on your side, though evil comes, you never need to be afraid.
Thanks for the wake up call, Kali. We need to prepare for the storm.
Daddy Ephesians 6:12-13
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Matthew 28:20
…” And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.