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Sharing Some of My Fridge Magnets

May 9, 2012

I think a lot.  More than one person in my life has told me I think too much.  I am also a voracious reader.  Gathering from both, I tend to collect ideas like some people collect fridge magnets.  A lot of those ideas just rattle around in my head, some for years and years.  But ever so often a few of them get spit out like balls out of a lottery drum.  Some of the winners get to be featured in my writing.  Much of that writing never sees the light of day; it just passes from my memory to my laptop’s memory.  But occasionally I select something to reveal to the world.

After a bit of a drought, during which everything I wrote I deemed unsuitable for publication, it seems like several arresting ideas have been popping up every day. That said, I am going to post a series on my blog sharing some of the things I have been thinking about God, about Christianity and about my life in Haiti.  I believe that these thoughts have a clear connection to my heart.  They are about finding my way.

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I find that some people get so far into their heads when thinking about God that they lose contact with their hearts.  This, I think, is a serious mistake.  It is the heart that apprehends God.  I am obviously not one who would suggest we should not use our brains.  But having ideas about God, no matter how profound, is a far, far distance from knowing and experiencing Him.  Those are heart things.

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I have shared with a few of my close friends the difficulty of maintaining a Christian witness in Haiti.  I explained that aspects of the culture have a way of getting under my skin, leading me to behave in some very unchristian ways.  I find myself resentful of being targeted by those who would use me, cheat me, lie to me, steal from me.  More times than I like to admit, my resentments have caused me to treat people in ways of which I am not proud.

A comment from a blog I read has caused me to repent, to think about things differently.  Perhaps it will help.

 

I “turn the other cheek” because I realize that what you do to me is because of your issues and not about me. I can have compassion for you knowing that I need not burden myself with revenge, judgment, or anger for actions that have nothing to do with me.

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Labels drive me crazy.  Here in Haiti, being white elicits all kinds of preconceptions, most centered on money.  Most identify any white person as American, and that brings up everything they associate with that designation.  When I emphatically point out I am indeed Canadian, there is usually an instant and very obvious shift to another set of assumptions.  The slightest bit of digging reveals that many of these have nothing to do with who I am.

Which leads me to my growing aversion to using the self-descriptor “Christian”.  It comes loaded with so much baggage.  The mere mention of the word causes so many stereotypical thoughts and images to come rushing to people’s minds, most of them wrong and unhelpful.  When I identify myself as a Christian to a “non-believer” (a label that suggests the person believes in nothing), it is likely that I am about to be heading down the road toward explaining that I am “not that kind of Christian”.  Telling another believer that I am a Christian will likely lead to questions as to what kind of Christian I am. This is important to those who seem intent upon showing that their particular branch of Christianity is the only one that has the Christian message right.  Christians don’t agree on who’s a Christian and who’s not.  Within some congregations people even express doubts about each other.  Perhaps Christian is a label that has too much meaning and, at the same time, too little meaning.

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I realized long ago that the more convinced I am that I am “right,” the more likely it is that I will behave like a jerk to anyone who does not share my convictions.  The surer I am about my beliefs the more likely it is that I will feel justified in being a jerk.  Perhaps I will even feel obligated to be one.

And I’ve noticed I am not alone in this.

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I read a little story that I think has a profound message.  The author relates a childhood experience.  He was playing near his home and heard a girl singing “Jesus Loves Me.”  He went to see who it was, as he thought she had to be from his church because that was a song he had learned there.  But to his surprise, he didn’t know her.  Suddenly he was hit by the realization that in churches other than his own people sang “Jesus Loves Me.”  He couldn’t figure out how these people could know the song if they didn’t attend his church.  “It was MY song.  OUR song.  Owned by my church.

But apparently, we didn’t.  Others knew it and sang it.”

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I ask myself, “When you read the gospel message are you amazed by it?  Are you staggered by the unthinkable, that the infinite, eternal God of the universe broke into our world to be one of us?  Are you overwhelmed with gratitude that Jesus, He who was without sin, gave Himself in the name of love for you, to save you, something that is foolish apart from faith?  Are you astonished that the Son of God dares you to be His disciple?  Do you stand in wonder that He offers to live within you, to give you a new heart?”  Perhaps I take the words of the gospel a little too lightly.

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I think perhaps the Christian life simply involves being a man or a woman, and allowing Christ, not the world, to define that.  It is when my true self is revealed that the crucified Christ is glorified.

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Enough for today.

If you’re a person who prays, pray for me as I stumble along my path, trying to follow the One who has called me.  If you are not, I’ll be happy just to know that you thought what I wrote worth reading.

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