My birthday was yesterday. The hubs was home because he has the most amazing job in the world where he works a few weeks and then has a week off... or three! This is our new normal after living apart, on and off for the past six years. We don't fit a traditional mold which is okay with us.
We live in a community that is less than traditional. This is okay too, since we live in the south and lets face it, we would be terrible southern belles and gents. Diversity is our cup of coffee. Coffee is cool people. Actually cool people really like coffee, it's like a god around here. Peets coffee is the best and making it at home is about the un-coolest thing you can do, but I'm cool with that.
Today we were out and the hubs suggested we get some cigars to celebrate my birthday. We stopped in the cigar shop we have visited before. The fella helped us and after some friendly political chatter he asked if we were local. We don't really look local. No tattoos, I don't have a beard... I mean the hubs doesn't. I think he had a sailing tee shirt on. Come on dude, dead give away... rich, white man. Just kidding, we are not rich. Rich in Jesus, yes. Rich in community, yes.
Back to the question. Yes, we live here. He lives a little closer to downtown, in a tough area. He said he has lied to his kids more times than he can remember, telling them those sounds are fireworks, when tucking them in at night. Recently he witnessed a woman running with a stroller and he called his wife to come look. Shocking. Gentrification.
I mentioned an amazing ministry that goes on in his neighborhood. He heard of it. He mentioned a friend who knew them. I recognized the friends famous brother. (he lives south of all of us... the safe hoods, the kind with neighborhood swimming pools) I told him the wives knew each other. He mentioned his church. I had read about it. Two guys coming together in a church plant. I told him the church we attend. He knew it. He mentioned a guy who attends, with gages in his ears and tats... I told him the ministry I was part of.
Community. I love it in its most raw, diverse, beautifully imperfect state. Real.
This only happened because we walked into a cigar shop and met the owner Joshua, who smokes cigars, has some tats, a cool beard, loves Jesus and is a pastor.
I smoke a cigar once in awhile, with a bourbon. I like it. I may have taught your kids to blow smoke rings... I'm sorry. They were over 21 at the time. This is true and it only happened once and it was all totally innocent. Honest.
Some of you are hard core judging right now. It's okay. I mean I'm okay, I'm just a little sad for you. We are different. We have different roles, different people we will engage with. This is good. I may not be able to reach your lost ones and you may struggle with mine.
Some of you would not live where I do. You wouldn't like the police copter flying low over head, over and over, until you see the person running through the yards. You'd miss the country club, a swimming pool... oh crap I miss a pool SO bad, who am I kidding? I'm a total pool snob. The Club. Nope. Nada. Never again. It's just not me. I'm not judging you.... it's just not me.
I did a post once that said, "Your fear is a bunch of bullshit." A lady publicly shamed me, telling me she was very disappointed in me. In all honesty ma'am, I'm probably not your cup of tea, and that is totally okay. But if a word bothers you, ask your self why? It's a word. I did not call anyone a hurtful word, I simply said, Your fear is a bunch of BULLSHIT. Which we all need to remember and keep looking up to the One who takes that fear and crushes it in His hands, as He pulls us close.
Recently a well known, beloved Christian writer/speaker was dropped by one of the largest Christian book chains because she shared her beliefs on gay marriage. Her beliefs may be different than many or even most traditional Christians, but the handling of it seems harsh and ugly to our gay friends. It closed down the conversation and the message was, if you can't stay in the straight lane, you can't be part of us.
This same bookstore decided not to sell Amy Grants latest Christmas album. It seems it wasn't Christian enough.
At what point do we become too much or not enough for one another? Why do we need to draw lines in the sand when sometimes we could say, I don't agree with you, but I can still love you. Help me love people who are different than me.
How many "followers of Jesus" do you know who only associate with people just. like. them? I lived like this once. It was pretty easy to stand in judgment of others, because we were all the same exact flavor. We looked the same, dressed the same, listened to the same music, bought the exact same books. We must be right. 100 % right. Where was the challenge? It looked like legalism... and that is not Jesus.
Jesus cared for the poor, the broken, the confused, the downtrodden, the lame. The ones no one else wanted to love. He loved them. He loves those we struggle to love...
As followers of Jesus we have freedom to live as God calls us. We should not be careless, but be mindful and not cause others to stumble. We should be careful with our words, recognizing that others are watching us. Do not be prone to gossip, evil talk, evil deeds.
Know His word... and sometimes be quiet. I don't need to be a voice in every matter. Speak when convicted, after prayer.
But be free in love and grace. Be enough that others will see Jesus in you. And let Jesus convict each of us how we should live. That way you are not gossiping about my cigar and I'm not swearing at you for being a jerk. Two jerks don't make a right, they make two ugly Christians.