I have been, for what ever reason, at times reticent to simply post longer quotes from things I read. Not sure if there is some kind of subtle pressure I place on myself or if I just don’t want to get in the habit of not thinking independently. But, none-the-less, there are things that I read, outside of the Scriptures, that force me to think differently, or at least from a different angle/perspective than I was prior to colliding with it.
I know that there is a subtle temptation as a teacher/preacher in the church world, no matter how unintentionally, to look out at the 3, 30, or 300 faces that I am speaking to and begin to think that there is a difference between us. When I am not quite as drunk on my own current situation I am completely aware of this. But passages like the one I will quote below keep my perspective healthy and my soul tender to the reality of life.
I don’t believe that preaching and teaching are unique however. I am quite convinced that there are a myriad of situations that can cause us to start functionally believing that life is an “us/them” affair (the current acidic nature of the political divide in America being a perfect example). The truth is far more unified. Life is not “us/them”, but it is “us/Him”. To find ourselves undeservedly wrapped in the arms of God’s gracious love ought never create a wall between us and anyone who remains outside of that embrace. In fact, instead of those arms fashioning a barrier between us and the world, they actually create a bridge. Was it not because of Jesus’ confident assurance in the Father’s love and acceptance of Him that gave Him the freedom to break current traditional mindsets and eat with, talk to, and associate with “sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors”? Grace doesn’t produce spiritual mercenaries, it creates courageous missionaries.
So I offer this passage from one of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner. May we all long for life to be a reunion, not a revolt.
We are above all things loved – that is the good news of the gospel – and loved not just the way we turn up on Sundays in our best clothes and on our best behavior and with our best feet forward, but loved as we alone know ourselves to be, the weakest and shabbiest of what we are along with the strongest and gladdest. To come together as people who believe that just maybe this gospel is actually true should be to come together like people who have just won the Irish Sweepstakes. It should have us throwing our arms around each other like people who have just discovered that every single man and woman in those pews is not just another familiar or unfamiliar face but is our long-lost brother and our long-lost sister because despite the fact that we have all walked in different gardens and knelt at different graves, we have all, humanly speaking, come from the same place and are heading out into the same blessed mystery that awaits us all.
– Frederick Buechner