A few months back I got a messenger bag that I was told I had to carry around with me everywhere. It was a very professional looking black, canvas bag. When it was given to me, I didn't realize there was a problem with it.
The edges hadn't been sealed before the parts were stitched together. Anyone who has dealt with canvas understands how important it is to seal the edges. Canvas can fray pretty badly. Typically, I iron on a backing to the edge to give the canvas some support. There was nothing for this bag, so it had been in my possession for about a week and this tiny hole appeared at the top middle. I knew what was coming, but there was no way to stop it. A couple of months later, when I had to turn the bag back in, the entire top had come undone. It no longer looked professional. It looked like trash.
Your ministers didn't prepare for this
About a decade ago I sat in a church meeting where we were discussing the age ole' question: How do we reach people who are not normally reached by a "traditional" worship. (I'm using really big air quotes for the word "traditional." I tend to translate the word to be anything that uses the general skeleton of modern worship. They meant organ vs guitar.)
I don't usually refrain from saying what needs to be said. It's what makes me off-putting. It's also what people respect about me. I named the problem that day. We were 20 years behind the world. All churches were. We needed a hard change to meet the culture head on.
I vividly remember the answer to this statement. I remember the room I was in. I remember the lighting. I remember the faint smell of breakfast pastries and coffee. I remember the woman who said it. I remember the anxiety she had on her face as she spoke. "The world is changing so fast, we just want something that stays the same."
It was really thirty, but let's say ten years ago was the collective moment where the Church was called to prepare. Ten years ago we chose ease over need. Now we live in a world where our sanctuaries have become one of the easiest places to spread Covid-19. God gave us ample time to prep the Christian fabric for what was coming, but the world was changing so fast, the church just wanted something to stay the same. For many churches, going online didn't work. Why?
You can't be authentic on camera until you've had years talking to a camera.
You can't bring 60-90 year old people into digital spaces if they've never wanted to be there.
You can't be an online church if you never wanted online church.
I wish I had Brueggemann's "Prophetic Imagination" in front of me 10 years ago. Passion does not rise from complacency and sedation. Souls do not truly sing from comfort. It is from our lament that passion takes hold, and from our passion we build our hope. If we don't begin our process from lament, our hopes will eventually fray and fall to pieces.
Here's my warning for the future. Just like there were personalities that took hold when the television became a centerpiece in everyone's home, there were be the same with the internet. These personalities will solidify how we define online "church." Most Americans don't have the creative spirit to see anything beyond copy/pasting their worship online. These copy/paste internet worships are built on fear, not passion. They will fray and fall away, because nothing can grow without first being prepped with lament and hope.
If we don't get serious about letting the past go and finding our prophets for this next generation, wolves in sheep clothing will take our spot. We'll give our potential to those who are ready to fleece the poor, just like they did with television "ministry."
Simply put: Stop looking for comfort. God's not there. God's in the shadows with the lost. God's in the infirmaries with the broken. God's with those who lament. Maybe it's time we did too.
I woke this morning, not to see who had been elected president (an answer we still don't have at 6am), but to see how people were reacting to it all.
Y'all, we've lost. I'm not saying our candidate (whoever it was we chose) lost. I'm saying we as a nation have lost. We are officially at the stage where we're raging against ourselves. We've declared a villain. We've chosen who to hate. Then we pretend it's only the other side who are doing that.
Our actions are far more powerful than our vote.
Let me repeat that: OUR ACTIONS ARE FAR MORE POWERFUL THAN OUR VOTE!
We are called to love our enemy, and pray for our persecutors. Why? Because exchanging hate for hate only deepens the chasm. Christianity is so very scandalous because of it's unifying nature. God wants all at the table, and that's a hard job. It's a job so much harder than just choosing to vilify.
We are the losers, and the winners couldn't be happier. The winners are the ones who gain something from our division. The winners are deepening divides and tearing apart unions. We cannot sit back and allow the real evil to persist, but we can't until we love our neighbor and find some kind of common ground. That happens now- through our actions. Through our words. Through our hearts.
-Rev Melissa Fain-
I'm about to drop some statistics for the sake of a point. I'll keep it simple, and promise not to blow your mind with big words or ideas.
Back in the 70's there used to be a game show called "Let's Make A Deal." The host was Monty Hall. There's a version of it today hosted by Wayne Brady. Everything I'm about to say might be completely true of the reboot as well, but I've never seen it. I used to watch the 70's show in reruns all the time. So, just know I'm talking from my known experience watching an old game show, not whatever they are doing with the show now.
In the show, Monty Hall would pick a guest from the audience. In this case, the more outlandish the outfit the better the chance of being picked.
In one of the most classic of games, Monty would show the guest three doors. Behind one door would be a decent prize: $5,000 or a car. Something like that. (Remember, this was 70's money, so $5k was worth more back then.) Behind the other two doors would be trash. (Back then, one of them would be a goat. I doubt they'd do that today, because many young adults would love their own goat.) The point is, you would only win if you pick the correct door.
Monty tells the contestant to pick a door. They do. Instead of showing what's behind the door they picked, Monty shows what's behind one of the remaining two doors. The contestant sees a goat.
Monty then gives the contestant an option. Stick with her door, or pick the remaining third door. Is it helpful to switch at that point?
You might be thinking the answer is no, that the chances would remain the same. You'd actually be wrong. When the contestant first picked a door they had a 1 in 3 chance of winning the big prize. However, when Monty eliminated one of the non-choices, the odds of their door remained the same, while the odds of the non-picked door went up to a 2 in 3 chance of winning.
By eliminating one of the two remaining options, it gave value to the unpicked doors. It would be like Monty telling the contestant, "You picked your door, but would you rather give up your door, and get to open both of the other doors?"
In that perspective, of course opening two doors has a greater chance of getting the prize than opening one door. That's why switching doors is statistically better.
The Great Covid Game
Most of us are jokingly playing 2020 like a daytime game. We're using the Cabin in the Woods meme to make light of how crazy and dark this year has become.
Who had hurricane at the end of October?
It's insane. It's partly insane because we're looking for insanity at this point. We cannot wrap our heads around how quickly and completely the world has totally changed. We simply thought 2019 was bad when it was just the rain forest being purposefully destroyed, and Australia being on fire. We're in a whole new level of insane for 2020.
We are all living with door number one, willing to jump through whatever other option is set before us, because at least we won't be stuck with a whammy. (Wrong game.) Only this isn't a game, and one of the doors isn't going to give us a cash prize. We are left with our door, and picking a new door isn't going to undo the door that has already been picked.
We are attempting to believe all this is a Monty Hall problem. We think the argument is whether picking another option is not as bad as staying with your initial choices.
Who has civil unrest at the beginning of November?
Like I said, this isn't a game. This is real life, and we can't magically change our mind once choices have already been made.
I'm going to tell you something that is going to blow your mind: You don't have to play their game. Life isn't a game, so when someone tells you to play their game, "No" is a valid choice.
Here's where I stand:
I'm being told to choose a side so everyone knows whether to hate or support me. I don't have to choose a side at all. I don't agree with any of these strawmen right now, so I'm not going pick one. I choose "No."
I'm being told to save what we have or burn it to the ground. I'm sorry? I love the people who want to save what we had, and I'm aware enough to know we've opened too many doors to save it. "No."
While the world is trying to justify 2/3 chance over 1/3 chance of something good behind the doors, I'm done with the doors! I chose years ago that it is better to die free in the wilderness than starving in Babylon. "No."
Who has something different for the future? You can keep your odds. I'll be outside the building.
In Exodus, Moses get's frustrated with God. Well, less with God directly, and more focused on the unknowns. Moses wants to know it all. He wants to have a clear path to the Promised Land without the lingering doubt that sits with any plan.
When he talks to God, his discussion is very similar to prayers I've prayed over the years. Let me give you an example of one of my prayers:
"God? I've been taking this path for years now. I feel like I'm going to right way. I feel this is helping others, but couldn't you just speak it to me and then I'll know, know? Can't I just see 5-10 years in the future and then I won't have this fear?"
The future, no matter how planned or thought out, will always be filled with unknowns, even for Moses. God is everything, and even Moses could only see a piece of everything: ie, God's back. There has been no journey, and there never will be a journey, where we know all the answers going into it.
If we refuse to move forward because we're waiting for all our questions to be answered, all we're doing is stalling. All your questions won't be answered. That's part of the deal. The future would be very boring if we saw the cliff notes before we journeyed on. For Moses they were lucky to know their "now" was impossible. It's one of the reasons the Israelites couldn't stay in Egypt. At least in Egypt they had a home. At least in Egypt they had the illusion of security. The wilderness is nothing, and that's why we're called to it first. We must be unsettled in our now, to successfully seek our future.
We can't know it all. We can let go and seek something better. Will it end well? Well, there are really selfish people in this world who are spiteful to the point of hurting goodness, so I can't promise you perfection. No one can. I can promise you, stagnation never has a good ending. Ever. If that's where we're at, you have to make your choice. Fester, or attempt something radically new. If you want me to tell you exactly what that will look like, sorry. God didn't even give Moses the entire picture. I just know I'm not staying in the wilderness.
-Pastor Melissa Fain-
1 Jesus responded by speaking again in parables: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding party for his son. 3 He sent his servants to call those invited to the wedding party. But they didn’t want to come. 4 Again he sent other servants and said to them, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look, the meal is all prepared. I’ve butchered the oxen and the fattened cattle. Now everything’s ready. Come to the wedding party!”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went away—some to their fields, others to their businesses. 6 The rest of them grabbed his servants, abused them, and killed them.
7 “The king was angry. He sent his soldiers to destroy those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding party is prepared, but those who were invited weren’t worthy. 9 Therefore, go to the roads on the edge of town and invite everyone you find to the wedding party.’
10 “Then those servants went to the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding party was full of guests. 11 Now when the king came in and saw the guests, he spotted a man who wasn’t wearing wedding clothes. 12 He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to his servants, ‘Tie his hands and feet and throw him out into the farthest darkness. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.’
14 “Many people are invited, but few people are chosen.”
Matthew 22:1-14 CEB
People can tell you they are anything. They can espouse a belief system they don't personally follow. Not much is stopping anyone from being absolute liars to your face (or online).
Take Frank Abagnale Jr.. In the 1960's he ran away from home with just a few dollars to his name. He then faked at least 8 identities, and created fake checks and cashed it. What he told others, was not at all who he really was. Abagnale would write a book about his journey in 1980, and Hollywood would pick it up 20 years later and make the movie: Catch Me If You Can.
On one hand, we have a responsibility to fact check our sources. Take me, for instance. I tell you I'm a minister and I've been doing online ministry for 8 years now. There better be something that backs that up. Well, if you look to the right you can see eight years of archived posts. If you click the about tab you can see how I became an online minister including my schooling. I know people who can say, yes, Melissa Fain went to Candler School of theology and she graduated with a Masters of Divinity. There are people who will say I put my actions where my words are. I take the truth very seriously. I make that transparent because there are plenty who don't. Not all people who say they are a minister online, are really a minister.
Therefore, on the other hand, we need to see how a person's actions speaks to their real purpose. For example, I'm basically a full time sub. That's how I've gotten paid for the past 4-5 years. The school I sub has had zero confirmed cases since they opened back in early August. Masks are also "strongly encouraged," and not mandated. It would be easy for me to just go maskless. There are so many students that have begun to feel comfortable and stopped wearing theirs. Yet, the thought of being the family that starts a super spreader event at that school horrifies me. I love the staff at the school. Maybe I'll never catch it or spread it, but I cannot know. It is for that reason I wear a mask at all times. It's not comfortable, but it is the easiest way to show love to these teachers and staff that didn't have a choice about going back to school.
How we're like the scripture for today
The craziness of the world today has clarified many scriptures for me.
When one dismisses or ignores something, it's not because they believe it. Kids ignore their parents all the time because they think they know better. In other words, they don't believe their parents when their parents tell their child something is dangerous.
We don't act from other's beliefs. We act from our own belief systems. We also lie from those same systems. When we lie to someone about our belief, our actions are saying, "I don't trust you enough to treat me the same way if I tell you what I believe."
When a person stops hearing differing points of view, it's usually because they've become a person who can't be trusted with other people's belief. They've lost the power to change anything.
The scripture today is about God's story to the people, and the people's rejection of the story. It is also our rejection. There are times God tells us to go and we stay. There are times God invites us and we reject that invitation or kill it. Perhaps we don't kill it like the prophets were killed, but it's dead by the time we're done with it. Death happens in many ways.
I get this scripture better today because I can see how belief plays out in our actions. We support what we believe. We act from that belief system. Saying you believe something is different than the actions that show that belief.
You believe something? It shows.
So you say you want the 10 Commandments in front of the courthouse because it unifies multiple faith traditions and exemplifies codified law. Or to simplify it: Everyone gets the 10 Commandments.
Only- that's not exactly true. It's often times presented in ways that not only point only to Christians, but not even all Christians. Let's pretend we are going to commission someone to build the 10 Commandments outside our local courthouse. Here are the questions I'd ask before we set to work.
The easy answer is Exodus 20. Yet, Exodus 20 is not the only place the commandments appear. It also appears in Deuteronomy 5:6–17 and Exodus 34. The scripture changes depending on which one we pick. Below are some ways they change.
How are you separating them?
In 1551, Robert Estienne put verse numbers in the New Testament. We generally use these separations when reading anything from the New Testament.
Around 916 AD the Hebrew Bible had stops added to the texts. When the Hebrew Bible was eventually translated into English, most of these stops became the natural ending of one verse moving into another.
Verses and chapters are meant to help a group of people find a specific text together. That does not mean it was how the original author intended his work to be separated. This is true of the 10 Commandments. The way the scripture is separated into Commandments greatly depends on one's faith tradition.
Below is a chart I did not create myself. Clicking it will take you to a Catholic Blogger and a pretty decent article on idols in the Church.
The moment we begin numbering, we've made a statement regarding our specific faith tradition. Just because it's the 10 Commandments, doesn't mean we are including Jewish, Islamic and Christian faith traditions. It wouldn't even include all Christians, as Catholic and Protestants number the commandments differently. Still, there's one more hang up to consider.
Every translation of the original text is a theological statement. What do I mean? Let's look at the Protestant and Jewish 6th Commandment.
Depending on how you understand the original Hebrew it reads two ways:
There are translations where the translation team decided murder was the more appropriate word. There are other translations where the translation team believed kill was the more appropriate translation. Many of these modern teams put the opposite word in the margins so the reader can see there was not consensus on the translation. (If you have one these, that's what those tiny words are at the bottom of text. The one that wins goes in the text, and the one that held a contingent of support but didn't win goes in the margins.
These questions come up throughout the Bible as translation is an art. Words don't have a one to one ratio. The translation used not only expresses the 10 Commandments in a certain language, but it also makes a statement on broader beliefs tied to that translation. Yes, the King James Version has beautiful language, but it is also rejected by modern scholars. It was phenomenal during the time, but we've learned so much more about the original text, and English has evolved.
The Commandments are different for my two favorite translations, the CEB and NRSV. The NRSV uses "shall not" while the CEB uses "do not." The NRSV uses the "shall not covet" while the CEB uses "do not desire." Going back to the first example, the NRSV is written, "You shall not murder," with "kill" in the margins. The CEB, conversely, has "Do not kill," in the text and "murder" in the margins.
I would translate the original Hebrew to mean "murder," yet I prefer the modern language of "do not." We can see the issues translation alone can create.
I just want you to take something you might have considered easy, and realize it's not. We are living in a world where we're being told it's yes/no, right/wrong, Choice A/Choice B. God didn't create the Earth in that manner, and we shouldn't separate it in that way. We're breaking apart. Whatever cracks existed in our society, the Pandemic has come through like a earthquake and pulled them apart. What would have taken years, has taken place in 6 months. ALL THE CRACKS.
I'm asking. No, I'm pleading. The next time you see something that has painted an issue as clear cut, stop. Try to see at least two more points of view. Try to understand how something isn't a good choice you fully believe is. Try to see how something is a good choice, that you fully believe is not. That's the glue we need right now. Honestly, it's too late to change what's coming. Our minds are made up one way or another (and I'm talking way more than just a political race.) We have reached the point of no return. What's coming is coming. We need to prepare to honestly and genuinely reconnect after everything has hit. That starts now, and it starts with seeing the glory in God's creation, and the diversity in God's work.
There will always be a time after you.
Leadership is the ability to work for the team, not the ability to make your skill set indispensable.
I hate bubbles.
Let me clarify, I love actual bubbles. There used to be this whole area of Silver Dollar City where anyone could put themselves in a giant bubble. I loved seeing the swirling rainbows all around me as the bubble was pulled up around my body. I also love seeing actual bubbles in general. I think part of that fascination is their use in the movie Labyrinth. I want to catch one like David Bowie did, not that he ever really did, but still wanting to try.
What I hate is leadership bubbles.
Leadership bubbles are situations where one person makes themselves indispensable by creating a skill set they do not help others earn. The system runs great while they are in it, but the moment they leave, the bubble pops, and everything fails.
When you know an institution would fail if that one person leaves, you know you've met a bubble maker.
I don't want to be in the bubble making business.
I'm in a strange place with Fig Tree. I'm like a mother with a toddler. I'm both protecting and empowering. These are formative years, years that set the tone for the remaining years.
At the same time, I HATE the Melissa show! The Melissa show is one big bubble, waiting to be popped.
It's technically great for me. I get all the focus. It's terrible for Fig Tree. I've always had bigger vision for this, and it never ended with me. I saw a ministry for the broken, not just me talking about it in front of a camera or in a blog. I saw digital ministry being more than a Sunday worship.
I'm guarded with my celebrations, it's because I've always been playing the very long game. I could write or produce something, and it could get thousands of views, but until there is more than me doing it, it's a failure. Not because it's a failure right this minute, but because we're at a point where if I were to die tomorrow, Fig Tree and everything it has been building up to be, would die with me.
I see the potential, The loss of what could be, is greater than what we have now.
Church is not a business
Corporations have trained us to be bubble makers. We want our specific skill set to be so unique that upper management can't easily replace us. It turns skill into a resource, and takes community out of the equation.
Church can't work that way. True, we are individuals, each with our own perspective. It's impossible to see the world through anyone else's eyes. It is through our individual perspective that God calls us to be a communal group. We must trust God enough to make our skill set a communal skill set. To trust in God's overarching story over and beyond our desire to be more than obsolete. We are never obsolete in God's eyes when we are in a true community of believers.
-Pastor Melissa Fain-
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and moving on finally to the first.’ 9 When those who were hired at five in the afternoon came, each one received a denarion. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each of them also received a denarion. 11 When they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 ‘These who were hired last worked one hour, and they received the same pay as we did even though we had to work the whole day in the hot sun.’
13 “But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I did you no wrong. Didn’t I agree to pay you a denarion? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I want to give to this one who was hired last the same as I give to you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you resentful because I’m generous?’ 16 So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.”
- - -
Matthew 20:8-16 CEB
Your value is not in your salvation. Also, your worth does not go up once you've found salvation.
We are called to treat people like their value.
God has deemed everyone has value. Everyone is priceless.
The lost coin still had value even though it was lost.
The lost sheep still had value even though it was lost.
The prodigal son still had value while eating the pig's slop.
My younger self saw Matthew 20 all wrong.
I was baptized when I was eight. It was a personal choice, one that my father let me make when I felt ready to make make it. I had heard Matthew 20 preached 4-5 times before seminary, and every time the minister never had me hooked. The longer I was a Christian, the more I realized I was the grumbling workers. I was putting in a full day's work, for the same pay as the ones that came at the last hour.
Every minister I had heard had taken this pay being salvation. I don't think so.
Coming to work is salvation. The denarion is placing value on the people. All of us have value. Just because I was baptized when I was eight, grew up in the church, and eventually went to seminary and was ordained, doesn't make my value any higher than anyone else. Instead of grumbling, I should see what is lost.
There are so many in this world who cannot see their inherent value. Be it because of Christians that have overinflated their own value, or circumstances that have demoralized and brought the person low.
I'm not the same person who started this Christian journey. I've gone from a puffed up idiot, grumbling to God about fairness, to helping others see they deserve as much as anyone else, even those who have been lost most of their lives.
That changes the ending of Matthew 20. We choose whether it's good or bad to be last.
If we're in it for ourselves, the ending is punishment by being put in our place at the end of the line.
If we're in it for the whole, everyone, the ending is reward. We have the opportunity to see people discover they have worth. It's a celebration of God's generosity. "Wow, God! Those people found themselves, and you gave them their own finder's fee! I'm glad I got to see that."
That's where our hearts and minds need to be. Jesus often didn't make the "new way" a path that had never been walked, but a new perspective on the path we walk every day.
-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Eight years ago, I tried to wrap my head around church abuse. Not only had I been witness to it on multiple occasions, people were beginning to come to me with stories. They were stories different from my own, but contained the same vulgar grains. All but one attempted to cover over or cover up the indiscretion. All were attempting to gain or keep power. I remember pulling out Matthew 18:15-20, and seeing it for the first time for the victim.
15 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. 16 But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. 17 But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector. 18 I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven. 19 Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.”
Matthew 18:15-20 CEB
I needed the church to engage the guilty in this very way. Talk to them privately. If that didn't work, have two or three talk with them. If that didn't work, make it a whole church matter. I felt like church abuse, in all it's forms involved augmenting, hiding, and destroying. God's light needed to get in there and exact some good change.
Well, let's just say any scripture can be used in multiple ways. When it comes to broken churches, they break scripture.
In a broken church, abusers will use this scripture to attack the abused.
When a tool is turned into a weapon
There are a few ways broken churches break this scripture:
If your brother or sister sins against you...
If you're a minister, and planning on preaching this scripture on Sunday, realize the power it wields.
When weaponized, it can destroy your church from the foundation up. It won't be an obvious destruction. It will crack your foundation and seep into your walls like black mold. The only people who will see what you've done are the ones you've hurt.
If used as Christ intended, to bring us to wholeness. It's meant for church disputes, not abuse.
-Pastor Melissa Fain-
"Love should be shown without pretending."
Romans 12:1a CEB
There have been two times where I've thought the Bible basically preaches itself. In both cases they've been Paul writing about love.
The first time was my very first sermon on Youth Sunday my senior year of high school. The scripture was 1 Cor 13- the "Love Chapter." I boldly stood at the pulpit and said, "You should love, that's it! It's that simple.!" I remember how on fire I was sharing this simple message. I remember how graceful the congregants were in accepting it. I've since preached multiple sermons on 1 Cor 13. (You can find at least three on this site.) My words have been trained and honed. I do more than just throw it out there. I give reasons. Buuuuut... I still can just sit in 1 Cor 13 and feel the message stands: Just love. That's it. It really is that simple.
Today marks the second time Paul's words just gets me. In Romans none-the-less! Just a few weeks ago I explained how I started my journey reading Biblical letters (about the same time I gave my first sermon) in Romans. Sure it's the first letter, but it's the most condensed book. Every word counts. It's a tapestry of theological knowledge that needs to be slowly explored to get a full and honest picture. It's a beautifully written letter.
"Let love be genuine." That's how it reads in the NRSV translation. If your not careful you'll miss the power behind that small sentence. It wasn't the NRSV that stopped me. It was the CEB:
Love should be shown without pretending.
Well, if that doesn't speak to my soul right now. We are a tense, pressurized people right now. Pressure can be a good thing, but most have never had to live with it. To suddenly feel it we've gone into the flight or fight mode. I've heard it on both sides:
"I'm shutting down. Not going to engage. I've just got to get away." If this is you, you are reacting to all this with flight. It's instinctual to run away from the problem. Only the problem remains. It's not some saber-tooth tiger that found some other tasty snack. What you've left behind are the others, and they are fighting.
I'm not talking good fighters. I'm talking people who are feeling the same tension and pressure you're feeling and they are barking to look scarier than they are. This is instinctual too. Only the problem isn't something we can scare away with big angry words.
Not easy empty love. Not love that is shown with cards and flowers. That kind of love is like balloons in a pressure chamber in this environment. They simple pop. We need something that can withstand the growing tensions.
Love should be shown without pretending.
Oof! Showing love, sure, but without pretending?
Hot take: We pretend love. All. The. Time. Wanna hear something crazy? It's a form of flight. It's a safe backdoor to quietly sneak out and not have to engage. You get to play nice, without really doing anything.
The whole book of Romans is love without pretending. It's Paul's swan song, the last writing before he was executed for being what God called him to be. It's a love built on the grace of God. A love that seeks out in order to relieve the tension and pressure building up in this world. It's a love that faces the anger and fear, no matter the consequence.
The answer is easy, love. The practice of it is anything but easy. Individually, none of us are called to save the world. All of us have lives. All of us have things we need to save. Including me. That's what makes it so very difficult. If you want to know how we sell the world, this is how. Fake love. Love that doesn't change anything. Love that gives us the easy out.
For me the words are comforting. People will attack you for showing love without pretending. You need to know it is right even when others attack or run away. I can sit in those words. For me it is that simple. Love.