Friday, August 1, 2014

Whose side are you on?

Hey everyone!
Long time, no blog!
Here is why...

I got married on June 19th!!! 
It was a beautiful day and a fun filled week with our families that will go down in the history books as one of the best weeks of my life!
I was planning on blogging once we got back, but something unexpected came up.
A few days after we came home, I had to have emergency surgery. 
So the past month, I've been recovering from surgery.
With home healthcare nurses, excruciating pain, and a few annoying complications, our first month of marriage has been nothing short of interesting.
Dave has been wonderful throughout it all. He's definitely been fulfilling his vows already and I am so thankful!
Now, I'm just praying that no more complications will arise and it will be smooth sailing from here on out!

So that's my short little update for you! 
I'm sorry it has been so long, but I know that you happens, right?
We just have to do whatever we can to get past the hurdles and road bumps.

Last night, Dave and I were reading the book, "Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet" by Karen Armstrong. You may be wondering, "Why are you reading that?" 
Well, Dave and I are kind of nerdy. We enjoy learning new things, including things that may not affect us personally. We realize the importance of having knowledge not just in our religion or culture, but in others, as well.

As he was reading out loud, my brain felt like it was going to explode!
Blog ideas kept rushing in! Ahh!!
As he was reading about church history such as the Crusades, all I could think about was how nothing has really changed. Yes, of course, there have been some changes, but when we look across the board and see the divisiveness with such a hostile foundation of religion, we haven't made much changes.
I look outside. I surf the web. I watch the news. I read articles. I hear conversations.
The only common denominator I find is division. The question of, "Whose side are you on?!" comes up often. Perhaps, my optimistic self is being pessimistic today? I don't think so.
 Perhaps, I'm simply being a realist right now.

Culture divided.
Religion divided.
Christianity divided.
Race divided.
Politics divided.
Economic status divided.
Nations divided.
Families divided.
A world divided.

We've been struggling with this since the beginning of time.
Sure, we may have made some improvements (especially here in the US), in terms of rights and freedom, but we are nowhere near perfect. In fact, not one nation is perfect, even America. 

Our red,white & blue tinted glasses should no longer hide the reality that is right in front of us.
We are divided. 
You may be thinking, "Well Chelsea, of course we are divided. We have 7 billion people here on Earth, all with different personalities and beliefs, so of course we're divided!"

Guess what? I agree.
However, when it comes to following in Jesus' footsteps, I feel like we need to tread carefully.

Where does Jesus ever encourage division amongst people?
Bueller? Anyone? 

Here are two examples:
Jews & Gentiles. The culture of Jesus' day were all about the separation of Jews & Gentiles, but Jesus, not so much. He supported equality amongst all people. Apostle Paul said, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:27-28)
Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26). Jews were not to interact with Samaritans, but Jesus did, and even offered her living water!
Tax Collectors  & Zealots. Two groups of Jews in Palestine with probably the most intense hate towards each other and guess what?! Jesus chose one of each to be his disciples, Matthew the Tax Collector and Simon the Zealot. I don't think that was by mistake or coincidence, but on purpose, to prove that in Jesus there is no division. The disciples shared life together and here we see 2 enemies living life together.

From these examples in the Bible, we see that division is a reality, but that doesn't mean it's right. 

From the words and actions of Jesus Christ, do we see that division is helpful?.
We may pat ourselves on the back when we "win" a culture war, but is Jesus standing nearby waiting to give us a high-five? 
I doubt it.

I feel like we often pick "sides" too quickly.
It's not about sides. (I think Jesus would back me up on this).
It's not always about who is right and who is wrong.

I feel as Christians, we are held accountable to not quickly pick a "side" and move on, but to look at the subject from all angles. Talking to someone of a different race, culture, religion will allow us to get to know the hearts of God's children. Instead of generalizing, let's start "personalizing". 

I used to have a certain idea of Muhammad. A dark, violent picture, but did I really take the time to learn about him?
No, I didn't. I quickly chose a side and moved on.
Although we haven't gotten far into the Muhammad book, I've realized that I've believed some things about the Muslim faith that were simply stereotypes and not truth.

As Christians, we are not called to pick a side and move on, we are called to love one another, to get to know one another, and to respect one another.
Instead of looking at hot topics like the children immigrating to the US, gender equality, and war, then picking a side based on politics or simple generalizations, I feel that we should be open enough to look from a different angle. To empathize. To wade in the middle of both sides instead of diving into one. 

As Christians, do we have to pick a side? 
I don't think so. I think that as long as we are faithfully following Jesus and His teachings of justice, grace, love, peace and mercy, we don't need a side. Sure we can have our beliefs and share them, but we are complex beings and generalized decisions will not do.
Jesus was not about culture wars, so we shouldn't be either.

My challenge for you is to explore! Make a decision to learn about something outside of your comfort zone. Do you have a bitterness towards something? Perhaps a different religion. Are you confused about something? Maybe gender equality. Have you always been interested in a culture and haven't made the time to dive in?

I struggle with making generalizations at times, but then I  am reminded to align myself with Jesus. Dave and I will continue to read the Muhammad book and I'm excited to learn about a different faith.

God knows our hearts and I think the best way to move forward, is to get to know the children of God (meaning all people of every race, nation, and culture) and their hearts.
I mean, would you like to be generalized into a certain category without any chance to explain yourself?

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I'm so glad you stopped by! I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Be blessed :)