G'ampa C's Blog

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Dream

I was awakened after 1:58 this morning in a bit of a cold sweat. I had had a dream, the same dream, for at least three times in the past few weeks. I seldom remember my dreams past a few waking minutes these days, but this one stayed with me and I was wide awake. I'm taking some meds right now which help the sinus infection, but keep me from sleeping much more than just occasionally.

This dream is a doozy.
When I woke up, I was being asked by Jesus what I would do with my life. Is that a strange question for someone who turned 51 today?
I had a sense of going back to the beginning. A clean slate. My parents had little, I think, but yet I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, in a spiritual sense. I started kindergarten while I was still 4, but I knew what the Golden Rule was, I knew something of who God was, and something of who Jesus was, and I was involved with that knowledge. I knew the memory verse that I should love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and love my neighbor as myself. (KJV, of course.)
I learned that some of the world around me, both in the church and out, did not always operate on the Golden Rule, but another rule that was self-preserving and self-protecting. Survival instincts. Through life, many people are plunked into the world around me, and my slate becomes awash in people. Some really good, some not so good, some really best described as awful. (RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT.) The people around me whom I considered "good" got the Golden Rule a lot of the time, others did not. (RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT!) Not so, Lord! These are not deserving of the Golden Rule. (WHAT GOD HAS CALLED CLEAN, DO NOT CALL IT UNCLEAN!)
Jerry Taylor was in my dream this time, talking about racial injustice in the world and the church. Discrimination and reverse discrimination. My small group was there, my wife was there, my children were there. Then there were so many, many others. Church members who are very like me, and those who don't see things exactly as I do. Widows in India holding up Abilene bags, folks who are "difficult", folks who love me unconditionally, and those who do not. Folks who have hurt me, folks who have treated me or my close loved ones without love or respect. Folks who go to church but are not really churched.
Racial injustice is visible, tangible, and clearly without God's Truth. Some of these other injustices are more pervasive and sneaky. They are easy and slide right into the way I live. They all boil down to pride of self and a failure to love first.

Do I really claim to love the poor, yet change nothing in my life to help them much or at all? Or is that a prejudice I cling to internally to keep them away? Couldn't they just get a job?
Do I really love the brethren of the church who are more "conservative" than I, or more "liberal" than I, while I sneer just a bit at their "lack of sound judgement"? How do I deal with those whose convictions about truth are not exactly the same as mine? (RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT!) What arrogance and pride surround my kindly judging of those who don't agree with THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO ME.
What about my enemies, here and abroad. Did anyone besides me get a feeling of maybe satisfaction when our military bombed our enemies with such accuracy and then rooted Saddam out of his cellar? Did anyone aside from me feel a sense of "in your face" when the Muslim world got so excited about it? This is an issue of racism which departs so far from the Golden Rule that it flys in the face of Jesus and his death. The church is clearly devided on the point of war, but tries to be careful to support our troops. What we have missed is what Jesus did not miss. So far as we know, Jesus NEVER talked trash about the Roman political arena. Why not? They were the enemies of the Jewish nation, weren't they? Yes. But they were also loved by God. The same God who so loved the world that he gave his little boy for them. What would change in this country and the Muslim world if our churches, small groups, children, televangelists and politicains prayed for those who hate us? What if the church could unite in praying for our enemies to be saved by Jesus? When God answers that prayer with a yes, the war is over. BUT....Do they deserve that prayer? Just as much as me, I think, but I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Was it not Jesus who said to LOVE my enemies? To pray for those who abuse me?

God, I think, is calling ME to rise and eat: to participate somehow in the love he has for the lives around me; lives of those he sent his son to redeem. The Muslims. The different, the disagreeable, the poor (both spiritually and financially), the brothers and sisters who are compelled to leave Highland because of their convictions or because they are not ready for some things, or compelled to leave because things are not happening quickly enough and they are too ready. Those who see things differently than I do. Those who are much like me. Those whose skin is not like mine, those whose histories are not like mine. Those whose denomination is not like mine. Those who outwardly avoid me in church gatherings. Those who are needy, yet will not accept help. Those who are needy and I have never tried to help. Those who are in tough circumstances but view my attempts to help as judgemental or maybe snobbish (and maybe, accurately so). Those I just don't like very much. Those who are concerned about my beads, flip flops and Hawaiian shirts. All this came rushing out at me from this dream.
And Jesus was asking me what I would do with my life.
Cold sweat, indeed.

For years my wife and I have been troubled about what might happen in our lives if we hit it big and became the Abilene Hillbillys. (she more than I, partly because for years she was more concerned about our spiritual welfare than I) That can happen in the oil business. If I can give the right answer to the question of Jesus, that is no longer a concern. The money is his, not mine.

If I can answer his question correctly, I will grow to see those different than me with new eyes. Why did Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners? Why did he talk to prostitutes and foreigners, even though his "religion" considered them unclean? Jesus was not blind to differences of race, gender, wealth, cleanliness, spirituality, disease, profession, age, or civic importance; on the contrary, he was highly attuned to those differences. He did not need to touch the lepers to heal them: they needed it. He did not need to associate with the poor, sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors to teach them: they needed it. He changed lives because he took the first steps in showing love. He did not wait for the "different" to come around to his way of thinking so they could get along. He loved them first. I don't know what that might really look like in my life at this moment, and it makes me sweat a bit.
As I look back on my life, though, I don't think real spiritual growth has ever come without some pain and sweat.

Ever wonder what Peter felt when he heard it? (RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT!)
Ever wonder what Peter felt when he understood what it meant?

Not one of us is exactly like another. It is clearly human nature to associate ourselves with those who are most like us, though, and that is what we have done so well. But... Haven't we been called to cast off our human nature and put on Christ?

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