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Incredulous, even as my fingers strike keys, that these are words anyone would ever need to write. Seems outlandish that one Jesus follower would be prompted to say to another, “judgment is not the way here brother,” “anger and fear will not produce fruit, dear sister.” Yet it becomes necessary as I read headlines of the fiasco in Warsaw, OH where after years of picket lines formed by bible quoting church folk outside the Foxhole Exotic Dance Club, the owner and employees of the Foxhole have finally decided to retaliate.
This weekend, women in bikinis armed with signs that read, “Don’t judge us until you are living a perfect life” and “God loves all His children” walked topless at the edge of church property in an effort to fight back. And my head goes to my hands and my heart finds the floor.
This isn’t the only news, of course, there are brutal murders and attacks on Christians in Iraq while the violence continues in Syria and the age old bloodshed marches on between Israel and Palestine. Citizens of St. Louis take to the streets to protest the murder of another dark skinned, unarmed teen . . . and believers in this church in Ohio decide the way to bring light and love and the hope of Jesus into our broken and bruised, war torn world is to carry cardboard signs outside of strip club; and I wonder does God drown in God’s own tears today.
Today I write from my home, safely distant from the horrors that rage in most of the world, the gentle rain puddles outside my window and I ache inside for all that is torn and broken. I weep for children across the globe who have no idea if they will eat today or if bullets will spray across the tiny hovel they call home, for those awaiting persecution at the hands of militant terror regimes.
And I plead, for all that is good and holy, with those who bear the mark of Christ, to cease from breathing contempt, lay down your words of hate, let go of the poison that is fear of other and instead, walk into love.
As rain nurtures soil, so does love soothe and till and plant seeds of hope in the parched desert of soul. It is fear, not love that allows us to reduce those in our human family to rank and file of other, worse yet, “sinner bound for hell.” I wonder upon which passages we draw to find impetus for a broken, humble creature to serve as judge over another when surely the call of the holy writ is to love, and bear witness to the good news of Christ. In fact, the Greek μάρτυς means literally witness, out of which we derive the term martyr. Imagine for a moment, what would happen if followers of Jesus decided to live out the call to bear witness to the love of God as made manifest in Jesus rather than occupying their days and nights with the work of judgment which has, --‘er already been assigned.
Today I hold hands around the world with frightened children and those imprisoned for their faith, I stand with those who cry for justice in St. Louis, with exotic dancers in Ohio and I breathe words of love and hope, and I pray for peace. I say to you what is true and eternal, God in Christ is with you and for you, you are loved and you are not alone.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." John 14.27
To learn more about empowering women to walk out of fear and into love visit StrippedLove.org
As promised....Fall 2015-2015 Course Booklists
Ehrman, Bart, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings., Ed. 5 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
Reasoner, Mark. Imperial Roman Texts: A Source Book (New York: Fortress Press, 2013)
Taylor, Barbara Brown, The Preaching Life (Lanham, MA: Cowley Publishers, 1993).
Lischer, Richard, The Company of Preachers: Wisdom Preaching Augustine to Present (New York: Eerdmans, 2002).
Kinnaman, David and Aly Hawkins. You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving
Church…and Rethinking Faith (Grand Rapids:Baker Books, 2011).
Stanley, Andy. Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012).