I posted this on Facebook, October 22, 2019, because it meant the world to me sisters wanted to share with me how my perspective on Scripture was helping them. Details were tying them down, but when I speak to application of our faith, it brought a different point of view. They didn’t say this specifically, but what I was picking up on was this perspective was releasing them from having to get it right-to how does this change the world. That is a big difference!
I love seminary! Today was so good. I got an honorary M.Div. from one of my friends, Aimee, too. I am done.
My friend Haley told me she loves that my questions and comments are always aimed at application. I could not receive a higher compliment than this, because that is why I am in seminary.
When my life fell apart- church, soccer and politics-I was mad at everyone, except the people who were mourning. I found so much comfort with the LGBTQPlus community. They guided me, and led me back home-but let me back up.
I was so mad at everyone when the cruelty from all around just kept coming. I wanted God to come down now and get everyone and make them straighten up. But I had an Amos to Judah conversation. Judah thinks God is going to come and clean house and raise them up again, but Amos tells them: Actually, you, Judah. God is asking you to repent. Actually, you, Lindsay. God is asking you to repent.
Then God told me to go lie down in the green pastures provided, and God told me a story.
When I got back up, I realized this is what my faith is for. Our faith can do something about this without power. That is what the Old Testament is doing, and it is what the gospel stories are doing. Notice all the gospels are different versions- they are telling a different story about who Jesus is for their time and circumstance. The truth of the present is more important than the truth of the past. Who is God now in our time and place, and retelling the past in new ways to speak to the here and now.
I realized our faith has to mean something now, or it means nothing at all. So, it brings me so much joy that my friends are telling me I am clearly and concisely stating my purpose for being there.
Our brains are wired for story. I believe a new refreshing story about who Jesus is now will make a difference.
One thing that is really cool about being at a traditionally Methodist seminary is my dad is Methodist. I feel like I have some Methodist in me to share my perspective -what I love about it, and what I think free church tradition brings to the table that we (I can say we; I am part Methodist) can learn from. And honestly, we are all Christians-dividing by denominations in the same faith tradition is funny, but I kind of get it too. When we come together,though, we can share ideas, and not only participate in iron sharpening iron, but unite when trouble comes. Right now both Baptists and Methodists are facing a split. Free Church and churches with governing boards are finding themselves in the same position–We have some family members who have other ideas.
This is nothing new. As I study church history, I am thinking about how it feels so relevant today. I get the desire to want to form a Council to make sure everyone is believing the same thing. You can’t believe whatever you want and call yourself a Christian. I get that. But the idea of excommunication and labeling people heretics is not compelling. I am more inspired by the martyrs who believed in their faith so much, they were willing to die so others could live more freely. But, we need to stop killing people for us to see this. We have a Bible that shows us death to create peace is no peace at all.
Here is what I am thinking, as someone who would love to form a council and deem the SBC in error (they are); I don’t think that is effective. What I see in church history with the theologians who have really bad ideas is an invitation for me/us to think more critically about what it means to be a Christian. That is what the Councils were doing, and for that, I think that is good. Kicking people out is not good. SBC is doing this too (in a free church tradition), and for that, they are taking themselves down. We need to trust the process.
What I am learning from the SBC is they can tell a compelling story. This is something they are teaching all of us. We can thank them for this. They sent me to the wilderness to listen and hear God tell me another story. The very first podcast I listened to that inspired me to start doing the work of changing the story, was a podcast by Rob Bell. He talked about his time here in Dallas actually. He was at Jerry’s World, and he had some thoughts. He did not comment on if it was good or bad, but the brilliance of the story Jerry is telling in that arena. Look around if you visit, a powerful story is being told. We can do this too, but better.
Then Rob Bell went into the gospels, and started explaining to me how Jesus’s life was a counter-narrative to Caesar. Say What?! I was told Jesus wasn’t political. Death was being presented as good news – death for peace. This is why Mark opens up with the proclamation by John the Baptist (the new Elijah, picking up where Malachi leaves off) declaring the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God.
So much political going on in just the first verse of Mark. The good news is countering the good news of killing people for peace. Jesus is revealing what good news is – life. Son of God means Caesar is not. But here is the thing I learned from Marisol, the Salvadoran refugee in Washington DC, people call this political, but we need to be clear: this is the work of God. Politics and faith do connect, because they are our shared life together. How we live in community that honors -EVERYBODY. Here is what Rob commissioned to me: If you want change, then tell a better story. If you just complain about injustice, and you can, but you will only be making noise. Tell a better story.
The SBC and conservative churches have figured this out. They have created energy with a story of a mission to rid the world of evil-same story Caesar was telling. This story has gained a large chunk of the voting block. It is a story driven by fear, and holds a lot of power. When people go to conservative churches they find a common purpose- even though it is fundamentally bad. But they go into these churches knowing the mission. Progressive and mainline churches are not telling a compelling story. We are free, and are saying the right things (mostly), but no one knows what we are about.
This is where we learn from the other position. Instead of kicking them out-lets learn from them, so we can tell a story that gives life. And we grow our movement by uniting and talking to those who are left out by their theology. I learned how powerful this is in the soccer world. Soccer gave me my voice, not church. And I did not even play soccer. I just saw bad theology that needed correcting, so Jake and I worked together to do that. Here is that story: When the Game Changed