The Power of Story

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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

5 thoughts on “The Power of Story

  1. You have given me a lot to think about and looked into since I am not sure what LGBTQPlus is about. I am born again, blood washed, forgiven, saved forever, frail believer in God the FAther, Jesus the Son, God in the flesh who die for the sins of the world and the Holy Spirit that resides in me to teach, comfort, and convict when needed. We have lived over seas and it’s kind of confusing to come back to the US and hear of all these fractions among believers. It makes me shudder knowing God must shudder since His message was so simple, I am God, creator of all, you are my creation, a sinner, my Son came to die for the sins, and when you believe that, I will give you the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit to help your journey in this word along with a whole blessed book full of love, and a way I want you to live so I will get glory and draw others to me. This journey is short, but eternity is coming and there are only two choices, heaven or hell…heaven is where I am, hell if for those who reject me. Now how does what I believe fit into what you are talking about? Not judging, just wondering.

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    1. Hi Wise Hearted,

      I’m so glad to hear from you. Your thoughts and experience matter so much to the conversation. And I’m extremely grateful you reached out to me.
      I believe the Table is big enough for everyone.
      LGBTQIAPLUS didn’t happen for me overnight. It was a series of things. But Justin Lees Book “Torn” is a book I highly recommend. I was so tired of seeing my brothers and sisters crushed believing that God hated them. There’s so much more. Too much to write in this comment. But they also ultimately led me to my freedom. So I’m not going to forget them. Including LGBTQIAPLUS in our community has been life. Not death, as exclusion was doing. I wish more would come, but they are rightfully Leary of Church.
      I think the shake up we are experiencing is the Holy Spirit. Our racism, misogyny, xenophobia, anti- LGBTQIAPLUS is being called to account.
      But also know this, it takes time. I didn’t get here overnight. And now that I’m here I’ve never taken the gospel so seriously. I’m too busy loving and working for a more Just world to even worry about Hell. Hell has no power over us.
      Keep searching and asking. I’m always here, friend.

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      1. I have increased my education in a matter of a few minutes just by tying in those letters. All that to say, part of me is still a little confused as to when all this confusion started about our gender. Oh I remember guys who were girl action and girls who acted more like guys when I was a teen but this is way beyond that. I am glad you have taken the gospel seriously but how do you describe yourself? My oldest daughter goes to a college where she was faced with those girls who did not want to be called a girl but be called, “they:,,or “them”.
        Let me clear up one thing, hell is for the unbelievers, it’s not a gender place, there are not hotter spots for gays or none gays, hell is total separation from God for eternity without any choices left. God gives us our choice here. I believe any one, LGBTQIAPLUS and a women like me can become a child of God but for each of us,no matter our gender He desires for us to be transformed into His image. I am totally glad you have found a ministry that gives you freedom to love all because God loves all sinners, no matter our gender. The bible does not teach a sinner is caused by their gender. the bible says, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. I seek to understand from all these genders how to love them and still be able to explain, all have sinned and fallen short. the term,
        LGBTQIAPLUS leaves too many ways to offend even when you don’t mean to. I would not be offending if you called me a non gay to my face or a none any of those letters that describe a gender. I guess, especially for us older ones , I am 72, gives us a little space to fail at this new gender issue. If I was to witness to any of those letter gender I would do it the same way with each one. first I would ask them if they thought they were a sinner and show them the verse that says, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. then I would ask if they were to die would they like to go to heaven? If they say no, well…there is no where to go then. If they say yes,I would take them to the scriptures that says if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh and He died for your, then the bible says you are saved, no matter your gender. Jesus is not all of those letters, He is the Son of God, God in the Flesh and His Spirit, the Holy Spirit is part of the trinity that indwells us when we believe because Jesus is back in heaven with the FATher. Is this any where close to what you believe. Again, not judging, wondering. I want to be able to witness to a different gender person without offending so you c an help me do that.

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      2. I have let go of having to witness to people. Don’t hear me wrong, that doesn’t mean I don’t witness. But I do it authentically- as friends. None of this stressful having to get people to believe the right thing. We’ve allowed so much abuse go by bc we thought the only thing that mattered was people professing Christ.
        No, Jesus never said worship me – he said follow me. Big difference. And I let people witness to me. LGBTQIAPLUS- I’m learning from them. A lot of them have great faith and give me a perspective I’ve never heard before. And I’m able to heal some so wounded by church -now they can see church may not be the worst place on earth for them.
        The Bible talks negatively about same sex relations, but I think it might be wrong. The Bible never denounced slavery, and we know that’s wrong bc of the revelation of God.
        This doesn’t diminish the Bible. It makes it richer and more complex. A God we can talk to and wrestle with. I love that God.
        Also, we aren’t in charge of transformation. Gods got that. Most likely it is us that needs transforming.
        And as far as gender confusion-they aren’t confused. Transgender is real and created by God. It’s always been there – people were hiding in fear. It’s safer to come out now. Now we fight the laws trying to pass to erase them. It’s terrible traumatizing for them what our government is doing.

        Thank you for reaching out. I’m happy to answer more questions. Also, Richard Rohr has great meditations on gender and sexuality.

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      3. You have the right way to witness. Through the years I have learned to trust the Lord to bring ones my way that need a witness. I love it when they learn I am a Christian and start asking questions. I just had someone recently ask me if I believed there was a literal heaven and hell. I can relate to seekers and I can relate to those who have been hurt by church. It happens to all genders. My grand daughter has several friends who are gay or another gender and she has been confronted about her faith and what she believes is sin to which she quote, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. She answers, I am not gay but I am a sinner. The interesting part is the different genders are drawn to her, they call her the “moral compass” because she is real in her faith but real in her love for others too. We have several in our family who are different but we have chosen to love on them just as we love on anyone. My sweet niece is gay, her mother was gay. She married my brother just to see if she could go straight. My niece has been hurt so bad by her step Mom who judges her. I have no problem loving her which is why she loves us, we accept her as she is. I don’t try to get her to change, I just love her. Her and I have talked at length about her choice to be gay. She does believe its her choice.

        But I don’t believe God created transgenders. What I do believe is God created man and women, two genders but when sin took over their hearts that started all whole lot of confusion in the mind, body and spirit. It continues today.

        I commend you for your love toward anyone, even this 72 year old straight women. It is on the foundation of the love of Christ for all that we can talk without being offended when our belief do not match up. Have a great day.

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