Tag Archives: human

Embracing Proximity, Part 2: Getting Messy

There is a time for everything, a time for getting close and a time for backing off, a time for getting messy and a time for staying clean. I think the former should be a prominent feature of the Christian life, but we often to default to the latter. It is just easier that way. But, convenience always comes at a cost.

What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off? If he finds it, I assure you that he is happier about having that one sheep than about the ninety-nine who didn’t wander off. In the same way, my Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones. (Matthew 18:12-14, CEB)

'Shepherd and Sheep' by Anton Mauve

‘Shepherd and Sheep’ by Anton Mauve

Here the shepherd felt that “cutting his losses” at one sheep was too costly compared to the convenience of staying back with the ninety-nine. Jesus said that God feels the same way about us.

This required the shepherd to get messy, to get involved, in order to restore this sheep to his flock. It was a price worth paying.

Yes, there is a time for distancing ourselves, but but it should be a means of ensuring and/or restoring safety. It should not be a lifestyle. Let’s face it, life is messy and not always safe. It takes getting close to the lost, the broken, the sinner, the other if we want to God’s kingdom established in our world. It’s God’s mission. Is it ours?

I admit that these are hard words to swallow. It goes against my inclinations of self-preservation and comfort, but my prayer is that by getting messy a little bit at a time, I will begin to see and love people as Jesus does. This is my prayer for you, too.

Grace and peace,

Embracing Us, Because There Is No Them: Audio Version

This is a talk I gave at Valley Life Center Foursquare Church on Sunday, February 17, 2013. I address what I call the “us and them” perspective and the implications past and present of holding such a perspective. There is a lively dialogue that follows the talk. Enjoy!

Embracing Us, Because There Is No Them

I was talking with a friend the other evening, and I asked him about how it is possible that people can do unthinkable acts of violence. His response was that we are all a split second away from doing the same, meaning we all have the capability, but don’t allow ourselves to do it. That is an unsettling response, to say the least. I took away from this conversation that there is no us and them, only us.


This is what it means to be Jesus in our world. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Now we are the visible expression of Jesus in the world. Jesus lived out “there is no them,” which I believe is the heart of his inaugural statement in Luke 4:16-21.


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

    because the Lord has anointed me.

He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,

    to proclaim release to the prisoners

    and recovery of sight to the blind,

    to liberate the oppressed,

    and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.(v. 18-19)


It was as a human being and living within a system that separated people that he sought to bring God’s salvation. This declaration of ministry sought to close the gap that perpetuated the us and them mentality.


If we are honest with ourselves, we can recognize our own poverty, captivity, blindness, and oppression, but, as well, we can receive the Lord’s favor and extend it to others, embracing the “us” in us all. God’s salvation is only a split second away.


Grace and peace,


First, Be Human: To Yourself

Last night I was at a parents’ meeting for Cub Scouts. My two oldest boys will be in the Scouting program this year. While the Cubmaster was listing the requirements for parents of Scouts, he said something to this effect, “I know we live in the Silicon Valley, and that we are all busy. If you think you are too busy to volunteer to help out in your son’s Cub Scout pack, then maybe you need to take a look at your life to see where you are too busy.” His challenge caused me to take stock of my life’s activities. Even though I am busy, my wife and I are aware of our limitations and seek to not over extend ourselves. But, in a lot of ways, I treat myself as if I am a machine. I inundate myself with information (reading books and  blogs, and listening to lectures, sermons, and interviews) most of which I won’t ever do anything with, and the flow is unending. And, this is only one of a few areas like this.


This morning I was reflecting on this and felt that God was saying to me that to the same extent I want people to treat me humanly, I need to do the same for myself. (This is a continuation of my thoughts in last week’s newsletter.) We are not machines, animals, or gods. We are humans created in God’s image. Then I felt God say to me, “Relax, live well, and love well.” (again, Luke 10:27) It is easy to let life run away with us, but we don’t have to let it. 


Grace and peace,