Hand Holding

128093588Every summer we invite a bunch of our neighbors to a block party.  We stop by each house and personally invite them and last year I took my three year old son, Lincoln with me.

It was stressful.

He was old enough to run and too young to listen.  I had to order him to hold my hand, patiently explain the differences between a side walk and busy street, the dangers of oncoming traffic, how to look both ways before crossing an intersection, and why you shouldn’t ring a door bell more than once.  Linc and I came home after an hour exhausted from all the rules.

I used to see Christianity this way as well.  Who in their right mind would sign up for a bunch of rules and restrictions?  How is that better than the life I’m living now?  Where is the so called “freedom” in that?  However, this is not the kind of law that God describes for us.

“So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.”(1)

The “law of liberty” frees and allows us to be all that we can be in Jesus.  The law aligns us closer and closer to our creator and makes us more and more as we were intended to be. This liberty does not mean license.  License (doing whatever I want to do) is the worst kind of bondage because it quickly enslaves us to sin.  License is confinement while liberty is fulfillment.

That’s why this year’s block party invitation ordeal was much different with Lincoln.  See, he knew the difference between a sidewalk and street now so he was free to run.  He understood he should look both ways before crossing a street so he didn’t have to wait for Dad.  Linc learned not to ring a door bell more than once so he was at liberty to invite our neighbors just the way he wanted to.  Best of all, he didn’t have to hold my hand but just wanted to.

And we had a really good time.  It was a memory maker for us both as we ran around in the warm summer evening.  I was so proud of him as we sat on our porch, sipping juice, and recapping all the neighbors we met.  He’s growing up on me and I love the man he’s becoming.  Our relationship is about much more than rules.  In fact, the rules just help us enjoy each other that much more.

and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.(2)

May the law liberate you today and bring you closer to the Father.

1.  James 2:12

2.  Psalm 119:45

Sharing The Sunset

Lets just be honest, “evangelism” is easily the dirtiest word in the English language.  It’s right up there with “pyramid scheme” and “imitation crab”.  The distaste for this word  comes from an often associated arrogance.  As evangelists, we assume we have something the other needs.  We assume the other’s life is meaningless.  We assume the other’s belief is wrong.  Inevitably, the other ends up feeling discredited, manipulated, or force fed by these assumption.  As they walk away, we’re left wondering what went wrong or worse we pat ourselves on the back for getting through our rehearsed speech before they left.

Tony Kriz told me once, “Evangelism should look less like sharing a piece of cake and more like sharing a sunset.”  I think their is a lot of truth to that.  The piece of cake evangelism is full of assumptions.  We assume the other is hungry, we assume they aren’t allergic to chocolate, we assume they trust I haven’t laced the cake with rat poisoning.  Well, you get the point.  It’s all about me and what I’m offering.

Sharing a sunset looks different.  I may know some interesting facts about the sunset.  For167894079 instance, the molecules and small particles change light rays causing them to scatter, and producing color.  However, that’s not really the point is it.

The point is sunsets are beautiful.  And it’s wonderful to share that moment with a friend.

Evangelism looks more whimsical, joyful, and free as we both stand in awe of someone truly spectacular.  The focus isn’t on me and my “right” answers because we are both captivated by someone far more interesting.  I have nothing to offer except my encouraging adoration.

“Yes, He really is that good!”

“Yes, He actually does forgive!”

“Yes, He does love you and I!”

Perhaps this is what the Psalmist was getting at when he said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”(1)  Sharing the sunset evangelism simply points out that which is good, true, just, honorable, and lovely.  It’s the ability to stop for a moment, and say, “Wow, that looks like Jesus!  Isn’t that beautiful?”

896568_10151592628685799_1347587944_oI officiated a wedding a few months ago and was sitting at the reception with my wife and friends.  We were sipping wine, eating delicious food, and laughing as the music played and the couple danced.  It was a divinely beautiful moment as we celebrated two friends becoming one.  As I watched the couple dance together, I overhead a conversation my friend Josh(2) was having with someone.  I could tell the conversation had turned spiritual and they were discussing something in the Bible.  It was then that Josh just stopped and said,”This reminds me so much of heaven.  Someday we’ll sip wine and celebrate and laugh and God will be there.  Don’t you think heaven will be beautiful?”

The evangelistic conversation diffused and the other simply said with a smile, “Yes, heaven will be beautiful.”  Their glasses clinked together in agreement as they sat and watched the sunset together.(3)

May our evangelism look more like this.  May we be known more for our adoration than our answers.  May we be marked more by our delight than the details.  May we get out of the way, take a step back, and share the sunset with another.

1.  Psalm 34:8

2.  Josh and his family are moving to Hong Kong next month as missionaries.  He’s been a dear friend and neighbor for years and although it’s hard to say goodbye, his move reminds me of Jesus and it’s awe-inspiring to watch.  You can learn more about Josh here.

3.  This is an actual picture of that night.  Beautiful huh.