Why I Don’t Unfollow You

635944790211021275-1679044910_Facebook_UnfollowI have plenty of friends (or frienemies) on social media I disagree with. Some hold political or religious views that are hard for me to swallow. I’ve felt the urge to click the unfollow button multiple times, but I don’t. Here’s why:

1. Healthy Heretics. I was walking my pastor out to his quirky VW van. We were on the topic of heresies (because that’s a normal conversation you have in a parking lot). He reminded me that heretics weren’t always kicked out of the church. There was a time when they were seen as a healthy part of the religious community. They were the courageous ones willing to leave the comforts of accepted and established theology.

The warrior’s journey is one in which someone leaves. They travel into the wilderness to find themselves. They encounter trials and tests. Then, they return home with a gift. This gift is a broader perspective, a paradigm shift, or a refreshing idea for the community.

While I’m thankful for my own warrior journeys over the years, I’m learning to be thankful for other’s journeys as well. I’ve watched friends leave faith and return back to it. I’ve witnessed other’s get offended and despise me and year’s later apologize. And each time, they bring with them a gift into my life. I have been made rich in reconciliation.

2. Unthreatened.
Lately, I’m catching myself anytime I’m reading a post and I find myself getting angry or defensive. I’m learning how to take a step back and ask why this is upsetting me. When I do, I sometimes uncover some surprising things. For instance, it could be I’m afraid I could be just like the person writing the post. It could be they are a little right and I don’t want to admit it. It could just be my soul stirring within me toward justice. Regardless, it’s important for these triggers to become my teachers.

This is one of the things I like most about Jesus. He seemed unthreatened by other ideas and questions. He walked through this world with such a quiet confidence in who he was and what he was supposed to do. I admire this quality in him. I think that’s one of the reasons people gathered around him. Jesus never once rejected someone with a sincere question or different opinion. Instead, he encouraged dialogue, curiosity, and process.

3. Loyal Opposition. 
What I like about the British Parliament is their passion for dissenting voices. They love a good argument. If a bill or idea cannot withstand others poking holes in it, then it’s not worth much. Politics in our country used to be more this way as well. Republicans and Democrats could vehemently argue with each other over a bill and then find themselves at the pub later that night having some pints and a good laugh.

Today, we take things too personally. Intellectual maturity means we are able to differentiate between the individual and the idea. When I follow others with opposing opinions from me, it becomes an opportunity for me to find out if my ideas have any weight. When I unfollow people and only interact with those who agree with me, I’m actually robbing myself of a loyal opposition (even when they’re not that loyal). We all need these checks and balances in our lives. I don’t want my ideas about God or life to merely survive in a vacuum. I want my ideas to be tested and tried because I could be wrong.

A Final Prayer. 
I’ve learned no one’s impressed by how I can get along with those just like me. That’s probably why the church is so unimpressive right now. However, what this world is desperate for are those who can show a charity within disagreement, a whimsy in debate, and a curiosity with opposition. We are longing for unity, not uniformity. After all, peace is not the absence of conflict but a determination for reconciliation.

No wonder Jesus prayed for us a lot. We needed it.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. -John 17:20,21

 

 

 

How I’m Fighting Complacency pt. 1

imagesLast night, we were sitting around with a group of friends. I was drinking Evan’s beer and munching Laurie’s appetizers while listening to us all share our thoughts about the future. We began talking about older couples who we admired and others we did not.

The ones we didn’t want to be like were just managing their portfolio, sleeping in, going on vacations, and coasting to the finish line. They seemed to be bored an uninspired with life. We were dreaming together of a life that could be more. Something more than golf carts, 401k’s, and complacency. As Francis Chan puts it, Could we see our age as miles per hour? Could we accelerate the older we get, rather than coast?

It was then, a disturbing thought crawled into my brain.

What’s keeping me from coasting?

What if the couples who are complacent had these same dreams when they were younger? What if they sat around eating appetizers and complaining about people older than them only to fall into the same trap? How do I not wake up someday and realize I’m 60 and the only thing that gets me out of bed is a vacation to Hawaii next August? No one sets out to live a complacent life, so how does it happen?

Speed Traps
See, I don’t think it works to pick a time to stop coasting.
I’ll begin pursuing my dreams after college.
I’ll start being more generous after I pay off college.
I’ll find a non-profit to invest in after I establish my career.
I’ll get serious about my spirituality after I get married.
I’ll start serving homeless people when the kids are in school.
I’ll get started on that book once I’m done with grad school. (My personal speed trap)
I’ll host those in need once the kids leave the nest.
I’ll begin that creative project when I retire.
I’ll die inside a little every time I wait for life to get less busy, complicated, or hard.

There will never be a perfect moment. There is no such thing as a magical switch I push that thrusts me out of complacency. There is nothing keeping me from wasting this life.

Accelerate
If there is no switch, no perfect moment, then, I have to take small steps forward. I have to look for practical ways to accelerate this life. As Troy Jones says, “Either we will grow daily, or die gradually.” Here’s how I’ve decided to grow:

1. Our Money. Laura and I have decided to be more generous this year than we were last. We’ve been trying out this little experiment for the past few years. Some years we increase our giving by a fraction of a percentage and others by a few percentages. We split up the money between our church and a few local and international non-profits.

The nice thing about just increasing the percentage is it accounts for job changes and other incalculable situations. I heard about Rick Warren who gives away 98% of his income and was shocked. How did he get to that kind of generosity and trust with his money? Maybe this is how? At least we’re going in the right direction.

2. Our Things. We bought a queen bed and moved some things around to create a guest bedroom for people. Our goal is to host people more this year then we did last. Right now, Courtney is living here while she lands a full-time job in urban ministry. She often serves at Genesis Project which is a non-profit ministering to girls caught in sex-trafficking.  We’ve already had people asking for a place to stay once Courtney leaves.

A few months ago, I visited my mentor Tony Kriz at his home and saw how his family host 3-4 strangers in need in their house at a time. I came home and told Laura about it and we were shocked. Their life seemed to be so inspiring and selfless. How did they get to the point of living with such hospitality and service? Maybe this is where they started. In either case, this is our small attempt to head in the right direction.

3. Our Thinking. I read more now than I did last year. Also, I try to pick books that will challenge me or ones I may even disagree with. Right now, I’m reading Roadmap To Reconciliation by Brenda Salter McNeil. It’s prodding in areas of race and privilege that are uncomfortable for me but I can feel myself changing. I’m also interested in watching more documentaries and less SYFY originals. I like the way God is expanding my view. I can feel compassion increasing. For instance, I was putting on my shirt this morning and stopped and prayed for the people who made it. I started thinking about what their working conditions might have been or how much they were paid. It was a sobering reality of the true cost (1) of what I wear.

Laura probably goes through two books a week. She is always telling me about new things she’s learning and life seems to be full of adventure, opportunity and needs for her. It’s one of the most attractive things about her. I love the way her mind thirsts for more. I’m a much slower reader than her but I can start somewhere. This sounds like the right direction.


The book of James in the Bible (2) is always going on about faith without works being dead. He may be right, but if that’s true, could the opposite be as well? What if faith with action makes us come alive? Perhaps God is cheering us out of complacency to a life that is abundant and full of meaning. Could it be that one small decision to take one small step in the right direction could turn into a life well lived?

What will be your first step?
Don’t be paralyzed by lofty goals.
See through the illusion of the perfect time.
Just choose your direction and step.

More to come. Next week, lets talk about a surprising life.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -J. R. R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings

  1. True Cost is a really great documentary about the impact of the fast fashion clothing industry. You can find it on Netflix and you will never get dressed the same ever again.
  2. Not making it up. Read James 2:14-26