I stared numbly at my laptop this morning, watching reports of terrorist attacks in
Paris Orlando fill the screen
Immediately the chatter began. Discussion of whether our nation’s leadership is doing enough, whether these acts truly represent Islam, how to respond going forward…all those arguments that you either want to flee or are all too eager to join.
Instead, I took refuge in praying for the families of the victims.
But later, I logged on to my Facebook account, hours after the tragedies…and was hit with an entirely new wave of grief.
Pictures of American military equipment assembled in rows with captions like “ISIS is doomed”…cartoons of American power symbols making their way overseas…snapshots of U.S. troops offering ominous proclamations to the Islamic State. The grim ill will echoing from the post-9/11 era, the hyper-patriotism that seems to go so naturally hand-in-hand with American Christianity.
Perhaps I have changed over the years, for I found myself aghast.
And struggling to reconcile it to the words of Jesus:
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Every Halloween, I would disguise myself as someone who’s got it together.
I would watch as everyone donned costumes of fairies or vampires or Jedi (it seems to have been mostly Jedi the last two years) and pounded the rainy ground on October 31. They’d walk along the dark, gridded streets, collecting energy pills like a breezy outdoor Pac-Man game, and I thought those were their masks.
Before that, I’d come to church and sit amongst everything I am trying to become. Wise, selfless, surrendered believers. Countryside middle-classers. Leaders who understand how to influence people, how to get stuff done in a community. Couples in the glow of early parenthood who somehow show up to service perfectly coiffed and groomed despite the tribe hanging off their arms. Older families who have already raised their tribes into true-blue adult disciples (a more mammoth task every decade). Decent, hardworking folks who seem to be doing just fine.
And I’d think they were the unmasked. Nothing to hide, no need to hide.
And, by extension, I’d assume that I wasn’t cutting it. How could I be, since they were accomplishing so much more than I?
Then a funny thing happened: I got older. Over the course of time, I got to know these people better. And they did this amazing thing, something far harder than anything I’ve mentioned.
They started removing their masks. Continue reading →