It may come as a surprise to many to find out that I am training to be a minister. With what I write, it does shock a lot. (Don’t worry, I shock congregants too.) The prompt for this weeks Creative Buzz Hop is justice, and I can’t help but think of Micah 6:8.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
It was this passage that I was thinking about yesterday when the scripture of the Good Samaritan was being read for the sermon. I have to say, God might have told us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly, but we obviously didn’t get it the first time, since we had to be told it again and again. Since I’m so cool and handy with online Bibles, I’ll give you the story of the Good Samaritan just in case you don’t remember it. (Luke 10:27-37)
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[j] “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii,[k] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Go and do likewise…well what is it we’re supposed to be doing? Showing mercy, walking humbly, doing justice, loving kindness? What on earth does that all mean? So many sermons say that we’re supposed to stop and help those in need, that we’re supposed to be kind and loving to our neighbors and that we’re supposed to Christ-like. Again, I ask, what does that even mean?
The sermon I heard yesterday, while interesting and there are parts I massively disagree with, did have an poignant thought. The only person in that parable who knew what a Good Samaritan was or how to be Christ-like was the victim. The one who was beaten down by society. Jesus wasn’t someone who hung out with the rich and the famous, or online reading blogs. He was out in the real world, teaching, but most importantly, talking and walking humbly. Jesus is the true Good Samaritan.
There’s something important I want to point out in these passages. Each time someone is looking for an answer and the answer is provided. So why the hell haven’t we, in this day and age and thousands of years after this was first written, figured it out yet? How many times do we have to be told to do these things before we’ll actually get up and off our asses to do them? Not only that, but how does the rest of the world know that you’re doing it?
I was talking to a congregant yesterday during our VBS, and he was telling me about a bible study someone held. It had to do with lawyers, so it became quite interesting. “What evidence is there for you to be convicted of being a Christian?”
It’s a great question to ask.
As a minister, I would hope for me it’s fairly obvious, but in the day to day living of my life outside of the church, I do often wonder where people see Christ in me. I’ve had many co-workers and friends tell me that I should give up ministry and become a full-time writer because that’s obviously where my passion is. But it’s not. It’s not at all. I enjoy writing and I love it; it is a passion of mine. But it is NOT the passion that I choose or want to live by. It is not a passion that can sustain my life.
I am failing in collecting enough evidence to convict me of being a Christian.
This does not mean that I’m going to stop writing erotica and start writing Christian fiction. There are religious elements in many of my books and I will keep putting them in there. It’s not the point, though. The point is that by looking at me people can’t tell that I’m a Christian. In some ways, I want this. I don’t want to be the traditional image of what a Christian is. For one thing, I’m a woman and a bisexual and I want to be a minister–that is so NOT a traditional image.
I do, however, want people to know and see that I am a Christian.
Today I had a friend point something very important out to me. We were talking about futures and kids and what we want in life when it comes to those things. Both of us want children, and both of us are going about it in very different ways. First of all, I’m still single and she most definitely is not and is passionately in love with her husband. Secondly, I have no desire to actually birth children of my own. I want to be a foster parent. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: He’s [a kid I used to counsel] part of why I want to be a foster parent
S: Making a difference in someone’s life who is already born and needs someone
Me: more just
why would i have my own when there are so many others that need love and care and a safe home, which I can easily and readily provide.
Also, I have experience dealing with kids from tough situations, so I don’t see why I wouldn’t put those gifts that God gave me to use
S: My goodness I think I’m going to cry!
S: Because that… how to explain it. It feels right, and it’s touching, and from knowing you… it just feels like a really good path for you
It makes me happy to hear the difference you want to make in other’s lives. So I know how much you like writing, but I GET why ministry is so much more important
now I’m crying
S: Aww, *hug*
Me: *hugs*!! it’s a cry fest now
S: Lol yeah it is
The passion I have is for helping and talking with others. Creation and writing is my outlet for myself. Doing justice, walking humbly, loving kindness, showing mercy–those are the things that make a difference. Those are the things that will label me and convict me of being a Christian.
I’m perfectly comfortable with someone pointing a finger at me and shouting “Christian!” in my face. It is who and what I am. It is who and what I want to be. My faith in Christ is strong and thriving. I nurture it more than I nurture my writing. I nurture it like it is a living being. Faith is what makes us strong in the face of adversity. Faith is what makes us want to do justice, love kindness, walk humbly, and show mercy.
So where is my faith leading me? I’ve given plenty thought about these four things throughout my life and I still haven’t come up with a go-to answer.
How do people know that I am loving kindness? The answer is that I will try not to be mean to people, I will try not to speak behind others backs, I will try not to judge others, and I will try to love everyone who I meet. My goal for this week is to say “hello” to those I pass on the street or sidewalks or grocery stores. We need to be there for others in their times of need, and we need to be congnizant of when those moments occur.
How do people know that I am showing mercy? I donate my money and my time to a great many things, but I do not readily talk about it. Money is a taboo topic anyhow, but I do think it is still important to discuss charities. Maybe so many people prefer to donate time and energy rather than money because it is so taboo. Each month I donate a 10% of my income and 10% of my royalties to the charity Sanctuary for Kids. I also tithe as much as I can. It doesn’t matter if I’m rich or poor, what matters is that I do it, that others should and do do it. This is showing mercy. Stopping on the side of the road to help someone who has a flat tire. Picking up that dog running across the street and returning them to their home. It’s the little things that show mercy, not the big ones.
The little ones also show others how we walk humbly. It’s not about the big and flamboyant things going on. It’s not about the confetti and the streamers that get brought out each time we do something good. It’s about having a moment that we know we are doing this for Christ and for God’s people. That we are doing it because we were told to, by God and by the basics of our faith.
How do people know that I am doing justice? The topic of this entire blog is supposed to be doing justice, but without the other three, I can’t see justice. They are so interconnected and related in how they work that to me they cannot be separated. Doing justice is loving kindness, showing mercy, and walking humbly. Doing justice is action, not sitting on our butts on the couch and watching TV or playing video games. Doing justice is getting out into the streets and talking and listening to all those people out there. Doing justice is teaching and being present with others. Doing justice is exactly what Jesus did in that parable.
So…what’s the evidence against you? Will you be convicted as a Christian?
If you want to join in the Creative Buzz Hop, write a post about “justice.” It can be anything from a personal story, a poem, a short story, flash fiction, your thoughts on the topic, or apparently a mini-sermon like this. Go to one of these two blogs (penpaperpad or gettingliteral) and link up your post. Read the others posts about the topics and comment on them as you go. You have one week to do it until the next topic comes out. Please, join us.