Brief Observations – Birds

I just watched a flock of small birds fly overhead in the evening sky all headed to the same unseen destination. They appeared to be attempting to fly in a “V” formation like geese. However, they couldn’t seem to figure out who should be in the lead or where they belonged in the formation. They darted in and out, back and forth, and their forward momentum was sometimes disrupted by unseen winds. Their journey looked anything but smooth and graceful.

It reminded me of following Jesus – trying to be like Him. We know where we want to go – to grow more and more like Him.  Along the way though, our growth comes in fits and spurts, often looking as disjointed as the flight of the birds. We get confused about whom to listen to when our teachers seem to have changed their theology or their messages don’t ring true. Like bird in the wind, we are sometimes pushed about and back by the unseen enemy of our soul.

Despite their erratic path, the birds have now flown out of sight, undoubtedly closer to their destination. We too, with the same persistence should keep moving forward in whatever way we can. Despite the confusion or obstacles, we should continue trying to grow, accepting that though the journey may not be smooth and graceful, it will result in us become more like who we want to be.

sky 20170629_201544

Jesus Follower or Jesus Consumer

⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇔⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒

 

We live in a consumer driven world. We are rarely satisfied with what we have, what we get to do, or even who we are.  The solution to this dissatisfaction seems easy. It’s what the advertisers, the companies we work for, and even our friends and family tell us: buy more, seek more and different entertainment or experiences, achieve more, be more.

So we consume. We consume goods, services, activities, and even people. We have pride in what we own or do. We share all our experiences on social media. We may even associate with those who can benefit us by helping us gain stuff or status or those who make us feel better about ourselves. We may spend time with those who think and act like us so we feel validated or so our thoughts, decisions, and behavior are justified. Additionally, we may spend time with those we feel slightly better than or who we can count on to make us look good in comparison. Much of our way of life is based on some type of consuming.

All too often, even our faith becomes consumer based.

Consumer theology says it’s all about my personal relationship with God. The focus can quickly become more about us and less about Him.

Blog 5 verse

Sadly, this theology is being bought and taught in too many churches.

Behind the clichés and platitudes, it’s about what I get out of it. That can be anything from a sense of security and control to enjoying the benefits or being labeled a “Christian” making us a part of a group or community.  It can manifest into us focusing on rules to follow and, therefore, who is included and who is excluded from our “club”.

We change churches when we “aren’t getting anything out of” the sermon, or the worship, or the programs, or the… In other words, when it isn’t making us feel good or like we’re important or the preacher says something that convicts us.

We use our Christianity to feel safe. We use it to guarantee our “ticket” to
Heaven. We use a prosperity gospel to justify our consumption and then brag about our blessings.

Consumer theology allows us to comfortably nod along with the things Jesus said without ever actually doing them. We’d rather focus on the rules and what not to do so we can check off our compliance and call ourselves good while, at the same time, creating loopholes, convenient translations, or cultural exceptions to what Jesus said to do.

This is a flawed and perilous theology when held up to the teachings of Jesus.

 

Love your neighbor. (Matthew 5:43-Matthew 19:19-Matthew 22:39-Mark 12:31-Mark 12:33-Luke 10:27)

Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:44-Luke 6:27-Luke 6:35)

Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Matthew 7:12-Luke 6:31)

Give to the poor. (Matthew 19:21-Mark 10:21-Luke 12:33-Luke 18:22)

 

These directives are clear yet we do not to do them.

How, then, do we actually follow Jesus?

In Biblical times followers (disciples) desired to follow their teacher (rabbi) so closely that the dust from his feet would be on their robes. They listened and watched, they questioned and discussed, so they learn as much as possible in order to become like the teacher.

To follow Jesus that closely we must focus in on what He said and what He did.  We need to study the four gospel accounts of His life. A good place to start would be with the Sermon on the Mount. Read it in more than one translation. Study it and pray for insight. Listen to sermons or podcasts about it. Then start doing it.

blog 5 quote

Take a deep breath and be brutally honest about where you fall on the line between Jesus follower and Jesus consumer.

For myself, I think I fall a little left of center.  While my intent is to always be a follower, sometimes that is difficult. It is almost always counter-cultural. It is often uncomfortable. It is sometimes even dangerous.

 

It won’t come naturally.

 

If there is no tension involved in your theology, if there is no challenge in living out your faith, then consider that you may be more near to God in your head than in you are in your heart.

Lean in to the tension and follow Him. It is the only thing that will truly satisfy.

 

My Mom

Mom recent

The importance, impact and influence of mothers cannot be overstated.  They matter immensely in the lives of their children.

The older I get, the more I realize how very fortunate I was to have a mother who loved me unconditionally and prayed for me continually. Through my good times and my bad, through my highly rebellious teenage years, my years raising my own children and my post-divorce years of questioning and reevaluating the rules, she was always there for me.

I think she understood, despite the grief and frustration I know I caused, that I was hardwired to question and to not accept much of anything just because someone said so. I think she also understood that this nature would benefit me as I discovered, doubted and rediscovered my own faith.

The process, while not easy for either of us, grew and stretched us both in our faith and our understanding of each other.  Her steadfast faith in Jesus was an anchor for me no matter how often or how far I drifted. Even when I kicked the motor to high speed in an exhilarating attempt to feel unbound I knew, deep down, that her anchor would hold us both.

She likely knew that at some point I would start questioning what it actually was that I was running from, what I was rebelling against. She realized that processing through those questions would grow me in ways that no rules or words of wisdom ever would.

I am a hands-on learner. I learn things best and retain them the longest by doing, seeing or hearing for myself.  This means, of course, I’ve learned many things the hard way.

I am equally thankful that while I always knew I had a safety net in her and in my family, that it wasn’t her nature to rescue me from the consequences of my own decisions even when she could. That is a strong kind of love. That is Jesus-like love – allowing us to choose, forgiving us when we make poor choices, allowing us the consequences of those choices and, yet, redeeming even the bad things for our own good and the good of others.

 “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” Romans 8:28 TLB

 

The trajectory of my life has changed – which is the definition of repentance – but my personality has not. I have long since found my way solidly back to Jesus but it hasn’t tamed my questioning heart and mind. My learning style remains the same. This means my desire to learn and grow in my relationship with Him often pushes me into uncomfortable places to gain an active understanding of His will and His ways.

As a mom myself, I can imagine both the joy and the concern Mom must have felt as I left on a mission trip to a third world country or when I joined a ministry that goes into strip clubs to just show love and friendship to women who most need to know their true value to God. However, she knew my nature and my heart almost as well as God does. She knew that while these were not places I would have planned to serve, they were where God was clearly sending me and she was always supportive and had the faith to trust me in His hands.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

 

While I do learn things actively, I do not, by nature, have a brave or adventurous spirit.  I have learned to follow God’s leading into the uncomfortable and even scary places. Each time my faith is reaffirmed and stretched. I grow exponentially each time I say yes to Him even when it would be easier not to.  Every “yes” teaches me things I could never learn or understand by staying safely on the shore.

So thanks, Mom, for getting it and for getting me.  I love you and I miss you more than words can express. I hope I am at least half the mom you were and know that I will always “just keep moving forward” until I see you again someday.

Living the Story

cross

It’s easy to think that if we had been alive when Jesus walked the earth that we would have followed Him. After all, we would have been amazed by His miracles. We would have understood His teachings. We certainly wouldn’t have been among the chief priests who conspired to use the Roman government to have Him crucified! Right?

quote 1

 

It’s hard to let go of knowing how the story evolves, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor to examine the story again from other angles in order to appreciate it anew and learn more about ourselves, we followers of Christ, who are always pursuing deep growth.

So how do we enter again the drama and grow in self-awareness and faith?

There is much to consider as we try to put ourselves in the events as they unfold, but one major question to reflect on is: “Within the story, whom do I most resemble in my words and my actions?”  

Perhaps the most usual comparison to come to mind may be aligning ourselves as Jesus’ disciples.  They heard His stories and witnessed His miracles.  They believed He was the Messiah. Peter, James and John even experienced the transfiguration and heard God say, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him.” (Mark 9:7)  Like them, we have chosen to follow Him. It seems a logical and even noble choice to think of ourselves as one of the disciples. We resemble them in many ways, and we too have heard the stories and believe He is the Savior.  However, it’s important to consider that like the disciples, even in our knowing, we lack understanding.

On the way to Jerusalem, James and John made known their desire to sit at the right and left of Jesus when He came into His glory. (Mark 10:37) They’d spent years under His instruction and still misunderstood the upside down kingdom He came to bring; that is, they were still concerned with their position in the hierarchy, claiming their own place of honor.  

Am I like these two? Am I believing, following, learning and yet, on some level, still seeking my own glory?

Most of us definitely would not see ourselves as Judas.  However, am I following with my words and actions while still holding a portion back for myself? Do I judge how others worship or how leadership manages?  Do I question how mission funds are used? Can I get so frustrated when money is seemingly wasted on people I deem unworthy or things I think unimportant that I choose self-reliance at any cost? (John 12:4-5)

quote 2

Maybe I’m impulsive like Peter–am I so eager to learn that I sometimes ask awkward questions? Am I reactionary? Am I quick to draw the sword to defend what I believe? (John 18:10-11) Do I try to defend my ideas even when they don’t require defending? Do I hold so tightly to how I think things should be that I am, in fact, aiding the enemy? (Matthew 16:21-23)  Finally, when I can’t see Jesus clearly in my life, when my faith is questioned by others or if I feel some threat because of my beliefs, am I tempted to deny Him? (Luke 22:54-62)

What if I move past the easy connections to the disciples to less familiar comparisons?

For instance, am I Pilate, bound by the law of the land and my position? Do I try to let Jesus, and myself, off the hook? In other words, I know He’s done nothing illegal, yet I find myself caving in to the pressure of others.  Am I more concerned with satisfying the crowd, with letting them push their agenda, than I am with doing what I know is right even if it’s unpopular? ( Mark 15:14-15)

How about this juxtaposition: Am I one of the rebels hanging next to Jesus? Have I chosen to live my life my own way and by my own rules until the last moment? Will I cling to my stubborn hard-heartedness, or in that moment, will I realize I am connected, somehow, to this One who can save me?

Truthfully, there is a good chance I possess a little of the good and the bad in each of them.

This Easter weekend my prayer for me, and for you,

is to lean hard into the Story.

 

On Friday, may we acknowledge our complicity in crucifying the real Jesus. May we recognize our own efforts to make Jesus into who we want or expect Him to be.  May God show us where we try to adjust His teachings to fit our own structures, government and culture.

On Saturday, may we sit in the waiting silence and grieve the ways we have missed who He really is and may we repent of the times we have done damage in His name.  

On Sunday, may we rejoice that despite our misunderstandings and our failings, He willingly sacrificed all His humanity and all His divinity for our sake.  May our grateful response be to live out to our every ability His kingdom “on Earth as it is in Heaven”.  (Matt 6:10)

What Jesus Are You Following?

If you are not a follower of Jesus, I openly apologize to you for the sad, mistaken, misguided, and flat out wrong picture of Him we have given you.

If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, you may need to disconnect from the media, your theological bent and your denominational rules to relearn who Jesus really is and what he actually said. Try just reading just the four Gospels for a while.  Find sermons to listen to that are about what Jesus said and did.  This may be harder to do than you expect since much of the church preaches more about Paul than about Jesus.

Jesus is pro-life. Now before you pat yourselves on the back, note that he was pro all life – from the unborn baby to the hardened criminal regardless of race, creed, color, or sin.  So he would be saddened by abortion, and the death penalty, and our obsessive preoccupation with guns.

Jesus is pro-choice.  He always allows us to make our own decisions up to, and including, whether we choose to follow Him.  He never forces us to do so, never threatens, never demeans and never ceases to show mercy when our choice is wrong.

Few of us are emulating Him as we have been directed to do.  We aren’t offer hope and help. Instead, we’re more interested in telling people what they should think and do – sometimes even how they should feel.

We feel the need to push our agenda and even to demean and vilify those who do not agree with our religious rules. Further, much of the church has adopted an “ends justify the means” mentality which is counter to anything Jesus taught. Some of our evangelical leaders are willing to partner with anyone in government to create laws to “protect” specific values that they have deemed most important. For example, Franklin Graham seems to not see the incongruity of demonizing all of Disney and calling for a boycott because of a cartoon homosexual couple kissing and, yet, endorsing a man for president who profits from real strip clubs and casinos.

We seem to think we need to save Jesus!  We do this ignoring the fact that He did not feel the need to defend Himself (Matt 27: 12-14) but understood the greater power of sacrificing Himself.  Additionally, He severely admonished Peter when he chose to defend Him with the sword. (Matt 16:23, Mark 8:33) Still, we continue to choose to “live by the sword” rather than living sacrificially for others.

We apparently have forgotten that Jesus and His message of love, inclusion and acceptance has survived for over 2000 years without the help of the American Christian and, often, in opposition to the political powers that were in place.

We have become a people who are more focused on the current trends in ministry, the propaganda of political parties and a fear/protectionist mentality than we are with Jesus.  Maybe it’s because we never slow down or power down long enough to contemplate the real Jesus.  We want Jesus in a tidy box we’ve created for Him, free of complexities, ambiguities, or real challenges.  We want to create Jesus in our image more than we aspire to be like Him.

We preach to the world about grace and mercy and love while we ignore or dismiss or sometimes even promote the injustices, the racism, the discrimination, the trafficking of people, which goes on around us.  We fear or demean or abuse our “enemies”.  We don’t love them.  If we’re honest, we aren’t even doing a good job of loving our neighbors.

We quote “fear not, for I am with you” while we cheer building walls and defend buying guns to protect ourselves and our possessions.

We pick and choose which verses are literal, which are symbolic, which are hyperboles and which are time specific based on our own comfort, desires, or cultural norms.  We often fail to pray for clarity, search out original language or entertain the notion that what we’ve always believed or been told might be in error.

Jesus was radical. He was challenging. He was, at times, ambiguous. The empire and the religious leaders feared His message of love and inclusion and acceptance.  This is still happening today. And still today, His message is the same.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 (emphasis mine)

 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

It is simple to understand, and yet, difficult to do.  We are His representatives. We are His voice in a hard and hurting world.

We must do better.

What If They’re Right?

There are all kinds of statistics and articles about millennials walking away from church.  According to research by the Barna Group, 59% of those raised in church have dropped out and 35% believe that churches do more harm than good.  Much of the church’s response has been to attempt to become trendy – to offer updated worship music and provide coffee.  These responses often serve to punctuate what millennials seem to see as the problem, that we are disconnected, uninformed and unauthentic.

So, what if they’re right?

Christians have always been accused of hypocrisy on an individual level.  Sometimes this is due simply to a lack of understanding. That is, we know we don’t just automatically stop sinning or getting all our relationships and interactions with people right once we accept Jesus as our Savior.  However, it’s possible we’ve created this confusion by defining much of our religion by rules.  When what we’re telling the world is that there is a long list of rules, of dos and don’ts that define Christianity, we set ourselves up for their critique.  If we are continually, individually or corporately, pointing out others missteps, we should certainly accept that they will be happy to point out ours.  If we define how well we’re “doing” Christianity by how well we follow the rules we likely create confusion, cynicism and push people away from Jesus instead of toward his love and grace.

Churchgoers are all sinners–there is no actual hypocrisy in that assertion. Maybe if we presented ourselves as just that, as messed up people trying to do better, more people would be interested in learning about Jesus and our faith.  Maybe if we defined ourselves the way Jesus told us to in John 13:35 – “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” millennials would be more inclined to join us as we all endeavor to be more like Jesus.

What if instead of pointing out someone’s failures, we came along side them to help them do better?

What if when we saw someone doing things we see as wrong, we took time to listen to their story and hear their perspective instead of just expecting them to immediately see the situation from our perspective and then promptly change?

What if we painted a picture where following Jesus started with just loving people – something anyone can do – instead of following a bunch of rules and a to do list of church attendance, prayer, tithing, Bible study, quiet time, and so on?

Intentionally or not, society seems to see us as judgmental and rule bound which can’t be anything but confusing alongside a gospel message of freedom and love.  Further, when thousands of different Protestant denominations can’t even agree on what the rules are and which ones have to be followed causing disagreement within the church, we shouldn’t be surprised that young adults may want no part of such a community.

Paul warns the early church that they need to “be united in mind and thought”, (1Cor.1:10) and that life is wholly and solely about Jesus.  When we cannot agree amongst ourselves and at the same time focus on the laws and rules, we redirect the message away from Jesus and his saving grace.

On a broad scope, if we are gut wrenchingly honest, we might deserve the hypocrite label. Millennials I’ve talked to see us as being quick to judge both individuals and people groups and that we don’t “walk the talk”.  These are well educated young adults with access to information and awareness of cultural differences like we never experienced at their age.  Maybe we need to listen…

Because what if they’re right?

When on an individual, national and global scale we consider whole people groups as evil – they may be right.

When we refer to anyone as “those people” – they may be right.

When we profess to believe in certain standards of behavior and “family values” but don’t live them out in our own lives or excuse them in the political arena because the ends justify the means – they may be right.

When we quote Jesus saying to love our neighbors and our enemies and then support hateful rhetoric – they may be right.

When we know that the Bible says to take care of the widows, the orphans and the immigrant but we choose safety and frugality over protecting the vulnerable– they may be right.

Finally, when we add amendments and exceptions to the Ten Commandments in order to line them up with our culture or our government – they might be right.

None of us will get it all right – EVER!  Nevertheless, if we don’t have the courage to take a hard introspective look at where we may be getting it wrong – where we may be choosing nationalism or empirical ways over the ways of His kingdom “on Earth as it is in Heaven”, we will continue to see millennials searching for something different. If because of money, power or family name that gives them a platform, the main voices of the church at large heard by the world are ones that support ideas that are un-Christ like and we choose to stay silent in response, we will continue to display a message of exclusivity and hypocrisy.

Most millennials have not turned away from their faith – just from the church.

As the old adage goes, we can continue to do the same things but we will get the same results. Alternatively, we can listen to what these young adults are saying and learn and grow and possibly create the kinds of authentic churches they can embrace.

Safe Is Not What You Signed On For

I keep looking for scriptures in the Bible where Jesus commands us to love our neighbors, love our enemies, care for the widows, orphans and aliens (foreigner/immigrant/refugee)–but only if we can do so while preserving our safety and comfort and that it’s fine to distance ourselves from those in need and just send some extra money now and then.

Maybe the caveat to the command is in there somewhere, and I just missed it.

A priority for self-preservation, however, seems to be what a large number of folks who claim Christ appear to embrace.  Some clearly state their endorsement by preaching a gospel of prosperity. Others acknowledge that scripture doesn’t teach the idea of guarded love and charity but support ideologies that imply otherwise.  They live their lives chasing safety, security and comfort.  Of course we all want to be safe, but at what cost?

We can quote “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) and then choose to interpret these words to mean only the trouble we can’t avoid, control, or insure against. However, I’m not sure that is the intent or true meaning of the verse.  Based on other verses, it appears more likely that this is an “it’s part of the job” statement.  We are to be disciples of Christ. Disciples follow and learn from, and about, their leaders in order to be as much like them as possible.

It might be worth a self-check to determine if our acceptance of Jesus and his message is solely an insurance policy against hell or a desire to be an actual disciple, with all of the struggle and growth that requires.

If our goal is to be like Jesus, why would we think that life would be a peaceful, easy, safe journey? His journey certainly wasn’t devoid of dissension and danger. His message was at odds with both the political powers of the day and the religious experts.  Maybe, just maybe, ours should be too.

When I’ve gone where He sent me I’ve ended up in an orphanage in a third world county, cooking and serving meals for the poor in the inner city and hanging out in a strip club. I wouldn’t have chosen any of these.  All were frightening in the beginning and definitely were never safe. However, I learned and grew more in my relationship with Christ in those places than in any church pew or by serving in safe places.

Jesus told us to expect trouble but that our peace would be in him. Often his ways don’t make sense to us.   However, we’re told his way overcomes worldly ways. Jesus didn’t tell his followers then, or us now, to follow a checklist – read the Torah/Bible, give money to the church and the poor, go to the temple/church, chat with me (pray) when you need something – and I’ll bless you here on earth with a safe and comfortable life. If we’re honest, we may even think he also secretly adds that “Since you’re American and I love you more than my other children, you deserve a comfy home, two cars and an extravagant amount of food and clothes purely for your personal enjoyment!”  We want and enjoy the blessings while ignoring much of what he taught, including that we would (and possibly even should) have trouble.

When he said, “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:3), it seems that he meant all those directives about putting our trust and our very lives in his hands.  It sounds like he means for us to go into unsafe places and situations, to potentially be in close proximity to those who might want to harm us in some way. While this seems counter-intuitive and possibly even foolish, we know that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (Isaiah 55:8).

We are called to love like Jesus, to share his redemptive love with others through deed and “if necessary, use words.” So, what does love do?

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes,always perseveres.” (1 Cor.13:7)  Loving our neighbors and our enemies like this is how to “work out your salvation,” how we become disciples who reflect Christ. I think it’s intentional that each of those actions is preceded by always. I’m guessing he’s stressing the point that he really means always, not just when it’s easy or convenient or safe.

We tend to leave off the rest of that passage in our minds –“continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12-13)  If we’re allowing God to work in us so that we’ll desire (will) to do something (act) to fulfill his purpose, it will likely be with fear and trembling.

Paul acknowledges his own “great fear and trembling” in coming to the church in Corinth but he did so because he had “resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He notes the Corinthian’s own “fear and trembling” in receiving Titus. (2 Cor.7:15)

Where is our resolve?  What Christ-like course of action are we determined enough to do, even in fear and trembling? Anything we choose to do to insure our personal comfort, or even our personal safety, that obstructs Jesus’s command to love may, at best, be a sign of our lack of maturity in our faith.  At worst, it may be a red flag that we don’t really trust Jesus or truly believe what he said.  I’ve begun asking myself often as I process events or conversations or things I’ve read, “Do I really believe what I say I believe?”  It’s a piercing question that will both stretch you and solidify the foundation of your faith.

Jesus did not have comfort or safety. There were constant pulls on his time and his energy.  At every turn, he was confronted by people who didn’t understand him, who didn’t approve of his methods and who eventually conspired to crucify him.

Two thousand plus years later, not much has changed. Much of his church is more interested in their own form of Christianity based on following rules, given by both God and man.  It’s about not sinning and pointing out when someone else does.  It’s about sitting in our chairs and pews and being encouraged and entertained rather than doing what Jesus told us to do: “Go!”

If we want to be his disciples, to represent him, we should be stepping out in faith, welcoming and helping the poor, the widow, the orphan, the refugee, and the lost, remembering as we do that we should “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sister, whenever you are faced with trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-5)

There is no real test in comfort and safety.  There is no growth of our faith or in our becoming more like Jesus.  If we are truly trying to following Jesus, shouldn’t our desire to love others always be more important than our safety and comfort?

Here is my prayer for myself, and for you, from Common Prayer:

Deliver me, O Jesus,

from the desire to be esteemed,

from the desire to be loved,

from the desire to be honored,

from the desire to be praised,

from the desire to be preferred to others,

from the desire to be consulted,

from the desire to be approved,

and from the desire to be popular.

Deliver me, O Jesus

from the fear of being humiliated,

from the fear of being despised,

from the fear of being rebuked,

from the fear of being slandered,

from the fear of being forgotten,

from the fear of being wronged,

from the fear of being treated unfairly,

and from the fear of being suspected.

And, dear Jesus, grant me grace to desire that

others might be more loved than I,

that others might be more esteemed than I,

that in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I decrease,

that others may be chosen and I may be set aside,

that others may be preferred to me in everything,

that others become holier than I , provided that I, too, become as holy as I can.

 

Common Prayer – A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove

All verses from the NIV