Soma leaders on the gospel, community and mission in the everyday…
If you abide in my words, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
A story from my 7th grade years. I still remember the day I went over to the house to play basketball. The invite seemed suspicious but I went anyway because more than anything my 7th grade heart wanted to be in the "in crowd." I wanted to be part of the group. And so I showed up and we began playing basketball and I did well. But every time I came close to this kid, he shoved and pushed and was trying to get a reaction out of me. The others sort of pushed me back into him as if they expected me to respond but I didn't know what was going on. At least not until he started throwing fists at my face. Reality set in. I had been invited over so he could try to beat me up. All the kids were in on it. They had ganged up on me. That day I had ran. I just took off and ran. Something I have always been pretty good at physically. And so I went on not being on the inside, not being a part of the in crowd. I wanted to be loved. I grew up with a great big hole in my heart looking for my peers to fill and they didn't feel like filling it. And on that day, those kids took that hole and put a new mark on it.
Move up in history to about a year ago at a birthday party for a friend where my older son has gotten the help of other children, mostly older and bigger than him, in order to team up and bully on his younger, smaller, siblings. As I watch this happen, I watch a piece of the ugliest, most fearful, and most controlling Scott come out. I multiple times ripped him out of that situation harder than any bully could ever dream of doing. I, his daddy, turned into the worst bully of all in order to send fear down his heart. Something inside of me gets set off as I turn into the cosmic judgement against bullying. I do not see straight or think straight. My filter that is perceiving everything around isn't seeing things as they should be. As I look at the other people at the party, nobody else seems to care. They are frolicking along. I on the other hand can not control my anger. This isn't the first time that he has pulled this trick. And just to be clear, it is not okay to be a bully and gang up on your little brother.
What I am more concerned about is my response to it because the weight of my response is not equal to the weight of the situation and I am unable to calmly step in and sort things out. I am unable to lovingly teach and discipline and correct and instead of showing kind consequences for the situations I leave behind scars in my own child. What God has lead me to see over this last year is a chain reaction of woundedness. The first lie that Satan said was "God is not for you, he is holding out and doesn't really love you and want what is best." My heart hears that and is empty. It believes the lie and begins to fill itself with others. But when I went over to that kids house that day to fill my heart with how special I was, it received something else. It received a wound and a deepening belief in that first lie. And when my son begins to instigate the same bullying, setting somebody else up for failure, that scar is rubbed and I freak out, causing the same scars in him with my bully parent tactics.
The verse God brought me to yesterday was in John 8:31-32, "If you abide inn my words, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Interesting, as I have begun talking first about my reaction to my son, praying with friends about what the underlying beliefs are, and then asking God to bring up in my past where I was wounded, I have learned about two people. I learned about myself. Obviously God is very concerned with setting me free by teaching me the truth of his affections, the truth of where He was in that situation, and the truth of my value to Him. But I also learned about this boy who called me over to play basketball that day. It is like I had internal eyes watching back then that I never paid attention to. But this boy, whose mother had left, and who lived with his father who was never around, trying to find a group of friends that would love him, who would call him family. I have found space and heart to not just forgive him, but pray for him and to hope for him. He was, in that moment doing the exact same thing I was, looking to prove he could be in the in crowd and that he was worth loving.
When our wounds are left to fester, to be poked at, and not get the treatment they need, they will cause other damage. Wounds cause wounds. I will perpetuation in my sons the same hurt that was done to me unless I let the healing truth of our savior come and bring beauty to the scar. God did not come to the earth as a baby for the sake of a ticket to heaven. He came to heal humanity (verse) and bring a spotless bride to Himself. When we begin to confess our sins, my anger in this situation, and bring them to trusted others and the savior, he begins to show us the wounds behind them, the manifestations of the lie and the vulnerable places that others have taken advantage of. And then He begins to heal. He was there on that day I was jumped, with me, watching over me and has brought me to this place where I can now hope for that person.
When we leave our wounds to fester, they tell us lies about what we have to do to be safe. We begin to trust in a system of false truths, or lies. Wounded people can either wound others or they can begin to be healed and allow their wounds help heal others.
The second way I want to look at this day, at this morning that we celebrate about a baby, is that baby came from heaven to heal my wounds. Not metaphorically. Not when I get to heaven, but now. Baby Jesus is God from heaven here to take the places I have been sinned against and speak truth over them to set me free. I want to be in on that. I want to be spoken over and I want to participate in His truth speaking, heart healing that He does in my community and in my classrooms.
Lord Jesus come. Our society is broken, our hearts scarred and full of fear. Our walls are high and self-protective anger, fear, and isolation strong. But You, but You oh God are stronger. Your perfect love will heal and cast out fear. I pray for our city to know You and Your healing power. I pray for my community to openly confess their sins without shame that we might know the wounds and healing that You can bring. Come Lord Jesus and pour our Your Spirit upon this town and your church to become the healers you declared your church would be.
Come Lord Jesus come.