Thursday, March 22, 2012

God with us?

She had beautiful eyes, as blue as the sky on a perfectly clear winter day.  I bet her husband swooned over them many a time.  Her hair had just a trace of blond left among the yellow.  Her skin was incredibly dented, wrinkled, worn.  She was frustrated, feisty, tired out, 80-something years old.

She was looking for the free tax preparation, which this April happens is apparently housed on the 5th floor of the science building at the university where I teach.  After she interrupted the class across the hall, she found me in office hours and started looking for tax help.  Yesterday, during my one hour a week of solitude, it was not a very welcome interruption.

I happened to have a few quiet minutes with no students around.  Something in me clicked, and paused.  It was surreal.  Supernatural?  I listened, and noticed.  Her eyes, her skin, her labored breathing, her complaints about doctors and blood pressure medicine and coughs.  And I found myself wondering, what if this very woman was the Jesus I believe in?  Jesus on the Chemistry floor during my office hours.  Would I think her more beautiful, more important, worth taking time to listen to, talk to, and would I leave a chair out for her?  For a few minutes, she became a glimpse of my humble God, and  I stopped to make time for her.

What if I had that thought 5 minutes earlier?  Would that book salesman I just talked to seem more of a valuable person than a salesman to be annoyed with?

Driving across town on my way home then, walking around the elementary school, greeting moms and grandmas, scooping up my own dirty-faced little boys.  I glimpsed people in a way that I never have before.  Not with long hair, or strange clothes, or worn, or small, or beautiful, but each the tiniest facet in a crazy glimpse of an unfathomable God.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Conservative Christian

Nope, not writing about politics today.  OK, well, sort of.  The labels "conservative Christian voters" and "evangelical Christian voters" and all that got me thinking today.  I hear them all the time, because we do follow politics with some interest around here.  And at least this year, they kind of grate on me, because though I call myself a Christian and I've gone to church with self-identifying evangelicals my entire life, I end up feeling that I have nothing in common with the labeled groups and so many of the associated stereotypes.  And I don't really understand their voting patterns.

As for the other piece of the label, the "conservative" bit, I'm coming to appreciate others with that outlook more.  Though I tend to be more curious and progressive these days, I'm realizing that we absolutely need people who say "Wait, do we really need to change that?"  or "Wait, do we really need to get involved in that?"    Whether it's political, economic, religious, or whatever.  To my broadly stereotyping mind, conservatives (not necessarily political ones) say - let's mainly stick with how things are or were.  Libertarians let everything flex.  Liberals chase broader or newer ideas and maybe get in others' business in the process.

So what if a "conservative Christian" was just one that said "let's be more conservative in our definitions of God and Christianity and stick with the themes that God has let us in on."

God says His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  Can I stick with that instead of fitting God into this specific salvation prayer or that exact 1/20/40/60/80 year life opportunity to get it all done?  I must be getting it wrong the instant I think I have Him all figured out.

God says that He loves the whole world, and by grace we are saved.  Can I stick to that and not have a crystal clear definition of if that person or people group  is saved, or worthy, or loved?   I must be getting it wrong the second I think I have anyone's eternal destiny all figured out, including my own.

I make no claim to studying the related theology, and very well might be getting it wrong myself, but this is a kind of conservative Christianity I'm drawn by these days.

What do you think?