Tuesday, September 30, 2014

To be a commoner Part II : The Knowledge and Wisdom of a Gangbanger

In a dysfunctional religious group, the main tactic is to demonize anyone who leaves the group. Sometimes, those still in the group need to be reminded of the loved ones left behind. We are not
trash, demons or reprobates. We suffer the scars of the separation and the pain never goes away.
Why? We refuse to stop loving those who cast us aside. We refuse to believe the love we invested in them and shared with them over many years, from  the cradle to the parting, has somehow dissipated
to nothing.

We cannot stop loving them and never will. We hold on to hope because it is what Jesus would do.

Tupac Shakur's tribute to his mother. He is gone now, but he took us through the right approach to those who cannot help but love.

When I was young me and my mama had beef
Seventeen years old kicked out on the streets
Though back at the time, I never thought I'd see her face
Ain't a woman alive that could take my mama's place
When things went wrong we'd blame mama
I reminice on the stress I caused, it was hell
You always was a queen, mama
I finally understand
for a woman it ain't easy tryin to raise a me
You always was committed
A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya did it
There's no way I can pay you back
But the plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

Don't cha know we love ya? Sweet lady
Dear mama
Place no one above ya, sweet lady
You are appreciated
Don't cha know we love ya?

Now ain't nobody tell us it was fair
No love from my daddy cause the coward wasn't there
He passed away and I didn't cry, cause my anger
wouldn't let me feel for a stranger
They say I'm wrong and I'm heartless, but all along
I was lookin for a father he was gone
Cause when I was low you was there for me
And never left me alone because you cared for me
And I could see you comin home after work late
You're in the kitchen tryin to fix us a hot plate
Ya just workin with the scraps you was given
And mama made miracles every Thanksgivin
But now the road got rough, you're alone
You're tryin to raise two bad kids on your own
And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

I can always depend on my mama
And when it seems that I'm hopeless
You say the words that can get me back in focus
When I was sick as a little kid
To keep me happy there's no limit to the things you did
And all my childhood memories
Are full of all the sweet things you did for me
And even though I act craaazy
I gotta thank the Lord that you made me
There are no words that can express how I feel
You never kept a secret, always stayed real
And I appreciate, how you raised me
And all the extra love that you gave me
I wish I could take the pain away
If you can make it through the night there's a brighter day
Everything will be alright if ya hold on
It's a struggle everyday, gotta roll on
And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

Why Tupac Shakur here as an example? Why a  gangbanger who dealt drugs, possibly shot others and someone we would probably try to avoid by crossing to the other side of the street?

Answer: Not to speak for him, but in his own words, he did not break the second commandment: Honor your father and mother. Moreover, if you read the above there is no doubt you see more than honor, you see love...you can even feel it. .

He understood something many inside a dysfunctional religious group fail to recognize:

To those still on the inside: Remember You owe some loved ones everything. 

We, the parents, children and dear friends who love you will never stop waiting. How can we?

We will be there when like us, you are cast aside by those you follow once your usefulness to them has expired.

In part I, I listed the importance of the Blood. To extend on that point,
Blood is thicker than the baptismal font and it is also the entry point
to the Lord's Kingdom and mercy.

Blood is our only link to God our Father, there is no other. When God the Father looks at us, He does not see the sin and the transgression even sometimes the hate one has had for Him. He sees the blood of the Lamb covering us. There is no baptism of the Spirit or Water that can augment that. In any Systematic theology  worth its salt (not the one made up by False Leaders), the Blood stands alone as the solution offered to sin BY GOD HIMSELF.

Blood it thicker than anything: even a gangbanger knows that.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

To Be Common - Part I

In the book of Leviticus one can in the vast list of instructions look over some gems hidden in between the stanzas of rote teaching. In the rhythm of the book in the pauses in the corners of that smooth and flawless room, lie clues that tell of another future time when the God-Man would walk the earth for all of us crushed under the weight of what lies in Leviticus. 

Let me give you one here.

In the beginning chapters of the book, there are specific instructions regarding offerings: sin, grain, wave, peace, guilt and so on. But looking a little deeper into one, perhaps the most important one and to one I am most familiar, I find something unexpected. I cannot imagine the scene in that time. The blood and the horror of the last breath of innocent animals slain and then burned in the holy fire is too much for the modern man where such things are far removed… and so the sense of the gravity over the sins we commit. I wonder if we had to go with an animal lay our hands upon its head and take part in its slaying if we would feel differently about the things we do we know are wrong. I believe we would. In the time of Leviticus, there was no other option. It was crude and vile and the last screams of the innocent animal perhaps carried on the shoulders of the one offering  it could only lend regret and a grievance. The cold fact is something had to stand in the place and be the payment to turn back the wrath of God against them. You see, it was a bloody and terror filled place. It was a place where man was reminded of the darkness of his own heart and reminded that God was ever just.  It was a place where the deception of the heart was rendered powerless and one stood in the cold light of reality. The stench of burnt hair and flesh and the blood and … oh my, the blood was everywhere. It saturated the ground and matted the dust in to a foul smelling paste. It was where sin, the real character of sin was in plain sight. All that one could do is bow and be thankful that penalty was paid; at least until the next sin.

This is how it was and we would do well to remember the heinousness of it. It was the result of listening to thoughts, appetites, impulses and sensations that result in the evil fruit of death.

What caught my eye when reading the various instructions was the sin offering of a common person. With the dignitaries it was a bull but with the lowly it was a…lamb. I am reminded of the passage when John the Baptist sees his kin walking toward him to be baptized.

“Behold the Lamb of God” John 1:36.

I was stunned. We see the Jesus in the movie, we see Him in a romantic way and shy away from the black afternoon He was born to spend alone. Combining these two pictures: the sacrifice of the common man and the afternoon on Golgotha, we will find  corollaries: There is the innocent, there is the guilty, there is the lone sacrifice, there is the pain, there is the horror and…there is the blood.