It Begins With Me

I don’t have any answers. I have more questions than I may ever have answers. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. But I know I must do something. And that something must include love. Whatever happens from here, it must begin with me.

Our world has been divided for years, and that has been true of America as well. But that has never been more apparent than in our current reality. Protests. Riots. Injustice. Hatred. We see it daily. It grows daily. And, well, it should.

This blog is about living in, not of the world as Jesus prayed. Most of the time, I focus on how I am learning to apply biblical principles to my life. I do so to encourage others to seek to do the same. I realize that I could approach each post differently, and I have already begun to consider that. But today, I cannot write anything other than a recognition that I need to be changed. And a big part of that change is love. Ideas like vision, mission, purpose, productivity, Sabbath, administering the church, etc. will have to wait for another day.

Of course, as I said last week, I am currently taking stock of my life. I am trying to understand how I will move forward with however much time I have left. That is a part of vision and purpose. It is a part of how I must live my life, but sometimes the world shifts so much so that re-evaluating, even in the midst of evaluation, is necessary.

The time is now for such re-evaluation. And that evaluation of me, begins with me.

I have long admitted that to love others is more challenging for me than for many others. I realize the importance of love, but I do not often realize the reality of love. That is not to say that I do not love my wife, my family, friends, the church I serve, etc. It is to say, that I expend a great deal of energy to love a little, particularly outside of my family, whereas I can write a page of words without much effort at all.

So, I find myself writing, and creating other content, often. I find it a way to escape and to actually re-charge in some strange sense. I am an introvert, but I still need love. I need to love. I need to be loved.

But right now, I see people all over America that need to know they are loved. They want more than respect; they want dignity. And that desire for dignity relates specifically for our desire to be loved. I cannot love everyone, but I can love someone. And I can love more than I am currently loving.

It begins with me.

The challenge for anyone who cares is to know how to properly respond. Of course, as a Christian, I want people to know Jesus and His love. And while the love of Jesus and faith in Jesus are the true answers to this (or any) predicament, such statements ring hollow when so much of the hatred over the years has been done in the name of Jesus (or God or Allah or …., well, you get the point. For instance, the KKK burned crosses in the yards of people. Crosses!!! As I read my Bible, it was the cross that helped tear down the “dividing wall of hostility” between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2.14) – a hostility between races.)

But I cannot do anything for the masses. I cannot help the people of Minneapolis or even of Kansas City. But, as Andy Stanley says, “What you wish to do for many, do for one” (paraphrased). Whether doing for the many, or doing for the one, it begins with me.

Certainly, I will admit that I am in a location that is VERY white. I do not apologize for that. It is merely a fact. God called me to the location I now serve, and I am not leaving until He calls me elsewhere. But just because I may be physically removed from the situation, does not mean that I cannot and should not empathize. It does not mean that I cannot stand to do my part. I must stand. I must do my part.

Why? Well because it is right. But it is also personal. I have had many friends over the years who were of all sorts of colors. As a child, I grew up in an area, and had many friends who were African-American (black and brown) and Mexican (brown, and they specifically called themselves Mexican). I now have friends in different parts of the world who are African (black), Latino (brown), Asian (brown), etc. So, yes, I must stand, because it is right.

It begins with me.

I also realize that some may accuse me of virtue signaling. But those who know me well, will know that is not true. I realize I do not publicly comment much as an individual, but as a pastor, I do. I may disagree with many people in our world today about a great number of issues, but the Bible I read still tells me to “love my neighbor” and to “love one another” even as, and because, I profess to love God.

What will I do next? I don’t know – yet. I do not have a grip on what I am to do – yet . I do not know how or when I am to act. This blog article is not a first step. Rather, I am writing from conviction of belief and of purpose and as a reminder to myself that I must do something – even if for only one person. Why? Because my Lord has called me to live in, not of. And to live fotonni is to live a life of love, and God has someone for me to love right now.

Yes, that love begins with me.

In closing this post, I want to apologize to anyone who I have neglected for any reason. I cannot undo what has been done, but I can choose a different future.

It begins with me.

I am not perfect, and I will undoubtedly neglect someone (many people) again. But I can, and must, choose a different response.

It begins with me.

Perhaps the injustice I cause/have caused you may pale to the issues reflected in our society today, but any injustice is injustice. Only God can truly enact perfect justice, and He will someday. But in the meantime, I need to allow Him to continue to mold me so that I can be an agent of justice – and of love – for Him.

Any change He wants to make on me must begin with me.

Therefore, I take responsibility for my part. We all have biases, but those biases do not need to lead to injustice. I cannot control how others respond, but I do have a choice for how I will respond. I realize that any change that happens in our society is only minutely dependent upon me, but I also realize that God used people like you and me to make the changes that are necessary. If He is ready to make those changes, then I must be willing to be changed.

It begins with me.

So, yes, my response must fit within my overall plan for my life. But that plan has the ultimate goal of becoming who God wants me to be (my vision). And, of course, to become that man, I must rely on God, but I must choose to do my part as well. I must learn, and live, and love, and lead. No one else can do that for me.

It must begin with me.

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