Friday, July 15, 2011

Foxes Have Holes

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him [Jesus], ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’  Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’” – Luke 9:57-58 NIV

So, let’s be honest.  This passage has never really meant very much to me.  My “in-depth exegesis” of this verse has basically been “following Jesus is hard.”  However, the other day as I was moving from one friend’s house to another for a few days – until I moved to yet another friend’s house (for a total of at least 4 places in less than two months), it really started to gain much more meaning.  Home is where you go when you’ve had a rough day.  It is where you go when you feel like the world is out to get you – whether it’s because of something that happened or because of something in your own mind.  You go there and you feel safe.  You feel like you have some control over some aspect of your surroundings.  You don’t feel exposed.

Jesus didn’t have this.  From what I can assume, Jesus relied on God for all of this.  This is pretty impressive to me.  Sure, I like to think that I trust in God.  I like to pray “give us this day our daily bread,” but I would just assume have my daily bread planned out ahead of time.  I’d rather be able to go to my hole and feel safe.  I really think that what he was telling the man wasn’t “yeah, life will be tough” as much as “following me means rejecting this world – all of it.”  I wonder how often Jesus slept outside.  I assume from reading the gospels that he often stayed with friends that welcomed him into their homes, but I’m sure that there were nights spent outside as well.  We read of him praying all night in the garden of Gethsemane.  How often did he spend the entire night out there praying, and how often did he spend the night there actually sleeping?  Did Jesus ever move on from a location because he felt like he had overstayed his welcome?  Since Jesus doesn’t ever seem to pull any punches, I’m sure there were lots of times that he told someone the truth, and they were offended by it – I wonder how often this happened when he was staying with people; and how often he got kicked out because of it.

I could ponder on that for a long time, but instead I’ll point out another aspect of not having a hole.  As a more experienced Christian in my life pointed out to me the other day, “stuff [possessions] burdens you down.”  He’s right.  (This is relevant because you don’t really own much stuff if you don’t have a home to put it in.)  There are many ways in which stuff can be a burden.  When was the last time you flew somewhere?  How much did you pack?  Wasn’t it a pain to haul that stuff all over the airport (or even to the check-in desk)?  That’s not the only way that stuff is a burden.  What about when you move?  There’s a reason that people throw away so much stuff right before they move.  I think Jesus knew all of this.  That’s why he didn’t own things – it allowed him to be free from worries about belongings.  Possessions really cut both ways.  They are often used for comfort in our society (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever bought something because I had a bad day, or because I figured it would make me better in some shallow way).  However, owning all of these things is also a very heavy burden mentally.  How often did you worry about everything you had being stolen in college?  I know that I never bothered locking my door (except when I slept) for 4 years of college.  Now?  I lock(ed) it all the time.  The more you have, the more you’re worried about not having it.  Now, I’m as guilty as anyone else about materialism (before the tornado I had around 200 board games, and I’m sure that soon enough I’ll have close to that many again).  It’s really just something to think about when buying more and more of whatever the latest thing is.

So, to pretend to wrap this thought up – I’m way more impressed with Jesus and how he lived and performed his ministry than I ever have been before.  I just can’t even put into words how intimidating it is to even think about not having a home, and knowing that you won’t have a home for the rest of your life!  (And what about Paul with his missions… I wonder if he was actually a bit relieved when he went to prison and at least knew where he was going to sleep and had a roof over his head….. but I can ponder on that later.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Hi.  My name is Josh.  And I'm a Christian (and as I type that, it sounds a lot like an Alcoholics Anonymous intro).  I write a couple of other blogs - the main one being about board games.  Occasionally, after a particularly meaningful sermon, or after certain things happen in life, I think I should reflect on these things.  That's really what I figure this blog will be for.  I have no idea how often I will update it (or if I will ever update it).  I put off writing this introduction for about a month, so that's probably not very promising.  To be fair, however, that was also the same month after my house was destroyed by a tornado (I wrote about that on my other blog here if you're interested in reading about that).

Who am I, and what are my "credentials"?  Well, I grew up in the church - having attended for as long as I can remember.  Eventually, I even went to graduate school (seminary) and received a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM).  I have also been hurt by the church a lot.  Starting in high school, I started thinking outside of the bounds of the denomination that I grew up in.  Though many of my beliefs are still the same as what I was taught in it, many others are nowhere near it (and the beliefs that stuck around are much more researched than they used to be).  I must honestly say that my set of beliefs doesn't really mesh completely with any denomination that I've ever learned anything about (and I've learned about quite a few of them).  One of my Christian passions is ecumenical services.  Another way of saying the same thing is that I hate denominational barriers (and don't kid yourself, "non-denominational" is a denomination just as much as any other).  I think that it is silly to have everyone claim to love Jesus, and yet not even associate with each other because they have some different beliefs - differences ranging from silly to fairly important.

And while we're on the topic of me (oh, right, that's what this whole post is about... I'm not off to a good start to write about being a Christian but to actually be writing all about me... hmmm...) One of my prayers is that God's grace be infinitely larger than we can imagine.  I know that most people claim that God's grace is huge.  But, when you come down to it, how big is that grace, really, in your mind?  Is there a chance that men and women of the Muslim faith are saved under his grace?  What about those that practice Hindu beliefs?  Mormon beliefs?  I pray that God's grace is this big and bigger!  I'm by no means in charge of this, but when I even start to think about how many people do not know the gospel and would be condemned to hell if His grace isn't this big, it breaks my heart.  And I cannot even fathom how many people are included in this.  And if it begins to break my calloused heart, I'm certain that God's is shattered over this topic.  This gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, His grace really is ridiculously unfathomable and that somehow by this gigantic grace, all truly can be saved.

One last thing to mention in this "little" intro.  Church.  Yeah.  What to say.  The church has hurt me often.  I don't know that I can truly think of times in my life that I have felt as much pain as from churches.  Through this, God has always found a way for me to grow, but it has still, let's say, "colored" my way of looking at church.  Many of you may attend church and enjoy it.  To an extent I envy you.  Now, with that said, since I often don't find myself very comfortable in the church, I feel like I am better able to relate to others that aren't comfortable there.  Also, because of it, I spend a lot of time outside of the church.  Don't get me wrong, I think it is awesome to have Christian friends that can help uplift you, and encourage you through life.  However, I also think that far too many Christians have given up on ever socializing in places that non-Christians hang out.  Whether out of necessity for company, or whatever, I have found myself in these types of places often.  (I spent about 10 months on a project with work going to bars with my co-workers and watching them drink.  I've never really been a drinker.)

So, that's me and part of why I may (or may not) continue writing here.  If it helps you, then great!  Follow along.  My only request is that you not judge me or "oh, honey" me based on what I say here.  ("Oh, honey" for those of you that don't know is a common Southern lead in that often ends with large amounts of pity dumped in your lap.)