Church and Swearing and Michael Jordan and Promises and Israel
Wandering thoughts after a Sunday morning
If you haven’t already:
I sat in church yesterday and something hit me differently.
(record scratch) “Hold up — you go to church? Didn’t you just write about how ‘no one shits jam?’ I thought Christians were all well-behaved and never swear.”
Well, reader, I gotta shoot you straight (and thanks so much for reading all my stuff).
Some of us Christians swear, but you’re right, probably most don’t. I tend to not, except when I slam my hand in our giant blue recycling bin trying to throw away 15 Amazon boxes that arrived in the past 36 hours OR if someone tailgates me on the freeway. Then I’m a sailor who swears across the seven seas.
I suspect that many level-headed Christians would agree with me when I say that no four-letter word will get you into—or keep you out of—heaven.
Believe me, Christians get a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly so. Our brand isn’t exactly Nike-status these days (I’M WORKING ON IT, TINA!).
But if we get down to the simplest and kindest form of faith, God wants us to be a blessing to others, and sure, this includes curtailing my soap-in-mouth language, but I’ve come to believe that what He wants MOST is for us to see the world how He sees it, and act accordingly.
To see all humans as worthy of love; worthy of being understood.
To look out for those in need.
To sacrifice for the benefit of others, rather than hoard for ourselves.
And as that one church song goes, God wants us to say “break my heart for what breaks yours.” When God sees pain and suffering, I see it too.
Which brings us back to yesterday. Our associate pastor was teaching about the Old Testament, getting VERY NERDY about how ancient cultures treated contracts and covenants. We’re talking “original Hebrew verb tense” nerdy.
He read this scripture about Abram (later, Abraham), who would become the father of the tribes of Israel. Basically, like James Naismith who would begat Michael Jordan, who begat Kobe Bryant, who begat LeBron James and Steph Curry (I’m pretty sure I’m using “begat” correctly here—I’ll Google it later).
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about the Israel of today. Embattled by attacks. Horrors and murders. 9/11-level stuff.
If this verse, written thousands of years ago, is to be believed, then those who attack God’s chosen people will be cursed. But it’s hard to believe that when you see the news.
I do believe, however, that the families of Earth HAVE been blessed through this promise to Abram. Certainly, the protection of the Israeli people for generations has been a blessing to them since the time of Abram. And by genealogy, Jesus was born from Abram, and his life and death and resurrection have been a blessing to countless millions of people over the past two thousand years.
So my mind wanders, considering how to think about Israel today. How to help. How to support. How to love.
There’s a little corner of my brain that says, “Don’t post about Israel! People will be mad at you!” I don’t know these people personally, but I get it. Israel ain’t perfect.
And you know what, they’re right. And America isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. God isn’t here to only hang with perfect people and perfect nations.
We all deserve to be seen how God sees us: worthy of love, worthy of safety, worthy of support.
Israel deserves this kind of love and support.
If what’s happening in Israel is personal to you, my heart breaks for you.