Last Words Before Leaving

It’s crazy to think that in under 12 hours, Lesley and I will be on our plane and waiting to leave Uganda. The uncertainty of where God will lead us in the future certainly adds a layer of emotion in that this has been each of our home for the past 7 months (my experience) and the past year (Lesley’s experience) and there is the possibility of never returning.

To put it lightly, we’re both emotionally raw and praying for a ridiculous amount of grace from people at home as we transition. This culture is, as I studied in one of my missions classes, essentially the polar opposite in all respects to the West. Everything that we’ve gotten used to (like communicating with our eyebrows [not inappropriate at all here], being more indirect with how we speak especially in conflict, ways of acting in public, etc.) we now will have to get used to the opposite again. For me, I’ll be facing double culture shock (going back home and going there as a soon-to-be-married man) and Lesley will be facing triple culture shock (going to the states, being in Chicago [not yet home]. and going as my soon-to-be wife).

Please don’t understand that we aren’t excited, we are; change is just hard, especially when it’s this radical.

One thing that I talked with my director (Matt Kehn) about in my last one-on-one as an ABIDE intern, was that I need boldness in returning to the United States. Before we left, for the first time in many years of friendship, I finally talked open about my faith with two of my best friends from growing up. It took me that long to actually talk about Jesus with them. This wasn’t their fault or them asking me not to, this was due to my being cowardly.

For some reason, being an anonymous person in a different culture, it’s easier to not be so worried about the perception others have of you and it’s somewhat easier to speak freely about your beliefs. However, the “easiness” of it, shouldn’t be what determines how you/I act.

Jesus said that the world would hate us, and that we should expect that. If the world hated it’s Savior, it’s only true hope, why would it not hate those who believe in Him and try to share that freedom and hope found in Him?

Christianity is seen by many outsiders as a religion of bondage. It’s seen as a set of rules to follow which simply limit how much fun you can have. The funny thing is, that’s pretty much as far as you can get from the truth. Many other religions are actually religions of bondage where these rules dictate how you live and force you to submit to a vengeful God.

Jesus didn’t come so that He could make us slaves. Jesus came because we needed Him.

Humanity is inherently evil. We still bear a semblance of God’s image which we were created with, but sin has permeated our nature. Think about how hard it is to do something for someone else. If it isn’t so hard, think of how often you do something for someone else because you know you’ll feel good about yourself. We are selfish beings by nature and that is not the way we were created to live.

God has not given us a set of “rules” to follow. Rather, as the One who created us and knows how we work best, He has shared with us the correct way to live. Not only has He given us this wonderful information, but He also was willing to lay down His own Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would have the freedom to live in light of His truth and be released from the bondage of our sinful nature.

When you buy a product and there are instructions on how to use the product and it gives you warnings of what happens if you misuse the product, do you look at it as a set of rules? I tend to be thankful when I read a caution label that tells me I shouldn’t ingest whatever it is, because the consequences of that are dire.

In the same way, Jesus didn’t come to give rules or enforce those previously given, He came to give us the freedom to live as we were meant to. We, since Adam and Eve, have chosen ourselves over God and have thus been subject to punishment from a Holy God who cannot interact with unholy people (for our own sake because we would die). But Jesus laying down his life for us to be free of that and simply to have to receive what He has offered, is the least restrictive thing He could have done. Why should God come down in human form in a humiliating way (born where animals feed in a cave) and live a life for others, spending all His time investing in men He believes can change the world through love, and then die the most humiliating death (at the time) so that He could raise from the grave and cover our faults? Love. That’s the only answer.

I don’t want to be liked because I don’t talk about my faith. I don’t want to be hated because I shove Jesus down people’s throats. I don’t want to force Jesus on anyone, but I also don’t want to express that I hate every person that I’m not willing to share the Gospel, the hope that I have, with.

If you have a question about Jesus or the way I live my life, feel free to ask me.

I’m not willing to be a coward as I’ve been in the past and try to answer with as little as I can to offend as little as possible. I’m not willing to be lukewarm as far too many Christians are (and I have been). I’m done complaining about what the church has done wrong and I want to be part of the solution.

That solution is Jesus Christ and I am proud to be part of the body of believers who are His hands on this earth.

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

– 1 Peter 3:13-22 NIV

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