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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Listening, Learning, Lamenting, Loving...

My cousin's just-turned-five-year-old daughter, Signe, and her family, spent several days last week learning and loving on the streets of Minneapolis.

I’ve been weirdly hopeful this week. Like maybe these things that look like breaking are really rebuilding. Maybe this chaos is really making room for His still small voice. Needed. We need this refining. Like gold over a fire, impurities rising. Finally.

I have been glad this week for the internet. For social media. Gasp. Did I really say that? Just weeks ago I was ready to unplug forever. But this week I realize I really do want to hear voices different than my own, and we live in a time where the world is doing a lot of its talking online, and I do have a choice. To listen or not. I do have a choice to choose wisely and to use discretion. And I do still choose to trust the Spirit of Truth to give me counsel. And so, I’ve been grateful. For the voices.

I’ve been grateful for history lessons reminding me I live in a country with a sordid past, rife with (let’s be honest) evil systems. Dripping with human blood. Human Beings robbed of dignity, robbed of homes, robbed of innocence, robbed of freedom. Here in a land where we claim our people are free. Ahhhh……Lord Jesus!! These gut-punch reminders of so much loss, so much lost. And we grieve.

We lament. Last Sunday, Pastor Sean in his message, talked about groaning. The whole earth groaning. The people groaning. All of us, to some extent, groan. But we have to admit—SOME GROAN LOUDER.

And now, we hear it. Am I being presumptuous to say this? That some of us, at least, can HEAR?

We hear, and we agree. We NEED to change. We groan together, pleading, seeking. Change. This, I think, is the honest truth from hearts of humble people. Not all, but many. And hopefully it is the truest truth for us who claim to follow Jesus. Because make no mistake, this is HIS groan, too.

His Kingdom come to all of us broken people and our broken systems.

“But the systems aren’t broken. The systems were built this way.” A pastor on a YouTube video taught me this, this week. This pastor also pointed out—when Jesus walked among us, Jesus was actually partial. Partial to the sick, the poor, the oppressed, the mistreated. The sinners. Partial, also, in His great distain for abusers of religious and/or political power. And I have to pause. To ask. How are we doing—me/we/the Church of Jesus? Are we partial like He is—or something else?

This week, too, I’ve been reading my Bible. My priority, still, to hear HIS VOICE above all the others. More than once, coming across passages, grappling with context. Paul, in his letters, writing to churches, assuming systems. Like this—in Ephesians 5–6. Paul writes about love between people in this beautiful passage. With cultural context. Wives and husbands. Slaves and masters. Was Paul condoning oppressive systems? Should churches condone these systems, too? Ridiculous notion.

…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless… (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Followers of Jesus, hear me say this. We can be this kind of HOLY AND BLAMELESS. His kingdom come, on earth as in heaven. Without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish…

This, too, has to be true.

And so, I listen, and I learn, and I lament. But I am also reminded, that while sometimes, often, I live in ignorance, I do not need to live guilt-ridden. I have been forgiven. I have been cleansed. I have been made new. SET FREE. Set free from the sins of my fathers, and from my own sin, too. The ugly that is true of history does not need to be the ugly in me. Because His Love really does make us holy and blameless—not just in theory, but in a true-to-this-life practical goodness that makes a difference in the affairs of this world. I believe in the empowering LOVE of Jesus in us, and we—His people—can upend the evil powers that have come against us. And for this I groan—and I hope.

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