The “fine line” of Community

For Our Community:

Many of you know that of late I’ve been standing on that proverbial “fine line” of unconditionally loving those who are in the midst of painful situations and circumstances while making it very clear that decisions being made fall into the realm of destructive sinfulness.  It is something that every honest and humble Christ-follower eventually has to deal with in the depths of their soul…how do we reckon in our hearts the reality of our brokenness, the decisions we make daily that exhibit that brokenness while at the same time declaring that we want to faithfully and obediently love and follow God?  Years ago, in the throws of a very painful divorce, I had to embrace my sinfulness in more than a theological and intellectual manner…I had to embrace the fact that I was making a sin-filled decision, doing something contrary to the will and Word of God, that was destroying more than just my own heart but also forever impacting my children, friends and a church that I loved.  Yet, at the same time, I was crying out for acceptance.  I needed people who loved me and accepted me despite the tragedy of my existence.  Eventually, because of some very distinct “deconstruction” of how I viewed God and God’s unconditional love as well as His call to Christ-likeness, I emerged into a revolutionary understanding and relationship with God.  To be honest, despite the fact that God walked with me without condoning what I was actively pursuing, very few people were able to do the same…to walk with me.  I found that those who didn’t accept me because of the sin in my life were hypocrites and spiritually shallow BUT I also discovered that those who didn’t challenge me on my sin and help me wrestle with the reality of the wilderness that I had entered really didn’t love me.  They said they did…but so-called, “unconditional love” that doesn’t recognize and warn of pathways being chosen and roads that are being traveled are filled with pot holes and cesspools of failures and revelations of imperfection, isn’t really love at all.  Very few people were able to challenge me on the depth of my sin-filled behavior and brokenness while at the same time standing with me in relationship and love.   It has been one of the tragic but also “freeing” realizations of my life that very few people have the character and true love of God that has captivated their heart and life to be able to walk that fine line with others in an attitude of spiritually-dependent pride. 

I have to tell you, that is a difficult “fine line” to walk.  I think that sometimes our need for acceptance and love in the midst of our own destructiveness blurs our ability to be able to call those closest to us to honesty and forthrightness.  We so hunger love and acceptance that we can’t see that those who are grieving our brokenness along with us and attempting to say and do things that are supportive are, at the same time, being filled with the herky-jerky uncertainty of trying to ease the pain of the consequences of our behavior and choices while attempting to stand in the crucible of Christ’s call to holiness.  Our choices in the midst of our own pain are often more narcissistic than helpful…for we all want freedom without responsibility…we all want love without accountability…we all want acceptance without transparency.  So what do we do when someone close to us DOES try to hold us accountable, attempts to breathe some level of honesty in our lives while loving?  We shrink back, pull back or condemn them because they haven’t given us what WE want.  In our own self-centeredness, we shoots those we need the most.  We can’t see THEIR struggle through the fog of OUR struggle.  Oh, the folly of humanity!  Yet, it is OUR humanity!  Again, before we start pointing fingers, we should look in the mirror.

What I’ve decided to do is call all of us to love and acceptance ALONG WITH the commitment to community, accountability, vulnerability and righteousness.  For those of us committed to righteousness and justice, we need to see that that begins in the spheres of life closest to our own.  We have to call “a spade, a spade” but also love “without hypocrisy”.  Will that mean that we will quickly discover the ridiculousness of our own attempts to love?  Yes, because we all do not love perfectly!  Will that also mean that we who are being called and challenged to faithful, integrity-filled living will at times experience what “feels like” shots of condemnation but is really the humble  and honest attempts of hope-filled hearts to be able to reach out to us when we are in pain in the best way they know how?  Yes!  This is the truth of God-honoring relationships – what it takes to experience community is patience…patience with those engulfed in the throws of sin-filled behavior and its consequences as well as patience with those who are attempting to do their best of bring the refreshing presence of God’s love to bear in situations and lives that are difficult to fully comprehend and understand. 

Friends, who ever said that this Christ-following business was going to be easy?  Who ever promised that we would be able to discern, without problems or pain, the difficulty of walking this “fine line”?  That’s why we need each other!  That’s why we need Holy Spirit to incarnate Himself in the midst of our lives.  Honestly, it is easy to condemn and pull away.  It is easy to point and say, “you don’t love me”.  Broken relationships feel “natural” since the fall…but we’ve been called and created for another reality!  That is why it is the “narrow road” that is being walked by those who love and accept without turning a blind eye to sin…that is why it is the “narrow road” that is being traveled by those who are being called to faithfulness but understanding and accepting the feeble attempts we all make to love as Jesus has loved us. 

I pray for all of us…each of us are attempting to live our lives in the flow of the Kingdom of God.  We are all making mistakes…we are all attempting to love.  Let’s show the world what humble and honest Christ-followers can do…let’s demonstrate to the world what true love looks like when experienced in relationships that are hopelessly and passionately dependent upon the character and in-filling of the Jesus that we so long to serve!

All my love to each of you!

Robin

Robin J. Dugall
Executive Director
Youth Leadership Institute
Haggard School of Theology @ APU
Adjunct Professor in Biblical Studies
P.O. Box 7000
Azusa, CA. 91702
626.815.5472 – APU office phone
208.939.7703 – Idaho office phone
208.891.4608 – cell phone
rdugall@apu.edu
http://www.yliapu.org – YLI website and Interactive Community
http://mo.yliapu.org – Missional Order of Revolutionaires website
http://www.myspace.com/yliapu  – YLI “MySpace.com” page
http://yliapu.typepad.com/spiritualregurgitations/ – Robin’s blog

"I am called and gifted by God to be a difference maker in my world to His glory"

The Youth Leadership Institute – Engaging, Equipping and Encouraging the Call of an Emerging Generation

TEAM Conferences, T2 Reunions, T3 Wilderness Expeditions and TEAM Building Experiences, Leadership Development and Spiritual Formation; More conferences, more community, information on a new Missional Order of Revolutionaries, blogs, prayer requests, etc.  All information on our website, visit http://www.yliapu.org.  TEAM 1 @ APU July 8-13, 2007.  TEAM 1 @ Idaho June 17-22, 2007. TEAM 3 Wilderness Expedition August 3-12, 2007.  YLI Podcasts available @ Itunes!

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Another sign of the Second Coming…

Img391_vanhalen

Exclusive: Van Halen Reuniting With Roth For Tour – it finally happened.  Eddie and Diamond Dave have buried the hatchet and are going to tour.  Van Halen back again in "almost" an original lineup…Eddie replaced the solid bass player/vocalist Michael with his son, Wolfgang (15 years old) in the band.  Dude, Dave is a lunatic..but a superstar when it comes to Van Halen rock and roll.  My wife Vicky is going to go crazy with this news…I might have to get her a ticket in the front row…if you know what I mean!  Bring it on!  Davidleeroth0626_big

More good quotes – this one from Richard Rohr

"For a mature (person)…heroism is no longer the goal or concern.  Now the goal is something we can no longer manufacture, control or even possess as our own:  holiness.  Holiness is given and received; it is utterly but quietly transforming; sometimes it even feels and looks like ‘sinfulness’ to the uninitiated.  Holiness seldom looks heroic until the holy ones have been buried for a few centuries, and we can safely begin the canonization process…" 

Look at that last sentence one more time…"holiness seldom looks heroic until the holy ones have been buried for a few centuries…"  Isn’t that so contrary to how some around us try to impress us with their public holiness?  Remember, Jesus’ reputation wasn’t one of holiness…his reputation was built on the fact that he always was in the wrong places hanging out with the wrong people doing the wrong things.  If that is holiness, then most of us are in trouble.  We are more interested in public portrayals of holiness and not that attitude of the heart that looks beyond self and solely to God.  As I’ve said before, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

What I’m reading

I’ve never been one to read just ONE book…usually, I’m skimming new books…reading something in-depth (e.g. just finished Rohr’s book, Everything Belongs after reading it five times back to back)…and going through the first read of a few books all at the same time.  You might call it an obsession; you might call it short attention span syndrome and you’d probably be right.  Oh well…that’s simply the way I’m wired up.  I can tell you though that I continue my fascination with real-life stories or heroism and self-sacrifice.  I just finished fine book called, Untold Valor which is a series of lived moments regarding a number of bomber pilots and personnel from the B-17 and B-24’s during WW2.  They continue to demonstrate how self-absorbed our current generations are.  When the new Pew Study on Young Adults (published summary in USA Today) tells us that young adults are primarily fixated on being famous and rich (81% of those surveyed said that was their number ONE value) the values of the past seem so much more "godlike".  Well, before I slide into homiletic oblivion, here are some of the books I’m currently working through:

Bible Mclaren
Bridge_1
Forgotten_ways 

Another good quote that I ripped off

This one is worth contemplating:

It was a busy day in heaven as folks waited in line at the pearly gates. Peter stood as gatekeeper checking each newcomer’s name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But there was some confusion, as the numbers were not adding up. Heaven was a little overcrowded, and a bunch of folks were unaccounted for. So some of the angels were sent on a mission to investigate things. And it was not long before two of them returned, "We found the problem," they said, "Jesus is out back, lifting people up over the gate.”

Boise State Broncos! Dude! Greatest College Game Ever?!

Boise_stateOk – so it isn’t the most "spiritual" of posts for the first one of the new year.  Maybe you thought I would wax theological…biblical…cultural exegesis…I don’t know what you expected.  All I can say is BOISE STATE!  Yep, since we moved to Boise last year, the Bronco football team became "the" ticket.  The locals in Potato-ho are seriously loony over the Broncos.  We checked out a couple of games and being good Idahoans, we dialed into the local phenomenon.  Well, we followed the team all season until last night’s game.  Wow!  I watched the USA hockey team take care of the Russians at the Olympics…I heard the Detroit Tigers on radio in 1968 take the World Series from the heavily favored "Bob Gibson" led St. Louis Cardinals…I have seen a number of awesome sporting events over my 50 "some odd" years…but I would put last night’s game either #1 or #2 of my all-time favorite games…me, Vicky and a few friends were on our feet, knees…we were praying, yelling, crying…emotions everywhere.  It had all the excitement of an entire season of NFL games plus the incredible drama of it occurring in the lives of college students.  I tell you, it was pure awesome!  My buddy Mikey DeVries is a huge Charger fan.  You can peak at his blog and keep up to date on everything that is the San Diego Chargers!  But here’s a shout out to Mikey, "come on Dude…no Charger game can compare to the game last night".  It could be one of the greatest college games ever.  And who would have ever guessed that it would have included a team from Boise, Idaho?