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 J. Dugall
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
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!