Tag Archive: jewish

the other day i saw this cartoon that someone had posted on facebook that was pretty funny but involved hitler in a way that i knew would be offensive to a lot of jewish people. so i immediately wrote the girl who had posted it an email [more a friend of a friend than a direct friend] and just before i hit the send key i stopped for a moment, reread what i had written and changed it before sending it…

instead of ‘hey friend, you posted a cartoon that is going to hurt people’ or something like that, i started with some relationship [‘hey friend, long time no chat, how are you doing? what you been up to?’] and then i identified with the cartoon and why she had posted it [i find the cartoon really funny but at the same time i think it may be offensive to some people] and then finished off with more relationship and encouragement [‘continue to rock on – you often send along good twitter fun vibes… much love’]

she responded with:


You’re 100% right. Sometimes I don’t think… There’s a fine line between dark humour and plain darkness. I actually had a funny feeling after logging off and needed to come back on FB to delete it. Then I saw your message. Thanks for the mail, thanks for calling me out and gently pointing it out, I really appreciate it.

You rock on too.”]

and i realised i got that one right… and as a bonus victory, later in the week i decided to keep a certain description [of a friend who wrote for my marriage blog series] out of my intro [that she was someone who had always said she’d never be married] because i thought hey, maybe she wouldn’t want me to share that about her publically [she wrote back saying i totally didn’t need to edit it out, but i still think making sure was the right move when there was any kind of doubt]

so yay for double victories… but boo for the knowledge that there have been many [and probably many, many, i am quite old] times when i have not gotten it right.

and ‘but i meant well’ is not good enough for people i hurt by not being as gentle in my calling out as i was with this person…

Truth is important, but Truth-in-Love should be non-negotiable, as a Jesus follower at the very least. And i think that looking back, there have been times where I have shared Truth and possibly even meant Love but not conveyed it well at all. I have hurt people by being too quick to rush to Truth [or my version of it] and too slow to honour Relationship and for this i am deeply sorry. i don’t even know if i can pull a Zacchaeus and go back and find all the people i have wronged and make things right [and i imagine most of them will not be reading what i write here] just because i don’t have a comprehensive list of who they are. what i can do is learn from the two victories of this week and ensure that i follow a more Truth-in-Love stance as my go-to response as the norm.

however, having said all that, let me finish by saying these two things which make it incredibly more complicated and complex:

[1] there is not enough Truth-in-Love in the church! there is something we mistake as love which is usually born out of a fear of confrontation in any form and so we would rather let our close friends sink in their sin than call them on it, gently in love, and help them become better, stronger people… [Proverbs 27.6 ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’] Close friends are the ones more likely to be listened to and often i have felt forced to intervene because none of the people who should have been Truthing-in-Love were being good friends… we need to step up more into this.

and [2] there are times [and these must be so carefully discerned] where the person receiving the correction will not feel loved and that doesn’t mean Love has not happened – and there are times when the rebuke must be strong and times when it must be public… the trick is just figuring out the difference and i imagine the Holy Spirit is key in that – but Jesus publically takes down the pharisees and other leaders on occasion, and paul publically rebukes peter at one time [i believe that public sin often requires public dealing with it – very different to the matthew 18 ‘if your brother sins against you’ way of dealing with things, because the sin has affected so many more people and for their growth they need to be aware of how it was dealt with and that it was dealt with]… i was recently unfriended on facebook for doing this to someone and looking back i still think i did the right thing, but i am not completely convinced i did it in the most loving way, the jury is still out on that one although i did spend a lot of time trying to mend the relationship after that.

so we need to be being good friends to those around us and when someone who calls themselves a Jesus follower displays some behaviour or posts something on a social network that is strongly against the message of following Jesus, we need to have the guts to confront them. but we need to speak Truth-in-Love and always make sure that we have an abundance of Love. we need to [and by ‘we’ i mean ‘i’ and i imagine my wife is going to hurt herself nodding to this one] take longer to respond and be very sure of the Love and manner of response before we send it. we need to make sure we are as vocal and more public in applauding when people get it right…

hopefully that is one mistake i can choose to never make again.

when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment in the jewish law He responded with in summary, “Love God love people” – ha, as i was typing that i accidentally typo’d “love gold” and how fitting that is but i’m sure i don’t have to go into that. Jesus added that the full law and the prophets (basically their bible at the time) rested on these two things (relationships)

in fact if you study the ten commandments from the old testament they are divided into 4 aimed at loving God and 6 aimed at loving people (maybe we get more cos sometimes it’s a lot harder to love people?)

the economy of heaven is people. that is what God puts His sight on and so surely it makes perfect sense that we should do the same – and so why can we spend so much time and energy on things like gold (money), stuff (big house, flashy car, latest gadgets), entertainment/luxury (sound system, latest phone, holiday overseas), reputation, achievement and so on, and still boldly claim to be followers of Jesus?

as one rabbi once said when asked to sum up the bible in ten words or less – “Love God, love people. all the rest is commentary.”

the economy God is interested in is you, and me, and your neighbour, and the guy at work you don’t like, and the gay muslim abortionist living across the street from you. and your parents. and your ex (girlfriend, wife, best friend, crush). God lines His wallet with people, with relationships. would you say that is a primary focus in your life or has it all become about the person staring back at you when you stand in front of the mirror?

Love God, love people. all the rest is commentary.

[that’s right – it’s as if to God, people are high-fiveable!]

it is important for us to realise just how insulting and offensive the son’s attitude towards his father is, because otherwise we will never fully ‘get’ just how incredibly over-the-top ludicrously insane the father’s response is.

the father hands over to his son the inheritance (and if it is half of everything he owns then it must be at cost to him and to his lifestyle and comfort/luxury) and the sons heads off and wastes it on ‘wild living.’

eventually the son has spent all his money and his ‘friends’ have all disappeared now that he is no longer providing the party and he ends up working as a man who feeds pigs. it gets so bad he starts looking at the food the pigs are eating and being tempted to dig in. realising that his father’s servants eat better than that, he decides to head home and throw himself at his mercy and ask if he cannot return as a servant in his dad’s house.

now if we ‘get’ how completely rude and disrespectful the son had been to his father, then the father’s response is even more insane. in the jewish culture of the day a man of wealth and position would never run. he was dignified and would walk at his own leisure to demonstrate that position.

but in the story Jesus is telling, the moment the father spots the son (which shows that he was looking out for the son and probably spent a lot of time doing so) he runs out of the house and sets off down the road, screaming to his servants to bring the good robe and the ring and sandals and start killing the fattened calf for the party we are going to have tonight.

not just undignified for a father of his stature to act that way – but remember he is acting in response to the hugest possible insult and betrayal from his son – and the response is absolute unconditional undefiled love.

the kind of love the world does not largely ‘get’ today, except in extreme cases. the kind of love the church is meant to be known for and by, altho too often is sadly known for the opposite (especially when it comes to treatment of people we view as horrible sinners – rather them than us).

the God i love and serve is the father in that story. even while we were turning our backs on Him and rejecting Him and screaming (with our mouths or our lifestyles) ‘i wish You were dead!” He was watching us with love and compassion and secretly storing up party supplies and simply waiting for the second we came to our senses and started the journey home…

And then there He is, once again, running undignifiedly full of compassion and love and forgiveness and mercy and hope and invitation and declaration (my son was once dead but is alive) straight towards you…

“Sometimes i wish i was dead. Wait, not me, you.” [Jack Handey]

ah, one of my most favourite darker deep thorts by JH. and never true in my life in that i ever wished someone else was dead but on thursday nite i did want to walk down into the audience and slap a few people in the head (i didn’t!)

i was asked to provide some entertainment at a herschel-and-other-schools christian union pizza and improv evening and then to do a talk on the topic ‘how to make God the centre of my life this year.’ during the games at the beginning these 140-200 young people were just loud and distractionary and had to constantly be fought with to get and keep their attention. but then during the worship singing that followed they were even worse and a whole bunch of them were talking and making noise and just generally rude and disrespectful to what was going on. i was pretty angry or irritated/frustrated and realising that my talk was maybe not the most relevant for this crowd and God really stepped in and gave me words for what followed and it went really well.

i was reminded of the story Jesus tells of the lost son (which lots of us know as ‘the prodigal son’) which begins with this younger of two sons going to his father and demanding his inheritance and the father gives it to him and watches as his son turns his back on the family and heads off (to squander his wealth in wild living) – now what is important to realise is that in the jewish culture of the time, it wasn’t just a case of “dad can I have my money?” but it was pretty much the equivalent of a young person going to their father and telling him “I wish you were dead!” from our culturally biased lens we often miss just how strong his words are. the inheritance was meant to be given after the father had died and it would be divided between the two sons and so effectively what the younger son is saying is “I want the situation to be as it would be if you were no longer alive.”

Sometimes i wish i was dead. Wait, not me, you!

%d bloggers like this: