Where the victory happens

Where the victory happens June 9, 2016

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There’s a tendency in our world today to live as though the only events that count are those that get their own twitter hashtag. On a macrocosmic level, so many things are failing. We have two presidential candidates that nobody really likes or trusts. Poor black kids get shot when they seem suspicious while rich white kids get out of long prison sentences when they’re caught in the act of rape. The financial “industry” continues to absorb more and more of the country’s wealth which never seems to leave the casino called Wall Street. The weather gets weirder as the environment keeps getting destroyed. ISIS and Boko Haram continue to slaughter civilians. Israel continues to slowly squeeze the Palestinians out of their land and Palestinian terrorists continue to . Where is God in all of this?

I recently had the privilege of witnessing an incredible victory. A relationship was finished because great sin had occurred. Until it wasn’t. Somehow God poured his grace out in a beautiful conversation of repentance and forgiveness. I can’t say more without betraying confidence. But miracle is not too strong a word for what took place. And being witness to this incredible shift of tectonic plates in the life of a single family made me wonder if this is how God wins, through the ripple effect of grace being poured out in small, un-newsworthy, private circumstances.

I’m not saying that the fight for global justice isn’t important. But I am pondering what kind of conversation I should be cultivating. There are plenty of things that need to be named and critiqued. But how much does it really help? My friend Tom Berlin says that social media is like trench warfare. We fire mortars back and forth between entrenched positions, hoping that eventually those ignorant people on the other side will have their eyes opened to their hypocrisy and all the ugliness they pretend isn’t happening.

I’m not judging anybody else for what you write about or share on social media. I’m just wondering what I should do differently. One thing I do know is that I want to be promoting the victory of God’s grace. It fills my heart with joy to see relationships being healed, irresponsible people gaining the empowerment to live responsibly, angry, self-righteous people becoming humble and wise, and all the other quiet ways the Holy Spirit is moving among us. Obviously one challenge lies in sharing the joy with breaking any confidence.

I didn’t mean to make this prescriptive and moralistic. The main point is that God is winning victories all over the place in the small ways that might actually be what really matters. God is winning in the hearts of individual people who belong to the other tribe you would just as soon send to hell en masse whether you’re on Team Social Justice or Team Family Values. Those of us who taste these victories need to radiate the humility, repentance, and grace we discover in every conversation space we’re a part of. That’s way more important than winning arguments. I honestly believe that the more deeply people are drawn into God’s grace, the more open they will be to the restorative justice and mercy that God’s grace seeks to accomplish. If I want to be part of the victory, then I have to stop thinking about it as beating other people or putting them in their place. The greatest victory happens when God wins over my heart.

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