Coffee, Theology, and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

On Resolving Conflict

Resolving relationship issues is tough work. It’s so tough in fact, that most people don’t even bother resolving issues they have with other people.  They either sweep them under the rug, or cut the relationship off completely.  But this is contrary to Jesus and His way of living.  When we hold grudges and let problems get in the way of our relationships with people, we are letting brokenness reign instead of Jesus and his restorative nature.

 

I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a strong local community these past 7 years where I’ve had to resolve issues I’ve had with people, or people have had to resolve issues they’ve had with me.  These conversations have not been always easy, but they have always been necessary.  Why?  Because we knew that for us to really live in relationships together we had to be honest and willing to ‘go there’ even when it was difficult. 

 

Because of that, the relationships formed are of the strongest bond.  When you confront someone with the love and humility of Jesus, you open yourself and the other person involved to healing and restoration.  Is it easy? Of course not, it’s often awkward, and painful.  BUT, as the conversation progresses you see a light at the end of the tunnel.  

 

Why am I blogging about this? Because we don’t know how to confront people and resolve problems between each other in our culture.  No, we’d much rather run to twitter and rant, we’d much rather call our other friend about the problem and spread gossip like wildfire, we’d much rather tear the other person down to make ourselves look better.  When we don’t confront, when we don’t know how to humbly approach each other we lose out on deeper relationships.  

 

I’ve been on both sides of the confrontation.  I’ve been the person who has initiated and brought the conversation up, told the person how I felt when he/she said this, or did that, and then heard their side and worked to common ground. I’ve also been the person who has been told that what I did or said was not ok and he/she was deeply hurt.  At that point, I had no choice but to eat a big helping of humble pie, ask for their forgiveness (which they so graciously extended), and then moved on.  This is a lost art even in the Christian culture.  we’d much rather go to our pastor, we’d much rather talk to someone else about our problem, not the person directly involved.

The Bible talks over and over about this.  Jesus tells us that before we even go to Him, if we remember that we have an issue with someone to immediately to that person to resolve our problem.  We are told not to let the sun go down on our anger, and Paul tells us to love one another, forgiving one another just as Christ forgave us.

 

Do not be afraid to talk to someone about the offense they committed against you.  Be gracious, be humble and willing to hear them out. Humans do dumb things and that includes you.  No one is above reproach.  We love to think that we are above being confronted.  People will vehemently defend their actions even if they are completely in the wrong.  Ultimately, this comes down to a pride issue that is for another post, but to Christians I will say this: Kill that pride and be teachable.  If you have an issue you need to resolve with another human being (wife, husband, son, daughter, friend, brother, sister, mom, dad, the guy at the grocery story etc), then go to that person and talk those things out.  Don’t give sin a foothold to start spreading, the longer you wait the harder it is to resolve the issue and the easier it is to keep going down that path. 

If you like this post then share it!

 

-TW

You Follow Jesus? Welcome to Full Time Ministry.

If you’ve read any of my posts before then you’ve heard me say that I believe if you’re a Christian you’re automatically in full time ministry. I want to expound on this thought because I really believe it’s one of the key things to help change our mindset when it comes to living our faith out tangibly every day as opposed to keeping it inside and expressing it through just things that our American Christian culture has deemed spiritual.

Ministry is a funny word. It’s funny because at it’s most basic definition it means to serve. When you minister to someone you are essentially serving them in some way. You’re helping to address physical needs, spiritual needs or emotional needs that the person can benefit from. Christ is the ultimate example because in His ministry (think service) He served people in all three areas.

Why is this important? Because, as a good friend of mine says, if we are around people then we have the opportunity to minister. As opposed to the common idea of ministry, that is someone who is a professional minister or someone who serves on Sunday morning during a Church meeting, ministry is for every believer everywhere all the time. This is exactly how we express the tangible Jesus to people by ministering to them. It doesn’t have to always be in elaborate ways. Sometimes it’s being friendly to the clerk behind the counter, or talking to your waiter who you know is having a really bad day. Other times someone might need some work done around the house or someone to talk to. Ministry is a huge word and it encompasses the life of the believer. In fact it is our duty as followers of Christ to minister to people we meet everywhere.

It’s difficult to break the habits in which we use words. Often times when I say ministry people think of a Church program, or something that has to do with Church meetings. Although ministry encompasses that, it’s not limited to inside the Church walls and what happens in our meetings. Our definition of ministry must be expanded. Why? Because Christ was always ministering to people OUTSIDE the Church. Jesus was always with the people that society deemed unapproachable and the religious elite saw as too filthy to touch (sound familiar?). This is the people who need to be served the most. The ones society has given up on.

What’s this look like practically for us? Well we all have different lives, different jobs, families, we live across the globe and yet we can all minister. The job you have, what does it look like when you view it as your ministry, not just your job? Who are the people that are in your life that you can serve? Maybe it’s your wife, maybe it’s the guy in the cubicle next to you, or maybe it’s the barista who hands you your latte every morning. We all have people in our life that we can serve in some way. You’re life is your ministry, live it that way – TW

The World Cries Out: Christians Hear but Don’t Listen

This blog post was written by one of my good friends Paul.  Paul and I have been good friends for several years now and while we have completely different world views, that hasn’t stopped us from remembering that we are both humans in the same boat.  I encourage you strongly to listen to his words in this post.  As a Christian I took these words to heart regarding how to approach people with a starkly different world view.  Enjoy. -TW

When I was asked by my dear friend Tim to guest write for his blog, I was incredibly excited. Both for the opportunity and for the chance to write a piece, with an intention to offer my perspective on a topic that is close to my heart. The topic to be revealed later.
Very recently. I got into a debate with a close family member. They being a christian conservative. Myself a secular progressive. Now with that picture painted. We debated a whole gamut of issues. From economic to social. Somewhere in the middle sprinkle in the issue of gay marriage. The friendly debate turned into a heated argument. It turned because I support marriage equality. He in accordance with his faith believes, as many do that marriage is between a man and a woman for the purpose of family through God.
Now what made me upset and angry was not my family member’s beliefs. It was because He used rather unnerving language. He used the phrase “Gay Agenda”.
What I see as a basic principle of law – That I, a tax paying citizen wanting to be treated equally under the law. I in no way shape or form, want or desire to take away anyone else’s marriage and family.
All I want is the spousal privileges afforded to ANYONE other than me and others like me, under the law.
In the argument I tried to outline a few of the things that are denied LGBT couples. Specific things like hospital visitation, insurance and tax incentives, things that may seem mundane or of little consequence to some. However one of my greatest fears is building a life together with someone and growing old, at the end be denied to be in the room, or be a part of the decisions of end of life care.
Imagine for a moment. Sharing your life with someone. Committed until the end. But not being allowed to be a part of it. Agonizing.
I believe in the conservative principle that marriage is good for society. That it leads to stability and often better life outcomes. I ask quite simply. Why do we instead narrowly define what a marriage is and who can be married? If marriage is both good for the family and society, wouldn’t you want more people committed to an institution that makes all peoples better?
Now my dilemma is that I really respect and love this close family member. I DO NOT think this person is a bigot. I DO NOT think this person lacks intelligence. However in that heated discussion on a topic that directly effects me as a gay man in a long term committed relationship. I needed my family member to listen to my concerns. All they did was hear me.
Often times we hear others. Less so we understand them. When you use the word Gay Agenda or special interest you detract from the human struggle faced with anyone who is misunderstood by others.
Even though I am not a religious person now, I took a lot of great things from my catholic/christian upbringing. Compassion being one of the greatest influences. I often find myself trying to understand other people – what other’s go through.
I think it has a lot to do with being the kid who was always misunderstood. Weird little kid with four fingers and long hair. Who was sensitive and quiet. Terrible at sports, more interested in reading. That little kid grew up to be a little guy (i’m still only 120 lbs at 5’6) with a heart bigger than his chest could hold.
Despite being an atheist the Gospel and Jesus have taught me a tremendous deal about life. Very simple message. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. For me this is a powerful message. In our sin we are equal. None better or worse than another. We are in this together. Life is for the living. We share the oxygen that serves all breaths taken. We should treat all others as though we are family. We will often disagree but that does not mean we are not still connected. As children of God or Humans that walk the same earth. Brothers and Sisters.
My moral crisis as an atheist is often forgiveness. Something Jesus was good at, but that I struggle with mightily. Its hard to forgive something you can’t change. I still love and respect my family member. We both apologized. Yet I still struggle to move forward. We have seemed to reach an impasse, however I am confident that with some time I will forgive and move on. Writing about it is (for me) the first step in the process. My therapy.
Bottom line. Listen a little closer. Try to imagine another’s struggle as your own. Be kinder. I am not perfect, but it is truly humbling to know that no one else is either.
All views in this post are solely those of the author.