I found myself sitting around a table with some friends here in North Idaho on a Friday evening a few months ago. The night started innocently enough, but before I knew it the conversation circled back to the usual topics: gay jokes, racial slurs, women’s clothing choices, 2nd amendment rights, and conservative politics. As I sat there quietly, I began to wonder how I got to this place. Were these really my friends? Were these the things we, as Christians, deemed worthy to talk about?
These were my friends, but not the kind I was used to. The friends I have grown to love over the years are:
And the list goes on…
I realized that the friends who sat around the table with me that night were caught in legalism. I cannot blame them, it is unfortunately the culture we were raised in, and it is one that is very hard to battle against. It is much easier to put up a wall and point the finger at others, saying, “look how badly they are failing” than to examine ourselves and be willing to say, “I, too, am a sinner who fails every day.” It is especially hard when you haven’t been exposed to much diversity, and don’t have names and faces to think about when pointing the finger. I have come to a place where I do have the names and faces, and yet I still sometimes find myself fighting that same old battle.
I miss hanging out with my “radical” friends. Because we knew we were sinners, and we weren’t afraid to be honest with each other. We had better things to talk about when we gathered than what scandalous thing Susie or Jonny was up to these days. We spoke to one another about our passions, our desires, our struggles and temptations. We loved and forgave freely, because we recognized that God did the same for us.
But back to that Friday night…In the past I would have run home, cried myself to sleep, and planned my escape route, claiming that “I don’t belong here!” But this time was different. Because I realized that these are my new friends. I don’t have it all figured out, but I have the opportunity to introduce them to a different way of life. One that is full of freedom. Sometimes I think that maybe THIS is why God wanted me to stay in Idaho. My roommates and I have come to terms with the fact that for this season, Coeur d’Alene is our mission field. And our first mission as agents of change has been to cultivate intentional community. We’ve chosen to do it around the table on Thursday nights. We hope that people feel welcome to come into our home and engage with people who are different than them.
We are all broken, but instead of pointing out the brokenness in others, we must first find and embrace our own brokenness. Only then will we be able to see the beauty in the brokenness of others.