As I write this, I’m still overwhelmed by the incredible opportunities I believe God puts in front of me. He continues to prove that our lives weren’t meant to be one dimensional, and He continues to place me with some of the most wonderful people living on planet earth.
Now, before I just dive into the story, I want you to know I will keep all names and identities private until I’ve received the “go-ahead” and use my name on the internet. So if you’re looking for juicy details of who I’m hanging with, I PROMISE, I will protect and defend the people who’ve trusted me with their stories both public and private. So, here we go.
Most of you know that I’ve been pushing the boundaries of what I think is “Christian” for the last decade. My blog is titled, “The Journey – Re-Defining the Christian Worldview.”
Some of you joined me on that journey, while others continue to have a problem with the Re-Defining part. And I welcome both sides of the conversation. I love to see people stretch what they think they know about faith and their own traditions, and equally impressive is someone who loves to stand on the rock of surety, and try to convince me I’m crazy.
So last night I had the privilege to be a part of a dinner meeting to explain how my work is bringing people together to discuss commonality and respect. I work with people all over the world to bridge the gap of humanity by putting a face on our enemy. Christians from different denominations, Racial divides, Christians and Muslims, Jews and Muslims, all have found a safe place to explore “the other” in our work at KIVU with teenagers.
When I sat at the table last night, to my right was…
A Successful Texas Business Man
A wonderful Christian woman who is a Lesbian with a partner and 5 year old boy
A Christian Woman who married a Jewish Man and raised their kids Christian
A Jewish Woman who married a Christian Man and raised their kids Jewish
An Oil and Gas Executive
A Dallas Texas Mother who is creative and mission oriented
A World Renown photographer
A Former NFL player, Deputy Sherrif, SWAT team member
And a South African Jewish woman who just returned from Israel.
Quite a line up, right?
The dinner began at 6:30 and the topic, “How can we love one another?”
You can imagine the tension that may have filled the room, but every person at the table was honest, humble, and ready to listen to the stories of everyone else. The narratives were filled with successes, past failures, and the common bond to see the world spin a different direction where violence, prejudice, and hatred are eliminated; and a new way of living together might be forged out of friendship and connection.
“I grew up in a house where my father would never sit at the table of a Black Man.” one man told us.
“When I married my husband we had to decide if we would raise our kids in the church or in the synagogue.” another said.
“For peace in the world to happen, we have to start with the kids.” I heard loud and clear.
I was so moved to sit back and watch as our Jewish friends explained how they raised their kids in a Multi-Faith family home. I heard how Christians were able to navigate the tense waters of raising kids in a Jewish home. I heard so much practical living about how Real Life works outside of a paradigm we might seek to label as “normal” and hear how wonderfully gracious so many can be if given the chance.
Last night I went to sleep wondering, “How many people tonight are going to have the opportunity to share their lives with those they might think are so different?” And I was moved to visions of God’s Kingdom here on earth given over to allow all of us to discover and explore how best to Love our Neighbor.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” And while 15 people sat at a dinner table last night, all of whom have deficits in our spiritual journey, I witnessed the Kingdom of God come to Earth.
I’m so grateful to the participants in our first dinner last night, and I look forward to gathering more people together on my travels who might be courageous enough to listen to the “other” people of their world.
I can’t be sure exactly where this takes me in life, but I do know that wherever I end up in my next chapter, it will be a place full of love for all God’s children here on planet earth. Building bridges is SO MUCH FUN!!
We have so much to learn from one another, and I’m excited to be on the journey to explore what it means to truly live like Jesus lived.