J Walking

These past two days, home with family and back in church this morning, surrounded again by friends who agree and who disagree with my thoughts but who live the reality that Jesus’ love is far more important than anything else, have been beautiful and soothing.

I have read every comment and again thank everyone who wrote. Thanks for not only taking the time to read my words, but taking the time to share your thoughts. So many I found encouraging. Others weren’t so encouraging, but I read every criticism with great appreciation–how rare it is to have people who will just tell you what they think.

This evening I noticed a post that is either from a friend I haven’t seen or talked to in 10 years, or someone who shares her name. I want to highlight it here:

“Hello David. ?I feel great concern for the way you are allowing yourself to be used by the current media. You are walking on a very slippery slope. We are not to be of this world but set apart. The approval of a liberal audience is not being set apart. While God does indeed love all and died for all, he desires that all turn from sin and become a new creature. Be careful, David, believing your own press. God calls us to a humble, servants walk. This walk you are “just walking” could lead you down the wrong path of self indulgence. I pray it does not.” ?Karen Kelly | 10.22.06 – 1:54 pm

Whether it was my old friend who wrote this or someone with the same name, it was striking and I wanted to explore it.

Am I being used by the media? Sure. Everyone who ever appears on any news or entertainment show is being used. Every show, every person is used to fill the space between advertisements. But I am using them, too, to get my message out. So I guess that is a wash.

What troubled me in the comment were these two sentences, seemingly linked: “We are not to be of this world but set apart. The approval of a liberal audience is not being set apart.” The “set apart” part is key. If the world looks at those who call themselves Jesus’ followers and sees no difference from the world, that is a horrific indictment. Jesus’ followers can be many things, but “the same as the rest of the world” shouldn’t be one of them.

I just fundamentally disagree that any approval from a liberal audience means that I would not be set apart from the world (unless the definition is political instead of spiritual). I am excited if anyone–a communist, a socialist, a libertarian, a conservative, a Yankees fan (sorry)–is more interested in Jesus, and I think Jesus thinks the same thing.

BUT, BUT, BUT–her point, her greatest, most profound and most convicting point is this one–“God has called us to a humble servant’s walk.” Yes, Yes, Yes.

Is there a silly, easy temptation to feel like I am important right now? Yeah, sometimes. It is kind of cool that anyone would listen to what you say and that anyone would take the time to share their thoughts back. Encouragement feels good. too.

But if anyone has read the book–and I don’t think that this woman has–they will quickly see that I have exposed myself very vulnerably to the world. While “Tempting Faith” has been seen as a political book and there are certainly very political parts, it is a deeply personal book. I talk about finding Jesus after a friend’s death in high school and about being part of an abortion in college. I am so very clear that I am the one who was first seduced to trade Jesus for political gain, and I am hardest on myself. In other words, I have tried to humble myself.

That leads me to another important comment from an anonymous poster:

“Mr. Kuo,? I am very impressed and heartened by your blog, and by the responses.? I did feel to remind you, however, to recognize that just like politics can be a temptation, so can worldly popularity. You are entering on a journey that is unique – a Christian writer and blogger who has attracted widespread appeal. Recognize that you will face temptations on this journey no different than what you encountered in the political realm. You seem to have a sincere and gentle style, which matches your faith, and that is wonderful. Please don’t let it be corrupted by the worldly temptations that are sure to follow your book-and-blog success.” ?- a fellow lover of Christ?a Christian | 10.22.06 – 11:03 am | #

As you probably know, I had a brain tumor a few years ago. Some of it remains and grows very slowly. Every now and again I have small seizures, about 30 seconds long, in my left leg and foot. I wish I could say that this means I am always holy and always humble and always aware of my own mortality and never caught up in a moment. I can’t.

But all of this seems to me to be part of my journey in walking with Jesus. There is this false notion out there that walking with Jesus is a neat, pretty, packaged, got-it-all-together thing. It isn’t. I think Jesus knew that, however. That is why he talked about his followers as sheep…kinda dumb things that are stinky, surly, and easily influenced, but also with a deep recognition they need their shepherd.

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