proving ground

What are the ideas right now worth betraying? What are the lies we tell ourselves now? What are the blind spots of our age? What's worth spending your lives trying to do or undo? It might be something simple.
It might be something as simple as our deep down refusal to believe that every human life has equal worth. Could that be it? Could that be it? Each of you will probably have your own answer, but for me that is it. And for me the proving ground has been Africa.
- Bono 
 The past few weeks, I haven't dwelt much outside of an abode made of coffee, literature and speeches. You may know something of it because of how little I've been here, but I've been engaged in something I can find no better way to describe than as a "shutting off and turning on". Shutting off the things that make noise, and distract...the petty, frivolous buzz. The things that do not matter. And turning on to the things that do. Tuning into that frequency.

I recently listened to a fabulous commencement address that Bono gave at Penn State University several years ago, and was immensely inspired, although I hate to say it like that, because so many people say that in a very tame way... I don't mean it in a tame way, I was like, ready to go riot-- that kind of inspired. And I still am ready to riot. At any moment, to be honest. But, the thing that really got me was the quote up top. About Africa being proving ground.

Because that's really thought provoking. The idea that Africa is proving ground. Proving ground of what?

Proving ground of our ideas of equality. Our piety. Our commitments.

Because if we really, honestly believed what we say about who we are, the needless poverty and suffering in Africa would not exist. I have statistics to back that up. These circumstances aren't "just the way things are". They are stupid and needless, and we've had the ability, power and resources to stop it for a long time now. AIDS here is an illness for which there is treatment, there it is a death sentence. This is 100 crashing jetliners-- daily. And we've been doing nothing about it. Not on the scale that we should. Not my generation.

That's something I'm not okay with. And God's not okay with it either. God is not okay with suffering in Africa or anywhere else. If we've believed that God gives us callings to grow up and get jobs to sustain our same-old complacent way of living-- to live a nice, comfy, bubble-like life? We've believed wrong about God. In fact, I daresay we've been too busy putting our own hatred and judgement of others into His mouth to really even pay any mind to the 2,000 plus verses in the scriptural text that address God's desire to end poverty and oppression-- urging us, as His body, to actually do something about it.

Shutting off. That's where I've been. And it feels extremely beautiful. Admitting that you don't need certain things and shutting off from them so that you can focus more on something else. It's so important and liberating. Because it gives you time to "be still, and know" that He is God. And that his plan for me isn't to be "the norm". Or the average. That's not his plan for any of us.

I have an almost disturbing obsession with the writer, Paul, who wrote a huge portion of the New Testament. Like, crush level. Not over-exaggerating. I love what he writes to the Roman's about this, He says

What shall we say, then? shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. For we that are dead to sin, how shall we live any longer therein? Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin.

Across culture and history we have needed this call to action, and this letter of Paul's embodies it. Paul asks the deep, and for many of us disturbing question, of "why would we continue in our same old, dead ways when we have been given life-- eternal, beautiful life that God wants us to serve others with? Why are we complacent?

It's almost like, we're too busy with "our own lives', or even "serving God" (an impossible task, since God is the maker and sustainer of all, and there is nothing we can give Him) in our own, selfish comfortable ways, (ways in which we will not have to step outside of our comfort zone) that we forget God's discussions with us in Isaiah, urging us to lose our "empty religious rituals" and "fastings" and engage ourselves in real acts of serving that He's asked us to do-- serve others.

Bono, in his speech at Georgetown, addressed this very issue. Pointing out how, "this isn't going to take 'just five minutes' or 'a dollar' to solve...this is going to take the dedication of your whole life."

It's all good in context, I have a lot of friends overseas in humanitarian fields, and a ton of friends who have been on missions trips. But for me, it's not even about that, it's about digging in-- deep, and dedicating not just a month, or a year, or a few years. It's not even just about feeding someone who's hungry, or drilling a well. I cherish those things, and will be thrilled to engage in them, yes-- but that's not the root.

The root is what we were meant to do with our lives. Why we're on earth. Because we aren't here for us. It's about not just living your life-- but giving it all away.

We're here because there's a social revolution described in the bible, and it's on the tips of everyone's tongues whether then know it or not. We're craving change. We've been chronically ill with complacency-- especially my generation. We try to find cures in material, drugs, sex, power and it's not there. It's a given-- God tells us, "love others". The remedy in found in loving and serving the poor. I speak as someone who's been healed of the sickness-- it works.

If Africa is proving ground for equality, what is proving ground for you? And me?

And all of us?

What is the one thing that you were uniquely designed and equipped to betray, overturn and revolutionize?

Poverty, hunger, the water crisis, AIDS, they can either spell devastation, as we sit back, and continue life as normal. With blinders on. Living our same old lives in the same old ways that we always have.

Or it can spell opportunity. A massive, blatant opportunity to spark the greatest love revolution this world has ever seen. To slam shut the doors of inequality, racism, oppression and complacency and embrace a world that needs us. You. Me. All of us.

with love,


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