Rhythms of Grace – deficiencies and sufficiencies

[Today’s guest post is from Gricel Medina.]

Since I was a child I have always suffered from a particular vitamin deficiency. My body would respond with symptoms that alerted my mom that it is was time to get my blood checked. As an adult I don’t always take time to listen to those signals and do some self-care. I drink vitamins, but often it doesn’t seem to completely raise the level to the point that it shows no deficiency. By the time I go to the doctor I am completely depleted and he has to give me a shot that will last me awhile, but is not a permanent solution.

It is a constant reminder that some things need our constant attention. I find the same deficiencies with hope and grace. We tend to lose sight of the importance hope has in our busy hurried lives until we crash into an intersection where the void inevitably and abruptly impedes our moving forward.

Seeing things from polarizing views can also cause deficiencies in our thinking. Let’s face it, things do not always work out like we plan. We do not have control over how others respond or think. We are fickle human beings that have an inclination to change our minds to fit the latest trend or remain like concrete walls that refuse to accept anything that might be contrary to our own thought process.

Sometimes I wonder if many of us are in a state of delusional thinking. A place of slumbering apathy and compulsive denial. It can happen more often than we care to admit.

Social media, self-importance and the redemptive language of truth

As fallen humans we have a propensity to become dogmatically persistent in aligning ourselves with agendas that perpetuate self-importance.

Social media can convert us into obsessive individuals inciting polarized viewpoints that keep us perpetually stuck in monologues while our world spins out of control in desperate need of redemptive dialogue.

We criticize the screamer while we turn around and belligerently raise our voices to others declaring our own partial truth. Experience has taught me that we only know in part.

We all have a vulnerability to be caught up in a warfare of words that often wound and distress those around us. It is disturbing that in many cases this has become the new norm of conversation. We criticize the critic, yet never realizing that the most fervent critic lives inside of us.

My abuelita once told me some people don’t want to face La Verdad, which means the truth. But the question is really, are we open to other viewpoints? Much of what we believe comes from many sources including social media, our denomination, our cultural upbringing, our own interpretation of the Bible, or our favorite theologians that we hide behind because they enforce what we want to hear. We rarely scrutinize our own biases that infiltrate our thinking on a daily basis.

Real truth is not about hearsay. Truth exposes things we would rather turn a blind eye and avoid. Truth spoken in love brings self-awareness, empowers, heals, and delivers us from false notions. I am so grateful for the people in my life that kindly showed me different perspectives. People who are perpetually learning from others.

The value of truth should never be underestimated. Truth is not always welcomed, but always needed. Jesus spoke truth to the religious leaders and they hated Him. In fact they crucified him for telling the truth.

He used parables to address the pervasive religiously ingrained racism. He taught the way to truly love your neighbor and gave us a panoramic view of a controversial parent who dared to run and embrace a prodigal son and then turned around and brought much needed self-awareness to a self-righteous son.

Truth is justice. It sets us free.
Truth heals the deep wounds of the soul.

So how do we advocate for the truth even if it hurts and even if it means we could be sincerely wrong?

What would happen if we honored the things we have in common rather than elevate our differences? What if we spoke with respect even to those who have opposing views?

I wonder what would happen if we the church found ways to build bridges instead of constructing thicker walls that further dehumanizes the very people created in God’s image?

My heart is deeply convicted by what I see demonstrated in social media. We must be so careful of utilizing cruel and abusive rhetoric towards those who disagree with our often high-speed train of thought. It is a fine line when we advocate for what is right and lose our witness by exemplifying the very things we despise.

We cannot make a significant difference when our lives are layered with hypocrisy and double standards. Never forget that as leaders trust is a process that often takes many years to earn and an instant to lose.

God’s justice, truth and love

Psalm 89:14 tells us that, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face.”

No one is more familiar with justice and truth than God. When we are spiritually deficient in hope and grace we must remind ourselves that God is still on the Throne. Our greatest advocate is Jesus. We only need to look in the mirror and see the flaws of humanity. They must begin with us.

God help us to mix in hope and grace into our advocacy. Let our voices be prophetic, but never forget the power of love. Love never fails.

Let us not forget that in our righteous indignation over the present and past injustices exemplified by those in power we have also played a part by our silent indifference.

Let us not ignore our own sense of privilege, entitlement, and lust for power.

For centuries we have bypassed the entangled webs of bigotry, rape culture, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and the marginalized, disenfranchised of our world.

We have apathetically ignored the immigrant and forgotten that most of us have come from somewhere else. We must all take responsibility for the colossal mess we are in or we will continue to incite more hatred and divisions in and outside the church.

Lord knows we desperately need peace, but do we comprehend that peace must begin in our own lives, in our homes, in our communities, in our cities. Yes, we need peace, but it must and foremost start with us. This is my fervent prayer. Let it be our cry as we call out injustices wherever they have been allowed to grow, especially in our own hearts. God remind us to incorporate rhythms of grace, not just in our advocacy, but in everything we say and do.

***

Rev. Gricel Medina is an ordained pastor to Word and Sacrament with the Evangelical Covenant Church. She was the first Hispanic to be Chairperson of the ECC commission on Biblical Gender Equality (CBGE). In her role, she developed leadership development material, gave vision and implementation of a CBGE blog, and has contributed numerous writings on the affirmation of women in all areas of leadership within the church.

Pastor Medina has written for several widely distributed Spanish and English magazines, devotionals, and blogs, including Covenant Companion. She is a regular writer for the award winning magazine, Mutuality and Arise at CBE Internationa, and was a recent workshop and main speaker at the Christians for Biblical Equality International Conference in Orlando, Florida where she was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for her advocacy for women at all levels of leadership in and outside the church. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

She has currently planted three churches and leads a prayer movement for the MidSouth Conference. She is a tenacious leadership and community developer. Her work has extended to public and Christian schools, court systems and Washington, D.C.. She was nominated in 2017 to serve a three year term on the board of reference with CBE International. Her next big event is the Courage Conference on October 19-20, 2018, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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One Response to Rhythms of Grace – deficiencies and sufficiencies

  1. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    This is such a good and challenging post. I was struck by your question “How do we advocate for the truth even if it hurts and even if it means we could be sincerely wrong?” So profound. We *know* truth sets us free, that Jesus is The Truth, etc. — yet when it comes right down to it, we so often fear having our own biases and privilege exposed … because then maybe we will have to give up our comfort. So much good exhortation here: thank you for writing and saying what we all need to hear.

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