December 1, 2012

"Chains shall He break, for the slave is a brother..."

This line from the classic Christmas hymn, "O Holy Night", tells us Jesus breaks chains and fixes broken and distorted relationships.

How does He do this?

The breaking of chains involves stress. I remember this from my elementary grade level science classes. In these classes, we studied the basic machines and principles related to machines. We learned how stress creates change when worked upon certain materials. Faced with enough stress,  the chain will break.

Am I seeking the breaking of chains in my life without accepting the stress that may accompany that freedom?

Have I declared myself "blessed and highly favored" without understanding how this designation may mean that I will endure pains beyond normal, so  I can faithfully and reliably and honestly testify to others how God can heal and overcome and restore anything that's broken in life? Am I willing to live these experiences so that I can lead and guide others who seek to know this truth?

Have I accepted how I have built and reinforced chains, also known as "strongholds", in my own life because I thought I needed these chains, or because I believed "that's just the way it is"?  Do I welcome Jesus to create change, stress, and movement in my life that will break the chains?  Am I calling a chain a bracelet? An I telling myself how "pretty" that "bracelet" is? Do I continue to wear that "bracelet" because someone I love gave it to me?

Having survived the November 2012 national elections in the US, I wonder how many Christians want to embrace the "slave as brother?"

How many Christians in the US (of any color or background) feel pride in their racial or national status? Some are proud their ancestors were never enslaved. Others are proud their ancestors never owned slaves, or their ancestors were strong and resourceful enough to survive slavery. How many accept  (in theory, at least) that God loves everyone equally, yet still continue to think of themselves as "special" or as "different and special"? How many are grateful they are not "one of them"? Why is 11am on Sunday still the most segregated hour in America?

Does the church understand how its self-imposed and self-defended segregation weakens its testimony? Yes, we all want to be "comfortable" when we attend church. But why is it that 150 years after the Civil War began and almost 100 years after slavery legally ended in the US the church remains one of the most racially segregated institution in America? Business, government, military, higher education...all of these institutions are more reflective of the diversity in our society than the church.  Why?

"Chains shall He break..."

During this Advent, I will take time to question the assumptions I have accepted about how things are, why they are, and how they should or should not remain. I will remember what Jesus taught about judging others, about how unreliable and unjust political and religious leaders often are, and why I must always listen most closely to what He says about how things are and how they should be.

I will stretch out my hands to Him, and allow Him to break the chains.

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