My Problem with “Valuable” Friendships

2 02 2011


 I have a huge problem with the word, “valuable”, especially when it comes to relationships. I hear it tossed around so much, that I believe it has lost the power and appeal it was intended to have and has adopted a completely destructive (albeit well-intentioned) meaning. “Tomi, you’re friendship is valuable to me” doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, precisely because of the word “valuable.”

When I hear valuable, I hear abandonment. And I think I’m right in hearing this, for when things are labeled “valuable”, they are abandoned, untouched, left alone for fear of some outside force or circumstance altering or affecting it. I don’t think “valuable” and “friendship” or “valuable” and “relationship” should be the same sentence anymore. Yes, I’m calling for a divorce.

If “valuable” implies importance and value, then the subsequent actions attached to the word valuable shouldn’t apply like they do. China dishes are valuable so they are rarely used. Diamonds are valuable so they’re rarely worn (well, sometimes). Expensive furniture is valuable so they remain unused in that sitting room that no one really sits in. Let’s face it, valuable has become code for “used rarely”.

And that’s where my problem lies. Friendships and relationships can’t be “used rarely.” They must be used often, especially in circumstances where they can get messy, damaged or broken because that is the point of their existence, to last and to last well. This, to me, is the definition of valuable: often used so as to experience its longevity.

I mean, when I think of something or someone having value, I can’t help but turn to Jesus. Jesus is the epitome of what valuable meant and still means. His value rested not only in who He was, but in how He still lives. He was tested and beaten severely and proved valuable. He died, but His value came in His re-living. In Jesus we have the space and the opportunity to re-examine value. Value is something that is not kept aside and protected or ignored (because that’s just what we do with it), but value is something that is used, often, even brutally, and still lives.

Herein lays my frustration with friendships. If a friendship is valuable to you, use it. Don’t use it when you need to fill you “black friend quota” or your “I hang out with a Muslim quota” but use it because you want to, you need to, and you need it to move forward another day a changed and better person. If that’s not what your friendships are for, stop lying to yourself and others.

I urge everyone who is reading this to be honest with yourself and release people and yourself from the torture of neglected friendships. They hurt and are not serving a purpose as something valuable should. If a friend means so much to you that you are actively a friend back to them, keep it. If not, make it clear that you have a good association, but stop abusing the word “friendship”. If you want to honor someone’s value, be around them, be with them: love them in this way if you truly consider their heart and their soul “valuable.”  

Let’s stop hurting people, especially in the church. White lies aren’t the Christian thing to do.

The Wisdom of Proverbs (Proverbs 3:13-15)

19 12 2010

Proverbs 3:13-15

13Happy are those who find wisdom,
and those who get understanding,
14for her income is better than silver,
and her revenue better than gold.
15She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Wisdom is supposed to do something to us. It’s supposed to change our demeanor. It’s supposed to invoke in us a sense of divine satisfaction where we submit to this feeling called happy. It has this power to determine our mood and how we think about life from that moment until the next moment. It lives in time and does something to how we receive life where we enjoy it and relish it and cherish it. It’s supposed to make us smile.

But that’s only if we find her.

Happy are those who find wisdom. It’s almost as if we’re happy because of the action of finding. It’s almost as if we take more satisfaction in achieving discovery. It’s almost as if the journey creates the path towards our joy when we finally reach this destination called wisdom. When we finally find her, other emotions may very well exist within us, but the dominant trait we bear is happy. The journey towards happiness witnesses to something great within us, the ability to search albeit not consistently, but nevertheless we search. The destination attests to our determination to discover something we do not already have. We look for it in hopes of one day having it. Just like with school where we work for years for the end-result degree, this journey towards wisdom may take years of work, some good and some bad, but in the end, work. We are constantly moving in a direction to have something that, in my opinion, we’ve already started getting all along the journey. Like the building of knowledge in school, our wisdom is built upon day to day repetition of journeying and searching.

We meet her on the way, we realize we’ve been alongside her when we fall and we shudder, partly in fear and partly with amazement when we realize that we had been journeying without her guidance for so long.

The same applies to understanding, revelation, realizing reality—wisdom unfurled.  

We go get her. We take the active steps of retrieval and end up successful because we resolved to make the journey in the first place. To me this is fabulous news, that we are rewarded for the effort, not the performance but for wanting her and going to get her. Because this requires discomfort and not having control, and not searching perfectly, and not saying all the spiritual things we think we should, and not having an organ or three-part harmony because our wailing and crying out in desperation isn’t supposed to harmonize or match up perfectly or play out smoothly. But we encounter real, raw life and errors and the daunting reality that our spiritual journeying is ugly and dirty and soiled and soaked in our human efforts, but honored by the pure Holy Spirit.

We are honored as we seek the honor of finding and getting wisdom and understanding.

Our work is honored. The income of wisdom (and understanding) is more than what money can bring or imply. The income is more than the things we work our entire lives to get so we can live in or with them, but the income is something that lives in and with us. It never leaves us. It never leaves us broke…although we had to be broken to earn her.

Wisdom’s return in our lives earns more for us than gold could ever earn. The knowledge, keenness, awareness, smart-mindedness etc. gives us more than what we think we need to survive. We need wisdom to survive, not gold, not silver, not a big church, not a four-bedroom house we don’t use properly, not more clothes than we can ever wear, not attention from men who we know will never love and respect the way God does…we need wisdom, not stuff or attention from certain people, for wisdom tells us what to do with stuff and people and feelings and touch circumstances and mourning and lament and joy and happiness. Wisdom has the wherewithal to keep us one step ahead of the best dreams we can conjure up for ourselves.

We have to give up the dreams of others that we’ve adopted for ourselves. Cliques cant do for us what God’s wisdom has done, continues to do and can do. Doing whatever we want can’t give us anything better than what God’s wisdom can. Hating people and parties and races and classes can’t give us anything that will help and heal us like wisdom can. Music can’t touch wisdom. Our perfect spouse, our perfect selves, our “I’m not imperfect” attitude that we’ve made into an idol can’t outdo wisdom. For wisdom and understanding doesn’t put up with that. She calls it out; she calls us out, out of wherever we are struggle into a struggle with purpose. We battle ourselves and God and the devil and wisdom teaches us when and how to fight and when and how to surrender.  

Wisdom is on another level than our desires. Our desires fall short, look bland, and appear miniscule in the face of wisdom. When we understand and realize that the wise thing to do trumps what “we feel is the best thing for us” then we’ve begun to allow wisdom to journey with us as the leader through this uncertain life. In this journey we will know for certain that our happiness didn’t come from us, but in our decision, in our will to trust wisdom and to follow God.

Prayer: Lord, we want Your wisdom. Kill whatever You must within, around, above, and chained to us so that we may submit to a Perfect Will ultimately working towards our happiness. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Jesus Did Miracles, Why Can’t Dr. Miracle?

13 09 2010

The Commercials

Take a look at this commercial:

Now this one:

And now this one:

What do you see?

The Message

In twenty seconds or less, each of these advertisements narrate something profoundly common and yet distinctly disturbing: kinkiness, nappyness, unkemptness in black hair is unacceptable. In twenty-seconds or less, a frightening pattern of a white aesthetic is pitched and fed to a black woman by, get this, a black man, or rather a black-man-arm. A black arm (and deep voice) miraculous emerges from a mirror (or from behind a plant) with the solution, the miraculous product that will perform the magic of straightening out her hair which in turn will straighten out her life. It is a miracle that will eliminate the hair problem and pronounce beauty on the former victim now turned victor. What’s worse is that this white aesthetic is additionally affirmed by black men and black women alike. Both parties agree that the black woman’s hair needs to be and look a certain way for it to be acceptable and beautiful; and both agree that this product from Dr. Miracle will get this poor, lost woman to her aesthetic destination.

What these commercials don’t narrate is the well-known and unknown message being sold: straight hair is a miracle and Dr. Miracle the said miracle-worker. Dr. Miracle’s products pronounce a continuation and perpetuation of performance by black women, egged on by this mysterious man; this is the aesthetic norm that many black women are captive to, a norm that relegates her hair, her look, her natural aesthetic encouraging her to buy into a different aesthetic.

Even if this is the first time you’re seeing these commercials, I can tell you where to find a steady stream of them. If you’ve ever watched the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network long enough, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into one of these Dr. Miracle Hair and Skin Care commercials. Curious about the origin behind this product I went to the website and could not find a picture or any information about the founder, president or CEO…nothing.

I had to do some Google-digging and came across some interesting stuff. According to the New York Times, Dr. Miracle was founded by Brian K. Marks; this is what he looks like.

He’s white.

The Structure of Mediation

This complicates the aesthetic picture just a bit, or perhaps allows the Dr. Miracle narrative to fit into the natural mold of the white-male mediated beauty aesthetic. Beauty is mediated by the figure behind the product. The Caucasian male determines what beauty is through shaping the aesthetics of Caucasian women and deeming that the norm. This norm is inherited by the African-American male. He may prefer lighter skin, smaller hips, longer and straighter hair on his female companion. What choice does the African-American woman have but to cater, to adjust, to deviate from her norm in a rash attempt to look pleasant, beautiful, a bit more white?

Without hesitation, even with a sense of severe urgency, she takes the product from the black arm and black voice with no face. In that exchange is a contract co-signing her ugliness. In that exchange she confirms that her body is an emergency that needs some serious help. She accepts the solution from a faceless figure seeming to have all the answers. What she does not account for is the body of the arm. The arm and voice may be black, but the body of this “Doctor” is a white male’s body. And this body purports this extension of white aesthetic. What she doesn’t see is that her being is a market; she ingests the message that there is plenty on and about her body that “needs” to be fixed, changed, shaped, re-sculpted. What she doesn’t realize is that her “look” is being handed down to her from a Caucasian puppeteer (perhaps a subtle re-emergence of black face) capitalizing off of her insecurity and pressure to appear beautifully white.

The “doctor” character on the product packaging is a black man signaling this hierarchical mediation from white male to black male and ultimately down to the black female. The product  packaging is only a means to ensure safe delivery. Certain concepts of normalcy infiltrate the black female consciousness about her own body using her own kind.

Strangely enough her insecurities are solidified by other black women who have also conformed to the same norms and now deem her as ugly if her hair is not relaxed or straightened like their hair is. They have both bought into the product that advertises against their natural look and advocates another look. The solidarity is somewhat awkward and misplaced, with traces of self-rejection, self-importance, competition and unity under a contradictory cause. The black women in these commercials do not affirm beauty outside of straightened hair, but the solidarity rests in the assimilation to straight hair. They both fall into a space of beauty that only whiteness can truly inhabit so they powder it on their face, and rub it in their hair in a desperate attempt to be as white as possible until the next time they need it. They fight off everything black about them until they need the product one more time. They change what they can. In solidarity tied to rejection, labeling as ugly (or reverting to their natural hair texture), and desiring to be sexually acceptable to the black male, these black women nervously (and even confidently) adopt self-hate and subtly spew it on one another.  

The black woman is introduced into the aesthetic that a Caucasian man has set, pressured to look unlike her natural self and perform into a white female aesthetic endorsed by the black male, and peer-pressured into maintenance of this aesthetic from similarly conforming black females.  

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Oh yeah, Jesus

This entire Dr. Miracle campaign is showing us that we’ve moved dangerously far away from what Jesus wanted us to value. The black woman falls into their downward spiral where she doesn’t know that she’s accepting a message that her transformation into a white aesthetic is a miracle that only a white man disguised as, then through a black man can work. She falls into a religious trap that prompts her to worship in order to receive her miracle. Thus the white man becomes her miracle worker, a savior of sorts, a god.

Jesus wouldn’t approve of this savior guy. As Dr. Amy Laura Hall would say, “that job’s been taken.”

I’m no expert, but I don’t recall Jesus performing any miracles on hair, or nails, or make-up. He never invited a prostitute to the table to eat and fellowship with Him in order to extend an ambiguous hand to her and in His best Barry White voice, explain how this product will work wonders on her hair.

Jesus certainly performed bodily miracles like healing (my favorite parable is in John 9), but the purpose extended a bit deeper than looking or even feeling good. He gave people back their lives and introduced them to a new life centered on believing in Him. He never wanted the focus to be the miracle itself, but the provider of the miracle. He wanted the people He encountered and loved to focus on Him.

He did not advocate focusing on one’s “problems” or “shortcomings” in order to fix them for three weeks at a time or one $800 sew-in at a time. Jesus never miracled a relaxer or a hair weave.

Jesus advocated love outside of the normal understanding of aesthetic. He lived a new aesthetic where things like love and charity, mercy and grace were the trends people were in awe about and in need of. He painted pictures that had no picture except through human action and genuineness.

Dr. Miracle does miracles, and Jesus does miracles. I guess the difference between them is that Jesus jumped over the hoops instead of jumping through them (or perhaps Jesus destroyed the hoops that have been re-constructed by the greedy platform of the black hair market). Plus He didn’t have money to gain. Plus He loved us so much, black women and white women, black men and white men alike that He only cared what our souls looked like and not our hair.

Intersections and Bright Orange Vests Part II

26 08 2010

Along highway 15-501, you’ll find great stories and meaningful lessons, all by watching people – the begging people. Their actions, clothes, bodies, hair, stations and signs tell a story. Granted, a lot of people don’t believe that story and suggest that they are misleading, living a comfortable lifestyle amongst their friends creating a business of begging, but I beg to differ.

I don’t disagree that they may have another concealed life, but I do disagree that their lifestyle is comfortable. I can’t imagine begging as a comfortable practice or business venture. I can’t imagine what is so relaxing about degrading oneself day after day to get a dollar, or even a few coins. Being on the underside of the economy is uncomfortable. It is humiliating. It is distant. It does not even require contact. Begging is a lonely business, a disconcerting effort to survive and live wrapped up in looks of disdain and harsh glares from passersby’s.

And the beggar’s overall invisibility and one-dimensionalism  is strangely a survival mechanism. Smile your toothless grin, say “God bless” and continue doing the dance of “I need your money, please help me.” That is surely humiliating.   

I was at the light in the third lane over frantically searching for a dollar from my change compartment hoping that I would have enough time to signal him over to get whatever I had on me, but the light changed suddenly and slowly traffic was resuming.

Knowing it was too dangerous to pull the stunt of holding up traffic and ask him to dance across two lanes of fast-moving traffic; I replaced the dollar hoping for another opportunity later. What I looked up, he was gone. A second later he stood up as he now stood erect from the crouched position he had when he was previously picking something up. Dangerously close to breaking the median-lane barrier, he stood staring at whatever it was in his hand. It was a dollar bill. He stood looking at the bill for what seemed like eternity. He was in disbelief.  

Suddenly his stare changed from the bill to the car the bill had come from, a silver car speeding hurriedly to its’ next destination. He stood staring.

I could feel his hurt all the way from my car, and he hurt badly. He wasn’t even human enough, worthy enough, visible enough to have a dollar bill placed in his hand.

The ground was more respectable.

What would or should have my Gospel, our Gospel have done?

Sometimes good things come out of mistakes.

14 08 2010

Sometimes good things come out of mistakes. Just look at humanity; God came into flesh to correct what our flesh botched up.

And our churches aren’t exempt from this “rule”.

I believe that the racially reconciled church is the phoenix that arises from the ashes of Church-Gone-Wrong and Church-Done-Wrong. Only after one makes the mistake of being in a homogenous church does the racially reconciled church make any sense, not the multicultural church under white leadership, but the racially reconciled church. A church that is still learning what it means to live into its title and defining what it means to be a church let alone reconciled, let alone racially reconciled is the definition of a successful and reconciled church.

It seems that we have to mess up and being around so many “us-es” (you know, they look like us, talk like us, like what us likes – okay, I’ll stop) that we get tired of us and realize that a bunch of us-es gets boring, and isn’t right all the time and has no accountability because there is no deviation of hearts or variation of discernment, but us.

When we get tired of us, we get desperate for we. And where we is, God can be because we isn’t a branch of “us” but a different race altogether: it seeks difference, and disagreement and experiences that look nothing like us-es and joins together, shares power, shares influence, shares say-so, shares sermons, shares perspectives together all the while avoiding “them” language lest they be counted in the “them” number.

Sometimes we have to really get it wrong to open up ourselves enough to get it right. And we give more to we than we selfishly gathered for “us”. That’s how Jesus works. We should give freely because God gives to us freely. We will know if we’re overly attached to some false deity if we can’t let it go because free anything isn’t easy for us.

But struggles create stronger bonds and strengthened resolve to face the next trial as we not us.


21 07 2010

Sometimes I just plain rush into things.

I thought I was going to marry him…before I met him.

I mean he was black, he was around my age, he was in college at Ohio State. What else was there to discuss?

The summer before my third year in college, I was eager and nervous for my first encounter with urban ministry. I had done “A Day of Service” projects all that time in college, but I wanted something deeper, something that would stick.

So when the Urban Promise people came to UVA’s grounds and pitched the best “This summer will change your life” spiel about their Christian summer camps in urban districts all around the country, I was sold.

But I’m not a great saleswoman. I knew I wanted to do something different that summer and if I could avoid raising money for it, that it’d be even better. Well, it worked out to my favor. I had to raise eight hundred dollars, which was better than the two to three thousand mountain of funds I would have to raise for another summer ministry opportunity.

So Urban Promise it was! The next question that faced me was where.

I knew that it wouldn’t fly with my mother if I selected UP’s most popular sight in the wonderfully-safe city of Camden, New Jersey. So I tried my best to play my cards right. The least dangerous place seemed like the most random, Wilmington, Delaware.

So I was set to go. After God’s favor, I was promoted from mere intern to Assistant Director (head intern of my peers and campers). For this opportunity, I was grateful as it seemed like a huge leadership role in my first ministerial experience outside of a week’s time.

I arrived at the site early and they had no problem putting myself and my fellow Assistant Directors to work (there was one AD per camp and intern team totaling three of us).

A few days into our hard labor but days full of meaningful work and full moments of rest, we learned of who our interns would be.

That’s when I met him. Well, kind of.

My camp director sat me down over dinner and told me who I’d be in charge of and working with this summer.

Ok, so there’s John. He’s from Massachusetts. He’ll be teaching the Science class.


Me: Ok, cool.


There’s also Adam. He’ll be teaching art. He’s a little younger than you and is apparently an avid reader. He sounds like he’ll be more laid back than anything.


Me: Sounds good.


Oh! I’m so excited! We have a young lady coming from the UK to help us for a little bit. She’ll be coming a week late and leaving a week early, but she’s going to be with us for a good month or so. Her name’s Cathleen. She should be helping out with Recreation time with the teen employees.


Me: Ok, so her job won’t be too bad.


Yup. And then we have James. He went to Ohio State. I talked to him the other day. He seemed excited. He’s black you know!

Whatever my Director said after that, I didn’t hear. My mind had already rehearsed the moment we would meet, become good friends, date, then eventually marry after working out the long-distance relationship until we graduated college…

I don’t have any enlightening Biblical principle to drop on you now. I just have a funny story.

I suppose I could proof-text and tie in Peter’s rushed action and thought-process when Jesus prophesied his death in Mark 8 was speaking to his thought-process that rejected anything undesired occurring was like my hurried imagination rushing James and myself into a concrete mental relationship.

I suppose I can also proof-text how Peter’s anticipation and rushed thinking towards not the impossible nor improbable, but the necessary arrest of Jesus prompts him to cut off the high priest servant’s ear John 18 so wonderfully points out. And somehow that this event relates to my instinct to react in the manner in which I’m not supposed to assuming that our physical proximity would generate a result that if I wished hard enough would manifest itself. And if it didn’t I would have to fight to save my fantasy, wish, and silent promise I made to myself that even though I knew better, what I want has to happen.

But I’m not going to.

James never showed up. My Director never really got a reasonable explanation why not. It wasn’t a big deal to her, but it rearranged my entire summer and life’s plans.

Looking back at it now, I think his absence, God not honoring my request if you will, was an awesome thing.

I think that somehow God told James not to come because some girl imagined that through their summer together, a lifelong relationship would emerge, instead of wishing, hoping and fantasizing that the summer would bring much needed humility and dependence on God for her present strength and uncertain future.

Maybe God told James that there would be a girl imagining the wrong kind of friendship with him and that he should stay at Ohio State for his safety and her spiritual well-being.

Because if he had come, she would not see the beauty in those already around her, in the Directors, in the teen workers and adolescent campers, in the intern from the UK who immediately took to her and formulated a quick friendship, and would have been day-dreaming about something that was not supposed to be instead.  

She would have seen all the wrong things. And missed an experience that she has not to this day forgotten.

Maybe she is kind of like James and John, asking for a “let-me-sit-at-you-right-and-the-other-at-your-left-in-glory” moment when she doesn’t even know what she’s asking.

Like she’ll get it eventually, but currently doesn’t understand the sacrifice involved. Maybe she’s too selfish and immature right now for an anything. Maybe she has some growing up to do.  

It’s true. Funny thing is, I’m still growing and don’t think I’m anywhere near where I should be for the whole husband-thing.

Sigh. Sometimes fantasies speak to areas of proposed growth and doesn’t affirm the cute cuddly “dream language” we so readily attach to it. It’s more lecture speaking to potential than simply potential standing solo.

My potential isn’t patient enough to just wait and learn until she blossoms into reality.

But she’s getting there.   

Again, God’s grace is covering her.

Maybe there is a model for the reconciled church in Acts and Galatians.

7 07 2010

Maybe there is a model for the reconciled church in Acts and Galatians.

In order to have the perfect reconciliation recipe you need (in my opinion) two things:

1)      A majority group and minority group who recognize that in being with each other something different (and oftentimes good!) can and will happen

2)      (More often than not) The majority group recognizes that it takes a lot more work and grace to do this new “together thing” and starts to tighten the reins on what is acceptable change, and what is just plain crazy.

And in Acts 15, Paul is trying to affirm the “just plain crazy” and the reality of the whole reconciliation situation: this reconciliation stuff is ridiculously uncomfortable!

It’s not peaches and roses like it was imagined. To be honest, it’s not okay with some people in the church body who were so eager to reconcile with everyone.

And some not so eager. The Pharisees still held to the fact that in order to be transformed, one must transform themselves to look like us. In other words, you can’t be us until you are like us.

But the point isn’t to be just like you. The point is to be just like Him.

The Pharisees were not like Christ, but interested in trapping Christ, setting Jesus up, outwitting Jesus and those who followed. And they looked stupid for doing it. Jesus can’t be trapped into being something or someone less than He is.

Jesus can’t be outsmarted. His way of reconciliation and life in God and with God’s Spirit is a model that freely accepts people without condition except to believe in Him. He does not require people to worship God as He worshipped, but to love God in their own way, to believe in Him because they have witnessed His glory.

For Jesus reconciliation was not about mimicry, it was about collectively becoming something totally different.

The Pharisees wanted to enforce a pre-requisite for others to be like them even though they were not the new model of reconciled life that Christ intended. They misunderstood. People weren’t converting to Judaism, they were de-converting from whatever life they once lived, whichever gods they did serve and moving towards an ambiguous following of righteousness, humility, and freedom that did not warrant certain dress, places of worship, specific rituals and the like.

Life in Christ didn’t mean joining the ranks of the Pharisees…Christ was too free for all that.

At least that’s what Paul was trying to teach/remind people. Christ has freed us up from the new guy having to become like the old guy. Instead both are made new. Both begin again. No matter how long one has been doing something, it is never long enough.

Many churches fall into the 2-step reconciliation model because those who own the church (the faith of that house if you will) are only willing to go so far. They don’t quite understand that it’s not about bringing people into your church to be transformed into yourself.

Reconciliation is a complete make-over of the church. Christ, the Reconciler, does not employ surface change. He’s interested in something completely new standing before Him as His bride.

The real question is, is the bride willing and ready to be transformed? Or does her transformation really translate into “trying out a new look” like someone tries out eyeliner or mascara? Is this a temporary cover up or a new yet permanent identity?

I don’t think Paul was interested in the Gospel he spread being a colonizing agent against the minority into the majority image. I don’t think Jesus wanted people transformed into the Pharisees image, or the Western church’s image, or the Methodist’s church’s image, or the Presbyterian Church’s image.

Both parties must change. And if both parties change that eliminates the backbone of this entire controversy: power.

In Christ, power is surrendered to His will. His transforming power overrides the power of the majority over and against the minority many are so eager to transform into their image.

Both parties are powerless and both parties are powerful in Christ alone. That’s it. Not powerful in budgets or buildings but in Christ. Money and longevity mean nothing. Both are beginning something new, and they’re doing this together, both as amateurs copying the Expert.

Don’t get circumcised for the wrong reasons. Don’t get circumcised at all. But rather accept the uncircumcised and the circumcised into your life because Christ’s death and resurrection wills us to. The laws and unwritten understandings and “this is the way we’ve always done it” mean nothing. But grace means everything no matter if you’re the majority of the minority…

…in Christ both have become beloved.

That is the picture of reconciliation. It refuses trends and patterns of acceptance and accepts anyway. It reject traditions that harm. It replaces custom with Christ.

I think Paul calls this grace.

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