Has it been a crazy a few days or what? I think its been more than crazy. It has made me skeptical, critical, and fearful. Let me be honest with you – I spent Thursday as I normally do up at 5:30 and full speed ahead with kids, work, home, exercise, etc.
Friday I became submerged in history. A president exiting and a president entering. My radio was giving me skepticism, criticism, and fear. My television mirrored the radio. Social media (which I really just post to and then close up the app or computer…keeping the blog’s social media going over my own.) I saw a Starbucks get abused and it hurt my heart – don’t mess with my coffee!!! Save the Caramel Macchiatos!
Like most history dorks I couldn’t pull away from the proceedings. I wanted to see the people – all the people. I wanted to take in the moments caught via ABC Cameras to store away so later in life I can say, “Oh yeah well I do remember that.” The way my grandmas could tell me about events in history that they remembered that were heavily covered in history classes from grades 7-college.
You know I have been studying the book of Joshua lately. This book is often ignored in the Old Testament by many. If this book was picked up by a major network and turned into a movie it would be gory, scary, and for some reason I see Gerard Butler playing a big role in it. Joshua had a pretty gnarly task in front of him and it was not one of Christian appeal. Which is what I need to explain today. The more I read this chapter (which at times has lulled me into boredom) the more I meet a new side of me and a new side of viewing what is going on around me.
Like I said up there the book of Joshua is in the Old Testament – the Torah – the holy text of the Jewish tradition. I’m a Christian, I read the Old Testament because it is part of my holy text – the Bible. Christ was a Jew – my faith was birthed from Judaism. I may not be Jewish but I am learning of my faith’s roots and it makes me a better person and have a better knowledge of what was, what is, and what will be.
Joshua had a task ahead of him – Moses was dead and Joshua had to carry on the mission. As (true) Christians we are to serve in missions of humanity. My job in this life as a (true) Christian is:
- Love – love everyone not just those who I pick and choose but every single human being in my path. The ones that hurt me, the ones that I don’t agree with, even the ones who do bad things. I am to show them love.
- Be compassionate – The big lesson here is to remember my role towards the poor. I am to take care of the poor to the best of my ability. I have been blessed and my job is to pay those blessings forward.
- No judgement – The hard one. I cannot tell you how many times Jesus reminds me – You are not the judge. I mean, c’mon friends! He saved the adulteress from stoning saying if any man had never sinned they can throw the stones. It was like a mic drop moment because all those men were stopped dead in their tracks. I also try to remember the quote in Matthew – my favorite quote when I need to remind myself of my own sinful nature: “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but ignore the beam in your own.” (Matthew 7:3) Judgement is rampant among us. We can say we don’t do it that much but we are all just lying. We judge the drive thru girl, the lady two aisles over from us at the grocery store, the people on the television, even the kids in our own kid’s class. Anyone who reads this and denies that they do that need to put the brakes on. We are Judge Judys and Joe Browns.
- Giving alms – tithing.
- Sharing the good news – And this is where I get upset reading the Old Testament, Torah, the first half of my B-I-B-L-E. I believe it is also the point of note for people who like to slam Christianity. This is where we get all messed up.
Joshua’s purpose after the death of Moses was to eliminate many groups of people. Eliminate now a synonym for kill. Moses did it too. He was commanded by God to slaughter people in order to continue the mission to get their birth right – “the land of milk & honey.”
The first half of the book of Joshua is brutal. Thirty-nine kings dead. Thirty-nine groups of people dead. They were told by the Lord to wipe out every group. Every pagan group of people. This is fuel for non believers and fuel to for believers to start questioning their God.
As a Christian I couldn’t stand to read this. I would read it then push my Bible away and try to digest it. Then I would pull it back again and read it one more time. I was left going, “Wait, what?”
My focus has always been on Jesus. Jesus, the cool hippie, the guy who hung out with the lowest of the low when he walked the earth, he stood up for women, he enjoyed reaffirming to children (ages zero to three hundred and fifty-four) of the love God had for them, he hung out with the guys society hated (hello little man up in the tree whose name I cannot spell). Jesus was the guy who let the dude in the weird clothes who ate cicadas baptize HIM! John the Baptist, one guy who I think I would really love to have dinner with in another life, was an outcast because he was different and even labeled crazy, because he knew the light – he knew Jesus.
So when I’m reading a chapter in a book before the birth of Christ – that is bloody, scary, shows no letting up, and totally goes against what I feel my God is telling me (love, compassion, no judgement, alms, and good news) my feelings get hurt and I start looking sideways at the text, the story, and then the people.
Are we doing that right now? In our own lives?
I am not a conservative human being. I am also not a true liberal. There is a line in the middle of the road and most of the time I stand about six inches to the left of it. I believe in good. I believe in fairness. I want the land saved and I want the people to be safe. But at the same time I believe in work ethic and making your way. I believe we all have to do our part to make our destinies the best possible! My views are that we are each our own people who make our own choices – sometimes good and sometimes bad. Sometimes we do beautiful things and sometimes we do disgusting things. To add my faith into this I believe we are guided by a voice, a sense of reason, a Higher Power who at the end of the day will say, “Amanda you did well today. I am proud of you. Do it again tomorrow.” or “Amanda you sucked today. I’m not happy with you. You better get your butt in gear and be better tomorrow.”
As I read the chapters of Joshua my conservative heart is on guard. My liberal heart is broken. I am dancing with questions of, “How can this be holy text?” and “How did my God lead people to kill people?” So I go to farther lengths to understand – I read historical texts away from the Old Testament (to find these battles were indeed true and a part of history); I read theologians takes on the brutality of the battle chapters; I pray.
And then the answer is clear.
Ecclesiastes comes 15 books after Joshua. It comes to tell me – as a Christian who sees my role in this world to be one of love and compassion – and to tell a Jewish woman there is a reason for everything that has happened and a reason for what will happen. It comes to tell the entire world no matter what faith – Islam, Buddhism, Hindu, etc – or what lack of faith – there will be seasons in this life that are scary and filled with unrest and what seems bogus reason – but as sure as those days exist so will the days of building, dancing, loving, healing, and peace.
Joshua had a job that makes me nauseated. He was in a season of war. The fighting was a necessary season in the season of building a world that would celebrate the birth of a kid in a cow’s food trough. Joshua’s work had to wear on him (read the story of the Gibeonites throwing one over on him and ask me for my view) and he probably wanted to stop but he had a task at hand that he must complete in order for Israel to move forward. From Israel came Jesus – the light and the love.
Right now we are skeptical of the state of our nation. We are critical of a new administration and even our fellow citizens. And when you mix together skepticism with criticism you get a big batch of fear.
I suggest we review Ecclesiastes 3:1 – sit down and let it soak in and focus on how we can be the light and the love that will lead us away from falling apart and closer to binding together stronger with love and peace and compassion fueling our fires instead of skepticism, criticism, and hate.
We are more than colors and genders and battle lines – we are so much more beautiful and powerful when we stop judgement and focus on love and compassion. This is a season, friends. Let’s make it a season where we look back and hear: “You did well. I am proud of you. Tomorrow I expect you to do just as well if not better. There is a point in all this, my loves.”
In peace –