“So, why’d you go to Ferguson?” people asked me.
I went for many reasons, but mostly because I couldn’t not go.
I have three passages of scripture I use as my marching orders. They rest soundly and squarely atop John 3:16, because where would I be without For God so loved the world?
Of course, all of this presupposes the idea that I believe the Bible. I’m not trying or wanting to get theological about it. I don’t want to go down that route, because I’m not trying to set up camp. No. I’m trying—hoping—to set a table, or build a bonfire, or spread a picnic blanket on the ground and invite whoever will come.
The first passage of scripture is in the letter we call Ephesians. You’ll find the words in chapter two, verses fourteen and fifteen:
The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.
You know what? I’m foolish enough to believe that. Call me crazy. It won’t be the first time. Or the last. But, I honestly believe Jesus is in the business of tearing down the walls we build to keep us separated from each other. We build the walls. Not Christ. In North America, most of us calmly accept the sad reality of white churches and black churches and you-fill-in-the-blank churches where most of the people who sit next to us and preach to us and lead us, share our skin color and language and culture and model of car parked in the parking lot.
I believe Christ means more for us.
The second passage of scripture is Matthew 18:15, which says, “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend.”
I believe that one, too. I believe Jesus knew we’d get on each other’s nerves, even in the Body of Christ. I believe he knew we’d see things differently and step on each others’ toes, and that we’d be tempted to let that cause a rift between us. I even believe Jesus knew how we’d tend to take to Facebook and Twitter before we’d walk a mile or so to stand in front of the person who ticked us off and try to work it out between us. Jesus knows the way we think and so He said to us, “Hey, when you get on each others’ nerves, go to that person—face-to-face—and try to figure things out.”
I may be oversimplifying things. I don’t know. But I think it’s worth it to at least give it a try. I mean, if I believe the gospel is true and the Holy Spirit is real, then what can it hurt to try to do things the way Jesus laid them out for me while He was here, you know? If it doesn’t work out, you can always say, “I told you so.” There’s always that.
The third passage of scripture is this: “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:35, MSG)
Church (as my pastor used to say), the world is watching us. Like it or not, it’s the truth. The world is watching us. And when we get it right, it’s our love for one another that the world finds attractive. It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard or read, but it’s not programs or numbers or followers or shares that make the world sit up and take notice about the things that matter for eternity. It’s not even miracles and signs and wonders. Jesus didn’t say they’d know we’re His disciples because of how much money we raise or how many books we’ve published. He said the world will know we’re His disciples because of our love for each other.
That’s something, isn’t it?
I have this crazy idea that if the Church—the Body of Christ—could figure this out and stop building walls and holding grudges and let the world see a new kind of extravagant love, we might actually be able to speak truth to power and let God set a table of grace, even in the presence of those who see things differently than we do.
And so, I went to Ferguson. And it didn’t make sense to some. I’ll be honest, it didn’t necessarily make sense to me. But, I have ignored the call of God before and I didn’t like the way that turned out. I regretted letting logic and fear, or discomfort and inconvenience, keep me from accepting His invite.
I went to Ferguson because we need to stop building walls and drawing lines to keep one another at a distance. I went to Ferguson because I needed to be reminded of the power of forgiveness. I went to Ferguson because love hopes the best, and because hope does not disappoint us.
You don’t need to go to Ferguson, but where is God inviting you to join him? It may not be as far as you think. What’s keeping you from saying yes to Him? What if God wants to grow that seed He’s planted in your heart and all you need to do is let Him do it?
When I said yes to God and to Ferguson, I had no idea how to get there. I had no money, but money showed up, without me asking for it. I had no connections, but God put me in front of the right people at exactly the right time. I had no itinerary, but we heard exactly what we needed to hear and we saw exactly what we needed to see. And when I left Ferguson, I was changed. I will forever be changed by that experience.
All God. Only God.
You are the salt of the earth. You are like a city, set on a hill. I am crazy enough to believe that. I don’t write this to say I am the salt of the earth and that going to Ferguson was some great thing I did that you should admire. I write this because I believe God is inviting you to join Him in something incredible. And, when I say incredible, I don’t necessarily mean something that will get picked up by the Huffington Post or land you on the Jimmy Fallon show. When I say incredible, I mean salty.
I believe God is inviting you to join Him in something that will make you fall in love with Him even more, and that might catch the attention of someone in your neighborhood or at your dinner table. I believe God wants to invite you to something worth savoring, and something that will advance his Kingdom, while changing you forever.
What passages of scripture serve as your marching orders? What is God inviting you into today? How can we pray for you as you try to say yes? What stands in your way?Leave a Comment
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
My marching orders are from Isaiah 6:8: Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me.”
I admit, though, that I am not always eager or bold in my assignment. I’ve been guilty, like Jonah, of turning tail and running until the big fish catches up with me. I think I do this not out of disobedience, but out of insecurity and lack of confidence in my abilities. But, I do believe that, as a Christian, I have been given certain spiritual gifts and it is my duty to use them in order to glorify God and advance His kingdom.
My two “recent” callings have been to start my blog and to help start Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan. I LOVE how you said that we need to get “salty”…I’m doing my best, Deidra…thanks for an encouraging post to keep on, keeping on!
Beth Williams says
Good Morning, Deidra ~
You continue to warmly gather us around that table. Your compelling invitation helps us to pause, to be still, to listen intently to what God is inviting us to.
For there is always something more, something greater, something deeper. For us to do. To be.
ro elliott says
I am in the process of memorizing James… I am discovering… memorizing makes me sit with a scripture… instead of reading and moving on… I have to let it soak in… so James chapter 2 has been sinking deep and challenging me in new ways… especially this weeks verse…James 2:8-9 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
I love how James calls this the royal law… the law that trumps all… and the last verse… he doesn’t make excuses for us to how partiality… prejudice … he calls it sin…because it violates love!!!
Diedra… thanks… I believe these verse impact more today because you, about a year ago, were willing to “go there”… and yes… you set a wide table for many to gather around!!! blessings to you
Shelly Miller says
That last paragraph? That is my heart. I want to be salty. Yes and amen. Thanks Deidra.
Jennifer Camp says
Deidra, you speak with such love–encouraging boldness and faith, convicting us that we will surely miss out on life, His life in us, if we don’t. Thank you. You make me want to both get low on my knees and stand tall, head high. My marching orders? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength.” Bless you. You are just beautiful.
Jennifer Frisbie says
“I have this crazy idea that if the Church—the Body of Christ—could figure this out and stop building walls and holding grudges and let the world see a new kind of extravagant love, we might actually be able to speak truth to power and let God set a table of grace, even in the presence of those who see things differently than we do.”
Several weeks ago I taught some high school students the difference between an agape love vs a phileo love. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m fearful of standing in front of others and holding their attention for any length of time, but when God speaks, I try to move (anxiety and all).
So after I spent time praying for God’s peace and then laid the lesson He gave me upon their hearts I had to thank Him for what I witnessed. Eyes that understood! I saw teens who now know that every time we read “love” in the Bible it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be with our heart. While I know my life would be so much less fulfilling if I had to forgo my phileo relationships it is the agape we share with one another that breaks down the walls of difference. The agape is our action behind what we speak. It is the product of faith and hope harmonizing together, allowing us to love unconditionally.
I am so glad to have taken the time to read your post this morning. I am anxious to share your story with the class to show them what stepping out in faith and showing what true agape love looks like.
Blessings to you,
Marina Bromley says
Good words Deidra…
My verse is Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Basically, loosely interpreted… the call to TELL, here, nearby, and far away.
And while I’m doing that (here and near) I’m trying to encourage others to do the same… and then to remind us all that while we are there (here, near and far away) that we need to care for each other, and take care OF each other (spiritually encouraging, physically meeting need, emotionally, relationally).
God’s at work. I’m telling.
Kris camealy says
Deidra, thank you. You are salty and glowing, my friend, and this speaks to me. That same scrioture (salt and light) was on my heart this week. God is speaking, always speaking–I ask Him–am I listening? Am I willing? Make me so, Jesus.
Chandra Hadfield says
Yes, to all of this! I love this post. Especially LOVED the “salty” paragraph! WOW! So much deep truth in that!
The scripture I can’t seem to shake right now is from Hosea 10:12 “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”
Specifically, the line “for it is the time to seek the Lord.” It’s that deep calling to deep, get to know me kind of call. Every morning when I wake, I hear that deep inside. Seek the Lord, seek the Lord. I guess as a long time Christian, I got a little out of the habit of truly seeking Him. It is now time to seek the Lord.
This scripture has always spoken loudly to me, even as a young child: Luke 6:38, Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you!
My calling has always been to help others. I ask that you pray God puts those whom I can help in my path and that I may listen and hear the needs.
Loved this post!
Elizabeth Stewart says
First, right in my home and with my own family, here in my very culturally, racially diverse neighborhood, in our church and the neighborhood and low income housing right next to it, and here in the online world, I just want the divine flow of God’s love to flow through me to others. Oh, what a faulty, clogged up conduit I’ve been too many times.
Susan Shipe says
Sister, a hearty amen from NC.
I don’t think you over-simplify things, Deirdra. I think God made it simple, it’s us humans that muck it up and complicate things. One of my favorite quotes from George MacDonald is, “Have you done one thing today simply because He told you to do it?” If we silly people would just “get salty!” and do.what.He.told.us.to.do! Yet we struggle, just like Paul did, crying out at our wretchedness. Two of the most encouraging words in scripture: But God. What verse moves me? Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O, man, what is good. A what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” You nailed all three by ‘going there’. Blessings.
Alia Joy says
Love you friend. I want this too and I’ll be crazy enough to believe right alongside you.
Lori Harris says
Amen and amen and amen.
May it be so.
Kim Hyland says
You’re one of the saltiest people I know! Thanks for leading the way, Deidra.
Angie in Guernsey says
I loved these reminders of verses to live by. Inspiring to think about my own ‘go to’ verses: not just to ‘go to’ but to underpin my actions. Thank you.
Such beautiful and encouraging words, Deidra! The perfect way to start the weekend. Lately, I’ve really been digging deep and seeking the Lord. I’ve been praying that I will as you so beautifully put it let go, trust in Him and allow Him to “grow that seed he’s planted in my heart”.
The Lord has with compassion for others in my heart; friends and strangers alike. It’s no accident that I always feel this pull to help the homeless or those in need. It’s no accident that I feel this need to offer a kind word to someone who seems sad, hopeless, alone.
Last Christmas, a friend and I handed out blessing bags to the homeless. I remember handing the ziplock bag of goodies to a young man sitting on a street corner in the financial district. (It was -20 outside) We simply wished him a Merry Christmas, asked his name and offered to get him a coffee. He declined the coffee as he couldn’t panhandle with it. So we bought him a sandwich for later.
We were drawn to speak to him for a couple more minutes. Almost a year later, his response still sticks in my mind:
“All day, everyday people walk a mile away from me, heads turned away like they’re afraid of me. Thank you for stopping to talk to me.”
This brought tears to my eyes. We are all God’s children. We are all worthy of love.
Romans 13:9 “‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Love does no harm. This is my calling. To do no harm. To love others as God loves us, to show compassion, to be a light on a stand and break through the darkness.
Have a beautiful first weekend of fall!
Diana Trautwein says
Beautifully done, my dear friend. All of it. The listening, the going, the coming home and, oh yes, this writing of it, right here, right now. Thank you.
Beth Williams says
Powerful story! I’m proud of you for being brave to go to Ferguson! If God calls you to it then by all means go and show this world Christ by any means you can!
I need to show the world more of Christ and less of myself! Praying that walls can be torn down and we can all live in peace and harmony!!
My marching orders are Matthew 26 Go ye into all the World and make disciples. I want more disciples!!
Kristi Atkinson says
I don’t know how I missed this last week. Beautifully written and beautifully lived. Thank you!
Eleanor Clemons says
Thanks for posting this. I have learned to be flexible to a degree. And sometimes I see myself as being very comfortable with how I am living and other times not as obedient as I know I ought to be. My marching orders are to listen and do as He leads. Your post is very encouraging and good to see for the heart. God knows where we each must serve. Prayers always for those in need. May the Lord continue to lead you in your sharing.
Thank you for this encouraging article! My marching orders are in Isaiah 58, to “spend myself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed.” I am trying to understand where God is leading me and how to use the gifts I think he has given me. I want to begin to really live life to the fullest wherever God leads. Please pray for guidance and understanding, and boldness to follow wherever he leads.
Inspiring. My scripture charhe comes from Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor and afflicted ; He has sent me to bind up and heal the broken heated, to proclaim liberty to the captives and opening of the prison and the eyes to those who are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our GOD, to comfort all who mourn. To grant to those who mourn in Zion–to give them an ornament of beauty instead of ashes,the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of heavy, burdened and failing spirit-That they maybe called oaks of righteousness the planting of the LORD that he maybe glorified.