Loving one another; What I learned from Veterans Day

During the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to cover some very special Veterans Day celebrations and I’ve been able to meet veterans from all the military branches, spanning a variety of eras of services.

The one aspect of these folks’ service that always takes me back a bit is the fact that most of the time, prior to that day, we were complete strangers. Not like in a mean way, just in that we had never had the opportunity to becoming acquainted.

But regardless the fact most of these men and women wouldn’t have known me from Adam had we bumped into each other at the grocery store a week earlier, they’ve given me a great gift, they have served in preserving my freedom and lifestyle and often times by way of putting their own lives at risk.

That’s kind of absurd, isn’t it? I mean it’s a big deal for a person to put him or herself in harms way for a loved one, let alone someone whose name they don’t even know. But yet they do, time and time again.

Perhaps it is absurd, but perhaps that’s the exact way we’re all supposed to live. Perhaps that’s the exact way we’re all supposed to show our love for one another.

Jesus commanded his followers to love one another and then pointed out that there was no greater love than for a person to lay down his or her life for another.

Now I’m not saying the only way we can really prove we love one another is to constantly be trying to take a bullet for someone. I mean, we can’t all be Batman despite how awesome that might be.

But it’s that attitude, that willingness to put others and their needs before ourselves and our own, that I think we can make a constant.

It’s that attitude that I see in our veterans and that attitude I’m reminded I need to see more in my own life.

That’s the attitude of people really loving one another.

— @TravisKWilliams

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The lacking of the letter jacket

When I got my first varsity letter I couldn’t wait to get a letter jacket.

That thing was like $100, but I swore it was going to be worth it and I couldn’t imagine a day when I wouldn’t want to rock it.

Fun fact, letter jackets might be one of the most uncomfortable pieces of clothing a human can wear. They’re outrageously hot and trying to move around in leather sleeves gets old fast.

Regardless, I wore it, like a badge of honor because I mean, I was a high school athlete and I wanted to be known as part of that group of people. The jacket did this, it let people know how I classified myself.

Outside of making a statement, however, wearing that jacket nor calling myself an “athlete” really didn’t have any other impact on me. It didn’t change the way I thought and it sure didn’t change the way I acted most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I ran my fair share of suicides, if you can still call them that, and I went through the motions of tons of practices, but that was pretty much where it ended for me in high school.

The title didn’t change my thought process, it didn’t change how I used my time, and it darn sure didn’t change my priorities.

I was still the same goofy, lazy kid who secretly much preferred to spend his time making jokes than putting in the type of work it takes to be a great athlete. Hence the bench riding.

I think we have a tendency to treat Christianity a lot like a letter jacket.

I think we’re often real excited to take the name “Christian” and punch our church attendance cards, and then kind of just let it end there.

But taking the title “Christian” really can’t be limited like that because really deciding to follow Jesus changes absolutely everything about life.

It changes every thought. It changes every action. It changes every minute of every day.

It’s probably taken me far too long to realize this, but really following Jesus means that my life is no longer my life, it’s to be lived for someone else, because of someone else.

That changes how I think about things. That changes how I make decisions. That changes the relationships I have with other people. And that darn sure changes my priorities.

Granted, there’s a lot of times I suck at following through with this, but the very fact that I even consciously realize this is unlike how I would be living otherwise.

Sometimes it seems like kind of a ridiculous thought that my highest priorities would be centered on a man who lived some 2000 years ago, but you know, it was Jesus who was first ridiculous. It was Jesus who decided a self-absorbed wreck like me was not only worth loving, but was worth being murdered for.

That type of glorious and wonderful ridiculousness deserves a lot more from me than simply pinning a letter on my jacket.

–@TravisKWilliams

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Defending the defenseless

The other night a rare thing happened — a social topic got me very angry. Like, stupid angry.

In fact, the constant coverage of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s “disciplining” of his four-year-old son got me so disturbed, I couldn’t sleep.

I just rolled around in bed, thinking about that kid, who is the same age as my niece, taking a lashing from the 6-1 217-pound football player.

You probably know the story by now, the father said he was simple giving his child the old southern “switching” and honestly, that’s not the part that bothered me. Heck, if they started arresting people for giving kids a switch, my grandma might very well be on death row.

No, what bothered me wasn’t Peterson’s form of disciple, but that it was so over the top, it left cuts and bruises on the boy for at least a week, as evidenced by the photos.

What bothered me was that this child, not even old enough for public school, had no one there to help him, no one to stand in his defense.

I don’t normally like to be angry, but I felt this anger was justified. I think there’s no greater calling for us as humans than to come to the defense of those who can’t defend themselves, and gauging by social media, plenty of folks agree.

But then I noticed something else and it started to bother me and push me from very angry to furious.

I started to notice other posts on social media and other comments, not in defense of the innocent, but in what felt like support of their harm.

I started to pay attention to how many of the same people, either in the media or just on social media, were outraged by Peterson’s abuse, but yet were in favor of abortion.

It was a seemingly massive contradiction of which I just couldn’t make sense.

How could the same people who were screaming for the head of the man who just hindered his child’s life by abusing him be OK with, or even celebrating, other people completely halting the lives of their children?

I mean, Peterson’s son was 4, he had least at the ability to run away (granted he probably wouldn’t get real far from the running back), but this other group children doesn’t have even a slight chance of escaping those attempting to hold them back from life.

In a sense, they are the very most defenseless group of all, and yet we as humans are somehow divided over whether or not to give a crap about them.

It’s something I have a really hard time wrapping my mind around even though I constantly try to listen to and understand the arguments of those opposing this groups’ defense.

I’ve heard the argument that no person, much less a man, has the right to tell a lady what to do with her body, especially when it comes to such medical issues.

I’ll be honest, on the surface this always comes across as extremely selfish to me, but then the more I think about it, it just seems like a down right dumb argument.

Don’t all laws or rules or guidelines tell people what they can and can’t do with their bodies? I mean, I’m not allowed to use my hands to steal or harm people. I’m not allowed to use my foot to accelerate my car beyond a certain speed. And even when it comes to medical issues, there are medicines and medical procedures, which could very well help me, that I’m not allowed to have. Hence, athletes heading to Europe for surgeries these days.

No, this argument just doesn’t make sense to me considering how many other laws we have specifically preventing us from using our bodies in a negative manner against other humans.

Of course, then there’s the argument that a fetus is not actually a human and there for it, and whatever potential for life it contains, has no rights.

Listen, we could sit around all day and debate which point in this whole process life actually begins. Is it conception? Is it the first sign of a heartbeat? It is when the fingers so up?

Maybe you’re a doctor, but I’m not, and so honestly, I have no idea at which point to declare that a fertilize egg becomes a tiny person.

But I do know this, once conception happens, barring something tragic, life will result.

That is, unless someone steps in and prevents it.

Even if you don’t want to consider them humans and defend them as such, doesn’t life in general deserve to be defended?

I think so, and no matter what the exact situation is, I think that life deserves the opportunity to make the best of it.  To purposefully step in and prevent that, to steal away that chance at life, just doesn’t seem just.

But perhaps this is simply me attempting to push my religious views and my sense of justice onto people who do not maintain similar thoughts.

I mean, I 100 percent believe everyone has the right, and the responsibility, to take on his or her own belief system and use it as a guide through life.

But is defending those who can’t defend themselves really a Christian issue? Is taking up for those who can’t help themselves really even a religious matter?

No, defending the defenseless shouldn’t be a matter of religion, race, country, or creed. It should simply be a matter of human beings protecting each other and protecting life.

Life is the most treasured commodity for all people groups and once it’s taken away, there’s nothing we can do to bring it back. It’s forever gone.

We take steps each day to preserve that commodity, to ensure our lives and the lives of others have the opportunity to see out their full potential.

Sometimes we do it out of love, but often we simply do it out of a responsibility to each other as fellow humans.

Yet somehow in this situation we’ve allowed ourselves to check out on this responsibility. Somehow we’ve let ourselves become OK with failing to defend the potential for life in those who can’t defend it for themselves.

While I watch the world get all up in arms, and rightly so, over an NFL player abusing the tiny life that’s been entrusted to him, the idea that at the same time we as a culture are causally standing by and watching other lives ended before they even see the light of day, is just something I can’t seem to comprehend.

Of course these are just my thoughts, and like everything, I’m not going to tell you what to think. Only you have to live with your conscience.

But for me, as long as one of my top priorities as a human being is defending the defenseless, nothing about ending an innocent child’s potential for life will ever cause anything but fury.

–@TravisKWilliams

 

 

 

 

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Team Joseph or Team David

Do you remember Dan and Dave?

Prior to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, which might have very well been the best Olympics ever, Reebok launched a campaign for these two American decathletes. It was epic and forced us all to ask ourselves, I’m Team Dan, or am I Team Dave?

Of course then Dan failed to qualify for the games and needless to say, the campaign lost a little steam, as did everyone on Team Dan. Still though, what a ride.

So that was the first time I had to make a decision about which guy’s team I was going to be on, but it was far from the most important time.

Shortly after college, I met a girl and I thought, I might like her.

Now let me preface this story with a little disclaimer/warning/life advice. If you are a married lady, wear your freaking wedding ring.

If you don’t wear your wedding ring, make sure to talk about your husband, a lot. If you do neither of these nor just come right out and tell a dude, ‘Hey, I’m hitched,’ you are a devious false-advertising [insert favorite bad word for an awful person here.]

With that said, I found myself in a bit of a situation, not unlike the ones featured in the Biblical tales of Joesph and David.

Joesph faced the temptation of Potiphar’s wife — who was actually pretty smoking in the movie they showed us in Bible college — but instead of giving in, took off running so fast, he ran out of his shirt.

David, on the other hand, went right up on roof, saw Bathsheba bathing, and said, “Yup, go get me that.”

So I had a decision to make, was I going to be Team Joesph or was I going to be Team David? Was I going to run from this temptation or was I going to run towards it?

I seriously remember going through this thought process at the time and for one of the few times in my life, I actually chose the right team.

I went all Team Joesph and took off. Granted, it was probably a bit slower than him and I kept my shirt on, but still, I feel the need to slightly celebrate my rare good decision.

Of course you don’t have to be faced with adultery to be facing a Joesph or David situation, they smack us in the face everyday.

Perhaps it’s whether or not to put yourself in a situation in which you’re likely to lose your cool. Maybe it’s whether or not to stay up real late on internet with all those shady sites lurking out there. Or it could just be the choice you’re facing over telling a tiny little lie.

Regardless what it is exactly, everyday we have to decide, are we going to run to sin or run from sin?

And let’s be real, it’s rarely as simply as that because it’s often so hard to see the big picture outcome when we’re in the moment. I mean heck, even if you look at Joesph and David’s situations right after their decisions were made, it could be hard to decide which outcome was better.

Joesph ended up going to jail because Potiphar’s wife was apparently a lot like the girl I knew in the lying department, while David stayed in his palace and began his attempt to weasel out of a pregnancy he created. In the small picture, David seemed to come out on top.

Of course in the big picture, David ends up losing a son and Joseph ends up ruling all of Egypt. That’s not to say David was an overall bad dude — I love that guy — but his decision came with consequences, as did Joseph’s.

Life can get real cloudy, especially when it comes to facing temptation. But for me, it’s those times decisions really can be boiled down to one question.

Am I Team Joseph or Team David?

@TravisKWilliams

 

 

 

 

 

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God sees me on the toilet: Part II

Outrage is easy.

In fact, it’s perhaps the easiest of all emotions because once it’s ignited, it has a habit of burning like a wildfire through all other reasonable thought.

This is especially true when the event from which our outrage stems is available on a constant video loop. When a person at his very worst — or at least what I hope was his very worst — is revealed to us over and over, constantly fanning the flames of our outrage.

Of course, I’m speaking of the recent debacle involving Ray Rice. Well, I say recent, but the dude actually punched his then-fiancee in the face in an Atlantic City casino elevator way back in February. It’s just until yesterday, most of us hadn’t seen Rice at his worst moment, we’d only heard of it.

As a society, we were outraged at the original events and the NFL’s reaction, and rightly so, but when TMZ released the video footage from inside the elevator yesterday, that outraged cranked up to eleven.

Seeing an event, actually witnessing something you find completely appalling changes things. We’re visual people like that.

A similar event took place about this time last year when Philadelphia wide receiver Riley Cooper was caught on tape dropping racial slurs at a concert.

Like Rice, Cooper was at his worst, right there in front of our eyes and available to be repeated over and over.

At the time I was hit with a thought, and as the situation with Rice spread yesterday, that thought returned.

God sees me on the toilet.

Now maybe this isn’t as quite a sensitive subject for you as it is for me. Perhaps you’re stall talker, in which case, please stay away from me in this situation if you have any desire of salvaging our friendship.

But for me, the bathroom should be a completely private occasion. Heck, I’m not even sure I like being there with myself most of the time. It’s me in my most unflattering state and I’d just prefer that no one ever know about it.

But God sees me on the toilet.

He sees me at my worst, not only in the most unflattering of places, but also when I’m in my most sinful of states.

Whether I’m slipping into some new temptation or rolling around in the same crap I’ve struggled with for years, I’m right there before God’s eyes. He’s got that visual of me at my very worst and me acting in a manner completely offensive to him.

And yet, instead of outrage, he offers me love and instead of punishment, he offers grace by taking that punishment for me.

Outrage is easy; Grace is hard.

I sure am thankful God took the hard road despite the visuals.

Perhaps it’s a path I should travel more often.

–@TravisKWilliams

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Less sinking, more swimming

I wasn’t a real great swimmer as a child.

That kind of sucked because you had to pass lifeguard’s swim test to gain access to the diving board at the pool and everyone knows that’s where the cool kids hung out when they weren’t sneaking off to smoke. I mean, it was the ’80s.

My basic problem centered on that whole sinking feeling you get when you enter the water. When that feeling would hit, I’d feel the need to do something to get it to stop. I’d start kicking my legs and doing all kinds of funky things with my arms in an attempt to stay atop the water, all of which of course only led me to sinking faster.

The problem was I was trying to do too much instead of trusting my swim instructor who assured me if I’d just be still and relax, I’d stay afloat.

As poor a pool swimmer as I was as a child, I’m probably a worse life swimmer today.

As soon as that all too familiar sinking feeling hits, I feel like I have to start doing something. I have to start moving forward, working harder, and really pushing myself to assure I stay afloat. Perhaps it’s a bit of an obsessive compressive disorder or simply a side effect of an anxiety problem, but when those moments hit, I just can’t be still.

Much like swimming, too often this only causes the sinking feeling to increase and the only result is me going further down.

The Psalmist tells us that when we’re surrounded by chaos and feel like we’re sinking to be still, or perhaps more accurately, cease striving and know that God is God.

For me, that’s often the hardest thing to do when I’m sinking, but in reality, just like with swimming, it really is the key to staying afloat.

That’s not to say surviving life is completely effortless, I mean, this isn’t a Bob Marley song, but I think trusting God and being still is how we begin to rise back to the surface. I think it’s how we get back to the point where our efforts and our work are productive rather than destructive.

I think being still is how we begin to do less sinking and more swimming.

@TravisKWilliams

 

 

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The reality of representation

I recently had a run in with a very moody forest ranger.

Well, truth be told, he was just a volunteer, I think, but he was in charge of the park, so I figure he represents the Forestry Service regardless his exact status.

It was a dumb situation and really didn’t get that our of hand. The dude apparently just doesn’t care for journalists nor did he understand a journalist doesn’t need anyone’s permission to write a story about a park in which his or her taxes are being used to fund.

It was a very brief conversation, but I left it with a really sour taste in my mouth for people working for the Forestry Service. I mean, other than that ranger on Yogi Bear, I really didn’t have much of an impression of anyone working in a national park. Plus, I can’t say I was even a big fan of that dude and I kind of always thought that cartoon sucked. Sorry Boo-Boo.

As I drove home fairly bitter, I began to think more about the situation and the Forestry Service as a whole. I’m sure there are a ton of good people there who would have gladly helped me, I just happened to run into one old dude with a grudge, and who perhaps, was just having a rotten day.

This thought was later confirmed when I got to interview the guy who was actually in charge of the park. He was super nice and helpful and I left that conversation kind of wanting to go fishing with him.

It was totally unfair for me to feel like everyone in that line of work was a jerk based on one old dude, but it was also the reality of the way we generally operate as humans.

We all represent different groups of people and, like it or not when we act, we are acting on their behalf.

From your family to the college you attended to your employer and your religion. Unless you live alone in a hole, you represent a variety of different people each and every minute of your day. And of course if you do live in a hole, I guess you still represent the hole people and so their rep is on you.

To be honest, I suck at this a lot of times and I’m sure there have been plenty of occasions people have left an encounter with moody Travis and thought, “Dag, journalists suck,” or “Man, that’s what a Williams is,” or “Ugh, Celtics fans are the worst!”

Of course more importantly, because I’m a Christian, I also represent Jesus everywhere I go and much like me with the forest volunteer, it’s possible I might be the only Jesus rep a person ever encounters.

Honestly, that often scares the crap out of me.

I mean what about those times I get ticked off about not getting a sweet pull-through spot at Wal-Mart? What about when Taco Bell goes all skimpy on the cheese and heavy on the lettuce? Or what about those dreaded times when I’m waiting for my dentist appointment and some mom changes the waiting room TV to “Doc McStuffins?” AH! Seriously, can we get some laws on this one?

It’s scary and it’s not really fair, but the reality is that even at the worst of times, I am still a representative of a lot of good people and most importantly, a rep for the best person to have ever walked the Earth.

And it’s my responsibility, not theirs, to make sure my actions accurately reflect that.

–@TravisKWilliams

 

 

 

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Relating our brokenness

During the past 48 or so hours my social media timelines have been flooded with two types of posts from folks, those declaring their love for the work of Robin Williams and those declaring they share the actor’s reported struggle with depression.

The previous was extremely heart-warming, heck, I even jumped in and was happy to learn so many others loved “Hook” as much as me.

The latter, however, started to sit odd with me after a day or so.

To be honest, my cynical nature started to get the best of me and I began to wonder what folks really meant by the word “depression.”

I mean, was it possible that the majority of my friends and almost every blogger I regularly read was suffering, or had suffered, from the same horrible disease? My timelines were kind of starting to feel like an elementary school nurse’s office with kids lining up to say they too were sick.

Were they all seriously ill or they just trying to connect somehow to this tragedy? And if they were serious, what exactly had they, or were they, experiencing?

Were they talking about that brutal feeling that makes a person want to spend days on-end under the covers, hiding from the world?

Were they talking about panic attacks and battles with crippling anxiety?

Were they talking about abusing alcohol and drugs as cooping mechanisms for pain?

Were they talking about constant pains to that lead a person to feel death is the sole escape?

Or were they talking about one specific time in their lives in which something happened that caused them to temporarily feel as if the world had been ripped out from under them?

I wondered if I should take each person completely serious, as a threat to themselves and begin worrying and praying for them.

But that was the dark, cynical, and most often, stupid side of me talking.

They should all be taken seriously. Not that they all suffer to the degree that Robin Williams did, at least I pray not, but they all suffer in their own way.

They all struggle with something, and while it may come in a variety of different forms and have different exact names, they all, we all, feel some sort of pain.

I think sin has created a tragically flawed world and there’s really no escaping that impacting us in some way and for most of us, it seems, it’s manifested it’s self in some form of mental issues.

Of course you might disagree and say you can’t related to any of the questions I listed above. If so, that’s awesome. Also, you very-well may be a super human.

But I’d say most of us can. I’d say most of us have felt broken, scared, helpless and completely out of control at least once in our lives. I’d say most of us have been broken.

As I was thinking about that, I realized that’s a pretty bleak reality.

But then I also realized it kind of puts us all on the same page and perhaps our weaknesses could be used as a way to relate to each other, and more importantly, help one another.

Now I’m not going to tell you want to do or what to say or how to act when a person close to you is struggling because honestly, I have no idea. As much as we all have a common struggle, we’re all individuals and what helps some, might be awful for others.

So my advice is simple; be genuine about your brokenness and be empathic towards the brokenness of others.

Because at some point we’re all those kids in line at the nurse’s office and while some of us might be in worse conditions than others, we’re all need of some sort of healing.

–@TravisKWilliams

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Opportunities for grace

 

 

A friend recently sent me something he’d written about the time the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus.

You’ve likely heard the story, but in case you haven’t, here’s the skinny:

Jesus was at the temple teaching some folks and the Pharisees brought this woman out in front of everyone, declared she had been caught in the act of adultery, which the law of Moses said was punishable by stoning, and asked Jesus what they should do.

Jesus wrote some stuff in the dirt and said, OK, but let the one of you who has never sinned toss the first rock. The Pharisees realized they’d been outsmarted by someone who understood the law far better than themselves and left, while Jesus told the woman to go and leave her life of sin.

That’s a pretty bare-bones version, but if you want the full-length story, you have the internet, Google it.

When friend started breaking the story down, he began to focus on how the Pharisees were handling, or mishandling, the situation.

They’d apparently found this lady sleeping with a married dude somewhere, snatched her up, but yet let the dude off the hook.

That’s always kind of bothered me. I mean, what a bunch of jerks to just toss this woman’s life around like that, meanwhile the other party in that tango was off kicking back burritos from a food truck somewhere. (Yeah, I know the Bible doesn’t say that happened, but it doesn’t say that it didn’t happen either.)

So naturally I’ve always felt really good when I get to the part of the story where Jesus out smarts those dudes and sends them packing. Like, I kind of want high-five Jesus right there because in some way I feel like justice was served by them being embarrassed in front of all those people.

And, perhaps it was, but the more I thought about it, I began to realize that I was approaching this entire situation far more like a Pharisee, than like Jesus.

I was looking for some sort of righteous justice in the situation. First, I wanted to know where the cheating dude was so he could get his, and then I trying to high-five Jesus about sticking it to the Pharisees, while he was busy showing the woman forgiveness.

I tend to do this a lot in life. I get all self-righteous and head off into situations looking for opportunities for justice, to give people what they deserve, rather then opportunities to show them grace.

That seems kind of backwards from the way Jesus operated. He seemed to almost always be searching for the grace angle, someway which he could offer a person what they really didn’t deserve, in every situation.

And you know, I am extremely thankful for this because to be honest, the last thing I want, is to get what I deserve. The last thing I want is for Jesus to approach my situation as an opportunity for justice, rather than grace.

It would probably be wise for me to return the favor when approaching the situations of others.

–@TravisKWilliams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Jesus wasn’t

When I scroll through my memory of Michael Jordan highlights, my mind generally focuses on a few amazing dunks and a couple of buzzer-beating shots.

It makes sense, that was MJ’s big thing. I mean, he’s known as “Air Jordan” for a reason.

Too often lost in my memory is the fact the dude was also named to the NBA All-Defensive First-Team nine times, as well as being named the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Those are great qualities and big part of his success as a player, but because I’m focused so much on the other aspects that made him great, and frankly make for better highlights, I tend to leave those out of my mental picture of the man.

Sometimes I do the same thing with Jesus.

Sometimes, I focus so much on Jesus’ love and acceptance, those easier-to-stomach highlights, I forget about the emphasis he placed on holiness and living by God’s standards.

Sometimes, I forget he often had strong words about those topics and instead, paint this picture of some sort of hippie, cruising around all carefree, passing out hugs and fish sandwiches without ever sharing a stern word.

Now, I like to think this is a problem stemming from good intentions. I mean, it’s easy to fall into swinging the pendulum a little too far in that direction, especially considering how mean spirited and judgmental some Christians and the Church often come across.

In fact, it seems there’s an entire movement of people within the Church that fall into this same trap of being so desperate to make sure the world sees the easy-going side of Jesus, they delete, or at the very least reword, certain events or things he said.

I believe this too stems from good intentions, but regardless, it paints an inaccurate picture of Jesus.

So I tried to come up with a few ways in which Jesus is occasionally depicted that just don’t give the full scope of who he is.

— Jesus wasn’t afraid to point out people’s sin and encourage them to do better.

We hear a lot about the time the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus. It’s one of my favorite passages because it so clearly illustrates Jesus’ ability to show compassion for a person religious folks were coming down hard on.

But in that compassion, Jesus didn’t avoid talking about this woman’s sin and he didn’t avoid telling her it was time to leave that way of living.

He did a similar thing when he met the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar. He showed her love, but at the same time, let her know her social life didn’t match up with God’s intention for marriage.

I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t have the guts for those conversations, especially not with strangers. I typically shy away from straight up telling people what they should do and instead attempt to show them love in hopes of easing them along towards some level of self-realization.

But Jesus didn’t roll like that.

— Jesus wasn’t afraid to be “anti” something that he knew was wrong.

When Jesus entered the temple courts and found people marketing sacrifices to turn a profit, he flipped out. And also flipped a few tables. He took a firm stance against the wrongful acts he saw.

He also gave guidance to his disciples as to how they could judge which prophets they too should take a firm stance against by telling them to judge people by their fruits.

I hate the idea of judging people. I hate the idea of evaluating whether or not they are legit based on what they’re producing.

But, Jesus encouraged his followers to do so and take a stance against those in the wrong.

— Jesus wasn’t all about kicking all the laws to the curb

Truth be told, it’s kind of fun to picture Jesus as this rebel, blowing through town with complete disregard for the religious laws of his day.

But in reality, Jesus always followed those laws and even made of point of saying he did not come to destroy the law and encouraged his followers to seek lawful righteousness.

He also gave complete merit to the very scriptures from which those laws were generated by saying they can never be broken.

Jesus was a rebel of sorts, not in a way that meant tossing out God’s rules, but in a way of confirming and fulfilling them.

— Jesus wasn’t oblivious to the fact that not everyone was going to accept him

When Jesus sent the 12 disciples out, he knew there weren’t exactly going to be welcome parades everywhere they went. But he didn’t tell them to stand there, endlessly trying to convince people to welcome them and their message. He told them if people wouldn’t listen, to simply take off, wipe the dust from their feet, and move on the next one. On to the next one. On to the next one….Sorry, I had to.

He also didn’t mince words when he called out the rich young ruler for not being willing to be fully dedicated.

Now I like to think that guy eventually understood what Jesus was trying to say, but what I’ve always found interesting is that you don’t see Jesus chasing the dude down right then to convince him to change his mind and exchange his love for the world for salvation.

Of course you also don’t see Jesus comprising his message to somehow be more inline with the rich man’s agenda. He simply pointed out the barrier between the ruler and God, and left it at that.

Jesus wasn’t going to bend the truth just to make a person feel better and he wasn’t going to water it down simply to be accepted.

— Jesus wasn’t afraid to balance love and grace with discipline and righteousness.

I’ve rambled on far longer than I normally do in these posts, but if there is one over-arching idea here, I believe this is it.

Through his life, Jesus demonstrated the most powerful love for people the world has ever seen, but he did so without ever comprising. He never tickled ears or backed off of his message in order to gain acceptance, but yet still fully communicated that ridiculous amount of love in every step he took.

I’m not going to lie, trying to resemble any form of such balance is a crazy hard struggle for me. Keeping the pendulum from swinging too far one way or another, seems almost impossible at times.

But, I think it’s what I must strive to do because I need to strive to be like Jesus.

Not just highlight reel Jesus, full-length documentary Jesus.

–@TravisKWilliams

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