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These things hold together. A follow-up from Adrianne Thompson

Dear Northside Church family,

As I've listened to and been helped by the Adam Young podcast The place we find ourselves, I've learned that when an individual is abused (sexually or physically) they, of course, experience significant trauma.

*But if they have a safe place to go home to, and if they are believed and protected and justice is sought, their brain substantially heals. If not, the trauma of not being believed or protected is significantly worse than the initial trauma was. Here Adam Young says "the essence of trauma is helplessness combined with abandonment by potentially protective caregivers."

For those of you who rightly care about that on an individual level: have you ever considered the impact of this on a corporate level? Can you imagine the added trauma that has been endured by our brothers and sisters whose very real experience of racism hasn't been believed? That's some of what I was trying to get at when I last wrote.

Yes, if you can imagine, I have more to say. 

But let me pause there and ask you to hold onto and lean into that devastating thought so I can speak to a few things that I believe prevent us from carrying this grief better together as a family. And Pastor Matt will move us forward next with some of his thoughts.

So, this post is titled: These things hold together.

The Bible doesn't just encourage us with gentle language. Neither should we expect God's people to.

In my Bible reading plan the LORD has me in James reading about how "the anger of man doesn't lead to the righteousness of God." And that "the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

Some of our words haven't sounded as much like that.

And yet in James I'm also reading "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days."

And then after more stern (sure seem angry to me!) words to rich oppressors, James immediately turns to the oppressed/poor and says "Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door."

I hope you can see the tension in just that one book of difficult truths, different tones and specific Spirit-led piercings for God's people standing together! For lack of better words, we're going to need thicker skin to persevere through rebuke, brothers and sisters if we are going to grow.

Justice and Evangelism are friends
We are Bible people. We don't have to reconcile justice and evangelism. They are already friends. In God's Kingdom you don't have to choose one or the other. Justice and Evangelism hold together. We want you to show up for Coronavirus illness and unemployment prayer meetings, evangelism prayer meetings, justice for the poor and oppressed prayer meetings, prayer meetings for marriages and loneliness, etc. We want you to lean into your family of origin harm and let God pursue healing and restoration and redemption in and through you. Yes.

These are all Kingdom things. Maturing in one area doesn't have to make you weak or dead in another! In fact, we can be strong in each of them. Church, we must be strong in each of them.

And lastly, one more example of important truths that hold together that is essential for this current conversation.

It isn't only kindness that leads to repentance

Several months ago I was asking God to lead someone to repentance about something and, pretty naturally to me, I was praying "let your loving kindness lead them to repentance LORD." And one night God had me up most of the night submitting to Him that, yes, sometimes it is His loving kindness that leads to repentance, and other times it is more like how He pursued in Psalm 32 "For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you." He asked me if I would be willing to participate with His Spirit in the latter way.

They hold together. Sometimes God leads us to repentance and it feels like gentle, loving pursuit. Other times it feels like Him suffocating us, piercing us, having his handy heavy upon us. We should know how many ways our Father leads us to repentance and be open to each of them. (Actually, please look up the kindness leading to repentance verse, too; I don't think it means what you think it means. It is in Romans 2.)

To engage well in this conversation we will need to put on the full armor of God, remember we are justified but still being sanctified and walk forward with courage expecting that we need to change.

Let's let brother James share the last word again. I invite you brothers and sisters who have resisted considering the truth of racism and the oppressive impact of it in our world: "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and joy to gloom."

I'm enormously thankful we're a part of a church family that isn't passing on the other side of the street related to issues of justice. My desire is that we all keep maturing in Christ as we let the Word dwell in us and we each play our part. My prayer is that we will be more unified and carrying each other's griefs and burdens. We need to grow in the full counsel of the Word of God, friends. Eat it like it is your food.

grace and peace,

Hunter and Adrianne and their four kids have been a part of Northside Church for 8 years. She feels like the luckiest person in the world to get to be on the worship team. She loves talking about the Bible with women and walking with people closely as together they grow in being known by God.


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