Monday, April 9, 2012

Going North American--Or Am I Already There?

One more quick lesson from going North American.  For context, read the previous two blogs.  I hinted at it earlier.  I asked you this question:  What do others say about you?  Now, here is the real question that we need to answer: What do we want others to say about us?

I am so serious about this that one day, not long ago, I sat down at my computer and pretended that I was like Tom Sawyer listening to my own funeral. I imagined a line of people waiting to eulogize me, and then in my mind’s eye there was one requirement.  These people were going to tell the truth.  They were going to stand up at a microphone, look at my coffin and say in total honesty—this is the type of man that Joe Holman was.

I asked myself what would they say today if they were honest…and then what did I really want them to say.  What adjectives would I like to be used?  What stories would I like to be told?  What did I want my wife to say?  My kids? My friends? My co-workers? My churches?  How about my enemies? 

I am purposely trying to live out the life that I wanted them to describe. 

This is a big part of it.  When people see me, they see me as a North American Gringo.  They automatically know that I am a missionary so they see me that way.  They have a preconceived idea of who I am and what I am like.  I want to rewrite their book the more that they get to know me.  How?

My driving passion is not to be known as an American (and yes I am a patriot).  I don’t want to be seen as a missionary.  I want people to see me as a devout follower of Jesus Christ and to know Him by knowing me.  I want them to see Jesus in my life.  I want them to hear Jesus in my words.  I want them to experience Jesus in how I react…even when they don’t have change. 

I don’t want to be known as a uber conservative homeschooling fundamental Christian.  I want to be known as a CHRISTian.  I want people to see the facial expressions of the Lord in my eyes and on my brow.  I want my hands to do His work, my feet to go to His world, and my mind to think His thoughts. 

Who are you?  This is a pretty serious and thought provoking question.  For many of my readers, I can pretty accurately describe you.  You are a republican or a tea party member.  You are a fiscal conservative.   You are for the death penalty and the war but against abortion.   You are against immigration and the TSA.  You are against homosexuality and big government.  You believe in the original intent of the constitution.  You like to speak evil of others but hate it when others speak evil of you.  On my FB, probably 25% of my friends are homeschoolers.

How many of you can say that this paragraph TRULY describes you?  There is NOTHING NEGATIVE in that paragraph.  It describes almost all of my readers. 

Now read it again.  Notice that I said nothing about Jesus.  I just described you to a ‘T”.  The people in your office would put that paragraph under your photo as a bio of you.  It is WHO YOU ARE…and I did not mention Jesus.  I did not say that you were full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, meekness, gentleness, goodness, faith, self-control, mercy, and truth.  I did not say that people knew who you were by the way that you loved one another. 

Think about it again.  You can be described WITHOUT talking about your love relationship with Jesus.  Here is what I believe.  I believe that we should be so much like Jesus, that we should be so in love with Him, that we should be pursuing Him with such a passion that ANY DESCRIPTION of us has to begin and/or end with Him.

One day, about 15 years ago, Denise came to me and asked if she could share something.  I said that she could and she said this.

“You are a great speaker.  You are a good leader.  You inspire others to do things that they would not do without you.  You are a good planner.  You are one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met.  You are a good pastor.”  I was thinking that I had married an insightful woman, but she continued.  “However, when I think of you, and when others look at you….I don’t think that they see Jesus.  They see a guy really good at his job…but they don’t see Jesus.”

OUCH!  Praise God that the Holy Spirit intervened at that moment and let me know that HE was speaking through my wife.  I don’t know about the first part, but the last part was accurate.  I was not a whole lot like Jesus.

This is my lesson from Going North American.  You see, when my buttons are pushed, I still see my culture coming out.  It is a reminder of how much I need to depend upon the Holy Spirit and why Jesus died for me.  I want to live in such a way that when my buttons are pushed, grace—love—compassion—mercy…the heart of God come out.  I want others to first see me as a white guy FROM the States, and then soon discover that I am a redeemed sinner GOING to Heaven.

I want my main identity, my source of who I be Jesus.

What is your core identity?  Really? 

Until Next Time



Stumbler said...

Great posting you plump-coffeeloving-gringo-donut&burgereating-chubbo.
(On the other hand... Your dedication to your Wife, Kids & Ministry shows a Christ-like quality. Your concern for your fellow man, regardless of race or class, and your practical work for those less fortunate than yourself is inspiring.... and inspired by the Spirit. Like many figures in the OT you got up and left your comfort zone at God's direction to do his will in a far distant land. Are you already there? Nope. But you are a fair way further down the road than I am and I have no doubt at all of your final destination.)