Rejoicing is Hard...

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious for anything, but in all things by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me (God) or seen in me—put it to practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Sometimes, a lot of times, that’s easier said than done though. I’m a minister of the gospel, a knight of divinity, sixteen years a believer and nearly three years a minister and yet I still struggle with the peace that surpasses all understanding. More and more the world we live in is one in which I wonder, is there no love for, and of, Christ left? But I’m not here this Sunday to drive you into existential depression, no. I’m here this Sunday to give you the Jeremiah 29:11 promise.

See, the thing about the thing is that we are in an era of hostility towards the faith, absolutely, and an era of a sense of loss regarding walking this line. We’re in an era where witchcraft is celebrated as the rising truest path to female liberation, an era where it seems every celebrity is “spiritual” not “religious”, an era where children’s cartoons teach power through sorcery, and an era where even to say “I don’t agree with your lifestyle, but I love you and respect your humanity” is still to be labeled a bigot.

It sucks. It’s okay to say it; it does. But, while more and more our place in the world seems void, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope and light.

I’ve a question for you and a charge today. What are you doing to be part of the hope and the future? It’s such a cliché to say “be the change you wish to see”, but I mean, the thing is…

If you aren’t gonna be, then who is?

The estimates say there’s around 2.3 billion people in the world, out of around 7.5 billion, who profess Christ as their Lord and personal savior, but when I flip around Netflix or fire up Disney or Cartoon Network with my family, I don’t see it. Now, here’s the thing about the thing:

We’re an entire planet of different individuals with different life experiences that inform our different beliefs and cultural morays, and that’s honestly okay. Take a look at any one of my out of the box Christian fiction novels and you can see the strong influence Japanese, Korean, Chinese, African and European culture, mythology and beliefs have had on my work. Take a look at my PSN ID and you’ll see I play everything from Yakuza to the God of War trilogy, varying titles that are able to entertain, tell a redemptive message, and do so without celebrating a belief contradictory to my faith even if not lining up completely with it.

So, you may be asking, what’s the point?

The point is that we’ve got to find a way to make it in this world, together. A steady stream of vitriol and a message of agree with me or you’re without worth, redemption or purpose, no matter the side, will not win the day. We’re in a place and time where even to say “I don’t agree with you, and I know you don’t agree with me, and we both intend to hold on to our core beliefs; can we sit down together and try to understand one another further” is still to be labeled a bigot or a person of hate of some magnitude or other, your side of the fence depending.

My charge, my request, is to set the anger, the hurt, the pain aside for just one day, sit down and talk to one another.

My charge, my request, is to understand that to survive in this world does not necessitate that you set aside your faith and conform in order to get by. But, to also remember that Christ did not abide sin, but he also did not greet those not of his way with hate.

My charge, my request, is for everyone, not just one group or the other or another, to remember that equality means just that: an equal seat at the table. So, recall in your dealings with one another that the freedom we all so richly seek and desire does not have to come at the cost of “agree with me or you’re a wretched human being”.

God made us all, and then he gave us all free will, to choose him and his commandments or not to. Whatever the path the individual may choose, that individual never becomes any less beloved to Him. So my charge, my request, is hold on to your faith, but also never forget:

Black, White, Asian, etcetera.

Straight, queer, etcetera.

Male, female, etcetera.

God loves you, he came that you may have life and have it abundantly, and wherever you choose to walk know that at the end of the day you don’t have to walk alone.

I’m Eugene the Author a.k.a. The Maverick Minister a.k.a. Xeawn Cross a.k.a. Gentleman Raptor saying to you that I love you, I’m praying for you, and I pray that we all make it together in the end.

God bless you wonderful mavericks one and all.