Later this afternoon, I will be participating in another of my 3:33 conversations with two of my ministry colleagues as we have a conversation with Dr. Phuc Luu, the author of Jesus of the East. I have not had a chance to read the full book yet (I’m working on it) but as I started it a few days ago, it flashed me back to another of my retreat experiences from The Springs. As I was walking one of the paths, I noticed this tree. The picture isn’t super clear but basically the main trunk is broken off about 15’ up. The trunk is also mostly hollowed out at this point. But here’s the amazing thing – off the right side of the trunk is this huge branch that has grown off of it and seems to be flourishing. It has branched off into several others, it is thick and strong, and is in full leaf. They had a bench right behind this tree and I simply sat in wonder at the beauty of it. As I started to read Dr. Luu’s book, it really was connecting with me as he shared about reclaiming the truth of how the focus of our faith ought to be on the liberation of people rather than solely on God’s punishment for original sin. He writes:
The Christian faith must be returned to the people to whom it rightfully belonged and for whom it was intended – those who are wounded and who have been sinned against.
He goes on to further share about how …
this Jesus is difficult to follow because he does not provide practical advice, such as guidance for finances or family life; he is not a teacher of Christian self-help or systematized theology. He is the rabbi of the oppressed and shunned, the physician of the uninsured, the liberator of the incarcerated – a living breathing, hurting person whose life and thinking are foreign to much of Christianity in the West.
I am not oppressed or shunned. I am not uninsured. I am not incarcerated. But I am broken. I am one who knows that I have been broken in the past and continues to be broken in the present. I am grateful that I am experiencing the liberating healing of Jesus. But…I need to be a part of the healing for those that Dr. Luu shares about in this quote. To those with much, much will be expected. That is the call of the way of Jesus before me and before all of us.
Like this tree, it is easy to simply write off that which is broken but that is not the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus can grow new life out of something that is broken and hollowed.
Thank you Dr. Luu and I look so forward to talking with you later today.