Monica and I have had the pleasure for the past two evenings of taking a walk at Lake St. Clair ("Metro Beach") Metropark. Wednesday night's walk was preceded by a picnic beside the river. The weather has been perfect, the bugs minimal, and the views fantastic. We have been surrounded by joggers and cyclists, individuals, pairings and groups of all sizes. There are children running in the fountains, and others on the new playscape ... people from multiple ethnics and socioeconomic backgrounds united in one community. And everyone that we have noticed had come to the park to relax and enjoy.
Last night, when we returned home, I turned on the Tiger game (mistake number one?) and then opened up my iPad to browse through FaceBook (mistake number two?). The view of the world on my iPad was noticeably different from what I had experienced during our walks. While I was looking to do a little catching up on what was occurring in the lives of family and friends, it seemed like over 90% of what I found was polarizing, political or 'pukey' ... casting a very different light on the world than the one I saw on our walks. And, yet, I know, in both viewings, I was looking at the same world!
What a vivid reminder to me that, as much as things change, all the more they stay the same ... and that we live not in paradise, but in paradox.
The Good News: "The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord ... (They) will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of (their) salvation. Such is the generation of those who inquire of him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob" (Psalm 24.1, 5-6). The Bad News: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3.23). The Hopeful News: "From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective ... If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5.16, 17-18)
In a world polarized by bullying, bitching, and blaming, "In Christ, God (is) reconciling the world to himself, not counting (our) trespasses against (us), and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us." (2 Corinthians 5.19) In other words, God has placed and kept you and me in this world to build bridges not canyons. His vision is a giant, world-wide metropark in the midst of the paradox ... which, ultimately, leads to paradise replacing the paradox.
But how does this happen? As I read from one author this morning, "We need bridges that balance public proclamation with congregational incarnation. Bridges that are suspended by the steel cables of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission." Or, as Jackie DeShannon, et. al. sang way back in the 1960's, "What the world needs now is love sweet love" ... love in action in the world we view in the win the 'parks' of our lives ... love in the words we post on FaceBook ... love in word and deed that daily directs everyone toward the author, creator and giver of love ... our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, in midst of the pains, problems and paradoxes of my life, use me to build bridges that connect individuals to you and to one another.