Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Circle Quarantine

Whose in your circle(s)? This is from March 3, 2013.
Every year, my Gospels students discuss and take notes over the words of Jesus in Matthew 10, verse 32 and 33:

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

I explain that acknowledge, a word not very commonly used in today's vernacular, basically means you act like you know someone. I ask how many of them have been out in public and seen someone they know and the other party acts as if they are strangers. Many, if not most, say they've experienced that scenario. We then talk about something I never witnessed growing up; separate circles of friends. These kids operate in a number of different orbits and as such, have groups of friends who don't know each other. For example, they have their school friends, their church friends, their neighborhood friends, their athletic travel team friends, their friends at the school where they used to attend, etc. What I find fascinating is that when I ask the students if they want their isolated groups to meet and interact, they universally say no. When I ask why, most say they are afraid they won't like each other. Some girls, however, have a different take. They express the opposite fear, that their friends when they meet will, instead of hating each other, like each other, and they will be left out in the cold. I'm always struck by how little I understand about modern teenage culture.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, these circle of friends were not a common thing when I grew up, at least as far as I can tell. In the small Nebraska town where I was raised, everybody knew everybody because everybody went to the same school. There might be someone you might know better because of FFA or Boy Scouts but I'm positive I could recognize everyone at good old York High which ran grades 8-12. My only real contact with outsiders, not including relatives, was during my two week sabbatical each summer at Nebraska Youth Camp, where my dad happened to be the director. I wonder, though, as an adult, if my life has changed that much. My circle, excluding mission trips and Facebook, is dominated by the good people from my work and my church, which often are the same subset and whose first name tends to be Coach. But unlike my students, shouldn't we want our circles to intersect? Shouldn't we want our non-believing friends to interact with our fellow disciples? In some sense, I comprehend how the youngsters in my classes view the status quo with their amigos as protection or self preservation. But as mature Christians, I think we have to see the mixing of our acquaintances as a means to share Jesus with a starving world. I love the old Gospel hymn, Will The Circle Be Unbroken? but truthfully, it might do us good to knock a few gates in it. They don't have to be big- Jesus admonished to enter through the narrow gate! Let's just make sure we aren't blocking the doorway.

Applicable quote of the day:
The whole universe is based on rhythms. Everything happens in circles, in spirals."

Applicable quote of the day # 2:

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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