Josh j Smith

#Lent, Wednesday, 3/23: Serve others dang it!
March 23, 2011, 5:10 pm
Filed under: religion | Tags: , , , , ,

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  It shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 5.25-28

The Good News of Jesus is so compelling because it is contrary to everything that is natural.  I believe we long for the Gospel because it is provacative.  The Gospel inspires us to be different, to swim against the stream of culture, and to fight the good fight.

But it scares us.  My 3 year old son gets so scared when I jump from a dark room to scare him.  But he always asks for more because he loves the feeling of not knowing.

I admit there are times I am scared of being different.  Thinking about being radically different, watching it on movies, or reading about it is not the same as living it.  I admit I get scared of what others will think.  I am afraid of being embarrassed.

I’m sorry that I am more scared of being selfless than selfish in bringing God’s kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.


Jesus.  Help me to fear you.

Help me to be scared of bringing shame to your name.

Help me to be scared of losing the opportunity of seeing your kingdom each day.

Jesus.  Light the fire in my soul to ridiculously serve others.


Not Just a Cup of Coffee
August 12, 2008, 1:58 pm
Filed under: theology | Tags: , , , ,


About three mornings a week Lee comes to visit me as I open the coffee shop.  Lee is from California and California is what describes him.  Although I only spent  a week in California I feel as though Lee’s jean, bear foot moccasin, hat, beard, and pony-tail wearing are typical features for a laid back Californian.  He is just what the east coast needs.   He is passionate about trying to figure out how everyone can have enough money, to stop worrying about dying and focus on living.  

Our mornings are spent drinking lattes and coffee talking about his next journal entry on red bubble. Philosophy Lee is what he likes to call himself when he is communicating his agenda for positive thinking.  Some read books, desk calendars, verse of the day, or for those of us who know nothing else- Daily Bread pamphlet you steal from the church pew.  For me it is chit-chatting with Lee.

It has been a blessing talking with Lee because he is outside the Christian norm.  It is one thing to brainstorm and dream about the implications of gospel in a seminary classroom or at church meeting.  It is another thing to talk with a friend outside the bubble, and yet still think of how Jesus is the author of redemption.  Most days we agree to disagree.  And some days I disagree just to play devil’s advocate with his philosophy.  It is fun.  

The beauty of it is that we both are seeking to make this world better with each moment, with each conversation, with each day, and with each neighborly encounter.  I would like to think that Jesus is present in the midst of our differences. 

What makes Jesus LORD is not my ability to prove it to Lee.  Jesus is LORD because his kingdom story emerges through our agendas.     

Opportunity | Oppressed
June 3, 2008, 7:27 am
Filed under: religion | Tags: , , , , , ,


The beauty of visiting another culture is not merely seeing the different colors and facs of a culture.  It is not only experiencing the night-life and tasting the food.  Much of the beauty lies in the subtle change that emerges in my own thinking that occurs as a natural part of engaging another culture.  

From my western/American point of view, life is acquired through opportunity.  Depending on what kind of family, neighborhood, or school, opportunity is either given or it has to be taken.  Thus, opportunity is simply a choice for me to capitalize  on to make my life what I want it to be.  

My understanding of opportunity became obvious to me when I engaged the Kmer people.  It became even more noticeable when I walked through the Killing Fields Museum where deep graves with articles of clothing still remain from the genocide that happened only 30 years ago.  Just like every other museum, it tells a story, but it is not a great story… yet.  

The implications of genocide are deep and cannot be resolved through a couple of political programs or foreign support.  In addition, the genocide that happened in Cambodia was not generational or racial.  In attempt to make the country completely communist the Kmer Rouge thought it was only fair to eliminate all the educated leaders in the society.  All doctors, leaders of the group who was trying to bring in democracy, teachers, university teachers, etc.  Once the Kmer Rouge was neutralized, Cambodia had already been paralyzed developmentally.  

The sad thing about this story is that all the people living in poverty and the families who have been torn apart had no choice in the matter.  The awkward thing about it is that when I engage Cambodia I am disturbed by the fact I had no choice in my extreme wealth.  But in my extreme wealth I have a choice to do something about their poverty.  

All this to say, I don’t it comes down to choice for everyone to improve their living situation.  The story goes deeper.  It is not simply a story of economics and choices.  It is a story of oppressed and blessed.  It is a story of being truly human.  It is a story of living imago dei (in the image of God).

The genocide is over, but the oppression is not.  The wake of the genocide is visible when I see extreme poverty and extreme wealth.  The line between rich and poor is so bold that the rich keep getting richer and poor get poorer.  And when I think about gospel, all I ask is, “How can the church bring heaven to earth for the Kmer people?”

 When Jesus brought the kingdom of God, he rescued the poor and challenged the rich; he forgave the repentant and challenged the righteous.  I think he did this because the gospel is not supposed to eliminate social classes, but challenged the rich and righteous to bless the poor and oppressed.  Also, the gospel forces me to question whether I am the poor or the rich, the repentant or the righteous. Regardless of income, social status, and number years as Christian, I think Jesus challenges us to be poor, to be repentant.  Finally, the gospel challenges me to think when I need Jesus, or when I need to be Jesus.