June 19, 2013
In last evenings K-drama, one of my addictions, a king feigned being in a coma in order to provide an opportunity to those with treason in their hearts - giving them sufficient 'rope to hang themselves'. They 'bit'. The king won.
I once tried a similar approach with somewhat different results. I didn't pretend to be in a coma, but feigned being too busy with larger issues than to continue being as involved in the daily activities of my particular institution. I knew that I had 'enemies' and I, like that king, wanted them to reveal their hand. Unfortunately, I discovered that three of my closest and trusted friends were not really my friends. A painfully unexpected revelation.
The truth can often be miserably distasteful. Yet, is it really better to live in the relative peace and comfort of self-deception? Isn't it far better, at least in the long run, to deal in truth than in proverbial 'la-la' thinking?
Though it is true that some are able to live their whole life secluded from reality, have they actually - and responsibly - lived life? What makes living in a bubble any different than remaining 'stoned' or 'buzzed' every day in order to escape reality? Is the true purpose for life, if such a 'purpose' actually exists, to avoid the vicissitudes of existence? What does that mean for the great majority of humans who lack the financial resources and the opportunities to 'escape'?
Isn't the salient message of the Christian gospel a call to engage the real world, yet to do so in love for the unlovely - to face all the darkness without fear? Are we not invited to be vessels of the 'light' of grace?
So, why are many professed Christians isolating themselves from the world? Why do we do so many things 'separate' from those who are not of our particular 'creed'? Why do we create our own songs rather than to embrace in solidarity the songs of those who still suffer? Why do we insist on building increasingly larger, more expensive institutions as a once-a-week refuge from the world rather than to show others how to have a 24/7/365 'internal' security within life as it is? Is the Christian 'fix' for our broken world merely escape or is it transformation - 'defecting in place'?
June 18, 2013
This weekend we will be discussing Romans chapter 3. Here are some things to think about:
Often religious 'faith' is merely a club that we check in on once a week just to confirm our beliefs and/or to use as a club against all who disagree with us.
Yet religion at it's best is a 'tool' designed to assist us in our pursuit of truth.
Our 'faith' must not be in our religion, but in God. When religion ossifies into the lifeless role of 'theological gatekeeper' rather than as a 'tool' in the hands of the infinite living God, then it has abandoned it's original purpose.
The Spirit was sent to guide us into all truth. The law was given to prepare us for life in the Spirit. There is an infinite difference between living by the letter of the law and living in the Spirit. The former is merely a sign post that points us to God. It has no power to transform us. It has no ability to inform us as to how to respond to the unique challenges of daily life. The latter is a living Being. He knows our specific circumstance and the status of our 'faith' in the here-and-now. Thus the Spirit can guide us moment by moment - if we listen to His voice.
As Christians we value the law because it points us to the living God. The law isn't God. The church isn't God. Our religion isn't God. Only God is true God. Only God speaks to us, tailoring His counsel to each individual for the moment we are in.
The law can tell us what 'sin' is, yet by keeping the law we can never attain the required righteousness expected by heaven. If we persist in living under the law - i.e. depending only on the law as our 'guide' for living - we will never 'know' God.
Curiously, if we redirect our attention from the law to Christ - and trust that He has already declared us 'righteous', then - even though we are still sinners we are accounted as 'righteous' before God. Our faith, rather than our obedience to the law, has wedded us to Christ. Notice, though, our faith is in the living Christ, not in the letter of the law.
In other words, we are declared righteous as God's 'gift' to us. Whoever believes that God accepts them just as they are - as His act of grace - enters into 'life'. God has 'passed over' our sins - the sins identified by the law. Thus our response should not be, 'Lord, please forgive me for my sins', rather 'Lord, thank you for forgiving me for all my sins past, present, and future.' Christ died once and for all 2000 years ago. To wonder 'if' your sin will be forgiven is to doubt what was accomplished on the cross.
If there is something that you 'boast' about in your Christian life as if 'it' earned you acceptance with God, then you have missed the point - you have misunderstood grace. The 'law of faith' is that there is nothing we can do to earn acceptance with God except to have faith in Him.
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