Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Weepy Unchanged

Something's been bothering me for a while, and I think it's finally time to say it. I've been thinking about this for a while but haven't really been able to put it into ideological clarity until this week. As I was listening to my favorite pastor, Matt Chandler, he said something that solidified my subconscious stewing. He basically said, among other things, that a red flag should be raised when there is a lack of seriousness in the Christian's life about pursuing righteousness and hating sin.

Let me explain. I tend to have a lot of theologically deep, probing conversations with people in which they lay out how they're struggling with sin. Which I love. The family of Christ should be a place where believers share their struggles with each other, as James 5 talks about. But I feel like so many people walk away from those conversations never having a true conviction to do something about it. They honestly and sincerely confess to their struggles, but there seems to be little passion in chasing holiness and righteousness. I see weepy altar calls and unchanged lives. 

As I was scrolling my Facebook today, my good friend Nick Murray put it more clearly than I ever could have: 
Do we really want to be rid of darkness? Our error in the garden has extensively twisted this world. And we find our surroundings aesthetically pleasing. We think ourselves better artists than God. I argue that we like it dark. Or worse, gray. Letting light in, but only in certain places. If we didn't, we'd pray more.
We like it dark. We talk all the day long day about how we realize our brokenness, but make no efforts to bust out the hammer and fix it! And it's not only that we do not attack our sin, but we don't pursue the even higher calling of righteousness. Ephesians 5 points to an interesting concept:
"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit..."
While most people would say, "Don't get drunk. It's bad for you," Jesus says, "Don't get drunk, but not only that, pursue my Holy Spirit!" In other words, don't just stop doing bad, but start doing good. Start serving in ministry. Do Kingdom work. Are you in the right place in your heart to serve in ministry? Nope. Neither am I. But the great thing about this whole "grace" deal is that He calls unworthy people to carry a worthy message to show the world that it's not about them.

What I'm saying is, start fighting against your sin and for righteousness. Pursue holiness. As my friend said to me, "Live in such a way that needs explanation." Make people wonder about why you're so different.

Do it. I dare you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Most Bizarre Creature

There exists a creature so strange, scientists cannot comprehend it. However, it does not live in the wild, but in cities and highly-populated areas. Which is only fitting considering that it has no exoskeleton to protect itself, but has a highly permeable, weak, water-based, flammable, flexible, keratinized substance as an outer covering. One would think that it would be highly vulnerable to attack, but it in fact rests very highly on the food chain thanks to its highly-developed intellect.

Perhaps more strange than its outer composition are its behaviors. Often bizarre and illogical, these creatures, unlike many of the animal kingdom, mate for life. They most often proliferate by choosing one member of the opposite gender and reproducing within the construct of a concept called "marriage." Within this relationship, both members are expected to remain faithful to their partner alone. One would think that this inhibits the proliferation of this species because of their inability to spread their seed to multiple surrogates, but what they lack in numbers, they make up for in strong children, who get their strength from a well-unified marriage.

They cover themselves in what seem to be referred to as "clothes," because of a most peculiar shame over nakedness. Perhaps things were not always this way. They must eat at regular intervals, as all creatures do, but the strangeness of their eating habits is contained in the fact that, instead of eating what would lead to the survival of the species, they eat things that are incongruent with their health, and in excess. They sleep for exorbitant amounts of time, even past the time of the sun's rising. In fact, sometimes, they even stop in the middle of their daily activities to participate in a phenomenon called "napping." One can only wonder why these creatures enjoy sleep so much - perhaps they communicate with someone when they rest.

One of the defining aspects of this species is their preoccupation with joy and happiness. They pursue it to no end with routine activities like "sports," "drugs," "competitive beer-drinking," or regular sexual activity with multiple partners. They do all these things, and more, despite their negative effects on their emotional, physical, spiritual, and social well-being.

"They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a metal image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass." (Psalm 106)
For a species with such a highly-developed intellect, they seem to trade glory for garbage. They pursue negative things that will never satisfy their spiritual needs, even when it is clear that those things will never accomplish what they are looking for. This is perhaps most bizarre behavior of the Homo Sapiens species.

They walk in darkness when they could walk in The Light.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why, God? Why?

Why, God?

Why have the last few months of American history been a seemingly nonstop telling of bloodshed and brokenness?

Why, God?

Why do I seem to hurt only those whom I love most?

Why, God?

Why have I lived a life of abundance when millions lack the most basic of needs?

Why, God?

Why do I never seem to ever get it right?

Why, God?

Why do you bless me when I continue to slap you in the face with the way I live my life?

Why, God?

Why do some of my most important questions go unanswered?

Why, God?

Why do I feel like you're not filling my words when I talk to them?

Why, God?

Why am I so anemic in my faith?

Why, God?

Why did you create me with the very gifts that could easily lead to my destruction?

Why, God?

Why can't I come closer?

We serve a God Who isn't afraid of questions. Who isn't afraid of doubts. Who doesn't tremble at the idea that you might not trust Him very much at the moment. The only thing with these questions though, is that they should lead us to God, and not away from Him. They should lead us to pursue Him, not wallow in fear-filled doubt.

Sometimes, our "Why's?" won't be answered. Sometimes, He just gives us His presence instead of His textbook. And that's fine by me.

Turns out His presence is better than His answers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I Love You More

I had some pretty scary thoughts as a kid. I was scared to death of germs (and washed my hands constantly). I wondered if the totality of my life was just a televised event (Truman Show style). I always considered what would happen if one of my family members were to die before I saw them again.

I'm not too sure that these thoughts are all that normal. Maybe they are. I don't know. Shockingly, however, some good things came out of it. Before I left my family for any period of time, I would always say that I loved them with each farewell. Sure, sometimes I just did it because I had gotten in the habit of it. But, in response to this, my father and I would have conversations that looked like this:

1. Goodnight, Tati! Love you!

2. *chuckle* I love you more.

3. No, I love you more!

Now, repeat 2 and 3 for a few minutes, and you'll get the gist of what happened.

It was essentially a verbal assault of love, trying to convince me that he loved me more. If I were to ask my dad to show me how much he loved me, he'd probably stretch his hands as far apart as they would go. And, being the child I was, his arm-span would always be larger than mine, reflecting how much more he really loved his son.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son..." (John 3)
It was essentially a physical assault of love, trying to convince me that He loved me more. When I asked my Dad to show me how much He loved me, He stretched out his hands as far apart as they would go. And, being the sinner that I was, His arm-span would always be larger than mine, reflecting how much more He really loved His son.

In fact, He loved me so much, He stretched out His arms for 6 hours.

Sure, sometimes I tell Him I love Him out of habit, but the truth is that I don't have to worry about Him dying before I see Him again. Death will be the beginning of a very one-sided conversation on Who loved who more.

Turns out, it's Him.