I wrote this on another site. I believe it to be a halfway decent articulation of holistic discipleship.
Source: New Growth Cycle Graphic
I wrote this on another site. I believe it to be a halfway decent articulation of holistic discipleship.
Source: New Growth Cycle Graphic
We’re told that Donald Trump is a “baby Christian” and that we should not judge him. A person needn’t have a particular understanding of “Christianese” nor must they attain some sort of religious performance before I’ll acknowledge them as a brother in Christ. We are all in process. And yet I can’t accept that Donald Trump is a Christian for the simple reason that he has never disavowed his former life. In other words, I see no evidence of repentance from him. Ezekiel gives a hallmark of those who are born again:
Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. – Ezekiel 36:31
For comparison, let’s consider another wealthy, scandalous man. Perhaps you remember Zacchaeus from Luke 19. He was a rich man who had acquired his wealth by betraying his own people to the Roman Empire as a publican. Those who held this office were hated not only because of their disloyalty to the people to God but also because they used their protected status to extort additional funds from the populace for their own personal benefit. Zacchaeus had gotten rich on the backs of honest hard working citizens and everybody knew it. But Jesus didn’t scorn and exclude him like the rest of the Jewish people in Jericho had. Instead, Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner. Zacchaeus gladly welcomed him.
Christ’s willingness to share a meal with Zacchaeus wasn’t an affirmation that the man was saved, though. Instead, it was an invitation to repentance. Zacchaeus understood and responded with these words,
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” -Luke 19:8
This is what repentance looks like. In the presence of Christ, Zacchaeus saw his greed as the soul destroying disease it had been and he came to loathe himself for it. He couldn’t remain the same. Christ saw this change of heart and declared that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ household. Zacchaeus was saved before he did anything, but not before he repented. One might say that our love for sin is the very thing we need saving from and that coming to loathe ourselves for our sin is the very essence of salvation. By this definition, can we say that Donald Trump is saved?
You might be voting for him because of his professed stance on a particular issue, but please don’t fall under the delusion that his man represents Christ in any way. I don’t mean to be judgmental. I’m just concerned that some religious leaders’ attempts to baptize his reputation will further water down what it means to be a “Christian.”
Source: Love Hurts
I’ve been having a discussion on my previous post with Eugene/Jordan who has been attempting to convert me, and I would suppose also other readers of this blog, to Mormonism. I don’t blame him in the least as I think anyone who truly holds a faith should share their faith provided that they are willing to listen as much as they talk.
As some of you know, I have some very good friends who are former Mormons. It has been a joy to watch them get the gospel and thrill over its transcendence. They truly desire to see others get set free from the confines and controls of The Church and have frequent conversations with those who are still trapped therein.
Maybe you know someone who’s stuck in Mormonism. I would ask that you please don’t just leave them to their religion. Mormonism is not healthy, benign or in any way Christian. The more I’ve learned about it the more convinced I am that it is nothing less than a Satanic counterfeit to the truth of God. You might think that assessment to be mean or judgmental but in their own Fall 2014 study guide on the Old Testament, Lesson Four, they teach that the woman eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden was a good thing because it gave us the knowledge of good and evil. It goes on to make the application that in the same way, Mormonism gives us the knowledge of good and evil so that we can become like God. Now, I ask you, who does that sound like?
So, if you’d like to start a conversation with your Mormon friend or family member, you might want to get some information. Here is a great place to start:
God has spoken through his chosen prophets through the ages in order to inform humanity about how they should serve him and so gain his favor and a place before him in eternity. God’s greatest revelation of himself was through Jesus Christ. Sadly, over time Christ’s message to us became tainted through errors that entered the Bible as it was cobbled together, copied and translated through the centuries. To correct the flaws in the Bible and the pursuant flaws in belief and practice among Christians and Jews, God has sent his angel to give pure revelation of his will in the form of a truly perfect book given in our own language through the hand of a Prophet. While the Bible is still useful for partially discerning the will and nature of God, the new book being entirely perfect, must be deferred to and preferred over the Bible in all places where the two might disagree.
I invite any adherents to one of these faiths please correct me if I got something wrong in this narrative, but that is the way I understand their teaching at this point. This being the case, both religions rather than focusing on fulfilled prophecies or confirming signs within their own traditions, tend to assail the veracity, relevance and consistency of the Bible. I find it endlessly fascinating that Muslim apologists cite liberal bible scholars and atheists. Recently, a friend of a relative of a friend was arrested and threatened by Turkish authorities for releasing a video which demonstrated that the Bible has not be corrupted over time. Nothing the man said violated explicit Turkish law nor did it directly criticize Islam; he simply stated his reasons for trusting the Bible. As a result he has had to flee his home for the time being.
I have not yet been able to view the video since it’s in Turkish, but it may be that defending the Bible as inerrant might not be the best approach anyway. Muslims and Mormons (henceforth M&M’s) make a strong case for their premise and we should acknowledge those places where the biblical text sounds archaic, vindictive, regressive, inaccurate, and inconsistent. Of course all of those things are there because it was written by people, many of whom don’t even claim divine origin for their words. It was written by lots of people who all had their own agendas in what they wrote and who wrote to their specific audiences. With the exception of the book of Revelation, I can’t think of a single book of the Bible that was intended by its author to be read by all people for all time. What’s more, there were lots of books that got excluded by other people who had their own agendas and made no claim on divine inspiration or even divine endorsement over their decisions. But here’s the kicker…it doesn’t matter!
M&M’s make a strong case for their premise but faith according to the Bible is not predicated on that premise. I do not believe that God meant to dictate his will to humanity by means of a book. If he did, he left worthy saints such as Abraham, Job, and Melchizedek woefully under equipped. God has always meant to reveal himself through personal relationship with individuals and communities. The Bible is the story of God’s growing relationship with humanity told in smaller stories of the ways he has related to humans and then finally as a human in the person of Christ. The Bible is a compendium of these stories told from the perspective of flawed flesh and blood. What some might call mistakes in the Scripture are there by design.
The Bible was designed to be the story of us told by us. In those 66 books bound in the skin of an animal, we find a manifestation of what the apostle Paul called, “treasure in an earthen vessel.” The Bible wasn’t meant to be a holy book to be kept off the floor or gilded in gold and left on a coffee table somewhere. Instead the Bible was meant to be printed in softcover and carried around to be read and reread in coffee shops, break rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms. The Bible will not be a talisman nor will it serve as an owners manual or a rule book. The Bible is not a map to get us to heaven or “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” The Bible calls itself a mirror and because the image we find there is us, the image must be flawed.
Rather than calling it the Holy Bible, perhaps we should call it the Vulgar* Bible. You might ask, “What good would that do?” Perhaps it would get us to quit expecting it to be the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Bible will fail that expectation and we will go looking for other books and institutions that claim to offer that age-old ticket to godhood. But God has never wanted us to eat that fruit regardless of how it is presented. God has always wanted us to want life and that must be found in a daily, intimate relationship with him. That’s what the Bible points us toward as we look in its shiny surface at our flaws and his own perfect presence just behind us.
Reginald was the steward over The Great House. His father had been the steward before him and his grandfather before his father. The Lord of the house was not only wealthy and wise, but generous as well. Every week, he would invite all of his servants and those from the surrounding villages to a great feast. As chief servant over The Great House, Reginald carried the honor of serving the wine. Promptly at 6 o’clock Reginald would go to the kitchen and fetch the decanter from the cupboard and take it down to the family vintage to fill it up. As he descended the stairs, Reginald would walk with almost a processional gate. There was something sacred about this ritual and about the decanter. For three generations his family had gone through this same routine carrying the same vessel. As Reginald entered the great dining hall with the decanter, he almost felt as noble as the host of the great feast. That beautiful container it seemed held more than wine. It held his rich heritage as a servant to the Lord of the house.
One week, just before dinner, a great commotion broke out in the kitchen. A new cook had taken on himself to include his own ingredients to the standard soup served before the main course. The chef was livid. He began to hurl anything he could get his hands on at the new cook. Hearing the commotion, Reginald shot into the kitchen just in time to see the chef fling the great decanter at the cook. The cook ducked and the decanter began its decent. Time seemed to stop as Reginald dove for it. He tipped its fat belly just enough to divert its path from the floor to the wall averting total destruction. The stopper flew off and shattered and the handle broke – along with Reginald’s heart. He stood up holding the remainder of the decanter looking down at it. His body quivered partially out of grief and partially from rage. Then he looked slowly up at the chef. Something that sounded partly like a growl and partly like a hiss gushed through Reginald’s bottom lip, “You fool! A man such as you does not deserve to prepare meals for our Lord. From now on you will wash dishes while this new cook will take your place as chef starting now!”The chef’s face blushed, then blanched and then darkened. He said nothing but turned and skulked out of the room. The new cook gingerly slid over to the chef’s station and continued final preparations for the great feast.
Reginald, still quivering, cradled the decanter close to his chest as he ambled down the steep stairs to the family vintage. Though, there were other ornate vessels in the household, Reginald entertained no alternative to the sacred decanter. The damage it had sustained did not diminish its worth for him and so just like the week before, he filled it with the best wine the Lord of the house possessed and began his ascent up the stairs. As he trudged upward, his aching heart pulled his shoulders together and his chin downward. The battered decanter would not allow itself to be held forth but now required a closer grip with one hand around the neck and another supporting the bottom. Reginald’s thoughts wandered to his fore-bearers and their illustrious, lifelong careers. Shame and regret joined the grief and anger loitering in his heart. One event. One moment. Decades of glory were tarnished in an instant. How could this be?
As Reginald poured the wine, his pain began to subside. The guests marveled and raved over the exquisite vintage. Reginald comforted himself knowing that the real glory of the decanter had remained through the violence it had suffered. Reginald’s thoughts turned from the legacy left him by his father and grandfather to his own descendants. His furrowed brow smoothed and the corners of his mouth lifted as he thought of how they would tell the story of the chef’s tantrum and how the decanter had survived his assault. As the lamps in the great house were being extinguished and the watchman took his seat, Reginald had almost fully recovered from the trauma he had suffered. That night, his sleep was deep and his dreams were sweet.
The chef, however, could not sleep. The anger which had flared in him toward the new cook and his culinary presumption had dampened into a seething heat in his bones. That flame burned ever hotter as it fed on the memory of how he’d been disregarded, then violated and finally shamed. Over that steady, relentless heat the chef cooked up his revenge to be served quite cold the following week.
Coming into the kitchen late that night while all satisfied souls slept, the chef lit the main lantern and surveyed the filth which the new cook had left for him to relish. And relish it he did. With a giddy spring in his step he gathered two buckets and flew down to the well. He began to whistle a tune as he heated the water and gathered the greasy pots, the bloody knives and the soiled serving wear. When the water was sufficiently warmed, he filled the basin and with great flourish he scrubbed each item to spotless perfection, singing every tavern tune he could recall as he did. When the job was done, the chef took a step back to look at his glorious creation – not the stack of spotless dishes but the basin filled with grimy cess. Never one to let something go to waste, the chef put his concoction to good use. He took the old decanter from its housing and dropped it into the mottled, viscous ooze. Due to its specialized shape it floated for several minutes and then slowly sunk under the surface as the water filled its sacred chamber. At the sight, the chef’s mirth exploded into outright hysteria as a deep laughter erupted from his throat.
By morning, the chef had contained himself and fled the scene leaving only the basin filled with sludge and Reginald’s decanter filled with sludge. The angst and catharsis of the previous day had left Reginald depleted enough to make his normal waking time untenable. The maids could not afford such luxury and so they were the first to find the basin of dirty water. Two of them lifted the basin and sloshed it out into the yard to dump it. As they did, the decanter tumbled out onto the lawn. It’s lifeless form lay there spilling its contents onto the surrounding lawn. The maids shrieked as if they’d seen a dead body.
The chef, who’d been waiting in his chambers to hear Reginald’s reaction came running to their side. “What has happened?” he asked.
“Our steward’s decanter!” They exclaimed. “Someone has soiled it with all of the filth from last night. Our Lord would never allow a polluted vessel like this to hold his precious wine. What will Reginald say? What will he do? What will happen to him? Surely, this will destroy him!”
“Yes, what will happen to him, indeed?” The chef thought to himself. He had hoped that he would have already known the answer to that question by this time in the morning but perhaps, this series of events might afford an opportunity to inflict such pain on Reginald that he might never recover. After all, his family had served as chief steward for far too long. Perhaps it would be time for a new dynasty in The Great House.
“Ladies,” the chef replied. “Why should your small minds attempt to entertain such large questions? The decanter, as you say, cannot be used for the master’s purposes but that does not mean it has no use whatsoever. I will put it to work on other needful duties in this house. As for Reginald, leave him to me.” And with that, he scooped up the pitiful container, tucked it into his overcoat and walked away.
The maids, however, failed to follow the chef’s advice and concerned themselves a great deal over the decanter. They told every servant in the house about what they had discovered that morning until the entire house was abuzz with the questions they had originally posed. But since no one wanted to bring the news to Reginald and since the chef had offered to handle it, Reginald remained oblivious.
By afternoon, the household servants could no longer stand the suspense over how Reginald would react, so they went to the chef to ask for an update.
“Yes, I told him all about it.” the chef lied. “You know, he took it surprisingly well. ‘No way to unring a bell’ or something like that was his response. He told me that I could use the old thing for whatever best served the household. When he said that, I figured the best thing to do with it considering its shape would be to use it as a urinal on cold mornings when trips to the outhouse are just downright painful. So, I’m going to keep it here in the broom closet should any of you have a need.”
The servants were shocked. They struggled to believe that such a story could be true. Yet, they also knew that the decanter could no longer fulfill its time-honored purpose so they accepted the chef’s story. After a few days, they also accepted his suggestion. It was very cold outside and the wide mouth and bottom of the decanter did lend themselves splendidly to the other half of humanity’s liquid equation. By the time the week had passed, the vessel had been filled and emptied several times. On the eve of the great feast, the chef took the old decanter out of the broom closet, emptied it, and placed it back into its former place of honor.
Reginald, who continued to be kept in the dark shrouded over him by servants’ fear and by the subterfuge of the chef, went in high spirits to fetch and fill the vessel. The meal had begun with all servants attending the guests as he bounded out of the cellar in great anticipation of serving the glorious wine from this holy pitcher as durable as his family’s legacy. With flourish, Reginald burst into the great hall and held his decanter high. The guests all cheered at the sight of the symbol of the Lord’s generosity. Some of the household servants cringed, others stood with their mouths agape. One of the maids fainted and the butler threw up into a vase in the corner of the room. At this reaction, the guests began nervously to look around and then toward Reginald who stood dumbfounded. The room fell silent until one of the maids shouted, “Sir, please don’t serve the wine! That has been our chamber pot this entire week!”
The words rang in Reginald’s ears, boring their way into his resistant consciousness until their full weight landed with a dull thud on his soul. Reginald became light headed and darkness began to close in toward the center of his vision. With his last shred of awareness, Reginald staggered from the room into the kitchen where he found a stool on which to sit, his head between his legs. While he collect himself, he could hear the guests shuffling out of the room. They had somehow lost their appetites and were each going to their own homes. Under the dull roar, Reginald’s mind raced. How could he recover from this last blow?
Thankfully the Lord of the house had been away this evening. And why had he been away? Because he trusted Reginald to serve his great feast. He trusted Reginald because Reginald had always been perfectly faithful as had his father and his grandfather before him. Reginald thought, “And now it falls to me to decide how to proceed. To lose this great vessel would not only be a loss to me and my family but to the legacy and lore of The Great House. I will not allow it to be discarded. Everyone knows how careful and faithful I have always been. I will wash the vessel three times and fill it with the best smelling oils for the next several days. Then I will wash it again. It will be ready to resume its regular duties by next week.” And so, after firing the chef, that is just what Reginald did.
The next week, the Lord returned to The Great House and took his place at the head of the table in the great hall where his guests were gathered. As he looked across the enormous table, he noticed a great many empty seats. Many of those whom the Lord had become accustomed to dining with were absent. Of those who had come, most were the lazy and disreputable rabble who were always welcome but who came not for the Lord’s company but for yet another handout. Though the number of guests was diminished, the Lord’s hospitality was not. “You are all most welcome here, dear friends, because whatever our state in life, we are one and so we should be together!”
The feast proceeded like always with salad followed by soup followed by appetizers and then the main course. As the main course landed steaming in the middle of the table, Reginald appeared in the doorway with his precious decanter of wine. The shocked guests, one by one stood up and excused themselves, bowing to the Lord of the house. As they left, many grabbed handfuls of food to stuff in pockets or purses. In his surprise, the Lord scanned the room. Every servant stood trembling (except for the butler who was throwing up into the same vase) and staring at Reginald who stood straight and proud holding forth the decanter. The Lord of the house followed the gaze of his servants to Reginald who was staring past him off into the distance. As soon as the Lord’s face was directed fully toward him, Reginald cleared his throat and offered, “Would you care for some wine, sir?”
Okay, I’ll admit it – I think the world is running out of time. No, I don’t buy into any specific end times predictions but I do think the global situation trending toward a cataclysm of some kind in the not-too-distant future. I don’t say this with a sense of dread but with anticipation because I have hope in the Living One who will still bring about the restoration of all things.
I suppose I would dread what is coming if I liked the way things are, but I’ve seen too much for that. I left my Christian bubble several years ago and have seen the utter degradation of our collective soul in the lives of so many living week to week in hotels or sleeping on picnic tables in parks. I’ve had to learn that refusing to allow these walking dead to feed on me or the church is often the best thing I can do for them.
As each encounter with parasitic humanity has pained the fleshy heart which Christ has placed within me, I’ve been tempted to flee the pain through hardening. I can’t do that, though, because that would further spread the rampant spoilage covering our world. Jesus predicted about the time preceding his return:
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13 NIV)
In times like these, we can no longer count on the many to love. Asking 100 people to each give $20 won’t work because most of those people have grown too cold of heart to even part with $20 or to even notice the need of another person. In these last days, it will be up to the few who endure being exploited and solicited for the sake of love. The few will have to shoulder the load for the many. And shoulder the load they must for their very souls are at stake. How can they be worthy of the kingdom who will not share in the sacrificial love of Christ? Yes, it is the few because Jesus, our Lord has said, “Many are called but few are chosen.”
So, what is the difference between the many and the few? Simply this: The many see giving as an unwanted obligation. The few see giving as a joyful opportunity.
I’m not saying we should enable the exponentially expanding mass of users around us. I’m saying that when a real need arises (and those almost always require sacrificial giving), we should rejoice in the chance to truly live out the pure gospel of Christ for God’s glory.
I have a friend who recently was in a bad car wreck with this family. His wife sustained massive injuries but thanks to God’s grace she is recovering steadily. The other driver had no insurance and no income, so my friend’s insurance will have to offset their costs which have reached over a quarter of a million dollars so far. They also face the loss of the wife’s wages during her months of hospitalization and rehab. I’ve been working to raise money for my friend. Our church gave generously to him but that amount will evaporate like water in a hot pan. He will need much more than charity. He will need love.
When I gave him the check from the church, he told me how hard accepting help is for him. I told him, “Man, this is what the church is about. You aren’t in need because you are lazy or irresponsible. This is something that no one could have foreseen that happened to you. This is a real need and I’m like, ‘Finally!'”
If you’d like to join the few who will help with a real need, you can do so by following this link.
What drives you? Are you working for the weekend (like everybody)? Do you run from fears of failure or inadequacy? Does social censure silence you? Are you paralyzed by worry? Does a need to please pull your strings? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are a sinner. In Romans 14:23, Paul declares that whatever is not of faith is sin. Now, you might say, “Wow, that’s a pretty stringent standard.” I’d agree. And yet, it’s not just a standard but a living reality with a definite experience.
I look at Paul’s indictment of most of my default motivation as stringent because I’m mired in a view of Christianity which just peers over the top of the hedonistic flood of our world. I am accustomed to the religiosity and moralism that masquerade as faith in Christ. The false religion that I’ve always taken for granted has given me ample excuses for my rejection of Christ. I’ve not seen any inconsistency in flailing about while elbow deep in “ministry.” I have been much like Peter, Christ’s most enthusiastic sycophant. But how did Peter deny his Lord or fall beneath the waves? Faithlessness will always produce unfaithfulness. The drive to survive will drown us every time.
Though Paul’s standard seems to border on impossible to the American Christian mind, he simply was describing a spiritual truth which could never be otherwise. Faith (implicit trust and loyalty) is the one thing that God requires of us. Through faith our ancient aspiration to supplant our creator reverses and creation begins to renew. In the garden, our native state was faith and to it there was but one alternative. Now, the alternatives have proliferated beyond number and there is but one place to find faith, at the foot of Christ’s cross. There the Son of Man (“adam” in Hebrew) rejected all other options and hung his fate on his God. Having been vindicated, he requires all who are his to accept his brand of faith.
God deserves our implicit trust but he doesn’t require it only for his satisfaction. Galatians 5:6 declares that the only thing that matters is faith working through love. Love is the goal and faith is the means. The eternal Godhead bound by self-giving love has poured out that love upon us inviting us into their fellowship. But we can’t give self without faith. Fear and worry, the antitheses of faith, pull all of my attention onto my own well being. Within that tunnel, the best I can do is damage control. I can feign love if it will advance my situation or forestall negative consequences. Without faith, I succumb to this world’s counterfeit for love, lust. As St. John says, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
I want to ask you as I’ve been asking myself, can you abandon fear and worry? Can you abandon yourself to God’s faithfulness? Can we release back to Satan any version of Christianity that would excuse faithlessness and compensate with outward conformity? Can we confess that we’ve been no better than unbelievers as we’ve lobbied and campaigned against certain behaviors all in response to a fear mongering political machine? What if we did our best at work out of worship to our God rather than aspiration or intimidation? What if we loved our family rather than appeased them? We can. We must. It is the essence of our profession, not some state of super sainthood. To enter the experience of God’s kingdom under Christ, we must repent. That is, we must turn away from our problem solving and pleasure seeking to hang our fate (both immediate and ultimate) on the faithfulness of our Abba Father. Go to the cross and once again be saved from this present evil age by the faith of Christ.
I know a man who is haunted by Matthew 7:21-23. He won’t declare with 100% certainty that he is destined for eternal life and there is nothing anyone can say to assure him. Having read this quote this morning, I wonder if he is not plagued with spiritual pride.
Don’t get me wrong. He’s not a bad person or an overtly arrogant man. I just wonder if he like so many others of us has been marinated in religious performance for so long that he has no idea that there is a difference.
My prayer for this man, myself and for you this morning is that all of us would have an encounter with the real and living God which would shatter our every illusion that we could merit his acceptance. That bereft of our relative worth we could come to the confidence that is also known as humility.
How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound’s worth of Pride towards their fellow-men. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some would preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. And any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap. Luckily, we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone else—I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.
I don’t talk about Jesus primarily because I feel sorry for anybody who doesn’t know him or because I would feel guilty if I didn’t. I talk about Jesus because I can’t keep it in. I talk about him because he’s just so wonderful that the idea of a person disregarding him, misunderstanding him, or not knowing him is nearly intolerable to me. It’s like trembling before the majesty of a gorgeous ocean sunrise only to look around at so many facing inland. Perhaps they’re consumed with concern over what the day might hold or perhaps they think they’ve seen it already. But they’re missing it and in a very short time it will be too late. Maybe you’re one of the people who’s missing it. If Jesus hasn’t wrecked your life, if he doesn’t consume your thoughts and dreams, if he isn’t the reference point for every decision you make or desire you have, then you’re missing him. I don’t have any light to give you but I hope to reflect him so that you might just turn (repent).
I’ve been attempting to follow Jesus for 28 years. I came to him because he was the only one who offered to give meaning to my life. Even as a child, I had little tolerance for self-deception. I want to see things as they are and to my way of thinking most people were living in denial over the one unavoidable reality of life that it would end. I couldn’t fathom the end of my consciousness. To describe it as “darkness” would not do annihilation justice since darkness describes the perception of the absence of light. Not only would such concepts cease to have meaning, they would never have had meaning from my standpoint. Other ideas about the afterlife such as reincarnation or nirvana were functionally the same outcome since they involve the utter loss of self. So, I pursued the One I’d heard about as a child in Sunday School but this time I sought him in the text of the New Testament. The man who shown from those pages was the one my heart had longed for. Jesus didn’t just offer pie in the sky by and by; he brought heaven to earth as he defied the pressures and pleasures of this existence for another plane of living that he called “blessed.” I gave myself to him and he reciprocated.
Sadly, the Dragon was there waiting for this child to be born and he quickly took me into custody with the promise of moral certainty. Satan used the very church in which I was baptized to lace the pure milk of the word with arsenic. My once-vital faith became feeble and sickly. My joy turned to disdain and the glorious picture of my Savior became hideously distorted behind a legalistic lens.
My Savior, it turned out, was more loving than I was self-righteous and he saved me again from my efforts to save myself. I discovered through the trial of my errors that the faith that saves must be alone since anything else must be mistrust. At his cross my guilty plea released me from the guilt of my past. The power of his resurrection, the blessed Holy Spirit, is freeing me from the sinfulness of my present. It is this Spirit at work to make me like Jesus, that assures me that he will return to claim me for himself.
Today, I am more amazed at grace than the hour I first believed. My life in Christ is not one of fear, failure, guilt or judgment. That any of these experiences could be identified with the kingdom of God is proof positive that there are forces at work in this world to slander Christ Jesus. The word “gospel” means, “good news.” To be “gospel” a thing must be both good and news. The gospel of Christ is not a set of religious or moral injunctions. That would be neither good nor would it be news. The gospel is good because it bypasses the substances we repeatedly apply to cracks and fissures of our individual and collective soul to hydrate us from within. As an ongoing expression of Christ’s resurrection, this inner healing results from and results in noteworthy actual events in the world, in other words, news.