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The gospel goes beyond time…

It is not that I did not understand the importance of the various tasks that keep the city running, I understood, but I sought to go beyond.

You can reproach me, go ahead. But I saw in the gospel, a road beyond, a path that transcended all cultures, all human constructs, all civilizations and conventions.

I felt the gospel to be eternal; I felt politics and culture, including Christian culture, to be in time.

I was made always to go beyond time. -Francis of Assisi.

But how do we live in a culture in time, all while knowing that the truth of life goes beyond time? The Bible says we are to live in the world, but we are not of the world. Paul somewhere says, do not be a product of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Jesus, one thing I am curious about. It is said we are to be a city on a hill and lamp in the darkness wherever it may lay. But how when we are so close to a culture, the middle class culture? Its one of technology, self-gratification, sensuality, idolatry, covetousness, selfishness, greed, instant gratification, wastefulness, exploitation, commercialism, deceitfulness and many other spirits of evil. All of these things contradict the kingdom life, for it is a life set apart. It is a holy life in which God is glorified both in our hearts and our deeds.

How do I renew my mind and heart in this kind of environment, always tempted by this thought or this feeling or that habit? It’s ok, everyone does it and it’s not that bad. But maybe this is again the mindset of the world speaking, and not the mindset of heaven. Perhaps I should think less of the dos and don’ts and think more about allowing the Spirit to take root in my heart.

Doing this or doing that does not automatically make me a certain sort of person, but almost. Actions do speak louder than words, and like C.S. Lewis said something along the lines of, if you find yourself not liking someone, try-performing acts of kindness for them and you just might change your mind. So actions are important, because they are evidence of the person inside. And it’s just that, there lies beyond our actions a person beneath. And it is the person Jesus is concerned with. I think this was a great part of Jesus’ message to the Pharisees. Yes, you are obeying the commandments with your actions, but where is your heart?

I think this is where Jesus wants us to go, and it is there that transformation takes place. It is in the day-to-day surrender to the will of God, not my own. It’s that we find our true self as we die; we die with Jesus. He goes there with us. And this dying thing is not a one-time thing. We must continually let everything die that is not of the kingdom, and it is the Spirit who convicts us of the things that need to die.

Jesus, let us all die. Give us the power to give it all up. Better yet, take the power, and render us so weak that you become our only strength. Take us on the path beyond time. Take us on the path we are designed to travel. Amen.

 

 

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To struggle used to be

To grab with both hands

and shake

and twist

and turn

and push

and shove and not give in

But wrest an answer from it all

As Jacob did a blessing.

But there is another way

To struggle with an issue, a question-

Simply to jump

off

into the abyss

and find ourselves

floating

falling

trembling

being led

slowly and gently

but surely

to the answers God has for us-

to watch the answers unfold

before our eyes and still

to be apart of the unfolding.

But, oh! the trust

Necessary for this new way!

Not to be always reaching out

For the old hand-holds.

–“A new Way of Stuggling” by Susan W.N. Ruach

In our countless conversations with ourselves, and sometimes with others, we often wonder about the purpose of things. What is the purpose of this algebra assignment? What is point of this job or that job? Or even so far to ask what is the purpose of my life?

The latter question is not a new one. Over the years many have tried to give us answers to this most fundamental question. Naturally the world tells us things like success. Perhaps our purpose is to be happy, or to create meaningful relationships, to care for family and kin, to work this job or that, or to find oneself. ‘Make money get paid’ is the anthem of the age, ages before and ages after all the same.

It could be that some do not ever consciously confront this question, or perhaps they fail to respond to it, I do not know. But I do know people are still searching for purpose. They search for it even while working their dream job. They look for it even in moments of joy as much in sorrow. It’s the successful and the unsuccessful alike that wonder, “Am I fulfilling my purpose?”

Ok, you probably can guess at this point where I am going with this. You are thinking, “Yeah ok he is going to tell us that God has a purpose for our lives.” And well frankly, you are right. God does have a purpose for us. Our lives are not meaningless. God does love us deeply and tenderly.

Yes its all true, but we want to know God’s individual purpose for our lives. We want the details. We wish it came in the form of prophecy. We wish God would audibly just tell us what exactly it is that he wants from us. Why all the games? Why the silence? We just want answers.

Let me let you in on a secret. It is that there is no secret. Well at least not anymore. Jesus is the secret revealed. Jesus is the answer we are looking for. Jesus, our savior and redeemer, is the one who saves us from life without meaning, without purpose, without hope. His obedient life was lived in surrender to the will of the Father.

It seems so simple, but our purpose, like Jesus’, is to lay down our own purpose, and to be caught up into the divine will for the redemption of all things, both in heaven and on earth. It is to become like Jesus, to become like our God and bring glory to his name. It is to love God and love our neighbor and to love ourselves. It is to live in hope of the bodily resurrection and the kingdom to come. It is to live like people redeemed, forgiven and loved. It is to help aid in the Kingdom come to earth where God’s will is done on earth just like it is in heaven.

Jesus, show us the way, even when the ways of everything else distract and confuse. You are not the author of confusion, but the author of peace. Deliver me from myself, from the hardness of my heart, from the stubborn ways of my will. Let my guard down. Teach me to surrender it all. Not my will, but yours be done. Amen.

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