Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get a Life

(the following is (another) response to a recent sermon. It may only make sense to me, but I needed to get it out of my head and in writing. I'm working through some things. Feel free to ignore me.)

It's a little stone, it's a little mortar. It's a little seed it's a little bit of water...
in our hearts, in our hearts this kingdom's coming. - Sara Groves

There is still hope.

We may look around, disgusted by the disgusting things people are doing in the disgusting world.

But there is still hope.

We look at it, we see no end to the pain and depravity, the lost and the broken, the ugly and the wrong. We can see no end to it. And then we're tempted to say, no this is not going to get better. I will not be so clueless as to say that the world can get better. I mean, after all, the Bible says that it will get worse and worse in the end I guess I'll just ride this out because I'm one of the chosen who belongs in Heaven. I'll be right here waiting for that because it's not going to get better's just hopeless.

Many of us really do believe that at least at some level, and we're wrong.

Sure, the truth is that there isn't an end to it. There's not supposed to be an end to it, not in this life. But if we simply say that it cannot get better, what are we doing here? If we cannot be positive, if we cannot say there's hope, why don't we just throw in the towel now?

I heard the words, if you think that way (believing that the world can change and get better) you need to get a life.

OK. I will get a life. A life of hope in the getting better.

When we turn our noses up in disgust, when we see something we cannot stand that goes against our personal beliefs, we are doing nothing to bring that hope. If we stay in our small circles with people just the same as we are and we talk about how wrong everyone else is, it's true, there is no hope. But you know what? The things we see as disgusting, they are a result of a poverty of the soul. The death and destruction, figuratively or literally, the kind that's brought on by man? That's a poverty of the soul and of the spirit. And it calls for acts of love.

When we step out in love, stand in the face of injustice, and serve the world around us...well, that's kingdom work, hopeful work. It is getting a life.

Heaven is still touching Earth in everyday miracles large and small. People are still reaching out and living in a freedom that is so contagious, it changes things, and it changes lives. Lives that looked so hopeless and are not.

There is hope.

When you speak of the world with such a lack of hope, it makes me want to stop caring about the world. I don't want to stop caring. So please don't tell me to get a life.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:..18 & 19

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Last Sunday and it's seven numbers

"Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything that is written in the book of law."
Galatians 3:10

I start to get angry. Then I stop. I take a deep breath and grab a pen and write my thoughts. I listen to the sermon. I look up, I look around, and the words just keep coming so I write them down in response to the listening. No one else is looking around. It's like they're scared to be seen while they hear about their complete and total depravity from the pulpit.

I want to stand up and say STOP please stop, where is the redemption, where is the grace, where is the healing...

Because so often, in so many congregations and so many denominations, it is left at this:
1) you are nothing but depraved
2) God hates sin
3) you are hiding your secret sins
4) God can see your sin
5) God hates your sin
6) stop sinning
7) the end

It's dangerous, I think. If we leave it at that, what are we leaving out? And maybe even more importantly, what are we adding in?

I've listened to more sermons than I can count that followed the numbered steps above, and only those numbers. So at some point in my life, I started to believe I was nothing but bad and that God could not possibly want anything to do with me. I don't think that's just me, partially because I have many people in my life who tell my same story.

When we hear something that's left at the end over and over, we fill in the blanks with a whole lot of shame, shame that leaves us stuck in our pits, afraid to look up, to be found out. It leaves us alone.

When I began to face my internal beliefs, things deeply rooted through years of words like those from Sunday, I saw that the complete focus on sin had back-fired. Because if I believe that is all that I am, I live out that which I think I am. Failure, ugly, shameful, unworthy...

dangerous things to live out.

I don't want to live there. I want to live in the freedom that Christ came to bring for this life and the next. I want to love because He loves me like mad. I want to try because He loves me like mad. I want to stand up and say NO, that is not who I am, THIS is who I am, and then I want to live that out.

I don't want to focus on me and fixing me and then focus some more on me and what I'm getting right and what I'm getting wrong.... That leaves no room for living out my faith in the world around me because I'm never thinking about them.

But how do I do that if someone is telling me sin is all that I am?

It seems that many Christian leaders are afraid that we'll forget the seven numbers. Maybe some people do forget, and of course there are some that have never heard the gospel message. But for the most part, I think we already know. Let's face it, most preachers are preaching to a congregation that is mostly Christian. There aren't many non-Christians who find the church appealing.

As one of those Christians sitting in church, longing to be fed some life, I am already fully aware of the seven numbers because I'm the one wading through my own troubled mind and life just like the rest of the world. Of course, I may now and again need a good bonk over the head, reminding me that I've got a long way to go, but for the most part I'm keenly aware of that long way on a daily basis.

What I'm looking for is teaching that reminds me I can do all things through Christ because He loves me the way that He does, and then I want to live the joy that revelation brings.

Because you know what?

If I do that, if I really GET that love...all the other stuff, the shameful horrible stuff we're focusing on, will fall away in it's time.

the end

I wanted so badly for this sermon to end differently. (and to be fair, it's a four part series, so maybe it will end differently, I hope.) But it didn't on Sunday. It ended with the end.

I wanted to walk to the front and grab the microphone. I wanted to add what I think He would say to me...

8) I'll never let you go
9) I'm crazy about you
10) there is no the end to that.

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us."
Galatians 3:13

I want to believe that fully, and then love other people with that kind of love...

(I wanted to share a video here because it says what I'm trying to say, but embedding it on a blog is not a possibility. You can still check it out on YouTube: How He Loves by David Crowder. Thank you.)

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