I’m looking at this computer screen tonight and the cursor just keeps blinking back at me. Waiting. Stupid cursor. If I was old, I would shake my cane at it and say something like, “A curse on you… cursor.” Brilliant. Let’s hope my verbal skills go first.
Today is one of those days where no matter how much I try, I can’t put the current state of my soul into words. I’ll try, of course, because words are the medium through which I process everything… but no promises tonight.
I’ve been looking around at the world a lot more lately. There have been a few people who have come into, or come back into, my life over the last few months who have made me question my Christian habits, my “routines.” I read something today that said that as soon as we make Jesus into a pattern to follow, instead of a Savior to love, we lose the whole point of the Gospel. More often than not, Jesus has been a pattern for me, and one that I haven’t even been following very well. My non-Christian friends see these habits and ask me why I do them, and why I follow the “rules” that I follow, and what I have realized most recently is that when my heart is not set on loving Jesus Christ– when I am not in love with Him, then those habits and rules don’t just seem crazy, they are crazy. What the heck am I doing? It’s a lose.
The other thing that tears me up about following the “pattern” of Jesus, is that this lends most often towards only paying attention to pieces of Jesus’ words, and not all of them. Suck-o.
I live in a cozy suburb in a swanky townhouse (or at least, swanky to me) with a completely rust-free car. I have more clothing than I know what to do with. I have a computer, musical instruments, books, cds, exercise equipment, a cell phone, a tv, and food. My entertainment and all of my needs are met. Sometimes I wonder what Jesus would say to me about all of this stuff. What would he say if He came into my house, looked at all my belongings, and was aware that there are people starving elsewhere, and people in great need not thirty minutes away from my house? Would He pat me on the back in admiration of the great job I have done at self-preservation? Hecks no. I feel like He’d probably ask me if I use my house to have people over. He’d ask me if I had ever go looking for less fortunate people who I could have over to hang out with me. He’d probably wonder how I spend my time after work. Or how I spend my money. He’d probably ask me if I have been getting to know the local church, and if I’ve been partaking in the community of believers that He’s blessed me with. He would definitely ask me if I’ve been telling anyone about Him lately. He probably wonder if there were others I know that want to receive His extraordinary grace. But even in all of this– the embarrassment of having to show Jesus around and having to tell Him how much I have failed Him, I think He’d probably still smile at me. I’m pretty sure He’d tell me He loves me. He might even comfort me before He redirects my path. That’s what I forget sometimes. That incomprehensible love. When I’m not revelling in the love Jesus is pouring down on me, I have no room to love others in any capacity. I may think about it, but I don’t do it. Or at least not well.
I have a pretty good idea of what Jesus would ask me if He came to visit me in the burbs, because He’s been asking me these questions for months. He’s also been telling me He loves me. And He wants to know what in my life would look different if I didn’t love Him. I don’t have a good answer for Him yet.
I spent a lot of today feeling like giant sumo-wrestlers were sitting on my chest. I felt bothered and mad at how weak my own self-created righteousness is. God has been showing me more through the lives of those who have walked away from their faith than I have learned in two months of Sundays. The message I have received the most clearly is this: being a stagnant, luke-warm Christian is death for the world around me. I’m going to say that again, because I need to hear it again. Being a stagnant, luke-warm Christian is death for the world around me. Jesus made His commandments pretty clear. What are the two greatest commandments? How do I enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
27“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
-Luke 10: 27
This world makes it so hard sometimes, to have a heart that’s not divided. To have a heart that loves God with all of my heart and soul and strength and mind. To have a heart that loves my neighbor. In literal terms, I can’t even remember my neighbor’s name. She’s blond and her husband does security. I hate her yippy dog, but they’re a nice couple. I wish I knew their names. Dang it.
I have been battling a divided heart for months, and eventually, one half of that division grows larger than the other. One side has to win.
The other side of this, of course, that I am perhaps not mentioning enough right now, because I am battling with my own comprehension of this as I type, is grace. Grace. Defined, it means the freely given and unmerited favor and love of God. Freely given. Unmerited. How many things in this world are free or receivable without merit? Maybe when we’re younger it’s easier to understand grace because it seems more available to those who are young and don’t know any better. But what about when we grow up a little bit? What about when we should know better? What does God have to say to us then?
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
How sweet those words are to a sinner. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. The implications of this are enormous. Christ died so that anyone who believes in Him and repents — (these are churchy words I guess. Let me start over.) Jesus Christ became a man and took the guilt and shame of our screw ups so that anyone who truly believes that He is God’s son, and RECOGNIZES his/her need for a Savior, and asks, receives forgiveness, love, and grace. And nothing can separate you from that love, once you know you need it. Once you receive it.
“3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15:3-7
I adore this story because it shows me so clearly that God will not give up on the lost. He wants His children with Him. I think sometimes we wonder if God wants people to follow Him because if they don’t, they will be a threat to His power. Nope. He wants them to come back to Him because He loves us as His children, and He doesn’t want us harmed. He wants you in relationship with Him because He loves you.
I think that one of the most powerful lies that Satan tells us is that God is some big angry Judger up there in the sky, watching down on us as we screw up, staring down with this arms crossed just waiting to get His revenge. Although the Old Testament does (at times) show us a God who will judge His people, it also shows the prophesies that lead to Jesus becoming man. Gosh I love Jesus. And I especially love that the people He seemed to get pissed off at the most were the church elders who were faking their religion. These people didn’t seek His face, and they believed that they didn’t “need to repent.” I hate it when I sin in a big enough way that I’m completely aware of it, but I am also incredibly grateful for the fact that my own awareness of sin leads me back to Jesus, even if I tend to go to Him late, or stubbornly, or sheepishly, or afraid. I’m never going to be good on my own. Heck, I’m not even good with Jesus. Thankfully, He’s good enough for both of us.
There are days when the only thing that can break me free of the troubles and worries of my own life is to write about Jesus. It helps me focus on Him, and the grace He gives me every day. When I write about Jesus; when I think about Jesus for long enough, and about His promises, the heaviness lifts. I think sometimes that is the only reason I write these blog posts. Tonight I just needed to be lifted. Maybe you will be too.