3 Ways to Answer Who we are:
- What I do (job)
- What others say about me. (facebook)
- I am what I have (kids, wife, home)
What is the right answer?
They are a child of God loved deeply by Christ. The real answer of who we are is “I am in Christ.”
I had a big long elegant rant on how our one word for love is lacking. I scratched it. You are more than capable of reading C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves or doing a word study on the four words the Bible translates as love. In the end I still can’t beat Messy Mondays rant so I will let him handle it. For his rant click here.
A theme for me this week has been love. Between a conversation in a piano room and todays chapel I have to say that the current way people use the word “love” ruins the Christian understanding of it.
Firstly I frown that I cannot discuss the word love with an unbeliever. I can try but they will never grasp it and the selfless lifestyle in entails without the help of the Holy Spirit. We love because God first loved us. Not just when we like people or are filled with warm feelings. We abide in Christ who abides in the Father who is love. I normally shy away from saying “God is love” and trade it for just, fair, truth, or even vengeful because I feel we over saturate this aspect of God and use this to let our sins slide. But it is the truth. God is love.
So when I say I love you I am not saying I am currently pleased or happy to be near you. I am saying that I am living sacrificially for you. I acknowledge their worth as a creation of God and just as loved as me. When I say I love you I mean that I am trying to see you as our Father who art in Heaven sees you and lived for you.
Sometimes warm feelings come. When I tell most of my friends and family that I love them I am also saying that I am so blessed to have them in my life and I am pleased when they are around me. I can say I love my mom now but I have not always. One of the things I am most ashamed about and tear up to admit is that there were times that I hated my mother. I would rather jump of a cliff or have her fall down one. This was no fault of my mothers, it was my choice to give into hate. I was not leaning on Christ enough to live in a way of love towards her even though she did for me. Because love is not automatic. We are not victims of strong emotions. We have a say in love. I know of all sorts of girls that are controlled by crushes. The truth is they are not loving the object of their affection but rather loving the high of emotions. Each guy is “the One” until she gets those warm fuzzy feelings liking someone else. Honestly sometimes they get the same feeling from their new iphone. I recall a girl once saying she wanted a baby because it would love her unconditionally. I wanted to ask her if she loved her mother conditionally or only when she was pleased with her. Because immature love is self seeking. It’s meeting a personal need a filling a hole too big for anyone but Jesus.
So what is love? It’s a choice, a sacrifice. It’s being Christ. Love is what happened on the cross.
If any relationships foundation is the feeling love it is all just a spark. Hence the term “We lost our spark.” They may as well say “I got bored. Being with you does not stimulate me enough anymore.” Once the feelings fade so will the relationship. Once they are no longer happy it is over because it was only ever really about them. If the foundation is a lifestyle of sacrifice than it will be a joyous practice of putting wood in the stove for the sake of keeping each other warm always. Even if you would rather smack them upside the head with the log. Then when the feelings fade for a moment nothing dies. The commitment stays until the coals give birth to new flames and the servant hood continues until then. Trust me people who have been married 50+ did not like each other the whole time.
Now of course this sacrifice and love stem out from properly loving yourself as someone Christ thought worthy to die for. This is why the believers “I do” is so important. It is not a vow to serve with no return and until you are unfairly worn thin. It is loving yourself enough to tell people no and to take time to take care of yourself. And when two people who love God say “I do” they are promising to never let the other feed the steady hearth alone. It is a promise to be patient, kind, to listen, to humble themselves, to serve, to not be easily angered, to forgive, to speak the Truth of God into each others lives and take joy in God’s promises, to protect, to hope, to remain true. It is not a promise to have a feeling forever.
So if you define love as an emotion or feeling I pity your loss and this is my plea for you to see love as a verb and ask that you stop seeing love as something so shallow. Rather I ask you to see it as Heaven defines it. That mans definition of love is not good enough for you anymore and only God’s definition of love is sufficient.
Verse for the night:
1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Resting. The word boils over and leaves me feeling anxious. I think of sitting still, being bored, fiddling my fingers and struggling to get comfortable. Sit still? What will I accomplish in holding still? Nothing. Nothing at all. I can sleep when I am dead. Yet when I put in the search words “rest” and “Bible” I am overwhelmed with results.
Resting is Biblical, even demanded. Some of the verses my favorite search engine found for me were:
Psalms 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Mark 6:31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Matthew 11:28-29 “…Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
And those are just a few.
So why can’t I rest. Why does the idea send ice up my spine?
Simple. I am out of practice. I am a college student with many friends, family, church and school obligations. I love all of them but they keep me busy. So here are some rules I am trying to give myself to help me be a restful person.
1. Have a place to Rest.
Location, location, location. Much like proverbs warns that locating yourself with certain people and places make it more likely for you to sin having a place you practice resting in. Mine is a big round chair, a side table and a good distance from something that can play my favorite worship and metal CD’s. Yours can be whatever. Just have a place.
2. Have a Time
You have a place? You need to actually have a time. This is my worst area. I am one of those people that say “yes” to everything even when it is unwise. Any time I set aside for something is quickly scheduled over. This is because I do not value it. I hate the saying I have no time. I prefer the more honest I do not value this enough to spend time on it. This is how I feel about rest. I do not value it enough to make time for it. But setting aside some 15-60 minutes every day in stone and prioritizing that over any alternatives.
3. Do it.
No really, do it. Just close your cell phone close this blog. Do it. Do it. Do it.
4. Remember who time belongs to.
The reason we struggle with time is because we think of it is ours. When we realize that we are not guaranteed tomorrow it is a lot easier to make time for God. Then we can say no to things that God can take care of and recharge.
5. Partner up.
Now if you are actually the type of person or have friends that have consistent quiet time have them mentor (is that the word I want?) you or have you join them for their time. Because then you have to face the “I thought you were joining me for devotion or hangout time?”
6. Forgive Yourself.
If you mess up or sleep through it, replan and give yourself a better chance for success. Beating yourself up and telling yourself you can’t do it only sets you (or us) for adopting an attitude that leads to even less succesful rest time.
7. Rest Well
When you rest (devotions or just from work) rest well. Don’t obsess over the things you are resting from. Do not for a single moment rely on your own strength to rest. If you spent all day calculating work with your hands. If you spent all day working with your hands take up Sudoku.
Seven is the number of completion so I will rest this blog here. I hope you learn to rest with me. Our God rested on the last day because He was setting an example not because He needed to.
As I came to understand who God was, I understood the weight of my sin more and more. God became holier and holier as I became more familiar with Him. John 3:30 says in the NIV; “He must become greater; I must become less.” In high school I did this without a proper understanding of what it meant. I thought less and less of myself of myself as I learned how holy Jesus was. He came to die so dirty, filthy, sad people like me might have Heaven. We could hide behind Him so His Father, God, would spare us our well deserved wrath. Now we became the murders of Christ and that allowed us to live.
If you have ever been depressed you know it destroys the self esteem and ruins your self image. You can accept the part of the Bible that convicts you and helps you hate yourself but not that you are a new creation or that the righteousness of Christ is yours. You cut the gospel in half. It is not that you have no relationship with God it’s just that in the relationship you have with Christ like the relationships you have with anyone else, poisoned by the view you have of yourself.
You even take the “beautifully and wonderfully made” phrase they pound into every girl and just think “Yeah, I was.” No girl, you ARE. Right now. If I could go back and try to make myself understood that I was someone God really wanted to spend eternity or that His plan from the beginning was to have and hold me, I would. But I was not mature enough to get that then. God was permitting me, allowing me into His family purely because His mercy and grace made Him. How naive I was.
If I could I would tell myself back then “Stop it, stop it now. The gospel is not for feeding your self hate. It is for teaching you to love and submit to God, love and serve others and yes to see yourself properly and love what God has made you. Yes it is by God alone you are saved but you are not permitted to focus on your sin and unworthiness. God sure as hell does not! God focuses on your growth and successes and forgives the rest. So stop looking at becoming less as thinking less of yourself. You are part of God’s story. You were created to embrace Him and be embraced. Yeah, you are a sinner. Repent and grow. Repeat. The walk God called you to is impossible to do on your own. But, a sinner is not who you truly are. Sin does not blemish or change your true identity. You are new, so very new and you will learn.”
I know I needed to hear that in the past and sometimes still today. I have no idea if you needed to hear it but it helps me through everything. When I loose perspective and stumble and mess up I do not dwell on it and focus on what I deserve I thank God that I was designed for Heaven. I examine my life and see where I need to grow and I move forward. It’s not a perfected process but it is a process.
As I finish my junior year and am setting my face towards my senior year I am coming across one phrase. A phrase that implies my end is nigh and I am about to enter into a bleak and colder world. You might know it, you might have used it. It goes like this:
“These are the best days of your life.”
There are many variations of this I have heard like “College is the best” or “enjoy it while it lasts.” I agree that college is a wonderful time. I will never have the opportunities I am experiencing now. I am so blessed to be meeting the people I am meeting and the time I have to put into learning. However, if college gives you the impression it is the epitome of life it has failed it’s student.
A good college makes you excited for what comes next. Somewhere around your junior year you will start itching to get out of school and to start doing the thing you love. You love where you are but you do not think it is the best place you will ever be.
A real education is most fun when it is being used. Ministry for me will be more thrilling and more fulfilling than what I am doing now. My classes and my relationships are getting me ready for it. A view that this is the epitome of life leads to failing to look forward and instead of bettering their future they better now (stupid party choices maybe). They get short sighted and settle for things you will find under #yolo on twitter.
If your education is not making you excited to get out of college and go do something with your life than your education has failed you.
I was there, I lived in the state. But nothing in my life changed. It all carried on as normal. I went to school, church, hung out with friends. I am sure for those that could get married it was life changing but for me… meh.
So I guess what I am saying is I honestly do not care which way each state goes (State rights, woo!) because I am content with all the rights I have. I know a lot of people are yelling about the sanctity of marriage but with divorce as high as it is… well let me just say we should have started this battle a long time ago. The battle for the sanctity of marriage should start in our homes, not facbook and a man going home and loving and honoring his wife or a wife loving and honoring her husband is how this ‘battle’ will be won. That is how I want this “battle” to go down.
Until then I hate seeing “us” against “them” mentalities. I realize there are some laws that hinder our faith. Abortion is actually murder and should be fought, the church being charged with hate crimes for helping people who want to change their sexual orientation but unless they force my place of worship to hold the ceremonies… this doesn’t affect me (and maybe it should) but whether they live in sin married or unmarried they are living in sin. Us keeping them from getting married does not save them. It might even hinder us from forming saving relationships. We don’t raise half the fuss for unmarried people living together. Maybe if we ourselves showed what a Godly marriage was more people would want it. We whine about broken homes when our homes are broken. No wonder they say the church is full of hypocrites!
I am glad this generation of Christians sees that homosexuals are our brothers, sisters, friends, classmates and teachers. I am thankful that they are not hiding or over guilted like they used to be. I just hope the church remembers that it is a sin along with lying and disrespecting our parents and never try to transform themselves to the world.
So I wish this nation the best, because I really think we are a great nation.
Now… let us get the focus back to Easter!