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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Is Your Life Killing You?

From last week’s episode…

When the standard is Jesus Christ, “pretty good” is not good enough.

The question “Why not?” seems like a reasonable retort.

Well, let’s talk about sin. If you don’t get sin, then you won’t get salvation. So what is sin and why is it a problem? A metaphor I’ve heard before is about water. If you take a bottle of water, fresh out of the vending machine, it probably won’t kill you. It should be pure and clean and life-giving.

Credit: John (https://flic.kr/p/2F7ARD).

Credit: John (https://flic.kr/p/2F7ARD).

Take that same bottle and add a drop of fatal poisonIs  a la Romeo and Juliet. Now, what would I have to pay you to drink that bottle? To take even one sip? Would $100 be enough? What about $1,000? More? If you’re a sane person, no sum of money could make you drink that water. It’s corrupted. One drink:one death. You’d leave that money as an inheritance to somebody.

But it’s just one poisonous drop. So the water is still pretty good, right? Like 99% at least. But that’s not good enough to drink. That’s not life-giving.

The same goes for humans. One sin:one death. That’s the ratio. No matter how little the sin is, how small the corruption, it’s still poison.

So how about that list I wrote last week? What may look trivial to you is much more than one drop of poison to God. How much do you think I’d have to pay God to drink all that poison?

By his grace, I don’t have to. He already did in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus drank it all. My sin. Your sin. The sin of that bully in sixth grade. The sin of every dictator and tyrant that has ever ruled. He drank it up and died for it. In the process, we were given the choice to become one with God. Jesus’ sacrifice means we can be freed of our sin, cleansed, and brought into unity with the divine. The greatest miracle ever witnessed. That is what Good Friday is about.

What’s the catch? There is no such thing as a one-way relationship. Every good gift must be accepted. This redemption has to be mutual. Release your grip on that contaminated water bottle. Give it up to him whom gave up all for you. God came down to your level and stretched out his arms on the cross. Will you run into those arms or away from him? It’s your choice.

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Posted by on March 31, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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Confessions of the Forgiven

Christianity is not about being good.

This won’t be news to you, but we Christians often pretend to have everything together even though we mess up as much, if not worse, than other people. My pastor recently said if we were more honest about our faults, rather than always trying to cover them up and put on a good show, then maybe more people would realize Christianity is not about being a good person and more about receiving forgiveness.

It made me wonder what I’ve hid from view so that I would give a better impression to people. Sometimes I have to laugh when friends describe their perspective of me because I realize what aspects of my character they don’t know. Intentionally or not, I’ve filtered what they see.

So let me make myself clear: I only look healthy from the outside. Jesus meant me when he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Mark 2:17).

As much as I look put together, I often:

  • Become easily jealous if someone doesn’t have time for me because they are busy with their other friends.
  • Resent when my housemates forget to invite me along in their fun plans even if I wouldn’t want to go anyway.
  • Lose patience with kids at my agency who complain about being bored because they don’t like (or won’t try) any of the cool activities I have planned.
  • Judge program participants who don’t respond to my repeated emails and phone calls.
  • Consume far too much sugar on a daily basis in order to care for the body God gave me.
  • Obsess over my interactions with attractive young men, reliving them in my memory and fantasizing about what future fairy-tale scenarios may result.
  • Tithe to my church only on the rare occasion that I am not fearful of bankruptcy and yet buy coffee and ice cream on a whim.
  • Pray inconsistently and often forget to pray for others even when they have requested prayers.
  • Stop myself from talking about Jesus when I feel like it would make the conversation awkward or even produce a disagreement.
  • Resist telling people what the Bible says is truth because I’m worried about appearing judgmental or unaccepting.

Wow. Did I just publish all that for the world to see? Hopefully I won’t regret it.

Depending on your standards, you may say none of the points on my list—or very few—make me a sick person in need of a Savior. These are just the typical struggles of any normal person. You might relate to more than a few. And since I didn’t name any of the “biggies”—say lying, stealing, or adultery—then I am a pretty good person overall, right?

The thing is…it doesn’t matter how I rank in the line-up of all human beings living and dead. This isn’t a beauty pageant, and three lucky girls won’t go home with flowers and crowns.

All that matters is what God sees. He is the one judge, and his standard is perfection. So he judges all people using the standard of one, the only perfect human to have ever lived. The only one who was 100% human and 100% divine. The only one since Adam and Eve who was born free of sin. And the only one to live in perfect obedience to God’s will, not sinning even once, not even on the point of death.

When the standard is Jesus Christ, “pretty good” is not good enough.

Thankfully, there’s such a thing as forgiveness. More on this next week.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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“The One” Doesn’t Exist

Acquaintances and casual friends think I’m so stable. They make me laugh. Inside, it’s a non-stop tilt-a-whirl ride.

But just last week, I attended a seminar that helped to ground me. How? The speaker rejected the myth of “The One.” Addressing a small crowd of singles looking for love, he said, “There are literally hundreds of people you could have a very happy marriage with.”

I wanted to shout, “Hallelujah!” But this is the Northwest, not the Bible Belt.

Even though I consider myself a romantic, I gave up a long time ago the idea that there is only one person in the world to make me happy. I believe that having happiness in marriage has less to do with destiny and more so stubborn effort and a whole lot of grace. So an arranged marriage could be as fulfilling as a love marriage. Theoretically. But my actions have not matched my beliefs.

Listening to the speaker, I suddenly realized I have acted as if afraid to miss “The One.” I overthink, overanalyze, and overly obsess over the young men I meet and our every interaction. Sometimes it’s all I can do to whimper to God the monosyllabic, Help.

Other times I am more like the disciples shouting, “Don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38).

Credit: Abaconda Management Group, https://flic.kr/p/bdq7j6

Credit: Abaconda Management Group, https://flic.kr/p/bdq7j6

Then Jesus stands up, tells off the wind like disciplining a naughty child who knew better, and commands the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” (Mark 4:39).

Suddenly there is peace. The clouds are still there, but it has stopped raining.

I sit down with Jesus in the gently rocking boat, and he asks, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).

At the seminar, the speaker’s words had the same effect.

The One doesn’t exist. And if that’s true, how should that change my fear? How should that impact my faith?

I’ve believed for so long that there was no Prince Charming coming to rescue me. Now the realization finally came that I can stop worrying about missing the prince’s white horse. There is no white horse to be waiting for.

What if marriage is more like a train leaving at 12 o’clock sharp? The train will leave without me if I’m not there when the conductor shouts, “All aboard!” But the thing is…there will be another train tomorrow.

The lie is that I need to seize onto every opportunity that comes along, any eligible young man who looks my way, or risk missing the one who is meant to be my life partner. If I don’t smile just so…walk over there…start a conversation…laugh at his jokes…look pretty… So what? Qué será, será.

It’s been fifteen years since I trusted my pastor to dip me in the river as a sign of my new life in Jesus. Rounding so many years of faith, I’m still learning to trust God. Every morning, I have to let myself be dipped in the waters all over again. Let go, he tells me. Why are you so afraid?

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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