Friday, March 26, 2010

Confession pt.2

At Church lately we have been talking about confession and gospel. As a result I have been taking an inventory of my life. What I have done, what I am doing, and what I want to be. Simply put: I have sinned and I sin, but I want to be like Jesus. But do I? Since becoming a Christian I have seen the sin slowly melt away. I used to be angry with my mother, steal, lie, and cheat amongst other things. I have been redeemed in many ways from these debilitations, but there is always another waiting. Even as I type, I am reminded of my failures. I have hurt so many people over the course of even my Christian life that I am ashamed. I am a half-hearted creature fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered me – I am far too easily pleased. I want so badly to look each and every one of them in the eye, with tears in mine, and beg forgiveness. Even so, I will still fail you. But that brings me back to my point: do I want to be like Jesus?

Jesus said that if I would follow after him it would cost me my life. Have I ever taken the time to evaluate the cost? Nope. I have, since becoming a Christian, focused so much on becoming free of my past that I have failed in the present. I have spent so much time praying for the world that I forgot to pray for myself. As a result, I have indulged and fattened myself like a calf for the slaughter. I pray that the Lord will save me even from my “righteousness.” Sure, I give to the poor, love my enemies, and worship, but I am far from the presence of God. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom: I am in bondage. I want so much out of life: I want to graduate from Princeton, I want a family, and I want to teach, but would I give all of these up to be like Jesus? Could I give up my dreams? I want with all my heart to say yes, but I cannot. These are good things that come from the Lord but, having come from nowhere, they are my salvation. They are my hope of something better. For years I have heard people say that X and Y were idols in their life and was a little apprehensive about labeling desires as such, but I am starting to understand.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The Apostle Paul said that the Kingdom of God was righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Notice what he did not say. He did not promise success, romantic love, or a good time. The glory of God is a man fully alive. To be alive is not a terribly sophisticated place to be. It involves two things: 1) Loving the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and 2) loving your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, to live a completely God-glorifying life I do not need anything but the Spirit of God inside me. But do I believe that? A tree is known by its fruit. For a tree to bare fruit is must be rooted to a source of nourishment. So, I propose a question to myself and to you reading this. By what stream does your tree find its water? Too often, I find myself anchored to the polluted water down by my dreams. Jesus said that His water was a life-giving spring. If my tree has to be cut down in order to be transplanted to the spring of life, will I welcome it? I hope so. How about you?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some Scattered Thoughts on Creation and Atheism

Before you read this I must warn you that it was written as a stream of consciousness. I apologize for the poor quality of the writing. If anyone is interested in my pursuing any of these thoughts in a more refined way let me know.

I wonder what I would write if I just started writing. What am I thinking about? Well as I sit here and type I am reminded of Hunter S. Thompson’s endeavor to type out great novels. He once typed out “The Great Gatsby!” I kind of want to do that, but I am not sure I have the patience. What would it be like to write that prolifically: to describe scenery like a poet, understand characters like a psychologist, and play God as I complete the story. A character’s life is in your hands: his selfhood, his hopes, and his dreams are yours to fulfill or crush. I wonder what it would be like to have such power? Being God must be a terribly difficult gig. However, if God is God then I am sure that His joy in being God probably sustains Him through our ragamuffin exploitations of life. God gives us life, directs us through it, and has the end all planned out. He is completely in tune with this project. We think of God as having the power to curb reality, but do we think He has the responsibility. I mean sure there could a supreme being that created the universe but it could have been by chance. What we cannot object to is the now. Right now time is passing as I type. Women are giving birth, little boys are being put to bed, and old men are saying their last good bye to their sweethearts. Even more so, gravity is staying at a constant, the Earth is still spinning, and the moon is still keeping the ocean levels in check. What is holding all this together if not a sustainer? One may appear to natural law but who made natural law a constant? We do not know that tomorrow the Earth will not fall of its axis and drift into the sun. What we do have is faith. Faith that things will keep on going the way they has always gone on. Why? Probably because we have experienced it our whole life and therefore take it for granted. Sure, things have acted this way for at least 24 years, so why not one more day? I guess all I am trying accomplish is to show that it takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be a Christian. The difference is control. Secondly, I want to show that belief in a creator God is not enough. If there is an Almighty creator, then He must be an Almighty sustainer. The universe is ordered, was ordered, and, we assume, will continue to be ordered. Order cannot be taken for granted. The difference between a garden with no gardener and a garden with one is the garden. It is much easier to explain ordered existence as a purposeful act than an accident. Chaos is found in nature all the time but what do we seek to do – order it. This is the reason for morals, social structures, and community. We seek to put things in their proper place. If a smudge appears on your window your first instinct is to clean it: why? For a window to be a perfect window it cannot have smudges. Likewise, a man should not kill another man because it is not in man to do so. With the window we clean it; with the human we… Therefore, it follows that if someone says that something is one thing then they are attributing to it qualities which, if the person or thing is acting in accordance with its nature, define it. If its exhibited qualities do not match what the thing is then it is re-ordered to function properly. This presupposes three main points: 1) function, 2) dysfunction, and 3) redemption. For any of the three of these to be true a case must be made for purpose. If a case is made for purpose, then a separate case must be made for a purposer, namely a creator.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Birds and Needs

Jesus once said that His people need not worry about what they will eat, drink, or wear. Having been unemployed going on three months, believing this is a matter of life and death. Recently, there has been a bird that comes to our back yard to feed on the trash sitting in a can. Every day I see the bird fatten himself on this trash. Today, however, the trash was gone but the bird still came and searched the area for his meal. I was moved by the bird’s need so I got him a piece of bread. The sourdough bread I gave him was infinitely greater than the filth he was eating, yet had to wait. I think this is how God works with his people. We become satisfied with the trash we feed on until one day even that is taken away. We come back to the same place looking for the meal that has sustained us only to find it gone. It takes God moving in someone else to make the bread available so, despite our need, we must wait. God Almighty moves the hearts of men to give food, clothes, and shelter. We simply must have faith when the filth is taken away because it is only a matter of time before your feast is tossed in front of you.