Thursday, July 16, 2020

Political Read Of The Day

Patrick Deneen, call your office! [You probably think he has a phone with a cord, too.--ed.] It's Deneen; of course he does. He probably pedals to work like Fred Flintstone. [Doesn't Dr. Cross actually do this?--ed.] Yeah.

In case anyone cares, it makes more sense to just hand poor people money, to make them not poor. Liberals need to stop trying to be "reasonable" with their economic agenda. Their political opponents don't care what works, anyway; they'll change tacks as necessary. Sorry. That's how I see it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

I Asked For Hope

I meant to say this yesterday, and didn't get around to it. Have you ever noticed that sometimes we get into trouble when we just don't believe that our lives are going anywhere? "What's the point?"

And I want to think about it beyond just the theological virtue of hope, mainly because I have probably asked for an increase of hope a million times in some formal prayer setting. I know I'm not the only one who has said things in prayer without thinking about them. And so I just asked, in plain words. I asked to be useful, and to know that I had a purpose. I know it seems a little dark, but I'm always honest with you. And seriously, how many of us feel this, and we don't do anything, or say anything, least of all to God?

God is real, and He is here. In some way, we have to get beyond the, "thou shalt nots" and get to the heart. I'm not chasing some mystical "righteousness" of my own, but to be completely loved in the Beloved. Maybe it's not far away; maybe it's right here.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Truth Will Find You

One of the things I have no time for, as I spend more and more days growing into the label of a "theologian," is when I see people using theology as a way to run from themselves. Sometimes, they build extra fences around things, perhaps to keep away from sin, or to craft a carefully curated image of themselves. But the truth of who God is reveals who we are. There is no truth revealed in Jesus that ought to be used as a weapon against another person, or frankly, against ourselves.

The Holy Spirit shines a light on us, so that we might go toward Jesus, and to be more like Jesus. I won't say it's always a painless process; in fact it never is. Yet there is a generosity in God that exists in no one else. OK, there is a generosity in the saints, but that is the power of God in them, not a power that they natively have within themselves.

My invitation for you today is to abandon whatever is fearful, selfish, and worldly that happens to be dressed up in religious clothing. I'm a little vague here, but that is purposeful. I can't do your discerning for you.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

What I Like About Me

In the spiritual life, the focus is often rightly on the things we get wrong. In order to progress in that life with God, the first step--which we may never move beyond--is to uproot sin from our lives. We can't live in the truth unless we acknowledge the reality of who we really are. All that is to say, examinations of conscience are really good things, and if we should find that we are far worse than we imagine, we should not lose heart, because Jesus already knew that, and died to save us anyway.

Yet I also think that self-hatred is often worse and more dangerous than a blissful pride. In the past year or so, I have really doubted the things I like about myself, the things that are good. I think I have thought of something that I really appreciate about myself, and I'm going to share it. I know there is risk that people will say that I'm incorrect. Oh, well.

I would never intentionally disregard the thoughts and feelings of another person.

Now it is fair to say that all of us have unintentionally disregarded or failed to account for someone else's perspective, but as I have thought about my darker feelings over the last year, I realize that this is actually true about me: I care about others. I want to care about them. Those who think otherwise about me are simply wrong.

If we hear talk either externally or internally that we are unlovable, or irredeemably defective, we must know that it is false. It is the plain meaning of Romans 5:8. Christ has in fact redeemed us; that act sets an objective value upon us as we are, even if we do not accept his gift of redemption. That sacrifice upon the cross tells us we are loved and valued beyond measure. Therefore, a large portion of what we must overcome is our own unbelief in the meaning of that sacrifice.

The difference between authentic self-knowledge, and an inappropriate self-hatred truly consists in the willingness to accept the gift of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. If he loves me--which he has demonstrated by that act--I have no right to tell him that he made a mistake. If there is something I believe about myself which prevents me from accepting the sacrifice, then it is unbelief, and it is false.

The words echo in my head, because the man of God said, "Let us bring all this before Christ." He meant my sins. I understood him to mean--wonder of wonders--that once I had abandoned them, they were now a gift of sacrifice from me to him. That would be a thing that Jesus would do: take a pile of trash, and turn it into a masterpiece on display at his own personal Met. Well, okay, then. I have long since understood that it's not my show, so to speak.

It's not mere sentiment; love gets thrown around as a term all over the place, and nobody really knows what it means, even if they think they know. It's how many people use the word "church", but that's another discussion. Love that comes from God reorients and turns a person toward God. It's not a feeling, so much as a fundamental disposition. That is liberating.

There is so much that we do not understand about God's love. If we understood it, we would not need to seek his mercy so often. But one thing I know is that endures; it abides. God's love is all around us, because He is Love.

I don't know where you are in your journey with God. I don't know the obstacles that are in your path. I do know that perhaps you would benefit from thinking about the things that are good about you. We have already proven to be lovable, even if we had nothing lovable about us. Yet most of us are not completely devoid of good qualities. That does not make us worthy, per se, but in fact it proves that we have a destiny in the Beloved. Anything good about us is an echo of the scriptural truth, "We love because he first loved us." Let us be encouraged by the echoes of his own love in us, and use those as a rope to find our way back home inside the heart of God.