Friday, November 13, 2015

What E. said when she was writing about what N. said and what she thought about that.

He said that while consequences always have to play out and we don’t always get rescued from them, and it may take time and work for us to change our behaviors, it does not take any additional time or energy for the atonement to cover our sins.

They are already paid.

We don’t need to shout out the behaviors or choices of others or ourselves, and lose our voices screaming the cost of it all.

Because it’s already paid.

We can’t disappoint God, because he already knows us perfectly.

It means, though, that [we really should not be devastated by] disappoint[ment in ourselves], because what we thought was disappointment is really an opportunity to see ourselves more clearly and more accurately.

C.S. Lewis said that because God knows all (which is not the same as causing all), our experience of the present moment is like God’s experience of the past, present, and future all at once.  The more we live in the present, rather than lost in the past or worried about the future, the more accurately we will learn to see ourselves the way God see[s] us.”

Sunday, November 08, 2015

What manner of men (or women) ought ye to be?

I am thinking about how very blessed so very many of us are.

And I am thinking how often our emotional wounds, due to rejection, derision, threats, false friends, loneliness in the midst of crowds, being deeply and caustically misunderstood or disenchanted, and having family members that oppose us or believe we are tragically deluded, haunt us to such a degree that what gratitude we may feel for the blessings we have received is deeply overshadowed by a belief that we will only be at peace if those wounding experiences are removed not only from our lives but the lives of everyone else we care about.

And I am thinking about Jesus, who spent much of his ministry with his person and his teaching consistently rejected, derided, threatened, misrepresented and ultimately heart-wrenchingly betrayed. He experienced feeling alone and caustically or ignorantly misunderstood, having beloved family members thinking he was all wrong and without a family home to welcome him. And he also knew (and said) that many of the people he dearly loved, who sought to live the kind of life he demonstrated, faced the same and would experience the same throughout their own lives as well.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

And yet he faced those experiences and that knowledge with calm, immovable, love and hope, both for those who suffered and for those who on purpose, or inadvertently, caused suffering. He knew and lived peace. 

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you...Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

He spoke calmly, and immovably for what he believed was right when others, both the powerful and the weak, derided both him and his ideas. And having said it, usually calmly, and occasionally very, very unmistakably clearly, he let it be and focused on blessing those at hand who were in need. He taught and spoke without needing for others to agree or “see his point of view”. He did not fear the hurtful results of others failing to heed his words. And he did not anguish over not making everything right and fair and good and “the way it should be”, right now.  I think it is because he truly understood mercy and grace.

He spoke the truth without monitoring how it was received and without losing hope when it was not heeded. And he did not ostracize or fear to encounter those who rejected what he said (unless, of course, they were setting about to stone him, and even then it was a calm quiet, “passing out of their midst”). In the synagogue and in the temple and on the side of the hill overlooking the sea and everywhere else he was the Prince of Peace. He was hope for us and trust in God personified. He just WAS.

Or, you might say, He just IS.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Paul and Barnabas in Antioch--Clarity, Trust and Equanimity in Missionary Work

My respect for the clarity, trust and equanimity of these two struck me this morning.

Paul speaking in the synagogue in Antioch:
Acts, chapter 13
"'Therefore, brothers and sisters, know this: Through Jesus we proclaimed forgiveness of sins to you. From all those sins from which a person couldn’t be put in right relationship with God through Moses’ Law,  through Jesus that person who believes is put in right relationship with God. Take care that the prophets’ words don’t apply to you:
 Look, you scoffers,
    marvel and die.
I’m going to do work in your day —
    a work you won’t believe
    even if someone told you.”[Hab. 1:5]
" As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people urged them to speak about these things again on the next Sabbath. When the people in the synagogue were dismissed, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism accompanied Paul and Barnabas, who urged them to remain faithful to the message of God’s grace.  

"On the next Sabbath, almost everyone in the city gathered to hear the Lord’s word. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were overcome with jealousy. They argued against what Paul was saying by slandering him.  Speaking courageously, Paul and Barnabas said, “We had to speak God’s word to you first. Since you reject it and show that you are unworthy to receive eternal life, we will turn to the Gentiles. This is what the Lord commanded us:
"I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
so that you could bring salvation to the end of the earth.”[Isaiah 49:6]
 "When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the Lord’s word. Everyone who was appointed for eternal life believed,  and the Lord’s word was broadcast throughout the entire region.  However, the Jews provoked the prominent women, as well as the city’s leaders. They instigated others to harass Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their district.  Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from their feet and went to Iconium.  Because of the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the disciples were overflowing with happiness."
As an aside, I have heard many conjectures about what exactly "shake the dust of your feet" means. Some of them were less charitable than others. I think the one I've pasted below makes sense.  It reminds me of the patient comment of a friend whose beloved husband was making stupid choices that she could not change. 
"I hand him up to God", she smiled.  
No rancor, no holier-than-thou, just a recognition that she had done that which she could, that she would continue to love, and that she could also gratefully trust God to do healing and teaching beyond what she was able to do in their committed relationship. 
Shaking off the dust:  "There are situations in our lives where God calls us to stand firm, proclaim truth, and give patient testimony. Sometimes we need to continue until we see the results of that testimony. Other times God gives us the freedom to... figuratively “shake the dust off our feet” when, under the Holy Spirit’s direction, we surrender those people to the Lord."
I trust God with that.