My View From the Tunnel

The most common criticism of Christians is that we are hypocrites. We say things that we do not believe ourselves. We think that we are all that and the rest of the world is filled with misguided sinners who are on their way to Hell.

Well, I don’t really have anything to say to that right now, not because it’s so absurd that it doesn’t deserve an answer, but because I am not blameless in propagating the image I’ve just described above. So today, I will not attempt to preach. I will not tell you how to live your life. What right do I have to do that anyway? Surely with my track record I must be the least of his followers. And what good does it do to tell people what to do anyway? There’s only One who can touch hearts.

But I will continue to praise the God whom I owe everything to and who deserves everything I have. The God that exists not because I want Him to, but because He is.

I will praise God today, in this moment. I’ve always had a difficult time living in the moment because I am so nostalgic and introspective. It seems like I’m always somewhere else. I constantly rehash old memories, mostly good memories from childhood. Old vacations and daytrips. I used to daydream about the future too, every night. But I haven’t done that as much lately. In part because the future is so uncertain, and in part because I’m beginning to realize that the charming, refined woman of the world will never be me. And rightly so.

So being nostalgic and overly ambitious is a weakness of mine. There are so many other weaknesses, more than strengths it seems, that I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose many of them can be summarized into one weakness- my tendency to obsess. The way that my brain fixates on things and won’t let go. The way that it spins out of control like a stationary wheel. Going nowhere, moving nothing, only tiring itself out and dizzying beholders.

Satan uses this for his advantage. Instead of overthinking about God, I just overthink about everything else imaginable. He just shoves things on the wheel and sits back for the show. He piles on sorrows. He piles on worries/pointless anxieties. He piles on pleasures. Anything, everything. People, food, TV, ideas, places, memories…

It’s too much to handle at times. I could easily be addicted to things in my relentless quest to fill the void. I could easily get a heart attack in my old age. I could easily commit some unspeakable crime simply because my mind is such a mess and Satan is good at what he does. I could kill myself even easier.

I could punish myself for these weaknesses. Lord, you know how many of your children have gone that route. Frankly, I do believe that I deserve punishment. I hardly deserve all the opportunities that God has given me.

I don’t punish myself only because I don’t have to. The Lord Jesus punished Himself so that I could live forever in Him. And I don’t need to feel completely hopeless about all my weaknesses. Because the Lord cares for the weak. He is strong no matter how weak we are, and sometimes our weakness makes us stronger because we learn to be less self-absorbed and self-reliant.

So, while I may seem so wretched that I don’t deserve to live, I just have a hard time believing that that will always be true. I just have a hard time believing that God won’t use this for good. Not that I should atone for my sins, because that is impossible, but that I should become the real me, the better me. And I thank God that there is really no alternative- that I must continue stumbling after Him in my own pathetic way, or simply die. Others seem to have a third option, but I thank God that I don’t. On one hand, I wish that others would be like me so they could believe and be saved more easily. On the other hand, I don’t know if I would wish my weaknesses on anyone else because they are a burden.

And so, here I am in this moment that surely won’t last. I would like to say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I really can’t. Yet I still believe in it. And I believe that when I finally see it, it’ll be so bright my eyes will burn because they won’t be able to process the glory and beauty and wonderfulness that is the Lord.

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Christians Have Feelings Too

Is it just me, or is it hard to know how to process your emotions as a Christian? How do we justify our state of mind before the Almighty?

“Comfort is a hair’s breadth from complacency! Sorrow is the right up there with self-indulgent melancholy! Happiness is next to worldliness; Godly joy is the goal, but this is hard to come by without caffeine and uplifting music.”

“And fear, doubt, and worry, of course, must be repressed at all costs!” 

“And what place is there for depression and mental illness in a Christian?”

What I’ve been trying to focus on lately is the message of comfort.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.[a] If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 RSV

After all, how can I comfort others if I myself don’t feel comforted by the love of God? How will I ever make a positive influence if I continue to spend my time worrying and sulking? Surely, this is not God’s lot for me. Surely, I must put on a brave face and the breastplate of righteousness and go out there and feel… comforted. But how?

So we are supposed to feel comfort. But Paul also speaks of the afflictions, in his case persecutions. As we all know, afflictions will come. But should we feel afflicted, which makes sense, or should we feel comforted? Or both, at precisely the same time? What?

Jesus cried the night before the Jews put Him to death because He knew it was coming. That is right, the Savior, the Son of the living God, cried. But what does that mean? Well, it couldn’t have been a sin because He is, like I said, the Son of God. And who wouldn’t cry if they knew they were going to be crucified the next day for the crime of serving God? I would probably do more than cry, that’s for sure. 

Are we only allowed to cry if we are being severely persecuted or about to be put to death? What do we do with all these emotions? 

“If you feel it, it can’t be wrong,” someone with flowers in their hair might say. 

Indeed, I feel a lot of things. Guilt, for one, constantly. But is it wrong of me to feel this? Especially if it’s not quickly resolved and the sins repented of? How long are we allowed to wallow? 

2-cor-7-10-web-watermarked

I suppose I should be more serious about this. The answer to these questions may just be staring me in the face. After all, the Gospel is “the good news.” It’s not supposed to leave us feeling lousy about life. 

I guess what I mean to say is that emotions will come. I’m sorry, but even after you are saved you will continue to be sad at times. After all, it is a little hard to be comforted if you were perfectly happy in the first place. But it’s not the sadness that we know and love and remember… or at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s a different kind of sadness. It’s a sadness that we don’t fully believe in, sadness tempered with hope. 

When we come to trust God and let Him work in our lives, we continue to feel emotions, but we are no longer their slave. Or at least, we shouldn’t be… 

That is the difference. We are doing things now for the glory of God, not to satisfy ourselves. Jesus was sad, to say the least. You know, before they crucified him. And I’m sure that, at times, Paul wasn’t too thrilled about being imprisoned. But that didn’t stop them. Why should any little thing that life throws at me prevent me from serving God?

And maybe, eventually, we’ll start feeling different kinds of emotions. Sorrow over our sins (temporary), anger towards Satan, joy in serving the Lord, compassion for the weak, happiness for the success of others. I hope those things will come with time. 

 

From:

A little perspective.com

 

 

Freedom?

“People talk about the liberty of the Christian Church, about giving or not giving freedom to Christians. Underlying all these yeas and expressions there is some strange misconception. Freedom cannot be bestowed on or taken from a Christian or Christians. Freedom is an inalienable possession of the Christian… A Christian cannot fail to be free, because the attainment of the aim he sets before himself cannot be prevented or even hindered by anyone or anything.”
-From The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy

Who’s The Underdog?

Is it the atheists or the Christians? Who’s being persecuted? Who’s really going against the grain? What is the grain? These are questions that, with inspiration from a fellow blogger, I have come to ponder.

The first question I will ask: what is the grain? I suppose you could define the grain as culture, or “human nature,” if you will. What does the grain value? Words that immediately come to mind are money, power, and sex. But what about faith, hope, and love? Can we not say that people often desire higher purpose as well as the most material ones? That they desire harmony, moderation, peace, and community?

Who is really going against the grain more? Is it the Christians who are supposed to be rebelling against the ways of the world? Or is it the atheists who are supposed to be rebelling against the childish and outdated desire for worship, higher purpose and “religion.” I saw a sign the other day which said “atheists against the world” or something like that. But wouldn’t it make more sense if it said “Christians against the world?”

Maybe so.

Of course, this is a very simplistic way of looking at the issue. So far I have assumed that there are only two world views, Christianity and atheism, which of course, is not the case. At this point, let me refine my focus. I will place Christians on one side, and everyone else, whether they be atheist, Buddhist, Muslim Hindu, etc, on the other.

Now if you’re not Christian, I suppose what I will quote next will have little meaning for you. Because how can you completely trust what is, essentially, an imperfect and ancient document that has been translated and translated, butchered and battered so much that it couldn’t resemble the true “word of God” if it tried. But of course, I am speaking in the manner of unbelieving friends.

Matthew 7:13-14

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

The Narrow Gate

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few

There you have it; Christianity is the narrow gate. Not that carrying the burden of the world is easy. Not that satisfying the flesh is always a cakewalk. Because, though it brings satisfaction, it also has costs.

But Christianity is the narrow gate because it goes against all the things that Satan has taught us to enjoy over the years. We delight in pride and vanity. We can’t help but abuse our bodies in the name of “fun,” and to strive to gather more possessions and experiences to rival our neighbors. We are versed in deceit from the time we are children; and from adolescence we are inflamed with absurd passions for the opposite (or the same) sex. Sure, we may disapprove of these things from time to time, but how can we really prove that we don’t believe in them when we keep doing them; OVER AND OVER AGAIN! Why then, would we really want to follow a God who condemns all that we know and love, all that we proclaim with our actions?

I do not doubt the plight of atheists. I am sure everyone has a plight. I am sure that everyone feels out of place at times. Let me assure you, Christians are no exception. It is amazing that even when we feel the closest to our Father, we often feel farthest from those around us. Sometimes it seems like the more God loves us, the more the world despises us.

Sometimes, in my humanities class, when the professor talks about the New Testament and reads passages from it, I just want to shout out “amen” or something like that. And when we have discussions, I can’t help but try and defend the book that I am growing to love. I cringe when people deride it, yet I am often afraid to speak out. I fear these people. I fear that they know my secret- that I believe. I wonder if they despise me, if every time I speak they are thinking about how much of a hypocrite I am. I wonder why I am afraid of them. God has will humble them in due time, and the wisdom of the world will pass. Why do I guard my image? And, more importantly, why do I guard my faith? Why do I fear persecution? Persecution is nothing, but the will of God is everything.

So you see, here is one difference between Christians and the rest. We are taught that persecution is acceptable, inevitable, and that we must love those who persecute us. We cannot fight the forces that persecute us, all we can do is struggle along, continuing to do the will of God. It is not our place to defend ourselves, to cry out for our rights, but rather, it is our place to humbly accept the cross that has been laid on our shoulders.

Who’s the underdog?

 

 

 

The Meaning of Life, Lost and Found

Do you ever feel so human that it hurts? 

I was consumed by this sort of greed. This desire to eat that had little to do with physical hunger. It was almost overwhelming. I tried to work, tried to read, but all I felt was myself. A slave to the flesh, that is how I feel sometimes, We all have addictions, or if not addictions, we have vices that distract us from God, that can even take the place of God. Sure, it’s weird to put it that way, but how else can I put it? 

A slave to the flesh. I don’t want to be that way anymore. I do not want to live for pleasure, for survival, for meaninglessness. I can’t convince myself that the world is right. I can’t think of any noble philosophy that will satiate my desire for purpose. I can’t accept the fact that there is no purpose either. Call me a fool, but I simply refuse to believe that the universe was a convenient accident. Call me weak, but I can’t live without the love of Christ. Without the love of Christ, I refuse to live. Not that I should have faith merely to stay alive, however. 

There’s just got to be more than living then eating, sleeping, and reproducing. There’s got to be more to life than working, partying, and going to church. I tell you, there is a spiritual life, a spiritual self that I have become out of touch with, but a spiritual self that is much realer than the physical self. We must meet our spiritual being. We must meet God. That is what living is.

 

 

 

Essay About Jesus, and What in the World is Easter?

Why is it that writing an essay about Jesus (and Aeneas from the Aeneid) is the absolute last thing I want to do right now? I’m so exhausted and this is so tiring. I write about Jesus all the time, but I want to do it voluntarily, without having to think the whole time about how I’m going to get a bad grade on it. My goodness, what if everything I blogged about got a grade? That’s a scary thought. 

I should really finish this essay so I can celebrate Easter like a good Christian tomorrow. But what is Easter anyway? Is anyone else confused, or am I just crazy? How much of this paganish holiday can be taken seriously? Where’s the wheat and where’s the chaff? Not that there’s anything wrong with the Resurrection… but I don’t know, it seems a little bizarre to cram it all into one day. I wonder what God thinks about Easter. 

 

Spiritual Words

1 Corinthians discusses something that may be of interest to writers, words and rhetoric. Any you may not particularly like what it says.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

1 Corinthians 1:17 NRSV

It is not the power of words, but the power of God that is important. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but how can it be mightier than the Almighty God? 

See, I think that I just used rhetoric right there. Is it the wrong approach when proclaiming the Gospel?

One of the reasons, I think that some people have a difficult time “believing into God” is because God is so unlike anything else. Much of the time, we use words to enhance things that may or may not be that great in reality. This is the business of advertising; as well as it is creative writing, music, accounting, etc. But God is so different from all these things because we can’t exaggerate Him. We can really only understate His magnificence.

So should we be like the Puritans and ban all creative ways of spreading the Word? I do not believe so. Why would He have given us all different talents and passions if he wanted us all to do the exact same things?

But the question still lingers: how do we reconcile the Lord with art? Or at least, the question lingers in my mind. The answer, I believe, is faith. 

Faith? Isn’t that vague and simplistic? What does that really mean?

Well, faith would ensure that we are using the implements of this world as a means to an end, rather than an end unto themselves.

Faith is faith in God, that He will speak through us, rather than us speaking through our work. 

But maybe there is something to be said about simplicity as well:

1 Corinthians 1:27

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

Matthew 18:3

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

So the walk with God is, in worldly terms, a regressive one. We are renouncing our old beliefs, our old perrogatives, maybe forsaking centuries of “advancements” that have led us into the modern era. We are going back in time, not forward, traveling perhaps over land and sea to the very place where Christ was crucified.

I’m sorry if this wasn’t literal enough for your tastes 🙂

And apparently, this journey may be a lonely one.

1 Corinthians 2:15

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.

“No one else’s” scrutiny? Not even the scrutiny of other believers?

I must note this verse sounds more depressing in the Recovery Version. The word “scrutiny” used here can have a negative connotation, so maybe we don’t want to be scrutinized. But I suppose I brought it up because 1. I don’t understand it, so it must be important. Maybe some “spiritual words” that I am not equipped to understand at this time. 2. Because I myself feel misunderstood all the time. 3. Because maybe it’s okay to be misunderstood. Where words will not save me, the flesh of Christ will.