Alone Again, Naturally

A little over a year ago, when I was just on the cusp of finishing high school… that was one of the most hopeful times of my life. I thought that in only a few months my life was going to radically change for the better. I wouldn’t be alone anymore. I wouldn’t be unsure of myself anymore. I was going to blossom into some kind of normal, productive citizen. I was going to become the ideal Christian, someone whom people would think of as a “good person,” whatever that means. Yes sir, the next time my classmates would see me at our reunion, they would hardly recognize me. I would be a completely calm and functional human being. Hopefully a little stylish and charming too. 

My, was I off the mark. I am no where near that goal, and thank God for that. 

I had foolish and vain dreams of a better life back then. I still have those dreams. 

I was lonely at the time. And I am still lonely, but in a slightly different way. 

I was worried, and I am still worried.

I was a horrible sinner, and I still am. 

Then what’s different? It’s hard to say, really. The good news is that I don’t have to measure my worth with some kind of instrument. God would rather me focus on the here and now, what I can do at this moment, rather than what I was and what I have been and what I “am.” It’s the enemy who forces me to constantly look within myself for guidance.

I may still be lonely, but I have no right to be mad at God about it. I know that it’s good for me, He knows that it’s good for me, and we both know why. God gives me all that I need and more.

You want to know something? I’m not okay. Not okay. I won’t tell people that, but it’s true. And I can’t be the only one. 

But God is more than okay. God is the glory. God is the light. He is my rock and He is my Doctor. 

So it’s okay that I’m not okay. Let my dreams die, what does it matter? Let me ask the question, for once in my life, “What do you want, God?”

 

Being Baptized

Since I’m going to be officially baptized next week, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my faith has evolved, for lack of a better word, over the years. Even though I feel like I just became a Christian, it’s really been about seven years since the seed was first planted. When did I really start taking it seriously? I can’t put a date on that, of course. 

In many ways, it seems like I haven’t made progress at all. Old demons still haunt me. I still screw things up and get stressed and angry. I still don’t know how to communicate through my Spirit. I still shake in my boots at the very thought of sharing my faith, although I do make more of an effort in that way (not that effort is really the right concept). 

At the same time, I do feel something changing deep inside of me. I have this inner peace that somehow coexists with the constant turmoil in my soul. Satan seems to be pulling out all the stops, but instead of feeling utterly hopeless, I feel that God is pulling for me even harder. 

I know at least that a new dawn is approaching. The hopelessness of my pre-Christian days is over. I know now that it doesn’t matter how bad my “old man” was, because I am getting a new being just the same. I know now that this world is just a cosmic pitstop. I know that my life is not going to be perfect or “normal,” ever, but that’s okay. It’s not like Jesus lived what we would consider a normal life either. He didn’t have two kids and a mortgage and a job in the city. He had 12 disciples and many unsavory characters as his friends, all the rejects of society. Oh yeah, and then the Jews crucified him. That’s not normal. So why should strive for a normal life?

Not that you can’t be a Christian if you have two kids and a mortgage and a job in the city. Please don’t be offended! I’m talking more about the inward conformity that our society expects from us than the outward life. I think you know what I mean.

Well, I’d best go and study for finals! Thanks for reading! 

 

 

The Renewing of the Mind?

If I am subconsciously telling you these stories about my day because I want you to think that I am a good Christian, then woe to me. If I bring them only to bring up a point, then by the grace of God, let this point be made.

Yesterday, I resolved that my life was going to change for real. I thought that actually talking to people about God might be a start. So I found a plastic crate, printed up a sign reading “Free Christian Books,” and I took my little box of free Christian books to school with me. It was easier to brave the traffic with the knowledge that my day had a worthwhile goal. So at lunch time I sat and waited. The Lord pitied my pathetic efforts. Instead of being mocked and ignored like I probably deserved, something a little different happened. 

First, two very nice and bubbly blonde girls started talking to me. They weren’t interested in the books because they were already Christian. 

Then, a presumably homeless woman entered the scene. This poor soul had a purse and about six grocery bags containing all her possessions. I didn’t know what to say to her. I even dropped a book because I was so nervous. Not because I was afraid she was going to gouge out my eyes or throw cats at me, it’s just that with social anxiety it’s hard to talk to anyone, let alone someone difficult to relate to. Eventually, she sat down with me and the two blonde girls. My, what an odd bunch we were.

I awkwardly invited her to lunch. I mean, it was really awkward. But thanks to food allergies and demons (she was afraid of going into the food court because she felt a dark presence there), that did not happen. I feel bad though, the lady deserved some food.

This woman, whom I will refer to as E, is Jewish, but she believes in Jesus. She seemed nice in a sort of quiet way, and was only a little batty. Probably much more normal than me since I was acting like an idiot a lot of the time. Some parts of our conversation were fine, but sometimes I just didn’t know what to talk about. I was so afraid of offending her, and as a result, I’m sure I did. I realized that a lot of what we talk about is sort of material and superficial. We talk about our gadgets, our favorite TV shows, our cars, homes and clothes… so what do you talk about with someone who doesn’t have any of that? Even food seemed like a touchy subject. Still, I found myself talking about my petty health problems and various little annoyances, but I realized just how trivial they seemed as I mentioned them.

I’m sure a more gifted conversationalist would have no trouble at all with a homeless person, but then again, I am not a more gifted conversationalist. I don’t know if E liked my very much. 

What is the moral of this story? The moral is that I clearly have a lot to learn. If I am letting worldly barriers get in the way of God’s will, there is something wrong. There is something wrong when I can only relate to people through the material world. 

And you know what else is wrong? My whole attitude. Like I’m doing E a big favor just by talking to her. And maybe telling people about Jesus is helping them, but it is really God who is doing the helping, and it is not our place to get all uppety. How dare I talk down to these people, my fellow creatures? “Oh, look at me, I’m talking to a homeless person.” That’s not true love. Get a clue, self! And the ironic thing is, E is probably a few sandwiches closer to a picnic than I am. 

I must admit, though, I did feel a little different today. Not necessarily better in every way, but different, not quite like myself. I was thinking more spiritually. At times, I was trying way too hard to be spiritual, but I did feel different, maybe a little less materialistic. I felt so detached from the rest of the world all day (probably because I was acting so weird and everyone could tell), and what’s more, I almost felt as if the rest of the world didn’t matter. Could this be the first stage of the renewing of the mind that I had prayed for? Or am I fooling myself again? 

Please say a prayer for E, friends. 

 

 

 

Standing Up For Yourself Doesn’t Feel Good

Despite what I’ve heard on daytime talk shows

Maybe some people find it liberating. I suppose it depends on your value system.

If I could go back in time and undo it, I would.

I did it because I made a big deal out of something that seems to represent all the things in life that I am discontented with. I was tired of not getting my way. I really thought they would understand, but they didn’t. They don’t understand me anymore than I understand them, even after all this “communication.” And why would I expect her to change? Why would I expect any mercy? She’s not even a Christian, but I am. I shouldn’t have done it.

There’s an old, kind of silly saying, “It’s better to be kind than right.” I think that saying is true. If I had been kind instead of right, I don’t think I would feel so lousy right now. 

I would rather not talk about the big problems with the world, but I think it’s safe to say that sometimes, with petty little problems that other people would dream to have, maybe it’s best to let the molehills be molehills. 

 

 

 

Satan and Society, In Bed

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“It’s your life, do what you want to do.”

“As long as you don’t want to wholeheartedly serve God; that’s just weird.”

“You can pray if you think there’s going to be an earthquake, though.”

“Financial security is the basis. What can you do without financial security, financial security…”

“Money can’t buy happiness, just things that make you happier.”

“Buy stuff, buy stuff! Don’t buy that. Eat! Don’t eat too much though, or you’ll become fat and worthless.”

“If the moon is high and the feeling’s right, don’t let any of that superstitious God crap stop you from following your Heart.”

“Love humanity, sure. Don’t talk to too many strangers, that’s just weird.”

“Heaven help you if you drive too slow.”

“Everyone needs to get totally shit-faced at some point in their life, for the experience of it.”

“Be nice to your friends, but know in your heart that they are out to get you. But forgive them if it makes you feel better.”

“Stay away from that guy! If you talk to him his strangeness will rub off on you.”

“Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with the guy holding the sign.”

“If you’re not happy in your marriage, who is?”

“The world is such a confusing place. Glean whatever joy you can from it and die peacefully.”

“Stupid, spoiled rich kid STAY AWAY.”

“If you die poor, it’s your fault.”

“Jesus drank wine, wine is alcohol, alcohol is a drug, therefore, Jesus did drugs too.”

“You friggen junkie don’t you know when to stop? You need to stop so you can get back our there and do your duty to the Economy.”

“Never, ever change, you are perfect and sinless the way you are, and if you don’t believe that, well, then maybe you’re not so perfect because you don’t ascribe to our PHILOSOPHY.”

“All religions are the same, really- outdated.”

“As long as you’re having fun, what could you be doing wrong?”

“I don’t think God would want you to completely change your life.”

“The ‘God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob” is rather violent and intolerant.”

“Don’t touch that remote!”

“Because if you work hard, you gotta play hard.”

“Be a good person, when it’s all said and done. Love your family, give generously, and you’ll feel better, you really will.”

“But have a little fun first, by all means ;)”

“Remember, don’t forget it- always follow your heart.”

 

 

“So You Say You Want a Revolution?”

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One of the things that continually attract me to the Scriptures is, unfortunately, more literary and earthly than spiritual. 

That’s not to say that every time I open up the Bible I just get a rush of feeling. A lot of the time I read it with grudging. But you have to admit, no matter who you are, that there is a certain mystique to the Good Book. 

Things that have always fascinated me and tickled my fancy are motifs of secrecy, mystery, dissension, conspiracy, and revolution. Perhaps that is why devoured the novel 1984. I loved how Winston was hiding from Big Brother, but he wasn’t even safe in his own mind! I was on pins and needles! Now you know why my blog is called “underground voices.” I find this idea of working against society/government in secret so intoxicating! However, I’m not so much into revolutions that involve wars and riots. Once the cat’s out of the bag, I sort of lose interest in the whole thing. Like a feline, I enjoy sneaking around with my ideas. I want to covertly plant the seeds. The harvest sounds a little tiring if you asked me. 

I must admit, the End of the World also has a certain charm for me. Weird as it sounds, sometimes I hope it will happen in my lifetime. 

The Bible and 1984 are sort of on opposite ends morally, but I think you get the point. This is a Bible verse that always satisfies the secret agent inside of me:

Matthew 10:27-28

What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Of course, what is really emphasized hear is the “proclaiming” rather than the whispering. But tell that to my foolish heart!

I do not doubt that the Lord made His Word interesting. Sometimes I do find the parables rather exciting and mysterious. Especially the ones about the treasure and the pearl in Matthew 13.

But it is wrong to dwell on this stuff! Don’t I know? The Bible wasn’t written to entertain me! Jesus did not preach on this earth and die a horrible death just to be my muse, to tickle my fancy, to pump a bit of adrenaline into my mundane existence! God forbid! 

Faith is nothing unless it is put into practice. Putting it into practice is not always glamorous. I doubt it will make you rich. I doubt it will make you feel as serene as you hoped; and I doubt it will be as exciting as you would like it to be. I often focus on the parts of the Bible that I find intriguing, but that is far from the whole picture. Blogging and covert activities are a mere drop in the bucket. What I’m really saying is that following Jesus’ commands ain’t going to suit your fancy all the time. You’re spirit might enjoy it, but your flesh will not. Following his commands will be boring, embarrassing, and nearly impossible at times. 

Jesus wants people who aren’t ashamed. He wants people who aren’t just coming along for the ride. He wants you and all of you to embrace all  that God is.  It’s not just the planting, it’s the harvesting. It’s not just the whispering, it’s the shouting. Not just the thrill of avoiding persecution, it’s not all Hollywood glamor, it’s hard work, it’s everyday life. It’s perseverance. It’s going against the grain, of course, it’s revolting against Satan and mainstream society. But it is also an act of following. Clumsily and awkwardly we prattle along, looking for His footprints in the sand. It is obeying earthly authority, when possible. It is an act of trust and humility. It is not individualism. 

The Bible isn’t fiction. It’s not something we’re supposed to read on a rainy day and think “Ah, that’s sweet” and then we put it back on the shelf. The Bible isn’t all that we want it to be, but in it is the only key to salvation. 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

Jesus Is For The Weak Part 2: Meeting the Mental Illness Stigma in the Middle and Finding Joy

For a long time, mental illness has been haunting me. I feel that I cannot speak openly about it anywhere, or they will bind me in a straight jacket and lock me in a padded cell for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be institutionalized, and I don’t want to eat jello every day. So I want to open up, but not too much. And the reason that I don’t want to open up too much is this. If you yourself are not well and you are reading this, I would not want your condition to be exacerbated. Everyone has enough of their own crazy thoughts. Those are not something that we need to be spreading to our brothers and sisters.

Why hasn’t this problem just disappeared since I started to believe in God? How does this stuff in any way contribute to a Christian lifestyle? Aren’t I a raging hypocrite, a hopeless lunatic? I myself wonder the same thing all the time.

It’s easy to talk about the past, but it’s difficult to talk about the present. Very painful. I can’t help but wonder what you will think of me when you read this. I fear that you will despise me. Nonetheless, I am compelled to go on.

The truth is, Satan often tells me to hurt and destroy, probably because he knows that I am weak mentally and he thinks there’s a chance I’d listen. He wants me to kill myself, and he would prefer it if I took others down with me. I will be no vaguer than that nor more specific.

Jesus was tempted by Satan too, for 40 days in the wilderness. Not that I am sinless like Jesus. Satan told Jesus to jump off the cliff, to turn stones into bread, etc. Satan even used out-of-context Bible verses in his argument. But Jesus always had a relevant come-back line, and he effectively repelled Satan. I wish I was as good at it as Jesus. I am convinced that I am not without sin, even though, apparently, temptation itself does not constitute in sin.

I ask God to heal me. I have done this on many occasions. And it’s true, sometimes this problem does get better. I should be thankful for that. But why has it persisted? And must I continue to torture myself with feelings of guilt? Why do I have to keep guarding this skeleton in my closet?

Should I continue to feel like the scum of the earth? Should I continue in tearing myself down? I feel that I must punish myself in order to justify myself. And yet, however right it feels, however you may agree or disagree, somehow this is not right. We can’t justify ourselves anyway. Only the blood of Christ can.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

What should I do in the mean time? I am afraid of myself. I am afraid of Hell. I am afraid of the truth and freedom of the Lord as well. I feel like a hypocrite almost every moment of every day. I wonder how in the world I have the nerve to judge anyone. And maybe I should wonder this. But I also wonder how in the world I have the nerve to preach the Gospel when I myself am so screwed up. Suddenly I am brought to tears because I am remembering yesterday, and how good I felt.

I was at a church picnic type thing. It was supposed to rain yesterday, and it did, but not hard enough to force anyone to cancel it. And thank God for that. I can’t easily describe to you how it was. If you are not a Christian, or if you are, like me, skeptical at times, you will likely see this as little more than phony, emotional, snake-charming, throw-your-baby-at-the-altar Christianity. Still, I will try to make you understand. I’ve already revealed an embarrassing secret. There’s no sense in stopping now.

It’s cold and windy. We are under a gazebo in some park, our bellies filled with carne asada. There’s people from all around the area here, people of all colors, ages, shapes and sizes, united for the sake of Gospel. And it’s an open microphone share-what’you-learned this-year type deal. It sounds boring, but it really wasn’t, until the end when I got so cold and tired I could hardly concentrate. And young people around my age are sharing things- they are proudly proclaiming their faith, saying the most profound and spiritual things. What stood out to me most was a girl saying, “I am not here because of my love for God, but because of God’s love for us” and someone else saying “The church is not a social organization.” And so many other things that I would love to repeat, but they just sounded so much better in person. It was as honest and genuine as it gets in our world. I’ve been with Christians before, but I’ve never seen anything exactly like this. And for a moment, as I was sitting there, I felt so complete. I knew that this was the real thing. All that I’ve heard about the Bible in college lecture halls, that wasn’t it. All that I’d ever seen on TV, all that I grew up believing, that was a lie, and this church, this body of Christ with all its beautiful members, this was real. It didn’t matter what I’d done in the past. I didn’t matter that I wasn’t perfect or that it was cold outside. My circumstances were good. There was nothing to keep me from proclaiming the Gospel myself. All this I felt, but if I were to have spoken, I’m sure it wouldn’t have come out as eloquently.

Unfortunately, these feelings pass. They pass faster than the temptations, or bad feelings that I have. But I know that they are “more than a feeling.” I know that that’s a song. I know that just because I feel these things doesn’t mean that they are real. The Kingdom of God exists outside of human feeling. Feeling is only a channel through which this truth passes.

Jesus came for the weak. I am weak. If you’re from a Christian background, you probably get tired of hearing things like that. You get tired of hearing people describe themselves as “broken” but Jesus “saved” them. It all sounds so painfully boring and meaningless sometimes, but I tell you, it’s true.

Some people think that the Bible is dangerous, that it’s a breeding ground for fanaticism. And I tell you, it is fanatical. Maybe not burning-down-hospitals fanatical, that’s Satan’s area of expertise. Yet I believe that if we took what was in the Bible and put it all into practice, the world would be a terrifyingly different and beautiful place. So the Bible is dangerous in a political sense, but in a spiritual sense, in a real sense, the Bible is our only hope, confusing as it may be. If it wasn’t for the love of God, for the blood of Christ, I would probably be dead, dead or eating jello. What meaning would my life have without God? I am weak. I can’t delude myself with high-flown phrases. I can’t subjugate myself to the rules of society, I just can’t force myself to love humanity. I am weak, physically and emotionally. I am a failure. I am socially awkward. I am unwell. I am a worry-wart. I am not a good person. But thank God I am weak, and thank God I find little comfort in the things that pacify most. For if I was strong, if I was “wise” and self-controlled and normal, I wouldn’t have any reason to put all my faith, all my being into a perfect God.

Everyone has weakness and everyone has strength. God will find you in your weakness and He will find you in your strength. He will find You in the lowest depths, He will find you on your highest mountain. He will find you in your humility, He will find you in your pride. He will find you in the margins of society and He will find you in the midst of it. He will find you in the 99% and he will find you in the 1%. There’s no escaping Him. Wherever You are, there He is also, watching. So it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are. If He can forgive me, He can forgive you, and now you know that. You know that I am not just some goody-goody. You know that I have no right to look down on you. It doesn’t matter who you are, it matters who God is, and it matters if you want to have anything to do with what God is.

 

Most Christians…

Most Christians believe that you can glorify God in virtually any occupation. With the exception of organized crime or prostitution perhaps

Most Christians believe that there are times when we must conform to the institutions of this world, even if that means compromising a little

I don’t know if I want to think just like “Most Christians” anymore. 

 

Right now, I am reading The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy (when i have time). I was going to talk about it when I finished it, but I am so excited I don’t think I can wait. Tolstoy is also the author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Anyway, he also wrote some theological books. The Kingdom of God is Within You is turning out to be different than I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be strictly an inspirational book. I even feared that it was going to be one of those “We are ALL God” books. As much as I believe that God dwells in people who allow Him to, I also believe that He is a distinct entity, and I find it a little arrogant to suggest otherwise. I digress.

The premise of the book is the concept of “nonresistance to evil.” The strongest evidence supporting this view is Matthew 5:39: “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. 

So many of us have heard the phrase “turn the other cheek,” as well as “go the extra mile” which comes from an adjacent verse. But I don’t recall explicitly a sermon on “do not resist an evil person” (but maybe I just forgot). Maybe you haven’t either. You know why? Because it’s so general! It is so general that if you really think about it and accept it, it’s hard to find a loophole.

This isn’t an ambiguous verse that someone butchered from the Bible. And this isn’t some corny saying like “God helps those who help themselves.” This is from the Sermon on the Mount! How could this mean anything other than what it says? Why would Jesus say it in a sermon if He was being sarcastic? And how could He have meant it halfway? That doesn’t even make sense. So either He meant it, or He didn’t. 

And there is action to back up this verse. Jesus let people crucify Him! I don’t know about you, but that sounds like nonresistance to evil. And He told Peter not to defend HIm in Matthew 26:52. I rest my case.

Tolstoy ventures to explain why non resistance is ignored by, well, everyone:

“The preachers of the Church never in any other case advocate the breaking of any other commandment. But in connection with the commandment of nonresistance they openly teach that we must not understand it too literally, but that there are conditions and circumstances in which we must do the direct opposite, that is, to go law, fight, punish. So that occasions for fulfilling the commandment of nonresistance to evil by force are taught for the most part as occasions for not fulfilling it. The fulfillment of the command, they say, is very difficult and pertains only to perfection. And how can it not be difficult, when the breach of it is not only not forbidden, but law courts, prisons, cannons, guns, armies, and wars are under the immediate sanction of the Church?” (32). 

I know that this is going to offend someone. Let’s be frank, this kind of discredits the military as well as police, lawyers perhaps, etc. 

I used to believe that using force was necessary in extreme circumstances. After all, what red-blooded American is prepared to say that WWII shouldn’t have been fought? Indeed, you may get labelled a heartless anti-Semite (among other things) for such an outrageous comment. And what’s so wrong with defending your country and others? Surely that is an implicit commandment. And it’s a little foolish to say that force is always used for selfish reasons. 

Tolstoy has a rebuttal for that, too. He brings up an important point: that the necessity of defending others is at best an implicit commandment, and at worst, a non-existent one. If you can find a place in the Bible that does condone defending others with violence, however, please show it to me.

“Besides, apologies for violence used against one’s neighbor in defense of another neighbor from greater violence are always untrustworthy, because when force is used against one who has not yet carried out his evil intent, I can never know which would be greater- the evil of my act of violence or of the act I want to prevent” (31).

I think that this relates to a lot of things going on in the world right now, and I’m sure that many non-Christians would agree because it happens to make sense. Here in the States, the news has been littered with incidents of questionable force exercised by police. And of course, you always wonder “War… what is it good for?”

Before I started reading this book, I would have tried to answer that question, but now I am pretty convinced by “nonresistance to evil.” I was reluctant to get taken in, but what is being said so far is Biblical. Can you really go wrong by not resisting evil? Sure you could get killed. But is that really suicide if someone else forces death upon you? And if you kill them instead, will you be able to sleep tightly, 100% convinced that you did not commit murder? And what if the person you killed would have become a Christian had you not killed them? But that is a sort of mind-boggling theological area that maybe I should try to avoid. 

So if you haven’t read the book, I would recommend it, and I don’t think I’ll take back that recommendation unless the ending is really weird.

I don’t want to be afraid of the world anymore. I don’t want to be afraid of offending people. I don’t want to be afraid of “shaking things up” in my own quiet and non-violent way. Why are the institutions of this world so holy and unquestionable? Why must I sell my soul and die in a bloody war for my country? Why must I compromise my beliefs just for the comfort of others? 

I don’t feel compelled to spit in the graves of veterans. But I do make a humble appeal to cast off arms. I know that it’s difficult and unpractical, but I think that’s why it’ll be worth it in the end. If nothing else, in my own way, I feel that I must ask God to help me to not defend my life or my possession. Let’s face it, it’s hard even to stop being offensive. How does one stop being defensive? It’s the most unnatural thing in the world. Only with the spirit of God in love can it ever be accomplished. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Love and Stupid Infatuations

I’m not here to denounce love. If you love somebody and you want to marry them and have babies, then all power to you. That’s beautiful stuff. The trouble is, it doesn’t happen to all of us quite like that. 

Mind you, my experiences are severely limited as I have never been in a relationship before. But I have had way too many pointless infatuations. Not with celebrities thankfully, but other guys that were completely out of my league and, in most cases, very taken. I can tell you that some of these schoolgirl crushes were/are not harmless. I can’t explain to you exactly how it happened, but I feel that they hurt my very soul. There were times when I didn’t just fall for a guy, but I fell for an idea. An idea that he seemed to represent with his life. Ideas that would leave me at the mercy of sin and the pleasures of this world, ideas that sought to tear me away from God. 

You see, love isn’t always perfect, pure, and beautiful. Like anything, love can be perverted. I think this information is what our if-it-feels-right-do-it society is missing. 

Love for the wrong things can tear us away from God. 

But God loves us. God’s love is the only love worth anything. We can allow God to love us and we can love others with God’s love. Or we can use our “self-interested” or instinctive love. This is something that I constantly struggle with- how to show people God’s love. How to go  beyond the requirements of society and truly love someone. I don’t think that’s a question that can easily be answered.