How Sick Is This World?

 

(c) pol ubeda on flickr. Click for source.

(c) pol ubeda on flickr. Click for source.

This world is sick.

We all know it. We all feel it. We all live it.

Sometimes being a Christian feels like a shadow walking through a party. You don’t really belong there, your presence is fleeting and you’re easy for the guests to ignore. C.S. Lewis once presented this metaphor in his book The Great Divorce where he alluded that this world is a world of shadow and illusionment, and the realness of the spiritual world is beyond our comprehension, so real that the blades of grass in heaven would pierce our feet; the feet of shadows. It’s an apt metaphor because in this dying world, we really are strangers. We are meant for another place and our time and mission here is fleeting.

Being a shadow  allows you to see the emptiness of those whom you flit between. Their drawn-out eyes, loud, empty laughs, pasty makeup clinging to dying faces; nothing but mascara on a corpse. It reveals a world of death and decay hidden beneath a facade of merriment and amusement. A viciously self-destructive whirlwind that claims equality and justice and truth yet cannibalizes itself in a never ending battle of competing equalities. A world that screams for egalitarianism and yet is hurriedly engaged in the business of undoing the foundations of justice.

It’s a world of fine contradictions, of carefully levied jabs at each other, of private distaste and public acceptance of various ideological threads. We fight each other with sharp words and take stands against perceived injustice and a great tragedy looms above us that so many do not realize; the tragic irony of no longer knowing what a true injustice looks like, for we have nothing solid to compare it to. We rail against threats to our comfort; against restrictions to our sexual freedom; against 140 character manifestos that cross our inner-moral compass of right and wrong. It is a compass that has changed with the times. North is south, east is west, but where shall we go? Our cultural compass points us to sex and drink and having fun and letting it be and standing aside while true injustice carries on under the lethal banner of “progress”.

And yet we continue on, moving along in our shadowy existence. And do we remember our God’s words, the God who made our world, the God who gave us life, the God who gave us a noble and true standard by which to measure injustice? Do we remember the words of the Lamb who was slain, of the Lion of Judah, who viciously and ruthlessly struck down true wickedness? Do we remember that He told us to love Him first, and everything else second? Do we fall to our knees because we are faced with a knowledge that is so deep, so profound, and so wretchedly uncomfortable that we cannot bear it? Do we believe Him when He says that He has a plan? Do we bow our bitterly prideful heads in submission to a true King? Or do we sit in our broken castles, lamenting the loss of “the good old days” when our problems were more carefully concealed?

We won’t always be shadows. We won’t always be unnoticed. But while we are, we have a profound and terrifying call upon us, to reach out to a broken, contradicting, disgusting, filth-ridden world and say, “There is justice. There is truth. There is love. And He has a name.”

May God give us the grace to see how we have failed Him, and to crawl back for the grace to stand up against true injustice. May He give us clarity to know the difference between the empty screams of the world against bloated insecurities that masquerade as deep issues, and the silent screams of the truly oppressed, of the broken human being made in the image of God who so desperately needs something real. May God help us to be shadows, so that others may look through us and see Him.

 

To Him be the glory.

 

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Why “Marriage Isn’t For You” Is Wrong

(c) xElectricHigh on DeviantArt

(c) xElectricHigh on DeviantArt

Yesterday, I reposted the viral article, “Marriage Isn’t For You” by Seth Adam Smith. While I normally write my own stuff, I reposted this particular article because, on first glance, it looked good and I was rushed with some wedding plans and didn’t have time to write. However, a friend (who is married and has more credibility on this issue than I) commented on my repost and brought some really good insights forward.

Namely, that the author is actually wrong.

The whole premise of his article is that marriage isn’t about a selfish quest to make yourself happy, and to a certain extent, he’s right. Marriage isn’t about you. But a lot of Christians, myself included, read through that and thought, “Oh yeah, that sounds Christian. And after all, the only young people to get married are Christians, so this must be from a Christian guy writing about Christian marriage!”

Wrong.

Here’s the thing. Marriage is a beautiful relationship that God created. It should not be about you because marriage shouldn’t be selfish. But it should not be about your spouse. Why? Because you’re marrying a flawed, sinful human being that cannot possibly bear the weight of your worship. Because at that point, that’s what it is. Your spouse becomes an idol when the entire marriage is all about them. If your entire reasoning for getting married is solely to make another person happy, you’ve missed something along the way. Of course, this makes sense considering the author’s viewpoint (a Mormon who subscribes to the “Anasazi Way”, a New Age spiritual philosophy about communal living).

But in some ways, he’s right. Marriage isn’t about you. But it’s not about your spouse. It’s about Jesus. I don’t expect Sean to write about that because he doesn’t believe in the Jesus that I believe in. But Christ has to be the center of a marriage. He brings balance to the whole thing and He is the one we worship. When two people are worshiping Christ within their marriage, then everything else really falls into place.

So is marriage about you? No. Is it about your spouse? No. Is it about Christ? Yes. It has to be about Christ because marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Apart from him, the institution doesn’t make sense. It’s in the picture of Christ giving himself for the Church that we can understand marriage and the love that binds it together.

As my friend said, “Love is centered in Jesus, and true love may not always make your spouse “happy”– sometimes love is shown from one spouse to another through loving rebuke when the other is in sin.”

That’s what marriage is about.

The Greatest Truth About Jesus

In my humble opinion, the simplest truth about God is also the greatest and most profound. It is the key to finding victory over habitual sin. It is the secret to a long and happy life. And it so perfectly sums up what Jesus and His Kingdom is all about. Like so many things in God’s kingdom, a few simple words require tons of background knowledge. Without a proper understanding of who God is, it just doesn’t make any sense. So what is the greatest truth about Jesus?

If you seek God, you will find Him.

Boom, we’re done. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. It is exceedingly simple, yet incredibly difficult. It’s magnificently wonderful, but excruciatingly painful. This promise is repeated throughout Scripture and it’s sweetness permeates every verse in the Bible.

Specifically, I’ve been getting this a lot from Psalm 34 (which I’ve been stuck in for about a week and a half). Verse 4 says, “I sought the LORD and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Verse 17 reiterates this theme, “The righteous cry out and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Going back a couple chapters, Psalm 30:2 says, “O LORD my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me.” Psalm 28:6 says, “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my supplications.”

God hears us. He is always there for us, and He has promised over, and over, and over, and over again that if we look for Him, if we seek Him, if we cry out to Him, then, He will be found, He will hear us, and He will deliver us.

This is so profound. It’s so important. Are you stuck in depression? Seek the Lord, and you will find Him. And He will deliver you. Are you in bondage to sexual impurity? Seek the Lord, and you will find Him. And He will deliver you. Are you crushed beneath a thousand financial burdens and you don’t know what to do? Seek the Lord and you will find Him. And He will deliver you.

Notice, that implicit in this statement is a submission to God. You seek the Lord because you realize that the answer is not to be found within you. We are broken creatures with desperately wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) and we must be honest with ourselves in realizing that if we really are broken and wicked, then the answer to our brokenness and wickedness cannot possibly be found within us. The answer has to lie outside of us. And the answer lies with Jesus.

Also implicit here is that God is the focus. We seek Him, because He is worthy to be sought. He is found by us because His love allows Him to be found by us. And He delivers us because He has the power to do so, He has the love to compel him to do so, and He has the glory that shines when He does so. It’s about Him, friends. Not us.

Seek the Lord. And you will find Him.