Friday, April 28, 2017

Rocking Chair Reflections

A paradox.  “Labor to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4:11

So, I am enjoying a temporary gig lately. I get to hang out with the most recent addition to the family tree while his mom is checking off the last few items on her to-do-to-graduate-with-a-degree-in-music-education list.  Little Fighter has beefed up to 6.5 lbs. And among his current favorites is waiting until the shouldered burp cloth has been abandoned before urping a spectacular offering.  

Much of the day is spent sitting in a rocking chair, relishing the honor.  The voice I used to have for singing to my own littles has been m.i.a. for the better part of a decade, and since warbling isn’t what I hope to be remembered for, the communication is limited to whispers, smiles and a silent willing him to know how valuable and precious his life is.

My responsibilities are few: feed, burp, change, rinse, and repeat.  

Some days my efforts are less than stellar.  I’ve yet to distinguish the hungry cry from the need to burp or change the diaper cry.  And about the time I think I have a handle on which is which Little Fighter schools me.  Those are the days that rest eludes us.

It was sometime in the middle of week #2 that I started to connect some dots.  This temporary gig is exactly like my usual one.  The correlation is clear.  Teaching is feeding.  Counseling involves the other stuff.  Feeding is fun.  Feeding makes you feel like a hero.  Burping isn’t fun.  Burping makes you feel like a villain.  Changing isn’t fun.  Necessary, yes. Fun, no.  

Little Fighter is usually pretty sure hunger is what he is feeling and that a bottle will cure his ills.  Whenever I’m duped into believing him, and waylay the efforts to coax a reluctant burp at reasonable intervals - well let’s just say the evidence is irrefutable.  The solution isn’t to pack in more.

Grown-ups aren’t much different.  Most complaints are flavored with a hint of feed me, give me something that will ease the discomfort I feel.  But very often the problem is that room must be made for the new.  The Bible calls it repentance.

For example: if I was taught (fed) the idea (and chose to believe it) that my salvation in Christ was contingent on my ability to live a sin-free existence (which I was and did), when the teaching that the cross of Christ didn’t need any help from me in bolster The Lord’s sacrifice was introduced to me I was incapable of reconciling the two concepts.  Room either had to be made by expelling the former or I would be forced to reject the latter.  

Or maybe I was taught that God’s wrath and disappointment in me is all I had to look forward to in the future. Then, when learning that God’s wrath was satiated in the Cross, I have another choice to make.  Will I continue believing that God is angry and full of wrath or will I expel that idea and make room for the truth that Jesus took all judgement and in so doing, redeemed me from the laws that govern sin and death?  

This concept isn’t reserved for spiritual things.   When I expelled the idea that my value, worth, happiness, and purpose wasn’t the responsibility of anyone else but mine, room was made in my heart to explore the truth and justice that define my authentic self.  

Trust me, it’s a messy prospect, not everyone can stomach the process.  Nor should they be expected to.  Sometimes Little Fighter acts as if I am torturing him when the pain he feels is being caused by something that must be expelled.  I can either silence his complaints by trying to feed him more, or patiently pat his back until he baptizes me with the legitimate source of his discomfort.  The choice is mine. It’s going to come out sooner or later.  The less I’ve let him eat between times makes a big difference in how much clean-up is involved.

Someone is having a struggle in the resting department.  That’s my battle cry.  Bottle warmed? Check. Burp cloth?  Check.  Fresh pamper? Check.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What if the cross really did change everything

For Christ is the end of thelawforrighteousnessto everyone who believes. Romans 10:4 

   I recently read a passionately written article declaring that the cross, “ended the need for temple sacrifice”, but went on to say that salvation is contingent upon maintaining the practice and observance of Jewish feasts, traditions and holidays.    

  It took a few days to get past the judgmental attitude that tries to color my perspective at times.  For some reason my heart wouldn’t let me chalk this argument off by saying something like, “their attitude is so ugly, I’m not going to give their comments another thought”.  No.  For some reason, that just didn’t fly this time.   

  I found myself exploring the beliefs that may have fueled this person’s zealous

adherence to a system, a structure or institution while – judging from their own words – remaining indifferent to the human beings for which those things were intended to bless.  This human tendency is one Jesus addressed often.   In Mark 2:27 He says,The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath; and in Matthew 23:23-24, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.  Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!   This attitude has been around for a very long time. 

The aha moment  

  After boiling the article’s argument down to the bare bones, I finally realized what makes this idea so distasteful to me.  By insisting that the observance of types, shadows and models are necessary for salvation, those things are elevated to the same status as our Lord and His accomplishing of them Essentially saying the only thing Jesus accomplished on that horrible cross was the abolishment of a messy – yet adequate  system of dealing with the sin of mankind.  Somehow, if the only purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice was to spare the lives of countless lambs, goats, doves and cattle, force Temple workers to find other means of employment and streamline the sacrificial systemthen his purpose is grossly diminished and our need for Him greatly undervalued 

  Romans 10:4 tells us that Jesus Christ fulfilled the laws necessary for us to be made righteous.  Jesus did that, not me.  It is not Jesus’ sacrifice plus my observation of Jewish ritual that qualifies and ensures my salvation.  It is our failure and inability that qualified us and His righteous, self-sacrifice that insures our salvation. The only effort required of us is to believe His effort was enough, that His sacrifice was great enough to forgive our failures as well as our self-righteous compulsion to add our efforts to His accomplishment. 

  When humanity fell from the place of grace 6,000 years ago, Satan became the ruling dictator of this planet.  Sin ushered in the reign of terror by which the wicked one governed. We can easily see that sin and disobedience had the power to alter everything, but have we comprehended the power of Christ’s righteous, perfected, obedience? 

  Today, my mind pursues this question: What if the cross of Christ changed everything?  Suppose His blood is powerful enough to change the course, which had been set by sin?  And, because sin had been the impetus used to change human nature, governments, laws, physics, perspectives, purposes, future, the earth, atmosphere, universe, life and destiny; what might possibly happen if we begin to believe that the Lord, Jesus Christ, has effected changes far greater than sin? 

  I am convinced that Jesus, by His righteous obedience, ushered in a power so superior in its ability to accomplish than what we have been able or willing to comprehend.   The power of the cross of Christ and the blood of His sacrifice scompletely exceeds the power of the fall.  What can I do?  Believe that the cross really did change everything and begin to walk in that reality.  Let’s start by taking this truth into our lives one decision- making step at a time.