This Is Me

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


This article is about loneliness in today's culture and how the church sometimes exacerbates it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

In the world, but not of the world

What does this mean to us as Christians? To many it just means to not "smoke, chew, or hang with those who do." I think this is contrary to what Jesus taught. The following question was posed to me as a part of a curriculum we are doing at youth group. I know that what I was saying about it was misunderstood then, but I'll do my best to be clear now. If people have questions or comments, please tell me or I can't address them!

The question was: "How can a Christian realistically have balance between hating worldly things and loving the people of the world?" I believe this question in inherently deceitful. It makes Christians think that somewhere there has to be some perfect balance where you have some percentage of "loving people in the world" and some percentage of "hating worldly things." This is a very dangerous concept. We then go onto loving people 50% and hating worldly things 50% (or whatever mix we feel most comfortable at) instead of doing as we should, and as Jesus taught, which is to love people 100% and hate worldly things 100%. Our love of people in the world will cause us to hate worldly things. Why? Because the things of this world, the enemy's values, are poison to people in the world and to ourselves.

If we truly love people, we will then hate what is killing them, poisoning them. If you love a drug-addict, you will hate with unquenchable loathing the drug they are addicted to that is poisoning them. This does not cause you to love them less, but more, because you are not loving what is hurting them. The more we truly love people, the more we will hate what is the enemy’s values, because it is killing those people we love and sometimes poisons us as well.

This is not to say that we should put ourselves into situations where we are pretty sure to be tempted and sin. Instead, we are to "flee temptation". And, in all actuality, we cannot love others if we do not first love ourselves, the way we ought. When Jesus tells us to "love our neighbors as we do ourselves" he is assuming that we do love ourselves. Not a self-righteous love, or a love that puts ourselves above God and/or others, but a realization that we are His creation and if He did die for us, we must then have worth to our Creator. And worth from our Creator is what counts. If we loath ourselves, we are going to hate others. As Brennan Manning said in The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus “Before I am asked to show compassion towards my brothers and my sisters in their suffering, He asks me to accept His compassion in my own life, to be transformed by it, to become caring and compassionate toward myself in my own suffering and sinfulness, in my own hurt, failure and need. The degree of our compassion for others depends upon our capacity for self-acceptance. When I am most unhappy with myself, I am most critical of others. When I am most into self-condemnation, I am most judgmental of others.”This does not mean that we think of ourselves more highly than we ought, or more highly than we do of others, or more highly than we do of God. It means that when God accepts us and gives us grace for the repenting we have done for our sins, we forgive ourselves and accept ourselves. Now, we don’t accept our sin, but we don’t feel unwavering, constant shame for it. We must accept that God has forgiven us; we have to show compassion towards ourselves, or we will never be able to show it towards another person.

Now going onto the false opposites that if “I love the people in the world I must needs put myself in tempting situations that they are participating in.” It is not a love of ourselves that puts us into a place where we can be poisoned by sin, and it is not loving to the friend that we are in that situation for. Our poisoning does not help that friend, or cause us to love them more. However, I think this is where a false view of love has come in. To love a person, we do not have to participate in all that they ask us to do, including those sinful actions. That is not love. Does God participate in our sin with us when we sin? No, but we know that He loves us with love relentless and tender and unconditional. Although we are not supposed to let ourselves into situation where we are tempted to sin, this doesn’t mean we can only hang out with sinners when they are holding to the same squeaky-clean values we do. We see that Jesus went to parties of sinners, where I’m pretty sure what they were drinking wasn’t just grape juice and that their actions weren’t all praise songs and playing board games. It was the Pharisees who wouldn’t go hang out with sinners, not Jesus.

We don’t have to change our sinning friend into a non-sinning friend, before he or she ever has a relationship with Jesus! Sinners sin. If they do not have a relationship with Jesus, we have no call to judge them for the sin that they do. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul says:

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I {did} not at all {mean} with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within {the church?}

We should not put ourselves into a situation where we are tempted to sin, but we should be loving our non-believing friends, not judging them!

John Stott says in Authentic Christianity when he talks about a paradox of Christian living: “It is one of the great paradoxes of Christian living that the whole church is called (and every member of it) as much to involvement in the world as to separation from it, as much to 'worldliness' as to 'holiness'. Not to a worldliness which is unholy, nor to a holiness which is unworldly, but to holy worldliness', a true separation to God which is lived out in the world -- the world which he made and sent his Son to redeem.”

So what about that sin that lives in us and makes us selfish? Paul speaks directly to this struggle in Romans 7 in what my youth pastor calls the “do-a-ditty” passage:

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I {would} like to {do,} but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want {to do,} I agree with the Law, {confessing} that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good {is} not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

God sanctifies us to make us look more nearly like His son, and the power of sin over us is broken. Does this mean we no longer sin? No, but it doesn’t mean we’re consigned to always being selfish. God DOES change us. He gives us the power to not sin. We’ll still do it, but we don’t HAVE to.

Now I’ll bring up another reason why the question "How can a Christian realistically have balance between hating worldly things and loving the people of the world?" bothers me. I think it makes people start thinking legalistically. I think that Christians start thinking that when it comes down to balancing “hating worldly things” and “loving the people of the world” it is a bunch of rules we have to follow, not a relationship with Christ that brings with it obedience and righteousness because we love Him. Again Brennan Manning says, “Though the Scriptures speak insistently of the divine initiative in the work of salvation, that by grace we are saved, that the Tremendous Lover has taken to the chase, American spirituality still seems to start with self, not with God. Personal responsibility replaces personal response. We seem engrossed in our own efforts to grow in holiness. We talk about acquiring virtue as if it were some kind of skill that can be acquired through personal effort, like good handwriting or a well-grooved golf swing. In seasons of penance, we focus on getting rid of our hang-ups and sweating through various spiritual experiences, as if they were a religious muscle-building program designed to produce that Christian Charles Atlas. The emphasis is always on what I do rather than on what God is doing in my life. In this macho approach God is reduced to a benign old spectator on the sidelines. The American mystique orients us to attribute any growth in the spiritual life to our own sturdy efforts and vigorous resolutions. We become convinced that we can do a pretty good job of following Jesus if we just, once and for all, make up our minds and really buckle down and do it.”

This is my concern: I think we’re so concerned about people being of the world that we are telling Christians to not get drunk, not have pre-marital sex, to help out a little more, to do this and not do that, that we’re doing everything except saying plunge into the tender heart of Jesus! Don’t walk, run! He loves you more than you will ever know; He loves the entire world more than you will ever know! We’re fostering do “follow these rules if you love Jesus”, not “have a relationship with Jesus if you love Jesus.” If they have that relationship, they WILL be righteous, they will do all the right do’s and don’t all the right don’ts. Now, we do need to discuss exactly what God wants us to do to be obedient to Him, but I feel like we’re saying it so much, and in ways that obscure the person of Jesus Christ. We need to see how we can help people to see Jesus, not just help them follow a bunch of rules that make them squeaky-clean.

Now, we need to be in the world but not of the world, but what is the world? It is the enemy’s values. But what do we mean when we say that? Well, I don’t just mean, not getting drunk etc (as previously discussed), I think there are 2 “worlds”, 2 places where the enemy’s values are rampant. The world that we Christians point to as sinful and the legalistic world which we think of as righteous, when in reality it is based on works and not our relationship with Jesus. The scary part is, we can be accepted by the world (the enemy’s values) when we’re mocked by those we self-righteously consider sinners (and so we think we’re not being of the world) because we’re being accepted by and loving the world that is the legalistic world. But this world, although it looks good, is still not God’s heart towards the world He created. This legalistic world is the worst one of all and it is the one I see hurting many Christians who have decided to turn their backs on it.

It hurts the worst when you decide to follow God and other Christians mock you for the love you now feel toward your fellow man. Legalists get pretty mad at Christians who have lost their self-hatred because they love God so much that they see everyone through His eyes, including themselves. This radical love that causes you to forgive others for sin and yourself as well is at odds with how legalists view the world. We need radical, Godly love. We need to love people 100%, love God 100%, and hate worldly things 100%. This isn’t 300%,(and so in reality each one gets 33.3%) it is all the same thing in the end. For loving God and loving people in the world IS hating the world and vice versa. Let’s pursue radical love.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

When Federal and State Laws Collide

This article outlines how it could be potentially tragic now that the US Supreme Court said that judges can't throw evidence out of court in the instance of a police officer with a warrant not announcing himself and knocking ont he door before entering. Now, police officers have no incentive to announce themselves and knock for fear their case may be thrown out of court by a judge.

Also, the Michigan House and Senate have just passed a package of bills that would essentially make it so people could defend themselves first and ask questions later (strengthening private property and self-defense rights). Here is their analysis.

The reporter thinks this could be potentially tragic. i.e. police officer hopes to get "perp" and busts into house without announcing himself in the hopes of catching the, in his mind, guilty person (remember no court case yet, so under law this person is SUPPOSED to be considered innocent) before he has time to get rid of evidence, accidentally gets the wrong address and busts into the wrong house and gets shot for his efforts. Or, exchanges gunfire and shoots a completely unsuspecting person. Think Ruby Ridge for the police.

However, if the reporter thinks that a police officer would now have no incentive to announce himself (or herself) because he does not have to fear getting his case thrown out, shouldn't the reporter be glad with the new package of bills? After all, I would think that getting shot for not announcing himself and not knocking would be a far greater incentive to follow the rules of knocking and announcing himself than just the fear that his case will be thrown out by a judge. Or at least it would cause said police officer to be more careful to actually break into the house he has a warrant for.

Well, judge for yourselves and post your comments.

Monday, June 05, 2006

another update on Meredith

I copied this from an email my mom sent out. YAY!!!

"Hurrah! Praise Our Lord! It is B-cell lymphoma, which is better than the doctors feared!!
After the pathology was sent to [to a lab], I heard that it was believed to be a rare form of malignancy, but when [the doctor]called Meredith today, he said that did not prove to be true. "B-cell lymphoma has an 80% cure-rate with chemotherapy" - and since websites are not updated often, that could be improved nowadays."

Basically, they thought it was fatal, but no it turns out to be very treatable. Praise God! Thank you for all who prayed/are still praying. I truly believe God changed it, I mean: how can the docotors not recognize the most common type of cancer? And even better, apparently it's the type where the best place to treat it is in the same state as Meredith and in the city where she has many close friends. I don't know why God didn't completely heal Meredith from the cancer, but I'm very thankful that He did change it from fatal to treatable. Keep praying guys and thank you for your prayers so far. The overflowing of love from everyone has truly touched my deeply.