Saturday, March 08, 2008

Don't Just Believe; Be Life

You who are chosen by God, who, like me, have a share in Christ's suffering and inheritance, be strong. After months of study and reflection, torment and questioning, I have found in the book of Hebrews what I firmly believe is the meaning of this existence. I have often thought to myself, as I struggled to live the good life, why it was that God created the world as it is. It made no sense to me that an omnipotent Creator, one who knows all things, would subject us to the existence that perplexes and trips us. It disturbed me to think that I was anchored in flesh to float by spirit, because that is not how this world is swayed. This world, as you know, is tremendously compelling. The mistake we often make as humans does not stem from our creation, nor is it based in the limits of flesh, but it is one of sympathy and relativity. All men and women are brothers, but not all are called by God, even though God calls out to all men:

Romans 9:22-24
What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

When I first read those passages, I accepted them. I've gotten quite accepting of the Scriptures and what they tell us about God. I've thought many times, when seeing news clips about murderers, terrorists, and rapists that these could not possibly be human, that some humans were born monsters. I was glad to learn it was true. That our justice system was so permissive of some crimes, that instead of imprisonment, brutal criminals were granted rights that should only belong to the life-respecting, disturbed me. It was as if there was no order in the universe, as if our sympathy was our foil. And yet, we were told to forgive, very simply to forgive and invite all injury that our enemy would inflict:

Matthew 5:38-42
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

But here's the kicker, and it was lost on me: God's hand touches all of this. Those who accept Christ, as it has been said, accept his suffering along with his resurrection. As soon as we take our eyes off the Lord, as soon as we start thinking in terms of human preservation and the meaning of this life, we forfeit our souls to the same world that will turn to dust on the Day of the Lord. For God has known that we would be persecuted by evil, that we would look upon those who wouldn't make it, and that our hearts would go out to them.

Hebrews 11:39-40
[Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham ... David, Samuel and the prophets**] were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

** etc.

Hebrews 11:13-16
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

This world was not made broken for the living to live in brokenness but for the dead to know the living. Even though God knew that some would reject Him, He nevertheless gave them an opportunity to know Him and His saints. He gave His people the law that they might ritualistically declare their love, and He gave the whole world His Son that sin might be conquered--and that those who believe might be redeemed before Him. And, yes, He presented his lambs before all the condemned, that they might serve as a temple for God so He could appeal to the lost.

Consequently, those who accept Christ as their personal saviour forfeit the identities by which they formerly called and knew themselves; we exchange those, by faith, for better selves. Yet how many of us keep on living as we did before we knew God's mercy? How many of us have withheld trust until we were blessed or enlightened, when it's God's right to test us?

Today I have made a decision. I have faltered too much over the past five months to risk my salvation anymore. I have had moments of anger and frustration and have directed them toward God in scornful rage, and I've indulged my baser instincts. It may even be too late for me because of this, as I was only ransomed once:

Hebrews 10:26-36
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"and again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Therefore, as someone who once sought to relieve himself of atonement or accountability, as someone who once tried to refute the Word of God, my life's purpose is clear: to spread the good news that eludes or strikes fear into so many of us. I can't say I know precisely what path my life will take--"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps"--but it must lend itself to ministry. Whether it be in writing, preaching, teaching, it matters little to me. But to what else might one dedicate himself and say in the end that he accomplished something? Is it mere coincidence that no occupation has never satisfied me beyond a paycheque? If I am to be not of this world but living in it, then I pray for (and trust I will receive) the courage to serve as one of God's beacons. This world is not for us, brothers and sisters, but it exists so that God may reach out His hand to those who might yet be saved. For now, God is pouring a foundation inside me. When I know what comes next, I will share it with you. But let it be bold and faithful. And let it serve to glorify the Almighty. If I haven't been lost in my feet shuffling and stubbornness and deliberation, then let me start living for everyone but myself.


Blogger Slave Morality said...

This is an inspiring post to read good sir.

9/3/08 10:25  

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