Yesterday I had a great lunch discussion with my Pastor. He wanted to discuss my statement of faith that I had sent him. It was something I had written in one of my blogs several weeks ago. We also discussed other topics, but I think the best part is that he paid for lunch. You see I am retired and on a fix income. Haha, just kidding. However, I am not kidding about how positive the experience was, I really enjoy meeting with this young man.
As I peruse Twitter and Facebook simultaneously getting enraged, encouraged, and enlightened I am amazed just how easily our current culture wants to deconstruct the past as it rages against injustices. However, as I think about this, and remember the daemon at war in this age, Leviathan, I realize this is an important strategy. In the past, conquerors of cities would move all the people from those vanquished diacritics to a new location to control them by eliminating hope. Today, we need to doubt all institutions, especially the church, because they were all colonizers whose only purpose was to oppress people they were colonizing.
Don’t get me wrong that happened, but that is not the complete narrative. There is a greater narrative bigger than one focused just on humanity. As many rightly point out the problems of our past, I worry, because there is this underlying theme initiating distrust in basic human values that have been written on our hearts by our creator. What got me to thinking about this was a story I read about the elders of a small island of Simeulue.
Mark Sayer in his wonderful book starts the section “The Partnership of the Generations” with, “When the Asian tsunami of 2004 hit Aceh in Indonesia, over 167,000 people tragically died. Yet on the island of Simeulue just off Aceh only seven people perished. Why?” It turns out the people on the island practiced a storytelling process called smong. This is where the elders tell stories to the children of the island, but end all of the stories with the warning, “if a strong tremor occurs, and if the sea withdraws soon after, run to the hills, for the sea will soon rush ashore.” When this happened in 2004 people ran to the hills, because they had been warned.
This got me to thinking about when I am on my death bed, what would I tell my children? What warnings would I express? I think if I wait until then, I am too late. Thus, the need to create the narratives now to help my children be prepared for the coming apex of humanity. I would love to lay out warning signs of the coming tribulation, but that is not the purpose of this particular blog posting. This one is what I want to tell my children to prepare them for a good life. It is a simple mantra: Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. I don’t think it gets any simpler than that.
What does it mean to love God? First of all, it is an exclusionary relationship. There is a cost. Grace is extended to all, but only those who respond experience it. If there is one thing I have learned in 68+ years of living is nothing compares to the love of God expressed in Christ Jesus. This is not some ethereal Christ essence, it is a real relationship between the God of the universe and me. One that I cannot earn, but one that completes me and encourages me to do good things in my life.
To love God is to be a disciple. It is to study to show myself approved. It is to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within me. It is to stand firm putting on the whole armor of God. It is to pray, adoring God, confessing my sins, being filled with thanksgiving, and supplicating for others and myself. It is to pick up my cross and follow him, knowing that the world system does not lead one closer to God, but away from Him. It is to, as Francis Schaeffer once said, be co-belligerent with those who fight against injustice, but be careful with whom you align. We are warned about being unequally yoked.
When we think about what it means to love with all our heart, soul, and mind, we realize how imperfect we are. We realize just how shrouded that window is that we look through to find God. We strive and wrestle with our evil nature as we seek to serve God. But this truly is the good fight. One we should never give up. Peter was asked by Jesus if he was going to leave. This was a question posed after a very difficult teaching moment where Jesus told his followers that if we do not eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no part in him. This illustrates the debt of commitment we are to have in our relationship with Jesus.
Lastly, loving your neighbor as yourself. This is an incredible level of commitment to those around us. This is not bowling alone, but an amazing statement about how God wants us to behave as we interact with those around us. You talk about counter-culture. However, for this to be real and meaningful it needs to be holistic. It might be good to go back to the Bebbington Quadrilateral: Biblicentric, crucicentric, conversioncentric, and activistcentric.
There are so many today that just want to be activists. They individually choose what causes they want to get behind. It doesn’t make any difference who they partner with to get the job done, just do it. I really think that is problematic. For me my activism is tied to the Bible, the centricity of Jesus, and the need for people not just to have a fairer situation, but that they also are introduced to the only one who can meet their true needs. Because of this I limit my actions to those aligned with my worldview. I make no apologies, it is not a different time, the truth is still the truth. Don’t ask me to align with those who don’t hold the same love for God that I have, but if you are asking if I can be co-belligerent with you, that is a different story. I mourn for all of the injustices in this life, and I am aligned with various organizations that I think can alleviate those injustices, but I will be very careful with whom I partner.
So kids, there you have it. The only wise thing I can say to you; the only useful advice I can leave you; the most helpful lesson in life I can share with you is love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. It doesn’t get any wiser than that.
And that is my thought for the day!