Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Identity: Relationship


It is what everybody on this planet wants. To know who they are, what they are and what they are meant for. Some have figured it out, but most of us will spend our whole lives looking for it. This is a place where I think church drops the ball. Anyone and everyone who has stepped into a church for any amount of time has heard 'You are a child of God' or 'You are heirs in Christ'. Which don't get me wrong, sounds awesome but what exactly does that mean? There are waves rippling through the church where people are turning away from 'religion' and moving towards 'spirituality' and 'relationship'. People are getting dropped in the big cracks that are being created by separation of these words. You can have all of these and be one of those people who have figured it out, or you could have parts of one or all and be a robot that goes in and out of church building doors. Let's look at what relationship is and why it is the most necessary part of Christianity.

When looking at when the church began, it is actually easy to see where things get bungled up. But let's go even further back than that. Let's talk Creation. Christians believe that God created the universe. They don't go into specifics on how he did it because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter but discovering how is cool. They believe in a Triune God, meaning three in one. Three separate beings forming one being. This would be the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Don't get so hung up on trying to figure it out, that isn't what is important. This is: the Father thought of the universe, the Son (or the Word) spoke it into existence.

So here's the deal. You are here because God had this awesome idea (that would be you) and the Son (the Word, who is now Jesus) spoke you into existence. Mind-blowing, huh? 'Um no,' you say, 'see my mom and dad got freaky and nine months later there I was'. To this I could go into how getting pregnant isn't as easy as people would like to believe but it would take ages, kind of like explaining just how complex our world is and how it takes something more than coincidence to have all the parts working together in harmony. Another time, another place, maybe.

So the Son came down from outside of time and space to be in our crowded little world, filled with crowded little small-minded people so that the separation that occurred in the Garden could be fixed. And while he was here he felt what all little people feel. Love, anger, laughter, sadness. What, did you think those were just coincidences too? When he sacrificed himself on the cross, he laid the groundwork for us to become like him. Now, go read a couple of paragraphs up and remember just who and what he is. Now wrap your mind around this. When you ask for Jesus to come into your life and have a relationship with him, you get to be a part of all of that. When Jesus rose from the grave, it was like graduation day when your Daddy hands you the keys to your dream car, buys you your dream house, you marry your dream guy...... you get the idea, I hope. This is what you get when you have a relationship with Jesus. What He is, you become. And this is where the separation between 'religion' and relationship comes into play.

See, religion is a set of practices you DO in order to gain favor or acceptance. In a relationship with Jesus, you don't have to do ANYTHING. You are and always will be accepted and have favor. Even when you mess up. And you will mess up because, alas, you are only human. Like the rest of us.

'But what about the Ten Commandments and all the other do's and don'ts in the Bible' you point out. Most of them don't apply anymore. 'How can that be?' you say. Because it is a relationship, not a job. I do not cheat on my husband. I don't do this because it says not to, I do it because I love him and know that if I did that it would hurt him deeply. And that in turn would hurt me because I love him greatly. One flows into the other. Same goes with Jesus. If you truly love him then your actions will reflect that. You will do things to please him, not because you have to but because you want to, because it makes you happy when he is happy. And when you mess up you will feel bad and want to hide but He wants you to come to him so he can heal the hurt and get you going again. I don't know about you but that beats a thousand hail Mary’s and any other hokie pokie religious work stuff any day. I'm just saying.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Darkness to Light

Dark have been my dreams of late. ~ King Theoden, Lord of the Rings – Two Towers

Darkness. True darkness. Absence of physical light can be frightening and many times is, but it can and has been overcome. Absence of spiritual light, however, is the true nightmares of every human alive. The feeling of despair, lost hope, has brought many a person to their knees and even to their deaths. It is the horrifying edge that many walk every day. Your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, might be walking the tightrope across a yawning black pit surrounding them and you may or may not even know it. And if you do, you don't know how to help them. And they don't know how to tell you how.

I write this because I, myself, have had dark dreams of late. To be more precise, I have had dark days. Days where my husband has had to watch, helplessly, as darkness consumed my mind. Watch as his free-spirited wife who loves life and sunshine get swallowed up into a shadow of nothingness. Encouraging words were lost in the smog of depression. Then just as soon as it comes, the clouds blow away. The darkness lifts and I am able to think and see again. Each time an episode happens it feels like my mind is static and all I can see or hear is darkness. The most painful thing is, I can feel it coming. The most shameful thing is when I lose the fight and get sucked into the madness. Because when the clouds lift, I can't remember exactly why they were there in the first place but do know that I was not myself.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path ~ Psalms 119:105 (AMP)

Recently I have started listening to podcasts from my church pastors and got a bible app on my phone and Nook. And while words of light are spoken in my ears and read by my eyes, the voices in my mind scream and sneer. But faith comes by hearing (and seeing) and hearing by the word of God which is Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:17) Faith is strengthened when truth is spoken. Jesus is Truth. Truth can come from a friend, song, message, program, a devotional, any where Jesus sees fit. And where one avenue may get cut off, He will open another path. Jesus doesn't give up on you, even if you give up on yourself. Plain. Simple. Period. So take hold of that promise and store it in your heart. When the whispers of dread and doom start to tickle your ears, pull it out and shine it. They will still come at you, but their time will be shortened, because the darkness will always lose to the light. And Jesus is the Light.