MySpace Blog “Best Of” 2: Grace

I believe the church is the hope of the world. I think the only thing that can change people, fix relationships, and build true community is the church. That means I need to do everything I can to do what Jesus taught to help people. There’s something I think you should think about-in the Bible, Jesus didn’t spend all this time railing against the government. He never passed judgment on those who were considered the worst society had to offer. He saved his harshest criticism for those who probably lived the best and who were the “holiest” around him. When he saw what the world had to offer, such as homosexuals, prostitutes, backstabbers, etc, he didn’t turn away. He leaned in. He loved and he forgave over and over. And people ran to him. This is unlike many Christians today, who most people would trust last with their deepest darkest secrets. This is a quote I pulled up:

Eugene Peterson probably answers this question better than anyone else:

Imagine yourself moving into a house with a huge picture window overlooking a lake with a grand view of mountains beyond. Snow capped mountains, beautiful mountains. You have a ringside seat, before all of this beauty, the cloud formations, the wild storms, the entire spectrum of sun-illuminated colors, and the rocks and the trees and the wildflowers and the water. At first you’re just captivated by this view. You sit and you stand and you look and admire; you catch your breath. Several times a day you interrupt your work and stand before this window to take in the majesty and the beauty. And then one day you notice some bird droppings on the glass, and you get a bucket of water and a towel and you clean it. A couple of days later, a rainstorm leaves the window streaked and the bucket comes out again. One day some visitors with a tribe of small dirty-fingered children come, and the moment they leave you notice there are smudge marks all over the window. They’re hardly out of the door before you have the bucket out again. You’re so proud of that window, and it’s such a large window. But it’s incredible how many different ways foreign objects can attach themselves to that window, obscuring the vision, distracting from the vision. Keeping that window clean now becomes compulsive neurosis. You accumulate ladders and buckets and squeegees. You construct scaffolding outside and one inside; you have to get to all the difficult corners and heights. You end up having the cleanest window in North America, but it’s now been years since you’ve looked through it. You’ve become a Pharisee.

The Pharisees became obsessed with the Old Testament Law. But they missed the point of the Law. It wasn’t the means of earning a relationship with God or even earning God’s blessing. Rather, the Law was the tangible framework by which one saw God’s heart, understood God’s character, discerned God’s will, and then lived out one’s relationship with God.

Nothing has changed for us. The rules are still important, whether the Ten commandments or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. But when we focus only on the rules, we miss the point of the rules. And ultimately, we miss God himself.

What if people forgave over and over, no matter what the offense? What if ruined families were healed? What if the first place the unwanted in society:  a prostitute, drug dealer, unwed mother, AIDS patient, suicidal teenager, homeless person, homosexual went to when they were hurting was to the church or to a Christian friend?  What if every time we saw one of those groups, we didn’t judge, comment to our friend, or hustle our children away, but we loved, gave, helped, and leaned in instead of away?

I think that’s how we should filter our world. Let’s not wait for the government to do something, or even care. Let’s not worry about our power as Christians. Throughout history, Christians have been the marginilized and the underground. Whenever they got power, the church became corrupt. So let’s spend less time worrying about Ten Commandments in buildings, or Under God, or Happy Holdays, and more time worrying about those people we know who God is painfully waiting to return to him.

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Matthew Journey Chapter 6

Another great chapter. Jesus continues his sermon from the previous chapter. This chapter is all about the inner life v. the outer life, and what God values.

  • Who are we doing good things for, God or ourselves?
  • If we give to those in need to somehow earn something, we have missed the point.
  • God is not impressed by us when we pray.
  • People used to think it took dramatic loud acts to catch the attention of the gods. They would sacrifice, cut themselves, perform sexual acts, scream and yell . . . not so with our God.
  • Jesus’ prayer is so simple a five-year-old can memorize it, yet so passionate and forthright.
  • if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”
  • Have you ever done what God led you to do, then complained about it so everyone would know how spiritual you are?
  • Jesus is point out here, among other things, that the Father looks at our inner life, not our outer appearance or actions. Who are we to do differently?
  • Jesus says don’t be an actor, be yourself.
  • Jesus points out two masters we must choose between. Was it God and Satan or God and the World? Nope: God and Money. That’s something to digest.
  • Jesus makes a great contrast: Humans vs Birds. Birds were cheap, they were the sacrifice of the poor people. Of course we are more valuable than they are, and God takes care of them
  • “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[2]? . . .Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” This stuff is in the Bible folks.

This chapter tells me to get over myself! I don’t need to worry about my needs, God will take care of me. I need to worry about my relationship with God and with others, and do those in a selfless way. The rest will take care of itself IF I get my priorities straight.

What about you? How are your priorities?