Friday, October 31, 2014

Two important life lessons

Life lesson:  Just because someone claims that they are your best friend, that they love you, and that they care about you, doesn't mean that they do.  Some of the most selfish and controlling people claim those things, and you will never be free of them until you realize the huge difference between real love and unhealthy need.  You will be pulled back in and lulled into a feeling that "everything is alright" every time they are nice to you, and then it will happen all over again.

Life lesson:  It is hard to be yourself.  You may find yourself in a rut where you are surrounded by people who constantly put demands on you to be a certain way, to not have your own feelings, to not stick by your own convictions, and to be what they want you to be for them.  Being in that rut is miserable.  And you get so used to it that you start to think there is no way out.  You begin to think that if you really stood up on your own two feet and stuck by what you feel and what you see that you would end up all alone, so you put up with it.  You carry the load.  But it is a lie.  It isn't true.  If you truly stood up on your own two feet, you would let go of those people, stick by your feelings and convictions, and find two things: peace and people who actually know how to love.  They exist.  You may have started to believe that there is just something wrong with you -that's why people seem so hurtful.  But the truth is that trying to carry this load and get the love of impossible and immature people is the only thing that has kept you with the wrong people and from the right people who know how to love.  It is a leap of faith, but it is worth it to stay true.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Uncomfortable Grace

It was a number of years ago at a mens' Bible study lunch group.  I brought in an article that I printed out the night before called, "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt."  While it seems I cannot find the article as I remember it, today, the point of the article was to encourage the struggling Christian -a Christian, in this case, burdened by guilt for not having their "Daily Quiet Time" (DQT) religiously- by reminding him that DQT is not a Biblical command (even if it is useful and good) and that we live and walk by grace through faith.

Being zealous for good theology and having something of a tender conscience, I struggled with burdens of guilt and often searched and read books and articles to help me find answers and deepen my understanding.  I found the article refreshing, and I loved that it challenged conventional, often unquestioningly accepted norms (something I still love to this day).  So, I brought in the article and tried to explain what it was about to the other men (older Christian men) at the table.  I was a bit dismayed, but not overly shocked, by some of the responses.

Why wouldn't you want to have daily quiet time??

But daily quiet time is a good thing.  I enjoy my quiet time every single morning, at 4:30am, before anybody else wakes up...

Even now I look back and think, "Huh?"  The responses didn't actually deal with the issue I was raising at all.  They revealed assumptions, maybe even fears.  I was saying one thing, and their responses were clearly in response to something else... something they assumed or interpreted me as saying.  But what was the problem?

I think it boils down to this.  Even seasoned Christians can have a tendency to fear grace.  The idea of lifting burdens of guilt is assumed to mean lifting burdens of responsibility.  In other words, if grace removes guilt and fear, then the fear is that we will turn to license since we no longer have something keeping us on the straight and narrow.  But is that Biblical?  Is that the Gospel we profess to live by?  No.  "For it is the love of Christ that constrains us." (2 Cor 5:14)

I believe it is natural man's tendency is to see the world either as license or legalism.  The more legally minded religious folks fear giving up their religiosity for fear of becoming one of those sinners who believe they have license to do whatever they want.  And the non-religious people who feel license to do as they wish recoil at the idea of religion because of its "rules".  With each, their identity is a kind of security to them.  Giving it up means giving up control.

But grace is the third option that natural man is not familiar with.  It calls both of these alternatives to abandon their security blanket and find themselves smack in the midst of grace, where it is all on the terms of Another.  That is not something we like or know what to do with.  Grace it not only foreign to us.  It is uncomfortable.