Sunday, March 4, 2007

Revolution, part two

Organizing my thoughts this week has been difficult. I wasn't at a loss for words- I mean, how often does that happen? Actually, I've had this in mind for awhile and have just been working on how I would say it. However, while I was trying to make things nice and neat, God got involved. In a manner fitting of the word convergence, He allowed several random events to completely crash into the stuff I was already thinking about.

Earlier this week, my oldest daughter was memorizing part of the United States Declaration of Independence. When she came to me to practice, she had memorized the following lines: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Since I am currently writing about the topic "Revolution", I thought I should file this away- you just never know when part of the Declaration of Independence will come in handy.

Around mid-week, I travelled to Ashland, Ohio to attend a funeral. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, some funerals are just extraordinary events, where God somehow allows both great sorrow and great joy to exist side by side. This was certainly one of those times.

Throughout the whole service, people read letters about her, thanking her for her faith, but one in particular summed it up. I can't hope to remember it verbatim, but here is the basic message: "You lived a life of faith, and that faith was passed to your son. He lives a life of faith and passed it on to your grandson. Your grandson lives a life of faith, and passed it on to me. And so because of you, I know Christ." Wow. What a legacy. It was even more amazing when I stopped and thought about how many of her children and grandchildren had chosen this life of faith.

Finally, just as I was beginning to compose this entry, I found, quite by accident, another blog called "Convergence". It's just the word- no extra numbers or anything- just "Convergence".

I found it interesting for two reasons. First, it is also written by a guy named Jeff. (Maybe that's just interesting to me...) Second, and perhaps the reason the first one captured my attention, is that this guy's blog is almost an exact opposite of the one you are currently reading. It's entirely black, and I'm not just talking about the layout color. It was heartbreaking to read; his posts begin as the entries of a "typical" 20-something guy entrenched in college life- and become increasingly more hopeless as time goes on. For instance, one of his latest entries is simply this sentence: "i lie everyday." Another says, "i wish someone would read my blog an maybe feel the same way as me. then i wouldn't feel alone." He said he's fighting anxiety and that "life kinda sux when i feel this way."

And then it happened. The different events began to bump up against each other in my head. Little by little all of those individual fragments started to mix, and before long they were swirling together and forming a kind of mosaic. From my vantage point, here's how all the dots connected to form that picture.

Christianity is perhaps the most revolutionary idea/movement/life choice/commitment in the history of History. I mean, no other world religion wraps its whole central moment around the necessity of the perfect Creator dying (freely, out of love no less) for all the wrongdoings of those whom He created. This same God, who rises from the dead, now offers the opportunity for those He created to be adopted as sons and daughters, simply as a gift- you can not earn it. Jesus himself makes this clear when He says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10)." Later in that same chapter He says "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand (John 10:27,28)."

So, here it is: God is offering everyone the chance to be a part of the ultimate revolution. His gift is eternal life. So far, this is great. As a matter of fact, it sounds kind of American- a revolution that bring freedom and life (I knew the Declaration of Independence would come in handy). Now all we need are our other rights, like liberty and the pursuit of happin...

Maybe this isn't exactly like our Declaration of Independence after all. Come to think of it, it's really more a declaration of dependence. Since we didn't (and can't) earn salvation, it's not exactly a right, is it? It's more like an incredible privilege. So, our most reasonable response to God seems to be a life of service, lived out of gratitude. The church then, is a group of people whose lives have been impacted by the revolution and who are together, growing in Christ and serving out of gratitude, right?

Well, not exactly. In fact George Barna, a believer whose research group holds vast statistical data on the church says that one of his greatest frustrations "has been the disconnection between what our research consistently shows about churched Christians and what the Bible calls us to be. Granted, we are sinful creatures and will never achieve perfection on this planet; only when we are reunited with God in heaven will we experience a fully restored state. However, if the local church is comprised of people who have been transformed by the grace of God through their redemption in Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, then their lives should be noticeably and compellingly different from the norm." He goes on to give four pages of stats that demonstrate that largely, we aren't different at all.

"Revolution" can also be defined as "One complete orbit or cycle." In other words, it's going in circles. If you have made the choice to follow Christ, you are a part of the revolution. The world is filled with people like our friend Jeff from the other Convergence blog. They are all around us; in the next cubicle; across the street; maybe even down the hall in their bedroom listening to music. You can take a chance and live a life that serves God with gratitude and leaves a legacy of faith, or you can be comfy and go in circles.

So, how will your life define that word?

In Him We Live,



Amy said...

Hidee Ho Jeff-o-rooney,

Once again you've hit the nail on the head. It is my belief, and maybe more than just my belief that that the reason so many 'church folk' and so many outside the church become so weary and barely hang on by a thread is the fact that they themselves and those they call their spiritual 'leaders' are-just like Barna said- actually no different than the rest of the world. Christ asked if when he returned if he would find faith. Sometimes I wonder too. Sometimes I wonder about me in all this wondering. Keep fighting the good fight, keep the faith, finish the race. Lord knows.... we're a tryin'. I'm so very comforted by his statement that even though we are faithless, he remains faithful, because he cannot deny himself. I'm so counting on this and on the sufficiency of his love and grace. Nothing but the blood.

One of your flying monkey pals,

Damon said...

My sheep hear and know my voice.

I love to hear from the Lord. He speaks to me. Eventhough I am one person in 5 billion he speaks to me. The question is do we hear him? My only fear is that I stop hearing him. God works on us all the time. Do we listen and act on what he says? Do we know what his voice sounds like?

From the words of a very wise man. "How are you doing today?" Truely think on this question and search your soul. Ask God for direction and he will direct your path.

Thank you Jeff for your wisdom and insights into who God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit truely are. May God bless you and your family in everything you do.

Keep on listening and you will hear his voice calling his sheep home.

whooper and whoopette said...

Man! Your blog this week was right up there with my daily discussions with CBB (Charlie Brown Bear). I have listened to people explain that we are "doing too much" and we need to slow down. Are we? Should we? The question is more about WHAT are we doing that occupies our time? Not, "Are we occupied?" When we are simply occupied/busy then we are not taking time to "Be still and know that I am God". That should be our number one activity. Our world is noisy with appointments, music, television, etc. so we are not making being still a priority. His Spirit communes with our spirit in those moments. When we are quiet we can finally listen to His voice and gain insight. Then we can get busy doing His will. When we step out in FAITH to do His will then we will be found faithful. I am reminded of Indiana Jones as he steps out to cross that abyss. I kept thinking that I would be on my hands and knees crawling and verifying my way across that walkway. Instead he checked the walkway by throwing the sand on it and then stepped out boldly. He had no way of really knowing that the walkway went all the way across nor if it was sturdy. We committed to move to Houston before we knew of your plans to go there as well. We committed to move to Rockport without knowing what He had planned for us here. Both times, He has shown up in ways that we could never have anticipated. That was where faith that He would show up proved to be the best idea. It seems that true faith requires that we have a response to when God shows up. What people appear to want is faith with comfort. Bible examples of faith seem to require a response to God that ends up in changed lives. It was moving(Abraham and Lot), a different perspective (David), compassion (Ruth, Naomi, Boaz). Each one of those ACTS of Faith has had long-term consequences that have effected and affected generations. Those people could never have anticipated that. Are we willing to respond to God with the willingness to have drastic change in our lives or will we continue going round in the continuous circle?