Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Other Things I Find Myself Repeating

Admittedly, I have quite a few "It's all about..." statements that I find myself repeating. I know, I know...how can be "all about" more than one thing? Technically, it can't. But I will still hold that each of these statements are true (and many of them are close to being synonymous) given the right context or lens through which a dialogue is taking place...
"It's all about Christ."
The Bible is about Christ. The whole world was made through Christ, by Christ, for Christ, and in Christ it all holds together. Any part of anyone's life or philosophy of life or practice of life that is actually giving them "life to the full" comes from Christ, whether they know to call it that or not. Christ's priorities, mission, and character provide every human being with the priorities, mission, and character that will give their hearts purpose, passion, peace, and joy. Any religion that does not teach, model, and embody Jesus Christ, and help the world conform to Christ's teaching and heart, is absolutely and utterly worthless (including religions that where Christ's name claiming to be "right"). To become more and more like Christ is to become more and more aligned with God's very heart. One way my lord said it was, "I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you." Which leads me to my next repetitive statement...
"It's all about relationships."
I can't think of one thing that is not related to relationships. We do everything, and understand everything, in the context of "others" or "someone" or "everyone else". Even the word "loner" is only understood in the context of other people. In my experience, the sooner someone accepts that their life is all about relationships (even if it starts only with their relationship with self), the sooner they start finding life. My master, after being asked what the most important of all the commandments that come from God was, answered with two...both relationally based..."Love God, and love your neighbor." He said that every single "command"...if you want to look at life through a commandment lens...is based on these two relationships. The very word "love" makes no sense without the concept of relationships. And for my friends who are hyper-focused on "Heaven" or "Eternal Life"...you should know that Jesus even defines it in terms of relationships when he says, "Eternal life is this: to know God and to know me, Jesus Christ, whom He sent." It's all about relationships.
"It's all about life in your heart."
My fried Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full." That was his point. He died to give us full life in our hearts...a life that is untouchable by the things of this world. I remember sitting with a good friend who was feeling so guilty because of his drinking problem. He had tried to quit countless times, trying to be "good enough" to be called a Christ follower (for this brother, this included a sinking feeling that he wasn't 'saved' unless he kicked his drinking habit).
I asked him the question, "If I ordered your last beer tonight (we were at a restraunt) and you drank it, and NEVER drank another drip of alcohol...would that work? Would your guilt be gone and you would be confident of your salivation? Would you now be 'good enough'?"
He said, "I've never thought of it like that. No, I wouldn't. I'd still not be good enough, and I'd probably still be feeling guilty about other stuff."
I went on..."So your heart 'knows' that this won't work. Since stopping drinking won't clear your conscience, why would your heart stop something that gives it a little bit of what it perceives to be 'life' or 'enjoyment'? What if you try this...believe you are forgiven with no strings attached because of the blood of Christ. Believe it has absolutely no connection to your religious life, your moral life, or your good works. Believe it has everything to do with grace through the blood of Christ. Then ask yourself, 'Does the best possible life for me here on earth involve alcohol?'"
"It is for freedom that I have set you free, Jesus said," I continued. "So if the best possible life for you and your wife and your kids and your co-workers and your friends and YOUR HEART involves drinking alcohol, well then, not only is it okay to drink alcohol, Christ died to give it to you."
Suffice it to say that I was as surprised as he was that this line of reasoning sounded so close to license to drink. You might need to read it again, slowly, to follow my feeble attempt at communicating this conversation. All I can tell you right now is that my friend had one of those re-orienting stares on his face while he looked down at his plate of food.
Guilt never transforms people, grace often does.
My friend just texted me a few days ago telling me it has been one year since his last alcoholic beverage. And you should see this guy's "life". He has it in his heart, he wears it on his face, it's noticeable through his family, and he's giving it to every person he is in relationship with.
It's all about Christ. It's all about relationships. It's all about life to full in your heart.

No comments: