Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Life is a Journey

After jury duty yesterday, I watched a little of "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" while scarfing some lunch. The trilogy is my favorite movie--I love the sense of journey that provides.

Over the past few years my boys have gotten into a series on the web called "How it should have ended." They take movies and tell a new ending, a new story. And it's much shorter. For instance, how "The Lord of the Rings" should have ended involves the 9 members of the "fellowship" leaving Rivendell on the eagles, flying into Mordor to the Mount of Doom, and dropping the ring in. Takes all of a few minutes, instead of the ordeal that the book and movie draw out.

Funny, maybe. But not reflective of reality.

Life is a journey. Full of ups and downs. Successes and failures. Good and evil. And lots of things in between all those extremes that can feel mundane. Why didn't God want them to just climb on the eagles and drop it in? Why doesn't life have those kinds of shortcuts?

I think it's because we become better people only by walking in the journey. Frodo and Sam learned about life beyond the Shire, and became better hobbits for it. Aragorn remembered he was the heir to a king. Gandalf died but was resurrected to something better, something more.

The journey of life can crush us. But it can also be redemptive for us. It can be used by God to shape us and mold us and make us more like our brother Jesus.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

I am a hypocrite, but...

Last week I tweeted about hating when you make a judgment about someone else's behavior then the Holy Spirit gently but firmly smacks you upside your head and says, "You do that too!" It's frustrating to be a hypocrite.

The truth is I can be a monster. I have anger issues, pride issues, and downright prejudice issues.

I am, after all, a recovering sinner.

Since then I've been wondering if online confession is as good for the soul as is confession in person. I come from a tradition that, quite frankly, does not openly value public confession. I have however as an adult come to see the value of communal confession. Both James and Peter speak of confession, not just in the context of a private relationship with God, but in communal fellowship with other believers. But that's still not necessarily the same as blogging your confession, or tweeting it, or sharing on some other social media outlet. (Hmm, a Facebook confession page, anyone?)

Even as I write these words, I'm not sure if it would be healthy or perverse to add a list of my sins, to confess the thoughts, words and deeds of my life that miss the mark of holiness. A part of me wants to do it, another part of me wants to resist the titillation that already stenches up the internet. And another part of me wants to just point to the grace that is offered to all of us in Jesus, the marvelous, matchless, infinite grace that is greater than all our sins, as the hymn put it.

So where do I land this plane?

It's very freudian to say that whatever sin I judge the most in others is likely the sin I struggle with the most. I see in someone what I hate about myself and pass judgment on it.

But Freud wasn't God.

I think every believer in our honest moments admits that we have met the enemy, and he is me. The line between good and evil does run through the middle of the human heart. My heart. Until redemption fully arrives, my flesh keeps crawling off the sacrificial altar to wreak havoc on me, to slap me. Or worse, to subtly retake a piece of my life where I don't see it coming. This makes it all the more challenging for God's clay-footed people to speak prophetically. I will fail to follow what I profess.

Should I stop professing it?

No. My shortcomings do not negate the truth. My failings do not validate evil.

My gluttony does not mean we can ignore the hungry.

My greed does not give us license to ignore the poor.

My silence does not allow us to ignore those who need to hear good news.

My laziness does not mean we can give up on changing the world.

My sin points only to my own need for a savior. My hypocrisy does not justify others' evil, but certainly demands my humility. And while I hope and strive and pray to overcome my own sin, it is "not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." Every day I am "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Php 3.12-14 ESV