Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thoughts on Romans 7:19

“For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
I think of myself as a good person.
I do things that make people refer to me as a bad person.
If both statements are true how can I rely on either statement to give me a basis for action in my next encounter with life?
This kind of cognitive dissonance (holding opposing statements as equally true) darkens even the brightest of days and sometimes dims the view of God’s grace in my life. I struggle with the knowledge that I am both people: the good and the not good. How do I continue to be good regardless the truth that I am sometimes not good?
Here are three propositions you can use to unravel truth when what you think about yourself seems to be challenged by what is happening in your life.
When one incident becomes your whole world, you have lost perspective. My life is not made up of one or two incidents in a day. What I did in 1966 cannot be allowed to drive what I choose to do today or think today. Certainly it informs it, but, does not dictate to it. My impact on the world around me must be kept in divine perspective. What would Jesus want me to do – is much more helpful.
When one experience is your whole world, you have lost context. A traffic ticket for speeding, while financially hurtful, cannot be allowed to drive how I respond to my wife when I get home. She may agree it is harmful to the family finances and my future use of the car, but, not my future relationship with her.
When one person can change your whole view of life for the worse, you have lost yourself. I need wise counselors in my life to help guide me through decisions great and small. Their opinion of my choices are helpful but not obligatory. They do not define who I am in God’s kingdom. They do not define who I am in my family. By using all of those voices combined with my understanding of God’s work in my life, I can see more clearly the person God wants me to see in the mirror of life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On Being Watched

"Stay out of life!"
"You don't have the right to snoop around my life."
"Get off my back - its my life."
Because we live in a society whose highest value is individualism we are always going to come to the flash point of Child's rights/Parent's responsibility. I remember as a young teen on a foreign mission station being concerned that certain of my things were hidden from the "prying" eyes of my mother. I did not re-think this closely held truth (my stuff, my life, stay out) until hearing the testimony of an 18 year old drug addict who stood up in church (I was attending because my good friend was the Pastor and I was passing through)affirm during testimony time, "I praise God that He wont stop bugging me."
I had not yet experienced the joy and fear of parenthood. I was still pretty sure my life was my own to live as I chose and any benefit to others was purely tertiary. I was struck by the reality of God's invasive nature - and - how badly I needed Him to be that way. I wondered how my life would have turned out had my father not "caught" me sneaking out for a first beer. I remembered how fortunate I was that my dad's elder sister demanded I call every hour from a party my hooligan friend was having "at his house" - er - older friend's drinking hole in Chicago - which effectively grounded me saving me from the police raid that night.
While the transformation was not complete that day it was begun. I prayed that I would desire invasion into my life by Him and those He appointed as watchmen and watchwomen over my life and ministry. Like that young man almost 50 years ago I too praise God for His meddling in my private life. While not always pleasant it has always been beneficial. If I had not opened my life to God's invasion I would never have opened all my drawers, files, cupboards, wallets, cases, file cabinets, internet history, voice mail, texts and email to my wife - which secrecy - even if benign - would have built a wall love could not scale.
Now when I hear young people complain that their parents invade their privacy and want them to stop I wonder if they realize they are asking for less and not more individual power.