Monday, August 21, 2006

Quote of the Week

To be struck by grace does not mean that we are simply making progress in our moral self-control, in our fight against special faults, and in our relationships to others. Moral progess may be a fruit of grace, but it is not grace itself.

Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life... grace strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us.

Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness and it is as though a voice were saying, "You are accepted. You are accepted by that which is greater than you... Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted."

If that happens to us, we experience grace. After such an experience we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed.

- Paul Tillich "The Shaking of the Foundations"

So, what do you think?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Day is Like a Thousand Years

Two months ago I said I would return to posting some thoughts in a week. What I meant to say was four weeks. But what is time anyway? Jesus said that he would return soon. The early church thought that meant sometime during their lifetime. Jesus said the earth would show signs of the end before his return so every generation says Jesus will be back sometime during their life. The Bible predicts global economies, global conflicts, and centralized leadership. Christians in the 1900's and today interpret this to mean what is happening in the world are the final signs before Jesus' return. When Israel gets involved in conflict the world moves to the edge of its seat to see if this is the last straw before God breaks through and physically shows up on earth. Surely His return is "soon".
Peter explained to us that, "To God a day is like a thousand years", or in other words, God does not operate in our time zone. In God's perspective, the creation of the world and the end of the world happen at the same time. To us it is thousands (or maybe even billions) of years apart. His return is soon, but maybe not to us. Maybe when Jesus said, "I will come like a thief in the night", he really meant that you wouldn’t be able to figure out when. He didn't say, " I will come like a thief in the night sometime on Monday or Tuesday". He said you would be surprised. So the point is that we should be ready. But are we?
If Jesus came back today would we even welcome Him? Would he show up at church and find that we didn’t schedule time for him? Would we say that we could maybe fit him in between the skit and the offering song? Maybe Jesus will show up and some will say they have been “detoxing” from the church and since he actually demands our whole life they don’t really want to welcome him anyway. If Jesus showed up would we gladly quit all we are doing and sit at His feet or would we say that we need a little more time to get our lives in order?
The point is this. Jesus will return someday. And when He does return I am sure that most will find that we were wrong about a lot of things. Our interpretations of scripture, our insistence of how the “Church” should function, our beliefs about His priorities, and our judgments about “big sins” and “little sins”. The best thing we can do is to give up all the speculating, complaining, and judging and just rest in the fact that we are loved by God and allowed to love Him. Live as if you want to return the favor of a life of love lived in return, but never think you have it all figured out. You don’t. When you start feeling superior as if you have the definitive answers about God in your hands, just remember that a day to you is a completely different concept for God. His ways are not yours and His thoughts are not your thoughts.