Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Light & City

"You are the light of thew world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid."
(Matthew 5:14)

This is another one of those "Christian sayings" that have become quite recognizable by those of us "in the church."  But we often overlook the power of its (simple) message.  A couple of insights stand out to me as I look at what Jesus says here...
  • "Light of the world"... Just about everything needs light to survive (okay, maybe the naked mole rat can do without it, but not much else!).  Jesus is calling us (as his followers) the LIGHT that the world needs.  We have a purpose & function for OTHERS.  It's not just about us & doing whatever we want that takes care of us.  We are to live for others' benefit.  Are we?
  • "A city built on a hill"... I've been to Edinburgh Castle in Scotland twice.  Once you arrive anywhere in that city, your eyes are drawn to the castle.  Why?  Because it's built on a hill, and can be seen by all!  Everyone knows it's there.  Jesus says that we're like that.  We're a city built on a hill.  We can't be hid.  We can't keep a "low profile" throughout life... minding our own business.  We're meant to be seen by others!  We're meant to be a (positive) example!  That might be a lot of pressure, if we had to do it all ourselves.  But Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  He can help us be all that He's created us to be.  But again, we're created to be a blessing to OTHERS!  May it be so in my life.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Box of Chocolates

"May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ."
(2 Thessalonians 3:5)

"FORREST GUMP" is a great film for a number of reasons.  Tom Hanks is an amazing actor.  It's also a very funny, poignant, and touching movie all at the same time.  The digitized alteration of famous historical events (where Forrest is superimposed int he background) was groundbreaking.  The soundtrack is incredible.  And who can forget "Cajun sha-rimp... boiled sha-rimp... garlic sha-rimp..."?

But I think one of the most compelling aspects of the film is the faithful & unwavering love that Forrest had for Jenny.  You may call him a "simple-minded man," but I think Forrest embodied the kind of love that God has for us: steady, consistent, always available - even if we reject it (repeatedly)!  Jenny's life was pretty messed up (stemming from an abusive childhood by her father)... but Forrest continued to love her, whether she openly returned that love or not.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 understands this kind of love.  It's God's love for us.  It's Christ Jesus' faithfulness towards us.  We just often have a hard time recognizing it.  So Paul tells us (as he told the church in Thessalonia): "May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ."  Indeed!  And that's no "box of chocolates," for we know what we'll get from God! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's most important?

"Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?'  He said, 'Lord, let me see again.'"
(Luke 18:40-41)

It was no job, but it was how he made his living.  Begging.  By the roadside.  "Alms?!?" he'd cry out to people passing by.  That's all the blind man could do - beg.

So it's interesting that when he finds out that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, he calls out to him with a title not used elsewhere: "Son of David!"  That's the title for the Messiah.  How did this blind man know that?!?  Nevertheless, he does what he does best, and begs!  He asks Jesus for mercy.

Jesus then does something rather interesting.  Though he is the Messiah & has divine knowledge, he asks the blind man, 'What do you want me to do for you?'  Now we might consider that a stupid question (Duh?!  What do you think he wants, Jesus?).  But in reality, the man could have asked for other things.  He could have asked for MONEY (like he always did!)... enough to be able to stop begging.  Enough to be comfortable & set.  Enough to not have to worry about finances any more.  He also could have asked for justice... for retribution against all who had wronged him or taken advantage of him in the past.  He also could have asked to be relocated... taken somewhere where he'd be valued & appreciated.  Maybe even to follow along with Jesus and his entourage.

Instead, this man gets to the very root of his problems: he's blind.  The most important need he has (above all other needs) is the need to see.  "Lord, let me see again."  And Jesus grants his request.

Sometimes I think we get caught up in all the things that, though they may be problems in our lives, are ultimately not THE MAIN PROBLEM.  They're not that important (at least, not as important as the ONE thing that's most important - whatever that may be for each of us).  "What do you want me to do for you," Jesus asks.  This isn't a genie-in-a-bottle-make-three-wishes question.  It's a what's-your-bottom-line-deepest-need question. 

So let's not be too quick to answer.
Take the time to search your soul.
How will you respond to the Savior?