Tuesday, December 9

The harshness of another's words....

"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;.....Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.......For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty." 2 Peter 1:5-10, 12, 16 (NASB)

In this increasingly information-saturated culture, a curious thing has happened....far from the logical assumption that with such availability of research material, fact-checking, and exacting definitions in the world today, many just read what they see and deem it fully truthful, fully correct. Much like Newsweek's article on how the Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality or same-sex marriage because it doesn't specifically say marriage is between one man and one woman.

But Obama's promises and Newsweek's errors aren't the focus of my blog today. The guest speaker at The River last Sunday, the chaplain for the Detroit Tigers and President/Founder of SCORE ministries, Jeff Totten spoke of part of it in his sermon regarding the example that Christ left us to follow; we're to be a copy of the original...not a copy of a copy of a copy.....so on.

Chaplain Totten showed the congregation a copy of a copy (to the 40th degree) and how it was unrecognizable from the original. Totten's point was direct and simplistic....we are to follow Christ's example and be a mirror copy of Him, not our mentors, leaders, and those who seem spiritually powerful.......and we won't ever fully be capable of obtaining such exacting copied perfection, but we are still called to press on to that goal.

But one of the verses Totten referenced in his sermon was the one that hit the most, 1 Peter 2:22b "and no deceit was found in his mouth."

It has been difficult lately, with the decisions that have been forced upon me by the actions of others. I have done what I felt was right, counseled by those I trust to give me the real deal on what the best of choices may be. Yet, in my efforts to be more Christ-like in my love of others, I am being wounded on a regular basis with deep, penetrating stabs.

I have been called "a bad seed", "a bad parent", "a sick, sick man", and jeering questions have been articulated about my faith, being a Christian and being in pursuit of being a 'man of God'. Not terms I have applied to myself, except the label of Christian, but still goals that I pursue in my relationship with God.
I have been told I am bent on revenge for the decisions made in response to another's actions. I have been told that I am hurting those in my care by my callousness and insensitivity.

My walk has slowed to a painful crawl, because of the vicious and unfounded words of another. Peter's second letter has been a source of accountability for me and a peace as I face those who would apply humanistic standards to the situation they are involved in with me. It is because I belong to a group of men faithful in their pursuit of masculinity as created by God that I can look at these sources of attack and feel sorrow even as I bleed from the wounding.

They speak from their own wounded past and they want comfort in the times such as these, so they speak hateful and spiteful words despite subscribing to the very tenements of faith that I do. It is why I speak so forcefully against the watering down, the emergence gospel that is preached in churches across this land. It is why I sorrow over the increased humanization of the spiritual Truth.

Because there is no comfort in a creation of man, only the creation of God. Until we, as Christians and as humans, live up to the process that Peter taught us, we will use love to wound and words to despise even those in our congregational families.

Faith unites the family of God, as even the weakest works as does the stronger towards the common goals as exemplified by Christ and recorded by His Twelve. It matters not whether we are the strongest among the brethren in our faith, for we are all justified, purified, and made righteous by our belief in Jesus Christ, not the strength of our faith. In Christ, the future dwells; the pardon, peace, grace, knowledge, and the deeper understanding of biblical truths that have remained the same throughout the whole of creation.

The hope that defies our fragile human creation in such 'charismatics' as President-elect Barrack Obama who has promised to lead this nation into the future. A future that holds only the human creation of peace, grace, and knowledge and nothing of the eternal pardon and a deeper understanding through the counsel of the Holy Spirit of the Biblical text.

Even such a young and charismatic leader as Obama cannot do what only God can do.

God placed the responsibility upon our shoulders to seek out a deeper understanding of biblical truths. It is those truths, engraved upon our hearts, that will allow us to walk into those relationships that wound us deeply and come out on the other side wounded, but alive. It is our desire to love the sinner, not the sin, that is tested in times such as those and it is our actions, even when questioned hatefully and spitefully by those we face, that will tell whether we are true followers of Christ, true seekers to be biblical men and women of God, or a sham which will be spit from the mouth of our Lord and Savior upon His return.

Deceitful words, spoken in anger, can wound deeper than truthful words spoke in love. The truth can only hurt if the person doesn't want to hear it.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." - Hebrews 12:1-3

We are given a race to run, and a prize to obtain. Christ ran it already, so all we have to do is keep our eyes focused upon Him to know the path to take. Too often, though, we look down at our feet and stumble. He endured suffering from sinful men, who took the message of love and eternal salvation, and distorted it as He walked upon the earth. He looked to the joy beyond, the salvation of His people, as a prize worthy of the opposition, the Cross, and the shame that it bore.

When faced with the words of another, spoken in anger and spite, look to the One who endured such for your sake and you will know why you must remain steadfast and firm in the truth of love.

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