Tuesday, September 7

This is my life....

".......shame of face belongs to us today—to every individual of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to our kings, to our rulers, to our priests, to our prophets, and to our ancestors. We all have sinned before the Lord and disobeyed him. We have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in the Lord’s commandments which he laid out before us. From the day that the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt till this very day we have been disobedient to the Lord our God. We have acted carelessly, not paying attention to his voice. Clinging to us to this very day are the misfortunes and curse which the Lord prescribed to his servant Moses on the day that he brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt in order to give us a land flowing with milk and honey. We have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God as given in all the words of the prophets whom he sent to us. Each one of us followed the intent of his evil heart by serving other gods and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord our God." Baruch 1:15-22

Just a little historical note before we continue, Baruch is from the Apocrypha...books of the Old Testament included in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, considered deuterocanonical (added to the eariler canon). It is not certain why the term which means 'hidden things' was applied to these texts but they are considered less authorative than the other biblical books due to their late origin (c. 300 BC to AD 100). They are not included in the Hebrew Bible and most Protestant Bibles.

Some thirteen books comprise the Apocrypha: I and II Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (which is also entitled the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach), Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Additions to Daniel, the Prayer of Manasses, and I and II Maccabees. At the Council of Carthage (397), it was decided to accept the Apocrypha as suitable for reading and in 1548 the Council of Trent recognized the Apocrypha, excepting I and II Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses, as having unqualified canonical status.

Many early Church Fathers, Augustine among them, put these books on a par with the rest of the Old Testament and quoted them equally, even Jerome (who wanted to exclude them from the Latin bible he was commissioned to translate) often quoted the Apocrypha without distinguishing it from the Hebrew canon.

"Scholarly biblical criticism has shown the presence of the same literary forms in both proto- and deuterocanonical writings." D. H. Wallace concludes in his article Apocrypha, Deuterocanonical Books, "The Apocrypha have something in common with what came before them and with what followed them; they therefore act as a link between the Old and the New Testaments and so help us to understand both."

I just thought the warning that Baruch gives in this apocrypha text was accurate for what the Christian church has become in the world today. It strikes me as prophetic in its utterance.

We have wandered far from our God and the blessings that He would have bestowed upon this nation and its people. We have sought out compromise and 'tolerance' to all things but those things of God and have developed an almost fearful adversion to addressing the sin in our lives and the lives of those around us rather than culturizing a 60s version of a lovefest in religious circles today.

But I'm not going on a discussion about the church and its problems; the church will alway have problems so long as there are humans in charge of it. When, and only when, we step back and allow God to be the focus and Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, then will the Church achieve the level of missional thinking and relational love that it needs to be an effective and power arm, leg, hand and feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it was meant to be.

Why bother? The Church will continue to do what it has done throughout the ages, progress further and further into a relationship with the world that has little revelance and truth in what God has said and did in this world.

I wish I could say that I've walked away from the disappointment that always haunts any dealing with humans, but I haven't. I've come to accept that there is no church truly following the dictates and lessons of Christ, for if it was......revival would be a state of condition not a mere word in the language. I've come to acknowledge that I will never be full accepted in whatever God has called me to do in that fellowship.

It no longer matters.

People will tell you they love you, no matter what, but then leave you in silence as you battle through the week. They will tell you that they want to be your friends, yet reject the help you want to give in the trials of their lives as they struggle. They will tell you that they will pray for you and forget as they grasp the hand of another with a connection that they need or want.

I can stare at the limitations that I have in my life and agree with those who say I shouldn't pursue a pastorship or utter a word on the stage of a church...for surely they, knowing my imperfections, would stand up and walk out of the 'hallowed' halls of the church of their making and declare me a hypocrite. I can look at my situation, missing the opportunities to be obedient in what God has provided me to do in His purpose, and declare myself unfit to do anything for God. Or I can take a page from Screwloose's lectures and apply it.

"It is in present time that a human's life is lived, and his ethics expressed in action. It is in present time that the human will must operate, choosing 'now' acts which set the course of his future life." (Will: Practical Paralysis; Screwloose lectures)

As I fail in some aspects of my life, I can be trapped in the sorrow of the moment and held nailed to the cross of other's makings by the decisional impact of their words. I can proclaim their version of me to be the most accurate and dispose of God's more pure, more honest assessment of me that I have become in the new life given to me under the blood of Christ.

I can listen to Christ's words and decide to follow them, even as I struggle to realize the full impact of being the man He wants me to be, the impact for the kingdom that He has equipped me to be and the warrior that He has provisioned me to be.

"If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the Truth and the Truth make you free." John 9:31-32 KJV

My faith will never be arrogantly secure in what it thinks it knows and my beliefs will never be the single most motivation for what I do. It is rather simple, when I look at it through the eyes of Christ......in obedience I will walk even as in my humanity I fall.

I will continue to strive for that goal that is set before me, in the heavenly planbooks of the Almighty God. I will face trials and disappointments, rejection and selective love. I will hurt, I will bleed and I will sorrow.

And in that, I will know joy and peace, comfort and happiness, and love so complete that to realize it will mean to never let it go. It is my choice, it is my desire and it is my intention. Surrender of my will to the One who saved me and follow into the darkness where He would lead for the sake of those whom I was meant to testify with the brutality of my life.

As Switchfoot sings......

"This is your life. Are you who you want to be?"

That is who I want to be, a disciple yoked in the identifying yoke of my Messiah.
Following the Truth in my imperfection, perfected in the trials of this life.

No comments: