Friday, April 23, 2010

The Narrow Path… (as I see it)

Note: When I write something that is somewhat obscure, which I think this post might be, and yet, at least in my mind, is somewhat eloquent, I pray I am not being merely clever, which is often the case for obscure writings (they seem to have substance, but they really mean nothing). I hope what I have to say has meaning. I hope that at least some who read my thoughts expressed here will be impacted in a positive manner.

While the path is narrow, it is deep. The depth at which one walks is not to be seen as an indication that one is somehow greater than those closer to the surface, for many on the surface may still be far ahead of many who travel deeply. Those who travel deeply might not travel at this depth for any other reason than they were created too heavy to walk on the surface. These who travel deeply cannot spend much time on the surface without frantically thrashing to stay afloat. It is within their very nature to sink deeply into their surroundings.

This might be a warning to those who travel deeply and are pessimistic about the quality of the faith of those who might not be so deep. While it might be human pride that tells us that the deeper we are in understanding the more important we are, the truth is that the deeper we travel the more fragile we become. If one takes stock of the believers around him or her, it becomes painfully obvious that those closer to the surface seem to travel the path of relationship with God much easier than those who might be deeper in understanding. The truth about understanding is that the more you have, the more you realize you do not know.

Our depth is dictated by our inner capabilities. Many intellectuals have no other choice than to go deeper so that they can move ahead, for if they remain at the surface, all their energy is wasted trying to stay afloat. While we might wish to stay on the surface, God draws us deeper, and as soon as we see the merit to this deeper journey, God does not allow us to go any deeper. While it is our decision to submit to our abilities and travel as deep as we are able, our potential is limited by our Maker who keeps us from going too deep so that we might realize that we must rely on Him. It is His prerogative. Going beyond the point God has dictated leads us into blindness. For, if we do choose to go beyond where He intends, He will not travel with us, and we have no light to understand true reality. This, I fear, is the condition of so many intellectuals of today.

Here I must carefully clarify what I mean by depth, because there exists various types of depth. This depth has little to do with our depth in relationship with God. The depth I speak of is vertical. It is the depth to which we understand our point on the path. The depth of our relation, on the other hand, is more of a matter of how far we have traveled with God in faith and has little to do with the depth at which we understand, other than the fact that the being at the correct depth of understanding for each individual is a matter of faithfulness to God.

I have no all encompassing final application to make here. However, I do hope that this is not the end to your thought on the subject matter. I hope this is a kick-board for further meditation.

God bless.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Life Or Death?

If you died today, would you go to heaven? This is a popular question that many of us evangelicals like to ask of those we are concerned for. But where does this lead the mind that has been inquired? This projects thoughts of the future, the life to come. But our salvation is now; our reality of citizenship in the kingdom, although not yet consummated here on earth, is a truth we live in now. It is our present concern. Sure, this question implies one’s condition for the present moment in that it refers to today. Ultimately, however, the question concerns one’s status as a child of God, and the focus of this status is one’s security in the afterlife. In other words, this question reveals the inquisitor’s view of the purpose of salvation and the end goal of faith, which is going to heaven, and this assumption is almost blasphemous. Christ’s purpose for dying on our behalf is not to give us the gift of heaven, as if heaven is nothing more than a peaceful retirement community for the dead.

Christ did not come just so that we might live forever. He came to transform us into His image, to redeem our brokenness, not only in the future, but here and now, to bring us back to His original purpose of being in relationship with Him, to make us holy. This is the end goal of our faith. Heaven is the place where God and His holy people dwell until the restoration of all things when we shall once again live on Earth as citizens of the fully restored New Jerusalem. It is not a prize for simply claiming to be a Christian. I am not accusing everyone who asks this question of denying this reality; I have asked the question myself, and I have done so out of genuine concern for people I love. However, what I am suggesting is that this question can lead to false conclusions that have little to do with the redeeming cross.

Maybe the better question is this: Are you who God has called you to be today? Are you living a life of happiness in relation to God at this very moment? Does His Spirit witness with your Spirit today? In its best possible sense, the question of heaven is asking whether or not we will be in the presence of the Holy God in the future, in the life to come. However, the question should really be: are you living in His presence now? There is no future hope without present salvation. Present salvation is by no means a mere promise for a future life. Present salvation is given to us so that we might grow in holy love now. This is not a call for us to forget our hope for the future. Yet, our hope for the future should not be a cause for us ignoring our present reality before the Living God today.

In life or death our purpose is to, by His grace alone, be truly holy.