Thursday, March 22, 2012

Above Morality

While many would describe Christians as bland, avoiding of conflict, haters of homo's, weak, cliche, lack of adventure, and hypocritical, that is not, however, the picture that we are painted throughout Scripture. In fact, Jesus was the opposite of all of these things. He was never afraid to pick a fight if there was a fight that needed to be picked. He was who He appeared to be. He was bold, loved all humanity, and took on whatever came His way.

So why is it that so many Christians live in such a way that would suggest these things to the casual observer? This shouldn't be the case, yet for so many it is. Life in Christ should mean a life filled with freedom, yet so many do not actually live as if they have this freedom. Is there a reason? Has someone or something sucked the joy out of life? Jesus says that He came to give life and life more abundantly, but where is that life and when does it start? He never said anything about waiting until we die in order to get this more abundant life into gear. Life was a part of God's plan from the beginning. He breathed life into His creation. He created so much simply for the purpose of enjoyment. There is no reason we need an endless array of colors, yet we have all these colors and they are designed for us to enjoy and for us to feel. Every color is to produce a feeling, which shows that we don't have to be emotionless, rather at our core we are emotional beings meant to feel a broad range of feelings as reaction to what is around us. There should be a sense of adventure and exploration of this world that we are supposed to live in.

Has something squelched our dreams of a better world and our desired creativity that will lead us to make those dreams reality?

I'm afraid that over the years our teachings have been too focused on what we are not allowed to do and has veered totally away from what we are to be doing as people who follow Jesus. Who cares what we aren't allowed to do, we need to be awakened into this world that He created for us and engage in the endless options of things we get to participate in.

Justice is at the core of everything we are able to do. When we participate in bringing justice to areas of the world where justice is lacking, then we are participating in things that Jesus Himself participated in. Everyone has a thirst on some level for justice, however, many have somehow convinced ourselves that things will never be made right. Our dreams of a better tomorrow have been damaged, but they won't be crushed. That dream will always live within us.

Yet, instead of pursuing justice we try to manage how many times we "sin." We try to be the best person we can be. But, Jesus didn't call us to be good people. He called us to be game changers. He called us to have character. To get mad about things that were not a part of His original plan. To live a life worthy of the calling we have received. Yet so many have settled for trying to be "good." And it's a wonder why all these labels Christians have been given are out there. If good morality is the goal than we have greatly missed the point.

Henry David Thoreau summed it all up in one beautiful statement:

"Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Atmosphere of Expectation

What would it look like to walk into an atmosphere of expectation?

It happens all the time. Whether it is at a concert where a crowd of people have gathered expecting to be blown away by their favorite band. There is anticipation welling up to the point of tangibility. Everyone might be talking, but they still have one eye on the stage just waiting to get the first glimpse of the lead guy as the band walks out on the stage. But once the band walks on stage the anticipation doesn't end there. As the screaming dies down, it starts right back up at the first note or at the sound of the lead singers voice simply saying a quick "hello" to the crowd. And then the whole time the band is playing the expectation and anticipation turns into joy and infatuation and a sense of awe as you finally got what you were hoping for.

What about the delivery of a child? There is a lot of anticipation built into the delivery of a child... months worth of anticipation! There are preparations made for where the child will sleep, the purchasing of a diaper jeanie, rocking chair, and more clothes than the baby could possibly wear before he or she grows out of them. It also effects the eating habits of the mother because there is an expectation that the baby will be healthy, but that will only happen if the mother takes care of the baby while she is carrying. There is months of expectation all culminate to a new life being brought into the world! Now I won't say that the delivery is the height of the anticipation, because I have never given birth to a baby and chances are I never will, but the anticipation of grows during that time. But then thing you have been expecting for months turns into a reality in the form of a living, breathing being of which you can hold in your arms, you can hear cry, and you can simply enjoy. All of the expectations and months of anticipations turns into total focus on the infant after that. Sometimes it is as if the parents don't even exist.

It seems like the main things that we have high expectations for are all things that we pretty much know will happen anyway. Now I know that there are always circumstances where these things might have complications, but for the most part we know pretty much when and where these events will take place. It seems like the things we have high expectations for only come around once or twice a year, but why is that? My guess is that it has something to do with how exciting your prayers are. Is there anything you are praying for that seems impossible, but if it happened would cause the same reaction as if a baby were born or your favorite band walks out on stage? Would excitement well up inside of you until you couldn't help but squeeze someone or yell and scream until you have no voice?

An atmosphere of expectation is the breeding ground for miracles.

There was a woman who was hemorrhaging for 12 years and no one could heal the woman. In fact, doctors took advantage of her and would take her money and leave her worse than she was before. But then she heard that Jesus was in town and she knew that there was something special about him. One day there was a large crowd gathering around him and Mark says that the woman thought to herself, "If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well." But the phrase "she thought to herself" when translated better paints this picture that she continually thought to herself... it was as if she was saying, "If I can just get to him. I need to get to this man. When I get to Jesus I will be healed. Let me get to the man. I need what he has to offer, now let me at him." And the crazy thing was when she touched the edge of his robe she was instantly healed. Jesus knew that she had been healed, but when he turned to ask who touched him, the disciples thought he was going crazy because there were tons of people around constantly bumping into him. But he knew that someone very deliberately touched him. When he found the woman and she told him the story of why she had touched him, his response was, "Daughter, you to a risk of faith, and now you are healed and whole." Because of her expectation of what would happen when she touched Jesus she was healed. Because she had faith and had a very specific picture of what would happen if she could just get to Jesus and touch his robe, she was healed. Lots of people touched Jesus that day, but she was the one that was healed because of her faith and expectation of what would happen when she touched the Son of Man.

An atmosphere of expectation is the breeding ground for miracles.

Faith is not some sort of feeling it is a cognitive choice that we make. So what is it that you are asking God to do that only God to do? And will you choose to have the faith to wake up each day and live expecting something great to happen in your life?