Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Heart Overflows, My Heart Grieves

I'm finding myself more and more overwhelmed by God's grace every day.  My heart yearns to know Him more.

Words want to pour from my mind, through my fingertips as I type, proclaiming Christ as King, exalting Him above all others, but all the words I have to give don't even scratch the surface of God's majesty.

Why does God love me?  Why wasn't I wiped out of existence and sentenced to hell after my first sin?  Why does He continue to love me even though I continue to fail Him?  Why is His grace renewed every morning?

I recently found a list of "fighter verses" recommended to memorize.  I know a few verses of scripture, but nowhere near as many as I should.  I started this memorization program to equip myself with biblical truth, to hide God's word in my heart so that I might not sin, to be wise in Him, not in the world.  Memorizing scripture is not an easy task, and too often I hear (from my own lips, even) "I don't have a good memory" or "I don't have enough time." 

Bull crap.  Pure and simple.  Inexcusable excuses.  Lies from satan to keep you out of the bible, defeated, burdened, and ensnared.

My heart grieves for our world.  How can we profess love of God and abstain from spending time with Him?  Do you love your kids?  Do you want them to spend more time with you?  Does it not break your heart when they don't?  This is the same for God.  The chief end for man is to glorify God!  It's why we were created, and yet where do our hearts lie?

They lie in routine, in comfortable pews and lazy idleness.  They lie, ultimately, in our own selfish behaviors.  I am convinced that those* that do not follow Jesus choose not to follow Him because of how they see so many "Christians" acting.  To be a Christian is to follow Christ, acting as He would, loving God and loving people.  And how do you love someone?  You spend time with them.  You intentionally invest time a relationship, going above and beyond normal protocol and acting unexpectedly, oftentimes against personal preferences and certainly into the realms of awkwardness/uncomfortableness.

My heart grieves for our dying generations, for people choosing to pursue selfish desires instead of selfless ones.  It hurts to know that there are lost people that do not know the true message of Christ and they're dying without Him.  It hurts me even more to know that there are people that do know the true message, and yet they're too self-absorbed/apathetic to do anything about it.  And, most of all, it hurts me to know there are Christians--followers of Jesus the Christ--that aren't acting as a follower of the Christ.

Matthew 7:21-23 is a sobering passage of scripture. 
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
It's time to wake up and start acting like Jesus.  It's time to start loving God and following His commandments, which Jesus broke down to two: Love God, Love People.  Otherwise, like Deuteronomy 7:9,10 says:
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face.
My heart breaks for the world, yet it overflows with the rich promises of God, that to those that love Him and follow Him, He will never leave or forsake us.

*To be clear, a Christian** is not one who judges, not one who condemns, not one who looks down on, not one who hates, not one who is prideful, not one who holds grudges and forgives not.  These actions are not in accordance with a Jesus-shaped person.  The Christ loved everyone and spent His ministry with the poor and broken people of Israel.  If we're emulating Jesus and following His words, these actions ought not be in our lives.

Know, then, those of you that have been hurt or turned-off from Christianity because of these types of actions (and more) that not all who follow Jesus act this way and I apologize for the poor behavior of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  I pray that you've not been too jaded to give Jesus another chance.

**That's not to say that a Christian won't display these actions, but doing so is sinful, but to be human is to be in a fallen world of sin.  Only the love and sanctification of Jesus can overcome our sinful selves, and sanctification is a lifelong process.  Daily we are to die and take up the cross and follow Jesus, fighting the fight and overcoming the world.


Paula Titus said...

Great testimony :) Thanks for sharing.

Human[cubed] said...

Powerful stuff. I'm not sure I agree, but then I guess you don't need me to. Thanks for sharing your insight into the world. I have always found it odd that Christianity paints humanity into a world of sin from the outset. I just can't identify with this.

I admire your bravery at posting so publicly regarding your faith. Thank you.

logankstewart said...

@Paula: Ah, sorry, I didn't realize you'd commented on this. Thank you.

@Human[cubed]: Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, even though it is something you disagree with. It's frustrating to commit your life to Jesus and follow Him and then see others that profess Christianity and follow themselves instead of Jesus.

As for painting a world of sin from the outset, I'd have to disagree. We first believe that originally we were with God in Eden, Paradise, whatever, enjoying peace and the presence of God. Only after we sinned (i.e., disobeyed God's command) did the world get painted with sin. Because of this, we're all born into sin, but because of Jesus, we can overcome this and have eternal life.

If you're interested in discussing this, feel free to email me or post it here.

Thanks again for reading and for stopping by my blog!

Human[cubed] said...

I certainly think it is an interesting topic. I have been teaching religious studies for 6 years now, after studying philosophy at university. Despite being a humanist, I have found that thoughts of God preoccupy my thoughts; perhaps even more than some professed Christians (as your post suggests)!

I appreciate your sentiment about a parent wishing that their children would spend more time with them, but isn't it also true that it fills a parent with joy when they see their children living their own lives? Independence is something which humans have come to value greatly and I think this is my biggest conflict with religious doctrine; it doesn't value independence and self-discovery.

I had this thought about omniscience once: I believe that in order for God to know everything, he requires humans to experience every possibility. As we come to realize certain truths, so God realizes it to. I came to think that God IS our collective consciousness. This opens a door for human freedom. Nothing is intrinsically sinful against God - it is all just play. Clearly there are a great many things that we might consider wrong or bad or crimes against humanity, but I have also considered those to be separate issues - hence my claim to humanism. We DO have a duty to be good, but not for God. God is not waiting (in my view) to judge us when we die; at least not in the sense that Christianity seems to suggest. If we consider that God IS collective human consciousness, then hell could be perceived as a horrible legacy that we might leave to that consciousness. Those people who have committed heinous acts against humanity are not burning in the fires of Hell (since I can't believe in any such place), but they are certainly not remembered fondly. This is Hell.

Conversely, highly-regarded humans: The Buddha; Jesus; Muhammad; Gandhi; Martin Luther King etc are remembered because of the beautiful legacy they left behind; teachings of love and equality - these are gifts to humanity. I believe that God exists here. Not in a REAL sense; God is not a being, He is a thought, an idea, a will to be better as human beings. This idea leaves a legacy to humanity that is the same as the legacy that every (good) parent wishes to leave to his or her children.

I hope that makes sense and that you don't find it offensive in any way. I hope to make clear that I respect any thought or idea that has love and goodness at its center.

Human[cubed] said...

some odd posting issues...not sure what is happening here...

Apologies if that posted twice...

logankstewart said...

@Human[cubed]: I'd have to argue that Christianity places the utmost importance on independence, so much so that God created us with free-will, able to choose any path we want for our lives, be it "for good" or "for evil."

Continuing on with the parent metaphor, it does give a parent joy to see their children living their own lives, especially ones that are "for the good," but not always. Children grieve their parents' hearts when they get on the wrong path of the road. The parent must, in their love, allow the child to make mistakes and ultimately find their own path. This is what God is doing with us. Does that mean that the children are free to do whatever they wish, to ignore the constraints of the Law (of both God and society)? Absolutely. But will they be judged and punished for their transgressions of the Law (of both God and society)? Absolutely.

History, as well as religious texts, attribute Solomon as being extremely wise. He said in Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." This agrees heartily with my belief that we're all fallen, sinful, and guilty. Our own nature urges us down one path which seems right, but its end is death. Hell. The Grave.

Following Jesus is crazy. It's illogical and counter-culture. It doesn't make sense to believe in the word of the Cross (1 Cor 1:18), but thankfully God has provided a way for us to understand the mystery of salvation.

Your thoughts on collective consciousness are very interesting, especially dealing with the lasting legacy of famous/infamous men. I have many issues with this belief, especially the limited power of God. If God's omniscience is limited, then so should His omnipotence and omnipresence be, and if this is so, then He is not God. It defies the definition of such a being.

Like you, I hope that this is not offensive and that it makes sense. If it does offend, I humbly apologize. I, too, very much respect ideas that have love and goodness in their center, and I believe this love is from the fingertips of God's creation.

Great discussion, by the way. (I'm not sure what was going on with the comments, but I think I got it worked out.)