Tag Archives: Christ

Abide In Him – Or Die

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“Redemption is meaningless unless there is cause for it in the actual life we live, and for the last few centuries there has been operating in our culture the secular belief that there is no such cause.”
-Flannery O’Connor, 1957

I want to add something to Ms. O’Connor’s thought. And it is that right now (I can’t speak for the 1950’s), not only is it a secular belief but a widespread religious belief that there is no reason for Redemption in the actual lives we live. And nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus had a word for the Pharisees who believed that: hypocrites. He called them white-washed tombs.

Much of Christianity today acts like once you (the sick, the weary, the poor, the sinful) start following Jesus, He makes you perfect and you never doubt, sin, or get sick again. You are now a righteous person in yourself and so your relationship with God is pretty mutual. You keep doing good stuff for Him and he just keeps blessing you. Nothing is further from the truth! Hell is full of “righteous” people who believed some fact about God, thought they were then perfect, and then went on living trying to earn God’s favor with what they did. That teaching, whether explicit or implicit in any institution is an outright lie. It may seem harmless, but it has real world ramifications.

I recently heard someone tell me that at a church several years ago (not in Little Rock) in Sunday school, the leader asked for everyone to write down a personal need on a card along with your phone number, which he would then read the need out loud, and someone would raise their hand for that need, and get in touch with that person during the week to help. My friend wrote down a personal struggle with sin he was having, and obviously wanted prayer or help from anyone in the class. The Sunday school teacher started reading the requests – somebody needed help with a broken mower, somebody’s dog was sick, somebody needed prayer to sell their car, somebody wanted prayer for their business – etc, etc. My friend’s request was never read to his brothers and sisters in that room. It was thrown away by the leader. He didn’t want to read it. And what was the message that that sent to my friend? Don’t bring up your stuff in church. We keep it artificial here.

Later he was able to be transparent at another church, and found out that most everyone else was like him anyway, on the inside. All it took was him being transparent, and they all started opening up. It’s called community, and every human on the planet needs it. “Here’s who I am & what I’ve done, the very worst and the very best. Tell me about you. Ok, cool. That sounds a lot like me. Now we all see the good and the bad in each other, and yet, we’re strangely OK and happy to know each other. It’s like a little refuge from all the fake people out there. I really love you guys. We know the way to life, and we encourage each other along the way.” This necessarily involves vulnerability, transparency, and intimacy. We are like this because God is like this – Father, Son, and Spirit, who made each of us in their image. You will either find community in the body of Christ or in the body of another. Bars, clubs, anonymous groups, rehab facilities, affairs – all of these offer some form of transparent community that every human needs. It’s just who we are. And some of them (not affairs…) are useful and good for what they are. However, none of them can provide what only the body of Christ can provide.

I’m glad my friend found a group of believers he can be real with. We all need that. I know I do, and am thankful for the people in my life.

Jesus said “Come to me all you who are weary” and he also said “Abide in me…If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away”. To me that sounds like we come to Him and then we stay with Him because we still need Him. The New Testament also tells believers to confess our sins to each other, and also not to say that we do not sin, or else we make God out to be a liar. Practically, I know this is hard, because no one wants to hear somebody be negative all the time. Also, American culture is just generally very positive in nature. But, somewhere along the way the American church started replacing “Come to Me….Abide in Me” with “Come to Me…Ok now you’re good, you won’t sin anymore, therefore you don’t need me. Go do something FOR me. And, if you notice something wretched in you, just don’t tell anyone.”

I think we “abide in Him” by listening to him (his word), talking to Him (prayer), and being with and loving His body, the church. Kind of makes sense, really, since to know someone you need to be with them, talk to them, and listen to them. Also, for people that are married, knowing your spouse I think is a part of how you know God, though I am as yet unqualified to speak in that area! 🙂

And, part of all of those is admitting to yourself, Him, and each other – STILL – that we need Him. If our lives are perfect and we’ve got it all figured out, we just don’t need Him. We don’t.

However, we are far from perfect. And even what we think we know isn’t even a drop in the bucket of all knowledge. The good news, though, is that if you know Him, you know all you need to know. You know the one who has it all figured out, the one who is perfect, the supreme creator and ruler of the universe. If you know Him then He has your back, and He will never let you go.

If you know Him, our confession of sin and brokenness to Him and to each other will not make Him angry, but will bring Him joy, as we abide in Him.

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It Is Quite A Mystery (poem)

It is quite a mystery
Why He bled and died for me.
Why from heav’n to earth He came,
All to take my sin and shame.

And not only did He take
My sin and die for my sake,
But He also made me be
Righteous before God, as He.

Now He as I, and I, He.
This is the great mystery.
One with Him forevermore,
Makes me wonder why? What for?

Why would He give up so much
To become a filthy wretch?
And why give me all for free,
All the stuff of royalty?

What He says is pretty clear,
If you have the ears to hear.
Love for us is why He came;
To the glory of His name.

For greater love hath no man,
Than He who came by the plan
Of the Father, and who gave
His life for my soul to save.

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Filed under Poems, Theology

Come To Me My Savior Said (poem)

Come to me, my Savior said

Lift your eyes and lift your head

What you think needs help or care

It won’t last, don’t waste a prayer

 

But what about this thing right here

This, He says, is it – draw near

This is the thing that matters most

Forget your lot, your mind, your boast

 

My Glory, son, matters most of all

In this pursuit you’ll find your call

Perhaps your lot may fall in line

But only here will you be mine

 

And so it goes, the toil of life

So much confusion, so often strife

But in the end, it matters not

Forget your self, your life, your lot

 

There’s another story being told

Of Creator God, the One of old

Of time and space, the universe

Of a garden rich, but then a curse

 

Of an evil world, destroyed in wrath

Of a remnant saved, a glorious bath

Of a man called out, by faith traveled west

Of a family through whom all will be blessed

 

Of bondage and slavery, captive then free

Of law from the mountain, of sorrow and glee

Of a king who ruled, mighty and just

Of wisdom and wealth, of fairness and trust

 

Of a man born lowly, in a dirty cattle stall

Of a servant by choice, the Lord of all

Of Satan and demons, temptation and strife

Of water and blood, of beauty and life

 

Of the Spirit Himself, here now with us

Of grace and mercy, of One who is just

Of a people called out to reflect His glory

Of a God who saves, this is the story

 

So in this life, whenever you get down

Consider His glory to remove your frown

Not that your problems will just go away

But by pondering Him, they lose their great sway

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Filed under Poems, Theology