The Worst of These

I think that all Jesus wants is to give us eternal life so we can spend it with him.  I think all he wants is to love us.  No matter what.  I think that he came to the world to save it, to save us, from death.  That’s all.  And what began in the garden, what began with sin, was death.  There’s no escaping this, because although Christ came to save the world, and although he succeeded, we did not suddenly become perfect.  But we do get to have a choice now.  We do get to choose him, if we want to.

It seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten the “if we want to” part.  It seems to me that some people swing to the side of “you must choose him or you deserve to die.”  As if they forget that we all deserve to die, whether we choose Christ or not.  Because you do not suddenly become perfect or sinless just because you call yourself a Christian.  Yes, your slate is wiped clean in his eyes, but he still knows you.  He still knows the judgment in your heart.
In Matthew 18: 21-35, Jesus tells the story of a ruler who decides to collect on his debts.  He calls a man before him who cannot repay him, and the man falls to his knees, begging for more time, begging not to be thrown in prison.  The ruler has mercy on the man and forgives him of his debt completely.  But then the man seeks out someone who owes him money, as if he has learned nothing, and demands the money be repaid.  When the money is not repaid, he has him thrown in prison.  When the ruler hears of this, he throws the first man in prison to be tortured until his debts are repaid.
Forgive as you have been forgiven.
I think a lot of us forget that we have been forgiven already.  We forget about our sin as if it never existed, as if we had never done anything wrong, as if we had never been in debt, and then we try to force others to “turn or burn.”  We tell people little one liners like, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.”  HELLO! WE ARE SINNERS TOO!!  All have sinned and deserve death.  And all sin is equal, because all sin is deserving of death.  
So we do things like telling someone, because they’re gay, they’re probably going to hell.  No.  Because they were born into an imperfect, sinful world, they might miss out on eternity with the Creator.  And you telling them their lifestyle is wrong does not allow them to see the loving God you claim to serve.  Who wants to follow a God who will not accept someone for who they are?  I honestly don’t believe anyone wants to be gay.  Nor do I believe anyone really wants to be straight.  I think you just are gay.  You just are straight.  You just are short.  You just are tall.  You just are lanky.  You just are stocky.  You. Just. Are.  I cannot make myself taller unless I add something that is not myself into the mix (tall shoes).  I cannot make myself love a woman unless I pretend to be something I am not.  Wearing high heels is masking who I really am.  Someone pretending to be straight when they’re not would be masking who they really are.

Christ did not come so we could point out people’s differences, flaws, or downfalls.  He did not say to Peter, “stop being so zealous and causing trouble,” he said, “follow me.”  He did not say to Mary, “don’t sleep with so many people,” he said, “follow me.”  Follow me.  The rest will get figured out along the way.
I had a professor in college who told a story about when he first gave his life to Christ.  He went to his pastor and said, “Well, now that I’m a Christian, does that mean I have to stop doing all these things,” and he listed off a bunch of “sins.”  Because he didn’t want to stop.  The pastor told him that he didn’t have to stop doing anything.  It was more about what he started doing.  He started spending time with his savior.  He started serving more.  He started worshipping.  And a lot of those sins?  He stopped doing them when he felt he needed to, when he felt led to, through his personal relationship with the Spirit.
That’s how I honestly believe God wants it to be.  Not every person is the same, so what is “sinful” for one person might not be for someone else.  Yeah, murder in cold blood is probably always a sin, and infidelity, and anything else that can hurt someone else.  But having a few drinks?  Loving someone of the same gender?  Eating shellfish?  Probably not across the board sinful.

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”  Paul equated himself with every other sinner, while we like to call him a saint.  In fact, he put himself below everyone else, because he knew his sins, knew himself, better than he knew anyone else.  Yes, he did his fair share of judging and calling people out.  But you know who he was calling out and judging?  Those who had already turned to Christ.  He was calling out those in the Church!  He wasn’t finding random strangers and telling them they were going to hell because they weren’t in the pews every Sunday.

Be like Paul.  Be like Christ.  And never forget who you are.

 

 

Breath

It comes rushing in
Like a rushing wind
Like a deep inhale
Filling these lungs
That once gasped for breath

It’s a joy that overtakes
A love that overcomes
A grace that breaks free
A faith holding steadfastly
A mercy that bends rules without breaking them

This freedom rings
A sound resounding
Heard miles off
It cannot be hidden
But why would we want to hide it in the first place?

Hearts are healed
Sickness is destroyed
Promises fulfilled
Forgiveness freely given
The price has already been paid

A life laid down
So simply put
Perfection lived out
Stains removed
Poured into wounds unimaginable

We can focus on the pain
Or we can focus on the gift
Neither is more real
Neither can be returned
But we can be clothed in acceptance

So why not be thankful?
Why not find joy?
What have we got to lose?
It is finished
It has already been done

In the end, nothing else matters
But you never ceased to matter
Every step
Every breath
They’re all worth taking

Arms are open wide
Pulling you in
You can resist
Or let go
Because he’s not letting go of you

He breathes life
Into you
Patiently he’s waited
And patiently he’ll wait
For you to inhale

He’ll come rushing in
Like a rushing wind
With a deep inhale
Filling your lungs
That once gasped for breath

In the Anyway

I forgive.  Some would say that I forgive too easily.  But I forgive as I have been forgiven.  I forgive as I would like to be forgiven. Maybe I follow the Golden Rule too closely.
In the midst of all of this mess though, in the midst of all of our mistakes, Christ loved us anyway.

In the Garden, Adam and Eve hid, because they knew they had disobeyed, and they knew God knew.  They had realized their nakedness.  And though punishment did follow, God never ceased to love them.  He loved them anyway.

Moses told God he couldn’t do it.  He needed help.  Aaron had to speak for him, because he believed he couldn’t.  He had a stutter.  In spite of his weakness, God loved him anyway.

Solomon asked God for wisdom.  With his wisdom, he did a lot of great things, but also made a lot of mistakes.  He established high places, and he worshiped other gods.  At the end of his life, he realized how meaningless it all was.  And God loved him anyway.

Israel was such a disobedient, easily manipulated nation.  God let them be taken captive, then restored.  They continued to break his heart.  Yet he loved them anyway.  So much that he sent his son, himself, to die.

Peter denied knowing the messiah.  And Christ loved him anyway.

Thomas had doubts.  Jesus loved him in them, anyway.

Anyway.

There has been an awkwardness, a hurt, in my recent life.  And I could choose to hold on to it, a grudge, that would only hurt my being.  Or I could let go.  I could forgive anyway.  I could love anyway.  As I have been loved anyway.

Quick to Forgive

I don’t hold grudges often.  That’s not to say that I’m not capable of holding them, because I definitely have before; I just tend to forgive quickly.

I have been hurt a lot.  I’ve been wronged.  But I’ve also done a lot of wrongs.  I’ve hurt a lot of people.  Because we’re all humans.  When I screw up, I want to be taken back.  I want there to be forgiveness and for the past to not be held against me.  So I hope that I do the same.

I’ve been seeing someone.  Since November, I’ve spent a lot of time with someone who means a lot to me.  We’ve tried to not make it what it was because I’m planning on moving and there are so many other issues involved that I’m not going to talk about.  For a while he was pushing me for something that I couldn’t give him.  At some point I must have changed my mind, but now he denies ever pushing for that.
So he had a girl visit from out of a town for a few days.  I’ve known that she was coming from pretty much the day that he and I met.  At one point he told me that she didn’t matter to him, but that was apparently just a drunken lie, because he slept with her.
I can’t quite say that he cheated on me, because although we set boundaries, we never really defined our boundaries.  And you know what?  I’ll forgive him.  I’ll take him back.
If I was on the outside I would say a million times how stupid that is.  But there’s more to it.  I care more about the time we still have until I leave than I do about the pain that I am currently going through.  I still want this person in my life, in whatever capacity.
I will forgive quickly, because there is too little time to hang on to anger.

We, as humans, do so many stupid things to each other.  We’re all a bunch of sinners. really.  Yet God always takes us back.  He forgives us so quickly.  He doesn’t hold grudges when we make mistakes.  He just loves us.  And he chooses us every time.

 

So I’m just gonna leave this here.  Because I am far too honest of a person.

Agape

Agape
I heard you in the shop
As the city bustled around me

I had left myself somewhere back there
Forgetting to pick myself up where I fell
Cracks revealed as voices echo through me

Agape
You centered me again
A taste of a memory that I’d like to keep

Agape, help me hold on!
The trickles could soon become tidal waves
Watching as the dam is breaking

Agape
You wash over me
Like these voices that drown it all out

Agape, I have not forgotten
You are the rhythm I dance to in the streets
You’re every new note that I meet

Agape
You have struck a chord in me
A resounding sound that knocks me off my feet

In laughter I’ll lay in the grass with you
Bring me to my knees
Watch me weep

Agape
I remembered you
Even in all I have lost

Agape, I’m sorry if I blamed you
Forgive this weakness
For I’m still strong

Agape
It took this crowded city to wake me up
Realizing this was never just a dream

Agape, I don’t know that I’ll ever understand
Yet maybe a heart needs to be broken to become whole
And I am wholly yours.

Forgive

I will forgive you
For breaking my heart
For leaving me at the start
For ripping this apart

I will forgive you
For letting me down when I let you in
For making me lose so that you could win
For destroying me again

I forgive you
Even though you almost made me love you
Even though we could have been two
Even though I feel like a fool

I will let this all go
Because I can’t let you go
But do my feelings show?
You mold my heart like playdough

I’ll forgive you
Even if you still break me
Even if that’s all you see
Even if this sets you free

See, I’ll forgive you every time
There is truth in every rhyme
Everytime I search, you’re what I find
But even as I forgive, I promise, I’ll never forget, this won’t leave my mind.