Monday, April 29, 2013

But For The Grace of God

     Anger, shock, pride, even fear. All of these have been connected to the bombing at the Boston marathon. All are predictable, legitimate responses to what happened two weeks ago. The thing that I don't hear mentioned is forgiveness. Maybe it is too early for many of you to even begin thinking about forgiveness, but I want to gently remind you that it is on the list. You have to get to it and sooner is better than later.

     I know that it isn't fair of me to talk about forgiving this young man who caused so much pain and destruction. His actions resulted in the deaths of friends, family, and neighbors. He changed the way you look at your city, the activities that you are involved in, the way you live your life day to day. He and others like him have forever changed our lives.

     Who am I to tell you to forgive him? He didn't kill anyone that I know personally. He didn't hurt my family. My children don't have nightmares because of what he did. Who am I? I am totally depraved human being. I am one who is just as guilty as this young man. I have caused as much pain and destruction as he has. I am one who has been forgiven much. Only because of that forgiveness am I able to love. Only because of the unfathomable love of the one who I hurt immeasurably am I made new.

    I am not what I once was. Forgiveness changed my life. For those of you who have experienced it, forgiveness has changed yours too. I know it is hard, but if we ask our merciful God for help, he will give it. Through Him, we can find the ability to forgive. Through Him, this man's life can be radically changed. Don't we want to see that? Don't we long to see a young man who has a heart full of hatred for Americans and the God of the Bible changed into a child of the King? It would bring me great joy to enter the gates of heaven and find him there singing the praises of our Heavenly Father. Because of that, I choose to forgive, and I choose to pray for him. Everyday. I know that God has the power to change the most vile of hearts into those who seek after Him. I know because I have seen Him do it in my life. I hope to see Him do it in this life too.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hey Guys, The Ocean is Dirty

     This has been posted on my facebook page several times in the past couple of days.

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Gandhi

    I get that so many are wanting us to remember that just because a few people in a group do something heinous, we shouldn't condemn the whole group. If these men who are suspected of planting the bombs at the Boston Marathon are actually Muslims, that doesn't make all Muslims terrorist. Just like the actions of a particular "Christian" church don't necessarily reflect the views of all Christians. I couldn't agree more with that sentiment, but I have a couple of real problems with the above statement.

     If the ocean is clean and a few dirty drops are introduced, then the ocean is no longer clean. It is only clean if no dirt is in it. Yes, it could be dirtier, much dirtier, but it is not clean. This kind of thinking is prevalent in our society today. Sadly, even in our churches. We have the idea in our heads that we are pretty good people. Once in a while we tell a little lie (only to protect someone's feelings, of course), drive a bit faster than the speed limit, fudge just a tad on our taxes, or pass along a juicy bit of gossip (in the guise of a prayer request), but for the most part, we are good people. We support our schools, are good neighbors, give to charity, and try to help out where we are needed. Somehow we think that that makes us clean. Ladies and gentlemen, if the standard is the subjective view of society, we are all in big trouble. Clean is going to get dirtier and dirtier. Just where will we draw the line? If, however, the standard is the purity of a thrice holy God, then we are so far from clean we might as well be a toxic waste dump. We are dirty. The ocean is dirty. Yes, even just one drop of dirt keeps it from being clean.

    My second problem here is with the first sentence. "We must not lose faith in humanity." I say we must not place our faith in humanity. If your faith is in the goodness of people, you are going to be sorely disappointed many times in your life. Yes, there are people who do heroic things, kind things, loving acts, but there are also people who do horrific actions that make us shudder. Eventually, even those wonderful heroes are going to do something that isn't quite up to your standard of goodness, then what? Put your faith in something solid, something that is always good and never lets you down. Our faith should be in God. He is always just, loving and merciful. He never changes. He is the anchor that will hold you steady when horrible things like Columbine, Aurora, Newton and Boston make the headlines. Faith in Him is what gets you through the pain, loss and suffering that goes with these tragedies. As much as I appreciate and applaud the actions of first responders and every day heroes in the midst of such terror, the only thing that will bring you real peace is faith in God, not humanity.