Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The Two Facets of Love

A little girl had parents who gave her everything she wanted.  They didn't want to pressure her or limit her, so they rarely said "No."  They left her to set her own boundaries.  Even, left her alone during tantrums.  As the behaviour got worse, they retreated even more, not wanting to come down on her - until one day that girl - the one who had been given everything, and had been told "I love you" incessantly when upset - finally concluded "My parents don't love me."


Love is expressed with a "No" and a "Yes."  It separates and it unifies, always for good.  But this little girl was disintegrating.  Her parents had provided no order to her life, because they didn't want to stifle her, but in so doing let her break into pieces and float away.  She would never have asked for this order - though some might say her bad behaviour was her way of calling for it - but she definitely needed it.  Love is a balance of "No" and "Yes."

Reality was created this way.  God created everything in Genesis 1 by unifying and separating - defining by gathering together, and distinguishing by setting boundaries.  Heaven and earth.  Land and sea.  Body and Soul.  Adam and Eve.  Creation was an ordered blend of separate things able to come together for life to thrive and flourish.

But there's more, this balance of "No" and "Yes" is also the way we humans understand what we experience.  There is no way for your eye/mind to process the near infinite amount of information that comes to you day by day.  You are actively engaged in this process of "No" and "Yes" in deciding what to pay attention to, categorizing what you are looking at, in forming the details you will remember in your memory, in understanding, experiencing and interpreting reality.  Humanity is created in the image of God.  And we, like Him, continue this process all the time, everyday.

Imagine if you, like that little girl, had one of these two - the "No" or the "Yes" - shutdown in your experience of the world.  You would look in the face of your mother, or wife, or child - and you wouldn't see their eyes.  You wouldn't know where to look, because you wouldn't be able to distinguish between their hair and their eyes and their skin.  All the boundaries would be mixed up and confused.  You wouldn't know if you should look at a single pore, or at them as a flat part of everything behind them.  You would immediately conclude, "My Creator doesn't love me, because this is chaos."

Your heavenly Father does love you.  Every part of your experience is ordered in this way.  From the least significant to the most significant.  From your bodily needs to your spiritual needs.  God separates and He unifies.  He gives and He takes.  He orders and He creates.  And all of it for you.  And though we mix it up.  Though much of what we do and say, mixes it all up - Christ was sent down from above.

In Christ, He has united heaven and earth - God and Man in One person - suspended on a tree with its roots in the earth and its branches in the heavens.  He has united you and Him.  Every syllable of His Word does the same, and provides you the pattern of reality for your life.  You are forgiven in Christ.  As a parent, you can balance the "No" and the "Yes" for your children.  As a husband or wife, you can balance the "No" and the "Yes" for your spouse.  As a son or daughter, you can balance the "No" and the "Yes" for your parents.

And in such a perfect, beautiful creation - as His wonderfully made child - you can say to your Father in heaven - "You are amazing.  You really do love me in Christ.  Keep me eternally in Him.  And make me part of your everlasting pattern."  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Stand or Not?

There I was sitting in a room with a group of adults.  Various conversations were happening, when all of a sudden "O Canada" came blaring into the room through the speaker.

I rose to my feet, came to attention as I was taught (and ordered) to do in the Navy.  And as I settled into place, I noticed that some of the other adults had stood, but some had not.  Certainly had these adults been in front of children or had they found themselves in a more formal setting - they would have stood.  But in that room - with that group of adults - they did not.

I don't tell you this story to reinforce the practice that Canadians should stand for their national anthem.  This isn't about what ought to be done.  I'm focused on the way it created a division in the room that day.

Whether you like it or not there are certain things upon which you must take a stand - but when you take your stand, there will be others who will not stand with you.  Reality is built this way.  As truly as heaven is different from earth, standing is different from not standing - yet we are forced into situations when we MUST choose.

If we stand - we are divided from those who don't stand.

If we don't stand - we are divided from those who do stand.  It is going to happen.

So the ultimate question is: for what will you take your stand?

Christ took His stand for you.  He lay it all on the line - that you might be forgiven and live.  But the way He did this is so incredibly important.

He united heaven and earth.  The standers and the sitters.  He came down from heaven, entered into our situation, and made Himself the One place where all may be One.  Christ - the greatest sinner - yet also the Lord of heaven.  He didn't sit on His throne and oppose us.  He joined us - to Him - and promises to carry us up to His throne on high.

Now, you are here - living day by day in a reality where you are forced to take a stand.  Will you stand with Him?  Stand up for Him?  Or will you stay seated because you aren't sitting in a pew at a church?  Will you stand for Him at work, at home, in public?  Or will you run from Him when He needs you (like the disciples)?

The truth is - you will do both.  But you know He will always stand for you - you know you can return to Him, kneel before Him - and ask Him to strengthen your legs to take that stand for Him.  And forgive you for when you don't.  Make me stronger Lord - don't let me be a coward anymore - but strengthen my faith in You and Your eternal joining of heaven and earth.  Use me to hold You out before those in need, that You may join them to this new humanity You are creating.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.