Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chapter 1: Senseless God

This is part of the fist chapter of the book I have been writing called “The Divine Scandal.” The chapter is called “Senseless God.” The way I usually write is to get down as much content as I can no matter how jumbled it seems. That way I can come back later and develop those ideas. I see it as laying down a skeleton of ideas and content and then I come back and put meat on the bones. So this is the skeleton so to speak. I’m practicing letting go of the need to show people my “polished” side, so here are my unpolished incomplete thoughts...enjoy!

Chapter 1
Senseless God
This is a story about the greatest scandal in history to be covered up. This is the scandal that your Sunday school teacher left out of her curriculum. Those cute little felt boards would give our children nightmares if they revealed the true scandal we find in our Bible’s. We must protect our children from the real stories that fill the pages of our Holy Book. Even if much of the Bible resembles that of a Jerry Springer episode with a lot more violence. We have taken the pages of this scandal and covered them in expensive leather. We have censored the stories all throughout scripture to make them suitable for children. We have taken characters from this scandal such as David and turned him into some sort of super hero. We have taken this story and created “happily ever after” fantasies where they don’t exist. We have hidden the dead bodies that number so many they could be piled as high as the Empire State building. Concealing the truth with good intentions. Not wanting people to reject God due to the scandal of Scripture we domesticate the Truth. In doing so we have alienated the ones whom God is calling. Those who were meant to be ambassadors for the kingdom of God are passively standing by in shame instead of being welcomed in as active participants and the Sons and Daughters they are. The problem is that this Scandal is the key to unlock our freedom. The Truth is immersed in the scandals we find all over scripture. We must embrace this scandal if we desire to be free.
I have begun to fall in love with Scripture. Not because it is “ultimate truth”, “inspired”, or “holy.” I am falling in love with the Word of God because it is so incredibly scandalous. It comforts my soul to witness the perfect Word of God emerge from stories and lives that are so screwed up we would never allow our children to watch such “filth.” These scandals fill me with hope that God can work through the scandal of my life. Too many people have walked away from their divine destiny because they feel unworthy to partake in God’s story. If they only knew that their personal scandal fit right in with the rest of God’s dysfunctional family they would embrace this call. Self-hatred and shame would no longer paralyze those of us who feel called, but unworthy. We would no longer disqualify ourselves based on fabricated stories and lies that have been fed to us by religion. We would let go of our need to “have it all together” so that God can use us. We would begin to feel the power of God rise up in our weakness. However, when the only part of the story of King David’s life that we tell is “David and Goliath,” how can we measure up? And when we forget that Paul was once Saul how can any of us live up to that standard? Surely I am not fit for this Kingdom. Surely none of us are fit for that kingdom.
What if the Kingdom of God is still in grave contrast to the kingdoms that we have built in the name of God today? God empowered a serial killer named Saul to write half of the New Testament that we uphold as the “Word of God.” I’m sure if this happened today it would cause quite an uproar. We would be offended by a scandalous God that would not only forgive this man and love him, but give him a new name and appoint him as a leader above all of the “well behaved Christians” that have “served God so faithfully.” These are the scandals that we find all over scripture. This is the older brother in the story of the prodigal’s son that was infuriated when his brother was not merely tolerated by his father after his betrayal, but celebrated. He had been so faithful! He had read his Bible everyday, prayed before every meal, and gone to church every Sunday! Scandalous! How could his father do this! Is there no justice! This Father must be delusional! Possessed!
What if your church appointed an adulterer to be your pastor and leader? Even worse, a murderer! Doesn’t something deep inside of you cringe at the thought? How could they? I mean let’s be reasonable. I suppose that an infinitely loving God in all of his power might be able to forgive this person. But this person will be no pastor of mine! And yet we read the “Word of God” everyday, like diligent servants, that was written by the hands of murderers! The blood on their hands staining the pages of our Bible. Their fornication leaping off the pages of scripture like an x-rated movie! How can we embrace these events that took place in scripture and refer to them as “The Word of God,” yet deny them if they happened in our present day? Don’t you see the contradiction? God’s Word is eternal. It is past, present, and future. We cannot accept His Word in the past and deny it in the present day. We are rejecting his truth altogether if we do that. We accept grace in theory, but deny it in practice.
            The reason that I bring this up is because I feel God calling the same fools like me that he has been for calling since the beginning of time. “God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” We need to honestly reflect and ask ourselves if we are seeking out the admirable things of this world or the foolish things to usher in the Kingdom of God. Worldly kingdoms seek the most admirable/beautiful/blemish free people to be a part of their kingdoms. Is this the Kingdom of God that we read about in the gospels? Is this the Kingdom that we saw Jesus establishing? When Jesus intentionally ignored the religious elite of his day and called fishermen to “come and follow me,” what kind of kingdom was he creating? When God anointed David to be king of Israel, knowing full well that David would abuse his power to seduce Bathsheba and then have her husband Uriah killed to cover up his mess, what in the world was God thinking? Why would Jesus proclaim Peter to be “a rock that he will build his church upon” right after he tells Peter that he is going to deny and betray him? Why would God use a serial killer like Saul to write down His Word that would be read for hundreds of thousands of years to come? This God doesn’t appear to be very sensible.
            However, what we do not understand is that those murders, hookers, and thieves are us. Every time we disqualify one of those, we disqualify ourselves. Some people have misunderstood the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:27 to be a challenge to strive for greater righteousness on our own. (This is the passage where Jesus says to the religious that if they have looked at a woman lustfully that they have already committed adultery and if they harbor hatred in their heart they have committed murder) As if we just completed a marathon and Jesus was waiting at the finish line daring us to keep going. The Pharisee in us wants to man up to this challenge and kick the law’s ass! “I accept this challenge and will prove my strength!” Oh, what silly hypocrites we are! When I hear these words come from the mouth of Jesus all that I can hear Him saying is “you are all guilty.” He was addressing an audience whose perspective was through the law. This was the lens through which they saw the world around them. So from their perspective only some were guilty. The murders, adulterers, and thieves are guilty and surely we are not like “them.” This message is intended to set those who have committed adultery free and those who have not physically committed adultery free from the bondage of the law. This neutralizes the playing field between those who commit literal murder and those who harbor anger and bitterness in their hearts. For they are both held hostage by the curse of the law. How can this be? But one is innocent and the other guilty. How can the one who is innocent be held hostage by a law they have not broken? Oh how God longs to set us free from the bondage of thinking we are innocent. How he longs for us to plunge into the depths of our wretchedness to discover our belovedness. To know that we are all guilty, and all dearly loved! If we refuse to face our wretchedness, we are robbing the story of redemption of its beauty and we will never experience true joy. We need not toil any longer to cling to an identity of innocence. What a weary and vain pursuit it is to wear a mask of innocence to conceal our true identity. This is not who we are and this is not the condition in which Christ offered up his life for us. “Yet when we were sinners Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8. Story in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus longed to free this man from the bondage of thinking he was innocent.
This is the gospel. Period. This is the love story that is written about us all! A bride that has ran into the arms of countless lovers. A bride who has prostituted herself over and over again for cheap thrills. A bride who chooses convenient affairs over the cost of true Love. This is my story. This is your story. This is our story.
            I would like to invite you to partake with me in this timeless scandal. Lay down your pride and give in to the still small voice of our Lover that is calling your name. Sink deep into the reality that you are a whore that is deeply loved by God. It is from these depths that a well springs up of overwhelming joy. Fall into the arms of the One who has loved you senselessly before you were born. Give in. Take off the mask. Get ready to be swept off your feet by a God who has been pursuing you every moment of your life, no matter how far you try to run from him. This is not a god who loves occasionally, this is the God who IS love. This is the God who has gone mad with passion for you. This love that God has for you led him to a cross where he would be tortured to death for you while you were spitting in his face. This is the passionate lover of your soul.
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of
Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all understanding-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
                                                                                    -Ephesians 3:17-19

Friday, October 11, 2013

2 Kinds of People

This is a very rough draft of part of a chapter that I am writing for my book titled "The Divine Scandal." This book might be pretty offensive to some people. Quite frankly, the gospel is pretty offensive too, which is probably why Jesus was murdered so I'm not sure why I am surprised that people would still be offended by it today. The reason I am sharing this part is because it is one of the most conservative parts of the book, so I am warming up to the crazy stuff!  I wrote this after a long run the other day. The words were running through my head so loud that I had to write it down just to quiet my mind. These are basically just my unfiltered thoughts, enjoy!

I’ve heard it said “there are two kinds of people in this world”....hogwash! There are only PEOPLE in this world, and there is only one kind of people in this world....BROKEN people! We are all in the same boat whether we know it or not. Of that one group of people there are two sub groups....those who are aware of their brokenness and those who are not aware of their brokenness. That is all. You are individually unique and not unique all at the same time. There is no one like you. Because of your unique quality your brokenness is expressed different than anyone, but you are broken all the same. Your brokenness might be expressed with an addiction to alcohol or with an addiction to the approval of others or you might be addicted to yourself (aka pride). Consumed by yourself, living in a world where you are all that matters; YOU are YOUR god. We are all sick and in need of a healer. Even if you are a follower of Jesus you still need the healing and transformation of Jesus on a daily basis. Those who are unaware of their sick condition are dangerous on two different levels. One, because the very fact that they are unaware of their sickness hinders them from seeking healing, more specifically, a HEALER! And two, those who are unaware of their sickness spread their disease. I have a really hard time being around people who have no self-awareness. The irony of these individuals is that they cannot see their own reflection that is right in front of their face, but instead they fixate on the brokenness in others. These people love watching the news and condemning the broken individuals that are exploited on TV for everyone else’s entertainment. Yes, they are criminals and you tell yourself that you are obsessed with watching because you need to be “informed.” But the truth is that deep down there is such a deep rooted insecurity inside of you that in some sick twisted way it makes you feel better and more secure about your own life to know that “those people” are more screwed up than you. This helps you sleep at night. They fill their days and conversations with everyone else’s “junk” around them but they never ever talk about or face their own junk. They are never vulnerable and show their true selves and the person that they present to the rest of the world is not who they are at all. They present a polished and shallow version of their true self. They spend a substantial amount of time getting ready to go out in public making sure to hide every blemish.

It probably looks pretty silly to God when he looks down at his children, who all have the same disease but somehow find a way to judge one another and look down on their peers who are just as sick as they are. Can you imagine two cancer patients condemning each other as if one kind of cancer is better than the other? “Well, you have breast cancer and I only have melanoma!” Do we see how ridiculous that sounds? Well, that is how ridiculous we sound! They are both sick and need help! Who cares who is sicker than who?!? Here is a story told by Jesus that illustrates what I am saying perfectly.

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to Heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”

Luke 18:9-14

Awareness creates desperation. Desperation for healing. Desperation for the One who can heal. Not just heal my body, but the only One who can heal my soul. Jesus gravitated to those we had a deep awareness of their sickness and in turn had an intense desperation for Jesus. They were in the perfect place to encounter Jesus. I want to be stay in a place where I am ripe for an encounter for Jesus. And the only way to stay in that place is to live with a deep awareness of my brokenness, which reminds me of my desperate need for Jesus everyday. So, you are unique, but you are not unique at all. There are not two kinds of people in this world. There are people in this world and you are one of them. The only difference is those who choose to live with an awareness of their condition and those who live blind. Where do you land?