We are all capable of evil. From the faint thought tinged with disdain to a pre-meditated act of murder, circumstances, environmental factors, self-serving motives, and fear spawn evil thoughts from the heads and evil deeds from the hands of all of us on a daily basis. This much is human nature and it originated in a garden where people were given the opportunity to choose for themselves.
Without a moral standard, what can be considered immoral? The presence in our culture of horrendous acts, scared people, and hate-filled words, and our collective dislike for such things, is a clear indication that both good and bad exist in this world.
Much like gravity’s pull, sin has a profound affect on our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. Without the righteousness of God (manifested in the life of Jesus) serving as a guide, the persistent pull of humankind’s sin nature will drive each of us into the ground.
Being “saved” (as much as I dislike the overused cliche) is all about realizing our individual inabilities to resist engaging in people-hurting, sinful activities, and, instead, humbly turning to Jesus for a better answer and a real standard for living
As long as people fail to live their lives for God, they will be living for themselves and people living for themselves can only be certain of one thing: death.
My response to a good friend’s question about the Brennan Manning quote featured in the sidebar on this blog:
To be alive is to be broken; to be broken is to stand in need of grace.
From my perspective, in my brokenness, being broken means to have been, at least temporarily, at a point where all of the veneers that I once hid behind have been shattered so that I could finally see with an unobstructed view. Brokenness is a level of clear perspective beyond what I settled for before. Like the night sky without the light pollution. People love light pollution. Thats why cities are so populated. People live in cities because it lessens the distance between them and other people, other things, other distractions. I find my greatest peace when I’m not distracted by the culture and amenities. I think that a lot of people flock to such things – I did at one time – because they don’t want to be alone. Once one has been broken to the point of realizing his or her need for something more and then found a fulfillment of that need that isn’t dependent upon other people, job performance, appearance, or circumstances, one can be alone – apart from culture and amenities – in peace. The light pollution that comes as a result of all of the culture and amenities obscures the infinite. People love light pollution. They love it because it temporarily pacifies their loneliness. I know a few folks who like light pollution.
After publishing this post, I just happened to come across another blog post that I interpret as a natural extension of the perspective portrayed in mine. Check it out.
Thank you to A Complete 180 for posting this and bringing it to my attention. This is completely consistent with the truth that I have found in my life.
For more of my thoughts on this topic please check out my religion tag
It is human nature to want to classify others conveniently into little boxes that are manageable and subject to the interests of the one doing the classifying. There is a bumper sticker that I’ve seen before (and should probably get for my car) that says something to the effect of “Jesus is not a Republican or a Democrat.” It is a statement that says so much and, I believe, a statement that is far more on target than some folks would like us to believe. But, this idea transcends politics and bleeds through denominational Christianity as well. One of the biggest points of Christ’s ministry on earth was that social class, political affiliation, gender, and race are all pointless classifications when it comes to the saving and unearned grace of God. I firmly believe that, because “getting in” will have very little to do with what particular man-made religious rituals one participates in, there will be a wide variety of people in heaven. Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, among other denominations, along with plenty of people who never aligned themselves with a particular man-made classification of Christianity, will all mingle together in the world to come. Nobody has merit without Christ, but, all have the opportunity to ride his coattails into eternity. What matters to Christ is the heart of man and nobody has a clearer view of who has and who has not accepted the grace of Christ than Christ Himself.
It is when I consider my flaws, my mistakes, and the horrible things that I have done in my life that I fall down, broken, in full appreciation of the grace of Abba. The fact that He has blessed my life so richly, despite my long track record of persistent selfishness and vanity, sparks gratitude to the highest degree. It goes far beyond arguments about morality, theological debate, and adherence to particular church traditions and rituals. God is a boundless, infinite being not confined by time or human understanding. We can’t hope to outwit God anymore than a paintbrush can hope to understand the artist. Our true peace and joy is found in surrendering to the pure, unearned, grace of God and living out our resulting gratitude each day.
Excerpt from Reflections For Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning, Pp. 227:
The spirituality of accepted tenderness brings an intermittent awareness of the loving gaze of the Abba of Jesus…It is a spirituality without manuals and navel-gazing, goals and game plans, stress and distress. It simply rejoices in the gift. And it is all the work of the Holy Spirit defined as given tenderness.
“Yahweh is tender and compassionate, slow to anger, most loving. As tenderly as a father treats his children, so Yahweh treats those who fear him.” Psalm 103:8, 13
Head ache Sin ache
Gave in to the other
Shooting up a hellish echo
It pulls me down
When my attention settles in
Sin that I am
Regret that I invited
Shrieking ring in the round
Drowned for the moment
Beneath the surface
Of His grace
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Excerpt from Reflections For Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning, Pp.220
Do you ever think that Jesus appreciates you for wanting him, for wanting to say no to so many things that would separate you from him? Do you think that Jesus can ever be grateful to you for pausing to smile, comfort, give to one of his children who have such great need to see a smile, to feel a touch? Do you ever think of Jesus being grateful to you for learning more about him so that you can speak to others more deeply and truly about him? Do you ever think that Jesus can be angry or disappointed in you for not believing that he has forgiven you totally? He said, ‘I do not call you servants, but friends…’ Therefore, there is the possibility of every feeling and emotion that can exist between friends to exist here and now between Jesus and you.
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18
While God maintains the all-powerful, all-knowing, judicious aspect of his Character, He also loves, encourages, and practices patience and mercy through his identity as our Abba – our divine Daddy. As a father to a four-year-old girl, I know that there are times when I have to correct her for doing something she really shouldn’t have done. Sometimes, though, I have to turn my head to keep a straight face while directing her because her antics can sometimes be very amusing and I know that she is just a child. This morning, I’m led to believe that there are times when our Abba looks at us the same way.