Thursday, February 26, 2009
Keywords: modesty, radical, discipleship
"Sharing in God's patience means being modest in what we expect of other people. The need for modesty once impressed upon me in a dramatic way by the sociologist Peter Berger. At a meeting we were both attending, I made a statement--this was in my younger days!--that every Christian is called to engage in radical obedience to God's program of justice, righteousness, and peace.
Berger observed that I was operating with a rather grandiose notion of "radical obedience." Somewhere in a retirement home, he said, there is a Christian woman whose greatest fear in life is that she will be humilitated by being unable to control her bladder in the cafeteria line. For this woman, the greatest act of radical obedience to Jesus Christ is to place herself in the hands of a loving God every time she goes off for a meal.
Berger's point was profound. God calls us to deal with the challenges before us, and often our most "radical" challenges are very "little" ones.
Keywords: patience, grace, sovereignty, clay pots, humility, submission
"The Mennonites have a nice phrase that is helpful here. They say we are living "in the time of God's patience." For God's own good reasons he has not yet ushered in the eternal kingdom. God is presently showing patience toward the human race, providing the unsaved with the opportunity to repent and the saved with the opportunity to learn the ways of obedience.
My Roman Catholic friends also have a helpful saying. It comes from St. Ignatius: "God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines." Even though we haven't yet been perfected, God uses us to work his purposes. We do not need to see the details of the Big Picture. It's enough that we yield ourselves to be instruments of God's mysterious purposes.
"It is his work," Mother Teresa told a Time interviewer a few years ago. "I am like a little pencil in his hand. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used."
Keywords: vision, sight, kingdom of God,
"A few years ago my wife and I joined several missionary families in Haiti for a retreat. One afternoon we drove through the countryside in a Land Rover, and I sat in the back with the missionaries' children. Two of them were beautiful twin Haitian girls who had been adopted after they were abandoned as babies on a missionaries' doorstep.
As we rode along, the children began to sing Sunday school songs: "Jesus Loves Me," "Jesus Loves the Little Children," "This Little Light of Mine," and so on. I sang along until they started on this song:
O be careful, little eyes, what you see
O be careful, little eyes, what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
O be careful, little eyes, what you see.
The verses went on: "O be careful, little ears, what you hear...O be careful, little feet, where you go...O be careful, little tongue, what you say..."
This ditty had always struck me as much too negative: Don't see this. Don't touch this. Don't walk there. And as I listened to it in this Land Rover, I looked out the window and saw some fo the most desperate poverty that any human being could experience. Rows and rows of shanties unfit for human habitation. Malnourished bodies. Faces marked by despair and hopelessness. The sights and smells of decay and death.
Isn't it ironic? I thought. Here we are passing through scenes of horrible human degradation, and we are singing a negative little spiritual song about all the things that we ought not to be doing as Christians!
Then suddenly I realized there is a very different way of understanding this song. I had always interpreted it as a set of "don'ts." But it could just as easily be understood as a series of "do's." Be careful to see what God sees. Be careful to hear what God hears. Be careful to go where God goes...
Then I realized these children were singing about a very active Christiainity. These two little Haitian girls had become members of this missionary community precisely because that community was willing to see, hear and touch in a God honoring way."
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Interviewer Scott Morrison asked Clarence Jordan, "What sort of advice do you have for people ... what is the best thing we can do to help the world be a better place in which to live?"
Clarence responded, "Before we can do anything, we have to be something. Our actions have to spring from our inner character."
Friday, February 06, 2009
SOURCE: "Bracing Ourselves" by Peggy Noonan; Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2009.
KEYWORDS: humility, foundation, ground, humble
"...I think it's like the old story told about Muhammad Ali. It was back in the 1960s and Mr. Ali, who was still Cassius Clay, was a rising star of boxing, on his way to being champ. One day he was on a plane, going to a big bout. He was feeling good, laughing with friends. The stewardess walked by before they took off, looked down and saw that his seatbelt was unfastened. She asked him to fasten it. He ignored her. She asked him again, he paid no attention. Now she leaned in and issued an order: Fasten the seatbelt, now. Mr. Clay turned, looked her up and down, and purred, "Superman don't need no seatbelt."She said, "Superman don't need no airplane. Buckle up." And he did
We all think we're supermen, and we're not, and you're lucky to have a faith that both grounds you and catches you."