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To the one who carried Christ

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Sometimes I wonder what you thought when he told you —

when he delivered the news that would alter your life.

 

“How can this happen?” is all that you asked.

A question of logistics, no hint of disbelief.

 

Sometimes I wonder if you silently protested,

questioning why you were part of God’s plan.

 

“May it happen just as you’ve said — ”

words of submission, no trace of dissent.

 

Sometimes I wonder if you cried that night,

mourning the loss of the girl you had been.

 

“I am the Lord’s servant.”

A statement given without hesitation.

 

Sometimes I wonder how it felt to be pregnant.

To carry the hope of the world inside.

 

“My spirit rejoices in God my savior — ”

Exclamations overflowing with joy.

 

Sometimes I wonder if you knew the weight—

the gravity of these events.

 

“And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Words you heard

and held

in your heart.

Written by liferenewed

December 26, 2010 at 2:11 am

Posted in Christianity, Jesus, Poetry

Living under a curse

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Finding freedom by embracing imperfection

Every morning begins with a stare down between me and my arch enemy. I look in the mirror, sizing up my body as if I expect that seven hours of sleep will have caused pounds to evaporate and muscles to emerge. It’s on, I think, an obvious giveaway that I haven’t left the dream world. We’re really not lookin’ so bad. I try to comfort myself with the reminder that it’s been worse. A lot worse. Oh yeah, retorts my body. Just hop on the scale. Its been better too—you’ve been better. My enemy doesn’t even have to deliver that final jab—the one that cuts the deepest. I do that all on my own.

It’s a clever enemy who can turn you against yourself. And my enemy has all sorts of tools for doing that. Scales and mirrors are some of the most effective. But when those aren’t handy, there’s a million other ways of engaging me in the fight. Comparison’s a classic, because it doesn’t take much. It’s subjective. And if I’m not paying attention, pretty soon I’m not just telling myself that I could be better, I’m also beginning to believe that I’m inferior to everyone around me.

Couple this with years of insecurity, and for perfectionist control freaks like myself, it’s a dangerous concoction. I can change this. I can prove myself. And until I do, what’s my worth? How can I even live with myself? It’s shameful to see such thoughts in writing, but these are the lies my enemy gets me to tell myself.

Trapped in this deception, I enter the fight. I count calories. I beat my body up at the gym. I listen to the voice and step on the scale every morning — knowing what it will say before I even get on. I do this for reassurance —reassurance that my enemy isn’t gaining ground, reassurance that even if I’m not winning, at least I haven’t given up on the battle. But the irony is that the more I engage in the fighting, the more I become a slave to the enemy, to my physical body, to perfection. As I begin to buy into this belief that I can conquer and control my body—that I can beat it into submission, I enter a battle I can never win. For as long as I live on earth, I will remain imperfect.

This is something the apostle Paul understood well. In Romans, he says that believers groan with the rest of creation because we “long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.” Though I doubt Paul was thinking about the mirror or scale when he wrote this, he is acknowledging a reality that I’d be wise to take to heart. This First Century male who knew nothing of American culture or female body image pressure understood my struggle because he recognized the fact that we are all trapped in imperfect, broken bodies. And these bodies serve as daily reminders of our sinful nature. Creation groans because it’s under a curse. Likewise, my body has been cursed — marked as fallen. Imperfect.

Paul’s perspective sheds a new light my daily battle with my body. No matter how hard I try to beat it into submission, it will always — until the return of Christ — be under the curse of sin. Furthermore, my attempts to reach perfection are only evidence that I am trying on my own, to obtain something that can only come from God. As Paul puts it: “We [believers] wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us … the new bodies he has promised us” (Romans 8:23).

This is a perfect reminder that the real battle is not the one waged in the gym and determined by the scale. The real battle is spiritual, and the battle with my body is simply a far too effective ploy the enemy of God uses to distract me from the fight against, “the spiritual forces of evil.”

As Paul points out, we will all be trapped in these sub-par bodies until the return of Christ. And I think some of the frustration Paul expresses comes from the fact that this means we will have to continue fighting evidence of the curse — sickness, death, physical deformities — until Christ does indeed deliver the new bodies he has promised.

But the good news in Paul’s message is that even while we wait for those new bodies, we are under no obligation to try and obtain perfection. The promise of Christ means that we have been set free from all attempts to prove our worth. We can surrender to the battles that are enslaving us — the battles that are distracting us from our true identity in Christ. Paul states this plainly when he tells us, “you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s spirit when he adopted you as his own children” (Romans 8:15). And that’s the key to surrendering the battle of perfection and finding freedom—recognizing that God has called us his children. When our identity lies in the fact that he has claimed us as his, we no longer feel the need to prove ourselves, because our worth lies in him.

So I’m challenging myself to surrender the battle for perfection. When I look in the mirror I will still see my fallen, broken, imperfect body. But I should also see something else — a child of God. No matter what mirrors or scales say, that’s my true identity, because it’s the one that matters most.  And I’m challenging myself let my imperfections remind me of my sinful nature. Remembering that we live under a curse is powerful, because it thrusts us into the perfect posture to accept God’s grace and it’s when we’re  in this place that he looks at us and calls us his children.

Written by liferenewed

October 13, 2010 at 5:03 am

Celebrating peace

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Why I’m rejecting mainstream Christmas

I love Christmas. Though I cringe at cheap sentimentality, there is a sentimental chord in me that is easily struck during the holiday season. I love singing Christmas songs and watching old classic movies. I love drinking coffee and tea out of red Starbucks cups. I love making gingerbread men and hanging old crusty ornaments on the Christmas tree. I even love waking up early to sit in the living room all disheveled, watching my family dump out stockings full of silly things like toothbrushes and oranges. But in recent years, as I’ve begun to spend more time reflecting on the holiday and taken the time to question the traditions many of us hold dear, I’ve found myself feeling like somewhat of a Grinch.

It’s not that I have a heart that’s two sizes too small or that I’m against a good, jolly Whoville celebration. In fact, I think the idea of celebration is right-on. It’s vital that we pause from the monotony that defines our lives and take time to remember that we were made for peace, not chaos. That’s what celebration is supposed to be about. For Christians, celebration—particularly the celebration of Christmas—is a reminder that we are part of a larger narrative. The story that you and I live is incomplete without the story of the virgin birth; it is incomplete without recognition of the fact that we were made to live in the peace the Christ child came to bring. Because of this reality, we are part of a grand story, and we each have a role as an agent of peace—we have been entrusted to live out the peace of Christ in a broken world.

And this is where I get all Grinchy about Christma
s. I find myself wanting to reject all that Christmas has come to stand for, because in modern-day America, this holiday is anything but peaceful. And in many households, it’s far from celebratory. I don’t think I need to go into details. You’ve seen the chaos in your own lives and witnessed your neighbors and coworkers on the verge of breakdown. We think we are celebrating, but when Christmas is over, we are left exhausted and empty. The things we thought would bring us joy—be they parties, gifts, or traditions—ultimately fail to satisfy. We work hard to make Christmas perfect, but it never really is.

Ironically, the answer to truly celebrating at Christmas time comes in actually embracing that which we work so hard to forget during this season—our imperfections; the fact that, on our own, we will never have peace or satisfaction. Inviting this reality into our holiday season allows us to acknowledge the role that the grander narrative of Christ’s love plays in our lives, and it frees us from the oppressive ways the world tries to celebrate the season. Let’s face it, the pressure to give and receive the perfect gift is burdensome, and the anticipation that often accompanies this holiday can leave us trusting in the world’s system for joy and hope, rather than relying on the Prince of Peace.

To live as agents of Christ’s peace, we must reject the mainstream approach to Christmas. And I’m not referring simply to the “worldly” approach. I’m talking about stepping back and examining the way in which we as Christians celebrate the holiday season. We talk about the true “reason for the season,” but often, we celebrate like everyone else—maxing out our credit cards, worrying about who we should give to, and hoping that Santa won’t forget us. I’m suggesting more than a simple shift in rhetoric, something deeper than making sure we say “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays.” I’m suggesting that we, as Christians, use the way we live and celebrate to tell the world a different story—a story that speaks of peace rather than chaos, of love rather than greed.

There are many ways to do this at Christmas time. My church is participating in Advent Conspiracy, which encourages Christians to redistribute Christmas funds by donating the money they would have spent on gifts to building wells in Africa. This is powerful on several levels. For one thing, it allows us to give creative and relational gifts to our friends and family members that are often more meaningful than anything we would have purchased. It also allows us to give something to Jesus, the one who told us that what we do for the least of these, we have done for him. What a powerful way to spread the message of peace.

I recognize that its Christmas Eve already, and you’ve likely purchased your gifts. Nevertheless, it is not too late to celebrate differently. Be creative, think of ways that you can spread the message of Christ’s peace this season. Give of your time. Do a favor for each of your family members on Christmas day. Focus on putting the needs of others before your own. Truly recognize—with your heart, not just your words—that joy and satisfaction do not come from receiving gifts or pulling off the perfect holiday meal. Read the Christmas story and let its truth sink deep into your heart. Embrace the fact that you are part of a grand, beautiful narrative.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Written by liferenewed

December 24, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Leaving Christianity for Christ

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Why it’s hard to be a Christ follower in a country full of Christians

I feel somewhat guilty confessing that I don’t like to call myself a Christian. All my Sunday school training warns me against rejecting this title and simultaneously, betraying Christ. Yet, as I study the message of Christ in the gospels and look at what the word Christian has come to mean in present day America, my desire to disassociate from this term only grows stronger.

In a country where some 75 percent of the population claims to be Christian, the word has become ambiguous at best. Many individuals proudly flaunt the title, using it to back their cause, advance their political agenda, vouch for their personal character, or ease their conscious. But originally, the term—which literally means “little Christ” or “Christ follower”—was not an adjective that one would claim for himself, as if he were adding another badge to his identity sash. Rather, it was a noun bestowed upon a group of counter-cultural radicals who followed the teachings of Jesus. In other words, it was actions, and not self-professed labels, that made individuals Christians. When outsiders looked at those who were following Christ, they recognized that these “Jesus people” responded to the world differently than others around them did. Christian, then, was a noun referring to a person or group of people who sought to shape their lives after Jesus Christ. But, as Rob Bell points out in his book Velvet Elvis, we have made this word an adjective—a term we can attach to almost anything in order to feel as if that thing—or person—has God’s approval. Doing so has cheapened the term and only contributed to the confusion that is Christianity.

Originally, Christianity wasn’t a religion. It wasn’t about rules or legalism. It wasn’t really even about a ticket to heaven. It was about loving people the way that Christ loved them. After all, it was Jesus who condemned the piety of religious leaders and said that true religion is caring for orphans and widows. But as the church spread, there are places in which Christianity became twisted into a religion of rules and judgment—many of the things Jesus condemned his contemporary religious leaders for. I say this not to sound cynical or dismiss the Church altogether–there are places in which the Church is thriving and truly living out the call of Christ. But there are also places in which the Church has misused the Christian label, and unfortunately, marred the name of Christ.

Consider the experience of author Erik Reece. Erik’s grandfather and father were both Baptist preachers, and Erik was raised under the umbrella of strict fundamentalist Christianity.
Erik’s experience of what it means to be a Christian was shaped by his grandfather’s dualistic rejection of earthy pleasures and countless “hellfire” sermons, designed to inflict guilt. Today, Erik is still jaded toward Christianity. In a NPR interview discussing his book, An American Gospel, which chronicles his rejection of the church and quest for spiritual guidance, Erik recalls asking the question, “what is left of Christianity when you remove the fear?” In the interview, Erik simply lets the question hang. His silence says it all. Erik experienced Christianity as a religion of fear, rather than a relationship of love.

Eric’s experience showcases one reason that I’m reluctant to call myself a Christian. When someone asks me if I wear this title, I don’t know what Christian means to him. I don’t know if he’s experienced the Jesus of the gospels—whom I hope is shaping me to be like himself—or a Jesus who has been shaped by the ideals and desires of men and institutions, who are always bound to fail.

The other reason that I hesitate to call myself a Christian has to do with the way in which Christianity has been watered-down by American ideals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful to live in a country where I am free to worship as I please, but I often wonder if America’s obsession with God has simply made it easy for us to call ourselves Christians without really understanding what it means to follow Christ. There are circles in which being a Christian is just about as American as apple pie and baseball. Anyone who doubts this need only to listen to his local country music station for an hour or so. To many, love of God and love of America are practically synonymous. Take for example a new and frightening book known as The American Patriot’s Bible. The book, “intersects the teachings of the Bible with the history of the United States,” as if somehow, the founding of our country were ordained enough to now be included in the sacred texts. This is disturbing on many levels. Greg Boyd does an excellent job of fleshing them out in his review.

The words God bless America roll off our tongues so quickly that we rarely stop to question if the things America is doing are worthy of God’s blessing. And when the blessing of God is so imbedded in the rhetoric of our country, it becomes easy to buy into a belief that America is somehow God’s chosen land—his ally and beacon of light to the world. But this type of thinking isn’t only wrong; it’s dangerous.

For one thing, it makes it easier to dismiss, forget about, or even begin to hate our brothers and sisters around the world, be they those who live in other countries or those who simply don’t “fit” with our idea of American. This dismissal of the other not only compromises our witness, but it blatantly disregards the teachings of Christ. One current example of this is the way in which many have approached our nation’s recent wars. As our country waged these “holy wars” in the name of God, many Christians seemed to forget that the leader we claim to follow instructed us to love our enemies and lay down our swords. The teachings of Christ were conveniently forgotten so that we could claim he backs our cause. As war shatters and destroys the lives of innocent people, do we take time to pray for them in our churches, or are we too busy asking God to protect America and preserve our way of life?

I’m concerned about the message that is sent by things like the American Patriots Bible because it seems to suggest that God is strongly united with the beliefs of this country. Yet when I look at America, I see an economy based on greed, a cultural mentality of individualism, and a dangerous national pride. Historically speaking, it’s nothing new for nations to grow corrupt and proud. Just look at Rome. But when this happens, it is the place of the Christian Church to live in a countercultural manner—to be in the country but not of the established order. And again, I don’t want to generalize the Church, but plenty of congregations and individuals wear the Christian label while also pledging allegiance to man and the gods of America. I’m not trying to point the finger but rather, to share something that God has and is convicting me of. It’s an easy trap to fall into, because in this nation, Christianity has been defined by American culture and politics. And many go astray because they fail to realize or don’t want to believe that American culture and politics were not defined by Christ. If this were the case, we would see a country more welcoming to foreigners, less hasty to go to war, and more willing to share our resources.

Recognizing that western or American “Christianity” actually does more to hurt than uplift the name of Christ puts true Jesus followers in a difficult place. Because if we are going to truly follow Jesus, we are going to have to reject the Christian title and what it has come to stand for. Donald Miller—an brilliant man whose books I highly recommend—said in a recent post on his blog, “I’ve actually had people come up to me [after speaking events] and say they thought I was about to renounce my faith, which in ways, I actually do. At least my faith in whatever has become of Christianity.” I don’t know about you, but I’d like to join Miller. I’d like to reject fundamentalist Christianity experienced by individuals like Erik Reece. And I’d like to reject the Christianity that wreaks of American ideals. Turning Christianity into a dualistic religion of regulations and rules only puts God in a box and stifles the gift of freedom Christ came to offer. And marrying God and country leads to an extreme conflict of loyalties—especially when the values of our country clash with the teachings of Christ. And believe me, they do and will.

So what are we to do as true Christ followers when we come to the place where we can no longer call ourselves Christians? When we realize that the religious order around us has strayed from the teachings of the one they set out to follow? The answer is simple to understand but hard to execute. Live differently. Live like Christ. Become less concerned with titles, labels, and rules, and begin to focus on actions and the motivation behind them, which should always be love. The term Christian arose because of a group of people who lived radically differently. Their actions necessitated the term. If we begin to truly follow the call of Christ—which is more radical than many mainstream Christians want to believe—it may just happen that people won’t know what to call us because we won’t look like any Christians they have ever known. And this will be a good thing, because it will give us the opportunity to point back to Christ, who has been hidden behind dualism, legalism, and national pride.

How do we do this? It’s a process of submitting our hearts to Christ, and it’s something I for one am still learning to do. But if we want to know what Christ expects of his followers, a perfect starting place is the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew five, where Jesus clearly lays out what it means to be part of his kingdom. From there, the Gospels give us a good idea of how to fashion our lives after Christ. And the epistles show us what this looked like for the early Christians—those I talked about earlier whose actions birthed the title. And when it comes down to it, “they will know we are Christians (individuals who follow Christ) by our love”—not by the rules we follow or the nation we live in.

I write this as a confession of my own imperfection. I write it to be honest about the things God has convicted me of and as a challenge to myself to live up to his call. At times I’ve fallen into the trap of focusing on rules—of thinking of Christianity as a religion rather than a relationship. And I’ve been guilty of misguided allegiances. Though I’m ashamed to admit it, I’ve found myself buying into mainstream American Christianity. But admitting these failures is the perfect starting place, for following Christ begins with acknowledging our need for forgiveness and grace. And for me, it feels like getting saved all over again. It feels like getting saved from a watered-down Westernized version of Christianity to discover that all the while, Christ had something bigger and more freeing than I could ever have imagined.

Moving from the place of accepting God’s grace to actually taking up his call is not easy. We will be misunderstood. We may feel or be treated as if we are rebelling. It’s frightening to let go of the framework through which you have always viewed life. And it’s scary to tell an institution that they seem to be failing to follow the leader they claim to serve. But when others point the finger at us and accuse us of rejecting our faith, we can rest assured that we are in good company. Early Christians faced this exact same type of persecution. The established religious order did not understand them. I’m not suggesting rejecting the Church or rebelling whenever we don’t like what they are teaching, but I am suggesting that we put the framework we’ve been given from the Church up next to the framework of Christ. If the two don’t match, then it is our responsibility to live lives that show the Church, and the world, what it looks like to serve Christ, even if it means that we can no longer call ourselves Christians.

Written by liferenewed

October 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Hugging God

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When I was 7-years-old, I tried to hug God. I remember the night very distinctly. I was lying in the top bunk, staring at the plastic, glow-in-the-dark stars and planets suspended from the ceiling, my little childlike heart overwhelmed with love. God felt close, and suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to give him a hug.

There’s something beautiful about how little it takes for children to feel secure
. The enthusiasm with which they give and receive love is astonishing. For me at 7, simply knowing that God was my friend was enough. I loved him because I knew he loved me and it was that simple. And since a hug was the best way I knew how to express my love, I grabbed my large, brown teddy bear and squeezed him as tightly as I could. “That was for you God,” I whispered silently, confident that heard me.

Even at the time, I knew the idea was a bit silly, but that didn’t matter. In my imagination, the plastic stars on my ceiling represented the real sky, and God was just above them, watching and smiling as I hugged him through the medium of my teddy bear, pleased to know that I felt his love.

And that’s how simple loving God was
—as simple as hugging a teddy bear; as simple as trusting that he knew my heart; and as simple as remembering that he was always there. I never questioned God’s love for me, and I never really questioned what it meant to follow Jesus. It simply meant that even though I was the one who hung the stars and planets from my ceiling, he was the one who was in control. And I was okay with that. It was enough to know that he loved me. But things didn’t stay that way.

There comes a point as we age when the simplicity of love—the ability to trust without asking questions—is replaced by a desire to analyze, understand, and control. It happens to each of us for different reasons, but when this change takes place, it’s suddenly easy to see why Jesus said we must all come to him as children.

You see, as I left the world of teddy bears and plastic stars for a world of uncertain realities, the innocence of simply wanting to hug God was replaced with a desire to analyze him. Seeking to understand God is not all bad, but it does have its dangers. God is mysterious; we will never understand him in his entirety. When we begin to demand an explanation for everything, we are abandoning trust. And the moment we let go of trust, we leave the door open for another desire to sneak in—the desire to control.

We would be far better off simply trying to get to know God
—acknowledging that there are ways in which he will always be mysterious, while still seeking to learn his heart. But this requires surrendering control. And the more complicated life becomes the harder that is to do. After all, if I hung the stars in my personal sky, shouldn’t I be able to decide what happens to them?

The desire to analyze is often accompanied by the ability to rationalize
. The more we think we understand God, the easier it is to rationalize why we should have control. But often, when we think we understand God, all that we really understand is what we have made him out to be—a God of our own design, who we can wrap our little minds around. This is again, an attempt at control. And when we are trying to control God, we lose sight of both the love and trust that accompany the childlike heart Christ calls us to have.

I don’t remember the last time I felt like hugging God
. I love him. But lately, I’ve found it harder to approach him with the openness I did that night when I was 7. I think I’m afraid that he’ll ask me to surrender control. I’m afraid of trust, because it means admitting that I don’t have all the answers. It means recognizing that I can’t run my life.

But it’s exactly that kind of surrender that produces the relationship of openness I had with God as a child. Loving God will produce a desire to trust, a desire to let go of my feeble attempts to control my life. But love cannot be manufactured. I may want to love God, but I still have to reckon with my sinful nature that conflicts with this desire.

And that’s where hugging God even when we don’t feel like it comes in
. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “If you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” His advice to one struggling to love God is to do the things one would do if he were in love with God. While most of us would not go around trying to hug God, this image can come to represent almost anything. If hugging God is how you would express your love, then do so. If love for God would compel you to spend more time with him, then that is what you should do.

In a way, it is different for everyone, but there are also ways in which it is the same. If you know love produces a desire to surrender control, to approach God with trust, then don’t wait until you feel the love. Hug god now. Elsewhere, Lewis states, “I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey him.” When we do what God has called us to do, love will follow. So obey now. Trust today. Surrender control this moment. Hug God even when you don’t feel like it. Love will follow.

Written by liferenewed

August 9, 2009 at 8:50 pm

The power of Pentecost: reaching beyond barriers

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On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. And every one present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2:1-2&4

As the precursor to all the Acts that the disciples did in Jesus name, Pentecost demonstrates the importance of truly seeking God. Jesus told the disciples that they would receive power and then be his witnesses. It was not until they took the time to wait on God’s gift that they would truly be ready to do his work. Yet I know I am often guilty of getting too busy to seek God and consequently, I end up relying on my own power to do his work. When I do so, I am not only selling myself (and God) short, but I am also inviting frustration. Have you ever wondered why you are not a more effective witness for Christ? Why you never seem to be able to find opportunities to live out his call in radical ways? I have asked these questions and become frustrated with my shortcomings. But the truth is that on my own, I will always fail. In my own power, there are things I am not strong or courageous enough to do. Pentecost should serve as a reminder that—if we want to have the power to be witnesses for Christ—we need to take time, just as the disciples did, to seek God’s counsel and supernatural strength.

Pentecost is also the reversal of the tower of Babel. When man tried to reach God in his own power (by building a sky-scraper to heaven) God confused the languages, making it impossible for all men to communicate on the same level. But when the disciples came together and simply waited on God, this confusion was reversed by the power of the Holy Spirit, whose special language brought together those who were estranged by the barrier of language (see verses 7-12). Once again, we see the theme of God’s power–it is only with his help that we can reach through the barriers that divide us from others.

On this Pentecost, I would like to challenge us to look at our Christian witness through fresh eyes. If we were truly living through God’s power, how would our interactions with the world around us differ? What barriers could we break through if we were seeking God’s strength to communicate and reach out to the broken world around us?

This is the question posed by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, in an article discussing Pentecost and Shavot, the Jewish festival from which Pentecost takes its roots. Waskow points out that “both of these festivals look beyond the narrow boundaries of nation, race, or class,” and his analysis of Ruth’s story is spot-on for our society today. As you seek the power of the Holy Spirit in your own life, I encourage you to read Waskow’s article, and ask God how you can live out Shavot in your community.

Written by liferenewed

May 31, 2009 at 9:00 pm

To Religion

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I want to hide you, bury you,
to pretend you don’t exist.

If I deny you, will the rooster crow?

Can I pretend I never knew you—
that I never carried your weight?

So heavy, so fake.

Knowledge?
or only pride?

I thought I agreed with you, loved you,
but I see now that you’ve hurt my friends.
Wounded—so many.
All in the name of peace.

Such deception.
How dare you!
How dare!

Life’s a paradox, couldn’t you see that?
Couldn’t you hold the good and the bad,
the pretty and the ugly?

Aren’t you big enough to handle it all?
Couldn’t you acknowledge that we are all the same—humanity?

No.
Dichotomies. Believing lies.

And now, they cry—
those on the other side.
Those who broke the rules,
who weren’t good enough.

They hate you, with good reason.
You hated first.

If I refuse to marginalize based on your dichotomies,
does that make me like them,
unacceptable and wrong?

Now I see what you’ve done to me.
Why I found it hard to love.
Why I was afraid of those who did not think like me—like you.

Oh religion, what do I do with you now?

When I see the scars that bear your name and the hate you justified, I cry.
I take you in my hands and try to crush you.

Will it do any good?
Can denying your existence undo the pain you caused?

No.

“Where is truth?” I ask.
“When religion is wrong, what is true?”

Crying on my knees with my face to the ground,
I ache.

Confusion.

Then, from the darkness, an answer.
Not calm, but true.

“It is finished.”

I look up and see the cross.
And you—religion—you are nailed there.

You’ve already been destroyed.
The one who gave his life brought a better way.

This is what is true.
But we’ve been living like it’s not.

I pick up the cross.
A weight I can carry.

You may deny me, but I will never deny him.

I will take the cross—and what it really stands for—
to those you marginalized,
those you refused to love.

This is true religion.

Written by liferenewed

November 2, 2008 at 12:37 am