Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Gospel That I Am Fearful Of

I had a quick conversation with a good friend of mine tonight. She was giving me a ride to my car, so the ride only lasted a grand total of about 4 minutes.

I was telling her about the six World Vision staff members who were killed in Pakistan today, lamenting not only the loss of life, but also how easily I forget that the Gospel asks us to do hard things.

Then she says, "Yeah, sometimes I'm fearful of what it's asking me to do. I am afraid of what its asking me to give up. Like giving my money just isn't enough; like God is asking for my time as well."

Sometimes I don't like the gospel, because it means me admitting, facing, and repenting of my sin. I fear the surgeon's scalpel that looms over me, knowing the tumor is fateful, and yet more fearful of what the pain will be or how life will be like living without it. I feel with my friend, I find it so easy to fear what God is asking me to give up, forgetting that he is Good, forgetting that it is him alone that is worthy to follow. We must be willing to face the knife in order to get well.

I've found that saying yes to Jesus means saying no to a lot of other things. I often default to the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10. Upon being asked what it takes to inherit eternal life, Jesus lists off some of the 10 Commandments. Insuring Jesus that he has followed these commands since birth, the ruler thinks he is in. But to his despair, Jesus tells him, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Mark 10:21). Never explicitly does Jesus say what the idol is in Mark's account, but we can clearly see that Jesus, the man, and others around him understand the implication of the request. Lacking only one thing--a true love for God. Money has become this man's god, and Jesus wants his place back on the throne.

Asking how to inherit eternal life is a dangerous thing. We lose our lives in doing so. But eventually we gain a better one. Its a gamble I believe to be worth risking. But in doing so, Jesus will continue to look at us, love us, and call out our sin.

Will we walk away sorrowful, or will we weep for joy at the grace we've found?

Is There Really Good News About Injustice?

(I know I stole the title from Gary A. Haugen, its just a good one!)

Well, Reader, in short, the answer is yes. I read recently that there are over 2,000 verses in the Bible concerning poverty and justice. Oh how closely are they linked! Does not the heart of God mourn over injustice? Is it not that the Spirit leads our hearts into conviction over what is wrong? Did not the Son weep and die for the sins of people?

What is the good news? God absolutely abhors it. The book of Amos in itself is almost entirely about God's anger against the injustice that he sees in his people. The poor are trampled upon (5:11), the needy have been crushed (4:1), and in all of these atrocities, the nation as a whole still continues to be prideful (6:8).

The Spirit of God speaks through Amos, condemning the hypocrisy that God sees. "I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, and the peace offerings of your fatted beast I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and the righteousness like an ever flowing stream" (5: 21-25).

God doesn't just want my lip service. He doesn't just want my money once in a while. He doesn't just want me to go about life as if in a zoo, look at poverty and injustice only to study and be amazed for a while only to move onto "more exciting" issues, he wants me to become a part of the change. This is the good news: I serve a God who cares for the needy, the poor, the widow and the orphan, who desires all to know Him. He is ever day inviting all of humanity into the glorious redemption of our souls, to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with him.

It sounds nice, but it means giving up a lot of things that we have become accustomed to. Will we be ready to become the ones who bring justice to people who want keep others oppressed? Will we be willing to go forth into a land where you can be killed for the sake of the Gospel? Will we continually be looking for ways to serve a God who calls us to do good things concerning injustice at our own expense?

I think it may be worth it. I haven't much to complain about yet...but perhaps it is because I haven't been risking enough.

Thanks to the Invisible Children organization for reminding me of the good news.