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Slaving for God

August 10, 2011

We all know the Parable of the Lost Son. The rich kid gets money from his dad, runs off living it up, then when he runs out of money he hires himself out to make ends meet. He is so hungry that he is tempted to eat the slop he is feeding to the pigs. The text says that he wants to, not that he does so clearly things are so bad he is either afraid of being punished if he is caught eating food for the pigs or just that he so cannot afford to lose his job that he is willing to starve himself. Either way this is a bad situation.

So, fast forward and we know that he heads for home to beg for forgiveness. His father welcomes him with grace (not at all like God will do with us since our conservative dogma teaches us that God will scold us for squandering our gifts and then throw us into a fiery hell. But, I digress, that is another post) and has a party thrown in honor of his son’s return. When the older brother hears what is going on, he has a bit of a tantrum. The father comes out to calm him down and the older son utters this great line, “All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to.”

Have you ever wondered how the younger son would have reacted to overhearing this conversation? Maybe, “Gee, I certainly don’t deserve much here, but I could teach you a lot about what ‘slaving’ means, bro.” Or, “Wow, you look pretty good for ‘slaving’ all these years. I mean, I can’t even see any of your ribs. Here, check this out, you can see all of mine.”

So often in church we, God’s children, are compared to the younger son. Return to your father in heaven and he will accept you. Much more often, though, I think we are more like the older son: Wait, God can’t take him, he’s rich and greedy, she’s Muslim, they’re gay! Here we are, slaving away for God and the kingdom. We’re carrying our cross in a fanny pack everywhere we go and they think they can just waltz into God’s favor?

They don’t deserve it!

The next time you think that someone isn’t worth of God’s favor you should remind yourself that it is not our favor to dispense and God has plenty to go around.


How Much Does God Love Him

May 17, 2011

In my last post I asked, “Do you believe that Jesus would have suffered and died on the cross if he was only saving one person? Does God love you that much?” Today, I would like to ask a similar question.

Do you believe that Jesus would have suffered and died on the cross if it was to save only one person? Even if it was someone you have never met? How about one person in another part of the world? What if Jesus suffered at Calvary and died a bloody death on a Roman cross for this guy?

How Much Does God Love YOU?

May 6, 2011

Do you believe that Jesus would have suffered and died on the cross if he was only saving one person? Does God love you that much?

What If Everything We Believe Is Wrong?

April 20, 2011

*** Let me say at the outset that I am NOT some Nazi sympathizer or Hitler devotee. What happened prior to and during the second world war was nothing short of horrific. ***

We can talk about Love Wins and Rob Bell and Heaven and Hell and Salvation but, deep down, there seems to be a caveat. People who do things that are really bad will certainly roast forever in a lake of fire, right? Sort of a who’s who of the baddies. Hitler, Stalin, Vlad III, Pol PotRobespierre, ad infinitum throughout history.

In a previous post, Spiritual Dashboard, I talked about sin being more of an indicator light showing us that we have lost our way, than it is a gauge of how bad we are compared to others. This story could be told of any number of people besides Adolf Hitler. Those who lead the crusades or the Popes who directed them. Those who played commanding roles in the Inquisition or witch hunts or genocide. Any event that has had widespread condemnation has, at its root, someone who thought they were doing the right thing, but who was ultimately on the wrong side of history.

Rob Bell talks in the pre-release video for his new book Love Wins as well as in the first chapter about whether Gandhi is in Heaven or Hell. I think that we might be able to extend this thought further. How much does God love us, his creation?

Jesus told a story that is recorded in Luke 18. Two men go to temple to meet God. As one begs God for mercy in his spiritual destitute, the other is confident in his arrogance. To whom did God show forgiveness? When Adolf Hitler faced God, in all of his holiness, I imagine that Hitler would be overwhelmed by his actions. Falling prostrate at the face of God’s glory, weeping in the horror of the atrocities carried out at his command. Overcome with grief.

But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Turning to Face Yourself

September 28, 2009

Not everyone may have a dramatically memorable event as I have but I believe that there comes a time in every person’s life when they realize that their actions impact other people. I don’t remember how old I was when this happened to me but I remember the events like it all happened yesterday. I was at the local mall with my mom shopping for Christmas presents. I wandered into the book store and found something that I really wanted – for myself. She was out of the store so I seized the opportunity and bought it. Of course, I then couldn’t avoid her seeing the bag but I also couldn’t show her what I had bought or she would know it was for no one but me. She was right there so I had to think quickly, in a flash I had a brilliant idea. Who is that for? “I bought a Christmas present for you, mom.” It was perfect, it wasn’t for me and I couldn’t show her because it was a surprise!

When Christmas morning finally arrived I had completely forgotten about the gift. We opened present after present until there was nothing under the tree. I was asked about another gift, a special gift I had gotten on my own for my mom. I don’t even remember how I responded but I do remember the pain I caused her and how absolutely terrible that felt. So terrible in fact that I have never forgotten exactly how I felt.

I believe judgment in front of God will be much like this story. How terrible it will be to stand with God and face the truth of all the poor decisions and selfish actions you committed in your life. To see God pained and disappointed as these things are reviewed.

How unimaginable it will be to have you face yourself with God.

So what happened that Christmas morning after we left the tree? Was I spanked or grounded? Did I face a lecture about how to treat other people? No. My parents did none of it. Truthfully, they could not have done anything that would have made me feel worse or to understand any more how serious my actions were. I suspect that God will do much the same. I am not sure that eternal fire would be as bad as having to see how much you let God down.

The Rich Man & Lazarus

September 12, 2009

This post is the first follow-up to Heaven, Hell, & How to Get There. If you have not read it yet, I suggest checking it out so you know where I am going next…

I think most are at least passingly familiar with the story told in the latter half of Luke, Chapter 16. It may be the most in-depth description anywhere in the Bible of what happens after we die, or so it would seem. Jesus could very easily have used this sort of example again and again in his teaching but he didn’t. Why? I suspect that God’s punishment is something that a human could never fully comprehend the horror of.  Because of that I think that Jesus uses examples which will scare the crap out of his human audience.

What do I think this horror of punishment is? Well, I don’t want to give everything away at once. That’ll be my next post…

Why I Suck

February 16, 2009

This is a post I’ve been intending to write for some time now. It’ll be a short one.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how, as a Chrisitan, I should be talking less and doing more. Is there a place for talking? Sure, but there are a lot of people out there who need help and I am not very good at getting out and doing stuff. In fact, I really don’t like to. When I’m not at work or working at home I like my free time to be my time. I don’t often give it up. I need to work on that…