Monday, June 28, 2010

Faith in What?

I believe in a God of the possible. I believe that God’s power is infinite and his ability to act is limited only by the human imagination and our ability to believe in his goodness. I believe that the bible is a love letter, an invitation is a dance on such a scale that we can’t even begin to imagine.

Sometimes I try to wrap my head around it all, but it simply wants to explode. I haven’t read Romans 8 in quite a while, but it has been on my mind a lot lately. Two main parts have been really sticking out to me. The first is toward the end of the chapter, where Paul says, “…If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

When I read this, it blows my mind! When I let this verse define my reality rather than letting my circumstances define this verse, but I can’t help but see this an invitation into the gracious gift of all things. Danger comes when I start to limit this verse by my current circumstances. “I don’t feel like I have all things. This and that are going wrong, therefore this verse can’t really be applying to me.” The problem with this type of reading is that of course your circumstances suck, you’re believing the lies of this world more than the promises of a loving God! We must, as sons and daughters, lay hold of this verse as truth and let it define the way we look at the world!

God loved the world so much that he gave the world his son as a peace offering, to reconcile us back to him forever through his son’s own blood! If God is willing to do that, to give his own son, then how could he hold anything else back? He already gave us it all! We can’t earn any more of his favor because he didn’t deserve his favor in the first place! We have it all, Jesus paid it all, Jesus gave it all! He won’t renege now, He can’t! It’s too late! He already gave his life, why would He withhold the blessing that comes from that?

It was all his idea! He died to fix every problem in this world, because every problem in this world is a result of the fall, of sin, which he took care of with his death. We don’t have to convince him to take care of us, he already has. “If God is on our side, who can be against us?” Paul doesn’t ask this, as if he wonders if God is for or against us. The context of this chapter tells us that God is NOTHING BUT FOR US, and HAS NOTHING AGAINST US. What then can stand in our way?

The other part of Romans 8 that has been on my mind is “19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

We see here quite clearly that creation is ready and willing to be set free from bondage. We also just saw that God is ready and willing to do pretty much anything to get this done. In fact, the great news is, HE ALREADY HAS! Note that I could have said, “In fact, the GOSPEL is, HE ALREADY HAS!”

So what is the limiting factor in this equation? Is it God’s willingness? Nope. Is creation against the idea and resisting? Um, no… Is the Devil just too darn powerful to hold us back? Seems to me that Jesus stepped on little snaky’s head (see…um…the whole bible!).

So who is left? Who are we missing? Could it be us? Could it be that we have not yet been revealed as “Sons of God?” That is one possible interpretation, though I argue a very poor one. It can be seen in countless scriptures that God has ALREADY adopted us (and not in our modern western scene, I may have another blog post about this) as sons of glory. The deed is done, it is finished, Jesus paid it all, we have nothing else to earn or buy or receive because Jesus paid the full price, remember?
So what is the limiting factor? Our faith. “Our Faith!?! But we’re protestants! It’s all about our FAITH!!!” yells some indignant reader. Let me ask you, indignant reader, what is your faith in? Is your faith in the fact that you have faith, or in the blood of Jesus? What saves you? Your faith, or Jesus’s blood?

I often find myself thinking more about my faith level than about the very thing I am meant to have faith in. I’m not required to have faith in the fact that I have enough faith, I have required to have faith in the fact that Jesus’ blood covers me and makes me holy. It is Jesus who makes me a Son of God, not my faith or my works or the miracles that may or may not be granted to me.

I think that if we were more concerned with what Jesus ALREADY DID for us and what Paul meant when he said God has given us ALL THINGS, than we are with striving for and earning the things that God has already given us, that this world would be a completely different place.

In Eph 3:20, Paul says that God is capable of abundantly more than we can ever think or imagine. Is he capable of saying, “it is finished” and having it be so? Is he capable of giving us all things just because he is that good? Are we capable of believing him?

All this to say, I don’t want to write a superhero movie, I want to live it. Hollywood can imagine a lot crazy things, but they have no effective power outside GCI and wires. I’m ready to see the Sons of God, the Son of Glory truly revealed. The only thing that is holding us back is our ability to believe. Believe in what?

[cue awesome Rage Against the Machine song as Neo flies away]

What Jesus already did. Now it's your turn!

Significance, Part 2

The thing that really draws me to movies and television is the friendships you create with the characters. It sounds a little weird, but it is true, at least for me. You watch these people on a screen, fall in love with them, root for them, cry for them, miss them when you’re not with them, go through withdrawal during the off season, but for what? It is easy and it is cheap. It is a one-way relationship. I get connected to them, but they don’t know me. They don’t require anything of me, expect that I sit there and become hypnotized, and all I get from them is a false sense of community. I don’t actually have to be vulnerable with them, to show them my heart, to open myself up to them. True love is vulnerability, all TV gives us is a counterfeit. At best, it gives us a temporary escape from our mundane life; at worst it serves as a self-contained substitute for actual relationships with real people.

Dr. Gregory House isn’t a real person, he doesn’t actually have feelings, he doesn’t really have emotional hurts that need fixing. Hugh Laurie might, but I’m not watching Hugh, I’m watching Hugh pretend to be House. It makes me wonder what good it is to create these broken characters who need fixing when the world is full of real characters who need real fixing. Wouldn’t my time be better spent with the wounded and broken of the world, doing the world of Jesus?

This is not to say that there isn’t any place for House, or whatever other show we watch, but at the end of the day, it is all just entertainment. Real transformation comes through real relationships, not through pixels on a screen. Can Jesus use masterful writing to convey a message of hope and grace to a person who would otherwise not have heard it? I’m sure he can. But I wonder at the idea of so many people getting excited about the idea that I might be able to disciple people through writing for TV or a movie, rather than actually discipling people through real, tangible relationships. I’ve been watching masterful writing on TV for quite a while now, but yet, I feel a lack, a void that can only be filled by actual relationships

Significance, Part 1

I once heard Bill Johnson say that every human being longs live a life of significance. He also said that often, people confuse this with a longing to be famous, or rich, or seen. You don’t need to be on MTV or in People magazine to lead a life of significance.

I wonder sometimes whether I forget this. Recently, I have spent a lot of time bouncing between mulling over and avoiding any consideration of what I am going to do with my life. I am 22 years old, married to a wonderful wife, and am on my way to live on the west side of Michigan because said wonderful wife got offered a wonderful job with a wonderful salary and benefits. What more could a guy want?

And yet, I have this strange feeling that there is something missing. I can’t shake the idea that I have abandoned every dream I’ve ever had. I’ve felt the call to significance my whole life, and I am being to realize that I have no idea what to do with it.

So now I’m sitting here, pondering the question of significance. What makes a life significant? What makes my heart burn with passion? I love Jesus. I love pondering upon him, I love talking about him, I love challenging people’s preconceived notions about him. I love getting my head out of the box and into his reality. I want to challenge and inspire people. I want to spend the rest of my life enjoying him and teaching others to do the same.

But yet, I’m afraid if I give up on screenwriting, I’ll dwindle into insignificance. Do I love screenwriting? Not especially. I do love seeing what is possible, what can be and must be and will be, and I’m afraid I mix that visionary type thought process up with a need to write movies. I get this anxious feeling when I think about what people say about Hollywood and Christians. “You can affect so many people for Christ with the movies you make!” Things like this make me feel like I have to be a screenwriter or I’m letting Jesus down. I don’t think there is anything I could do that would let him down, but when I hear that statement, I forget this. I think it is a play on significance. “Just think of all the people you could effect!”, really just means, “Think of how significant you’d be!” In this sense, pursuing screenwriting would be a great idea; I’d have the problem of significance all figured out.

Sometimes I feel like I’m running away from significance by not wanting to pursue screenwriting, but maybe I’m actually running towards something else. I used to be in a rock’n’roll band, with dreams of making it big and playing in front of 1,000’s of people: true significances. But yet, playing music was never really all that fulfilling. I enjoy strumming my guitar, but it doesn’t fill that void I feel, so why would doing it in front of people change that lack? Sure, it was nice to have people notice you, but “it ain’t Jesus”.

What I really want to do is challenge and inspire people. I have an active imagination; Jesus speaks to me through pictures, almost like little movies scenes in my head. I often wonder if I have simply confused the way Jesus speaks to me with a desire to create movies out of these pictures. I feel Jesus speaking to me, and I want to share it, so I have to make a movie out of it. I wonder if he is calling me to a different way of doing discipleship.