Monday, February 21, 2005

Jesus' Peer Group

As I sat in church today, I was mostly consumed with fighting off feelings of envy. In a world of people able to navigate, though not always flawlessly, the trecharous waters of intergender communication I feel utterly lost at sea. There is, as always, a girl I was interested in that I am reasonably sure was interested in another guy that I was reminded of today. He is quite a guy: athletic, talented, cool and popular and as I considered this, I rather wished I could be him, that I might woo those women I am interested in.

From this springboard, I began to consider that many firgues we see as figureheads in churches are the bubbly, charismatic, attractive people. And in a world of successful attractive married people, I feel rather out of place on every account. Socially akward with a job that leaves me spinning my wheels and a perfect strikeout record every time I approach the plate with a female, I wonder if there is a place int he church for me.

I might despair, but I remember something about what God values. God loves the lowly, the rejected, the humble, the sick. Jesus came, not as a powerful prophet storming the king's fortress, but as a carpenter's son in an oppressed nation. Born to a woman found to be pregnant before she was married, he may have carried this stigma all his life. At Judgement, one recorded criteria we remember is that whatever you do to the least of these: the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned - this you do for Him.

Perhaps our witness would be more powerful if we did not put so much effort into the double-standard: we speak as those who are lowly but avoid those who will drag down our social status, lock our doors against those that would steal the equipment we spend so much money for, and make church a place of "higher education" when our grasp of the basics feels so shaky. Perhaps when our faith costs us all we had wanted from life and we are left with nothing else, we will see just what value we assign to it.

I was younger and more naïve then. I prayed for brokenness. God answered. And for good or ill, life was never the same.

Friday, February 18, 2005


I saw Constantine this evening. I am not good at placing movies into categories, but I rather think it is a sort of "supernatural thriller," for lack of a better word. I will make a reference or two to the movie, so if you have not seen it and despise hearing about a movie before you see it, read no further.


At one point in the movie, we have an image of Hell. At first, it is a desolate wasteland, but as we look beneath the surface we see a writhing mass of demons essentially feeding on a mass of tortured humanity. I believe this scene lends visceral weight to the motivations of the main character, but that is beside the point.

Hell. As the movie let out, I could not help but look around at the people surrounding me. This one, made in the image of God Almighty; that one worth the life of Jesus Christ; over there, a person quite possibly heading on the road to eternal damnation. All seemingly unaware.

Take time to sit in a crowded or busy place and watch humanity move about you. Hear pieces of communication - that means by which the ephemeral thoughts and movements of our spirits touch the physical world through things as mundane as the vibration of air molecules and the scratching of graphite on paper.

See the most homely person and realize that they bear the likeness of the Lord of Creation; see the most beautiful and weep for a fallen creature. Hear the wise, and know that the wisdom of God is greater than the wisdom of man; see a fool and know that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. Eternity touches us here and now - every moment, every thought on display in a perplxing tapestry of the glory of God.

See the people around you... and pray. Pray for the grace to touch those you can, pray for mercy for those who are lost, pray for the men for whom our Lord prayed "Father forgive them."

The great horror of hell is not pain, whether physical or psychological. It is that creatures meant to be vessels of the love of God become vessels of wrath. That the place of condemnation for the rebellious angels becomes also a place of condemnation for those who bear His image.

The horror of hell is not the CGI images writing on the screen, it is the people watching those images with me in the theater. Never forget that the nameless faces surrounding us are self-determining individuals just as you and I. Faces that may one day look out and see eternal death consuming them.

Real people, every one.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


There are few things that cause my heart to break than when I feel like I am watching "man's purpose" distorted or even missed completely.

The other night at a basketball game I watched an interesting dicotomy. During halftime, a group of young girls (ages 6-10 would be my guess) dressed up like the college cheerleaders and did a dance routine. This was extremely cute, and the audience gave an appropriately enthusiastic applause. And then at the side of the court I saw the college cheerleaders, and the first one to flash through my mind was that of a man sitting near me in one football game who had binoculars for the express purpose of... carefully examining the cheerleaders.

Stereotypes of cheerleaders come into place in my mind during high school, where she is placed at the pinacle of the "this is what a woman should be" temple as the football and basketball players are for men.

I believe Jesus when he says that a man who looks at a woman with lust in his heart has committed adultery. I believe adultery, and by extension sex outside of marriage is a sin. I believe this because I see it as a distortion, a perversion of what it was meant to be. I believe that it changes the ultimate expression of a couple becoming one person to a hormone driven quest for pleasure. I believe that promiscuous sex cheapens it. And thus, while I am quite lonely and could pursue other avenuse of having "my needs" met, I refrain.

This is where my sadness entered in as I watched this game. "How soon," I thought, "will these simple children grow up and lose the innocence that makes them so sweet." How soon will they be introduced to sacred things trampled under foot by rampant hedonism? How soon until they take their being, something of incredible and undescribable value and shrink, shrivel, and scar it pursuing in vain false ideals thrust at them from all sides?

Evil is a parasite, offering nothing new or original, only twisting or destroying the good things; turning noble to ignoble or seeking to destroy it. But this is accomplished in many diverse ways. Evil at once twists well-meaning zealots to hatred and denies that the object of their zeal exists. It claims to exalt and liberate sexuality by stripping it of any great value.

Why do we exist?

Surely not this. Surely more than this.