I wrote this blog entry while on an airplane bound for Grand Rapids.
It’s Friday, December 1st at about 1:50pm Pacific Time. I’m sitting on an airplane thirty-something thousand feet in the air. As I type this we’re flying directly over the Great Salt Lake. If the bottom of the plane were to fall out from beneath my feet and I plunged straight down I’d land directly in the salty water below. I was hoping to fly over this lake because I’ve never seen it in person, only in photos on Heather Armstrong’s website as well as her husband Jon’s website. I wanted to see if the lake was really as ugly and dead as it appears to be in those photos. From here it looks like that is the case. I wish it was possible to make a quick pit stop here in Utah and have coffee with Jon and Heather. I’d love to meet them, kiss their little girl Leta on the head, and scratch the ears of Congressman Chuck (the dog). Or maybe just balance a doggie treat on his nose.
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is streaming from iTunes through my headphones and into my ears.
Just a few moments ago I was praying and reading a few scriptures from Eugene Peterson’s translation of the New Testament (The Message). I’ve also brought along one of the books of my-new-friend-whom-I’ve-not-yet-met, Donald Miller. Someday I intend to shake that man’s hand and thank him for writing such thought provoking books. Many of the ideas he presents in his books have been going through my own head recently, but Don has a way of putting them into words in such a beautiful way. As Forest Gump would say, “Momma always had a way of explaining things so as I could understand them!” Substitute “Donald Miller” for “Momma” and that sentence would be an accurate way of explaining how I feel about these books of his. I’m most of the way through Searching for God Knows What (I wish I had the money to buy every Christian a copy). The book is so damned good I’ll probably read it again when I’ve finished it, which will most likely be during the next leg of this flight to Grand Rapids.
J.R. Mahon from XXXChurch will be picking me up at the airport. He says it’s snowing. Hard. I’m glad I decided to wear my boots today.
At the moment I should be contemplating the answers to some of the questions J.R. will be asking tomorrow morning at “Porn and Pancakes”. Instead I’m writing a blog entry in Word for Mac and saving it for later publication. Some of the thoughts that have been racing through my head have built up a mental pressure, for which the only relief is to write.
In Searching for God Knows What, Donald Miller wrote something that, if I had an internet connection up here in the friendly skies, I’d set as the quote above my name on my MySpace page. Hold on a second while I find the page it’s on so that I can share it word for word. Okay, I found it. Take a breath and get ready, because this is deep ladies and gentlemen. Here goes:
“In war you shoot the enemy, not the hostage”.
Think about that for a second and then apply it to Christianity. It almost made me cry for some reason, but that’s not really too hard to do lately. I’ve been experiencing so much of Jesus’ love lately that, at times, it’s pretty difficult not to become emotional.
Let me share with you the direction that sentence took my mind. Tell me in the comments section where it took yours. Don used that sentence to sum up the idea that Christians too often focus on attacking the person sinning, rather than the source of that sin. Man may be sinful by nature, but covering him with the true love of Jesus can alter his nature. Instead of attacking and “killing” people, let’s focus on the Enemy and not on the hostage. The only way to kill the influence of evil within another person is to cover the hostage with the love Jesus challenged us to show to all people. That love will smother the one who tries to hold each of us hostage.
It seems to me that Satan has really used the church to do his bidding. Much of the world is so turned off by the war Christians have raged against “hostages” that it refuses to listen to the true message it’s meant to hear. That message is love. That message does not focus on sin. That doesn’t mean sin should be ignored, just that it needs to be placed in proper context.
Since the word “sin” has been used as an arrow with which Christians pierce the flesh of others, let me break it down a little. That word has always seemed scary to me, because I definitely don’t want to SIN. I was always taught sinning will send me to hell, and nobody wants to book that trip on Expedia. Tell me if you agree with this or not:
Sin is simply behavior that separates us from God. It drives a wedge between us. It’s not some big scary monster; it is a behavior. Jesus didn’t dwell on it, because it’s not something we should use to bash each other. It’s just a behavior that needs to be corrected, lovingly. If you’re a parent you know that children develop lots of behaviors for which they need guidance to overcome. With growth and proper guidance, they naturally mature and many of those behaviors become ancient history.
I’m lucky to have a son who has been shown enough love that good behavior (for the most part) comes pretty naturally to him. I have to think his behavior comes from the way he has been parented. My ex-wife is a great mother, and when Caden is with me I try to be the best father I can be. I have never once raised my voice to my son, nor have I used the words “because I said so”. I’ve only spanked him one time in his entire life and regretted doing so. Instead of such “old school” corrections, I get down on my knees so I can communicate with him at his level, I look him in the eyes and I explain in a calm loving voice the reasons why I feel he should behave in certain ways. If we’re in public I’ll pick him up and hug him and whisper what I have to say in his ear so that he’s not embarrassed. Because of this, he obeys out of love and respect, rather than fear of physical pain in the form of a spanking or mental pain in the form of yelling. It is more work to raise him this way, but Wendy and I feel that is our job as Caden’s parents. Not putting in the work would be selfish and lazy.
That same concept applies to humanity in general, don’t you think? Applying the love of our Father to our lives is the only way to correct our screwed-up (sinful) behavior. Threatening someone with “hell-fire” only results in behavior modification motivated primarily by fear. A true change of heart comes from respect and love, which comes from first being shown respect and being loved.
An hour and twenty-five minutes have elapsed since starting this, and Word for Mac shows that I’m now beginning page three. It’s time to stop rambling. Post a comment or send me an email to let me know your thoughts.