Saturday, February 28, 2009

Solely Sufficient

Being independent is often prized in our individualistic society. We applaud the "boot-strapping" millionaire who worked themselves up from the clerical position. We celebrate the actor who dares to take the controversial role. We commend the journalist who questions the status quo.

The reason all of these people receive acclaim is because in face of overwhelming cause to the contrary, they were able to carve an unexpected path and change the seemingly certain course of events.

In applauding the acts of individualism, we breed an air of self-sufficiency in our children. In fact, parents whose 25-year olds are living at home, probably wish they had instilled a little bit more independence in their offspring. However, the cause of concern is that this independent spirit causes us to believe that we can take care of ourselves; that we are in fact the captain of our own destiny. Which couldn't be further from the truth. For in fact, we, as the Bible states "can't add a single hair to our head" so how could we provide for our every need?

In truth, we are Solely sufficient, but the sufficiency is not on ourselves. We are solely sufficient on the One who imparted us with our very soul - God, the Creator and Sustainer of this world. Sufficiency on anything else, including ourselves, is wholly insufficient.


Little Lies

"In your eyes, I am complete"

"She saved my soul from the devil"

"I could not ask for more"

"Forever and ever, never will part"

For music fans, all of the above quotations can be rightly attributed to a song that includes it. The songs range from Pop to Country to Oldies and they all share one common denominator...they all contain lies.

Now, most people will sing along to these songs without any strike of conscience. And maybe that's normal. But for thinking people, especially thinking Christians, we have to consider the impact of the words and the thoughts that we allow to infiltrate the way we perceive the world. After all, as Scripture says "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). If this is true, then even the words we say carelessly, maybe especially so, gives us revelations about our heart. And if we unthinkingly repeat untruths just because they are set to a catchy tune, what does that say about us?

Because you see, the challenge with these little lies is that most of the time we don't recognize them as such. We think that someone else really can complete us, or that they can save our soul, give us all that we've ever wanted, or will be with us for always. However the only being that all of these can really be attributed to is God. When we place someone else in God's place, we are exchanging Him for something less than Him. In other words, we are creating and serving an idol - a caricature of what God offers that can only be expected to disappoint.

The logic may seem extreme, which is maybe the point. We don't recognize the seriousness of "little lies" and that is why they can often have the greatest damage.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

At the Stop of the World

Modern English made famous a song with these lyrics:

I'll stop the world and melt with you
You've seen the difference and its getting better all the time
There's nothing you and I won't do
I'll stop the world and melt with you.

The notion of these songs is that we want to freeze frame those moments of indescribable pleasure; the moments when it seems that all is right in the world.

On the other side of the spectrum are the moments when it seems right that the world should stop and it doesn't: the untimely death of a loved one, the genocide of a generation, the heartbreak of a child. In these moments, we marvel at the fact that the world can go on. When it seems that the world should stop and stand aghast at the tragedy, nothing delays the turmoil and nothing delays the ordinariness of the rest of life.

Its in these moments while we are grieving and others are going grocery shopping, when we cry and others are cutting class, that we realize that the fact the world continues as it has for centuries past, and years to come (should Christ tarry) is just another example of the faithfulness of God. God comforts us in our pain, at the same time, He sustains our world when we are unable to fathom anything beyond our own grief. The sun still rises, the oceans crash, and its all a part from our own desire or initiative. Even when we are too consumed with loss to appreciate His good work, His good work remains.

There's only been once in history where God did stop the world (Isaiah 38:8) and when He did so it was to signal His commitment to a promise. The fact that the world doesn't stop is also a signal of what a faithful God we serve for in guiding the Earth's path, He provides for His children. In directing the sun, He is sustaining life. Even when life may seem a little dimmer, His care for us shines through. We may be feel like we are the farthest thing from being on top of the world, and yet His providence never stops.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Added Value

In my field (marketing), there's a concept called "added value." It's the idea that its no longer possible to build a better mousetrap, therefore an organization's job is to find a way to deliver unexpected value to their customers. So maybe you can't build a better mousetrap, but you can give your customers a lifetime warranty for the mousetrap you can build. That warranty becomes an added-value.

(Quick sidebar - this example also demonstrates poor strategy because a warranty is an easily replicated value added and therefore does not help the organization differentiate themselves in their customers' minds. I put this caveat just in case a student ever reads this.)

A lot of time, Christians also approach life with a value-added mentality. We believe that Christ alone saves us, and yet we seek to add add our own source of justification. With one mouth we claim Christ's blood and we cling to our good work. We say He's paid for us in-full, and yet we worry about our heavenly balance sheet. Scripture however is clear that we can never add any value to what Christ has done. Our righteousness is "like filthy rags" (Is. 64:6) therefore we can never depend on them to aid in our cleanliness. We must rely totally on the blood that makes us "white as snow" (Is. 1:18). There is nothing we can do to add value to that.


Better Things Ahead: February 2009

This page has moved to a new address.

Better Things Ahead