This week I was once again reminded that our world is shattered and radically corrupted. I was reminded because our systems that are designed to protect the most vulnerable fail. I was reminded because once again violence, which we glorify, metastasized in real life causing real pain and real suffering. I was reminded again that our culture doesn’t value the lives of women and children.
You know that time when you watch a television show and it shakes you up a bit? Sometimes works of fiction do that to me (A Brave New World rocked my world). Sometimes it’s reading history. Other times it is talking with a new friend. In this particular moment, it was a television show.
I’m not an expert. I’m not even close to being an expert. I have a son whose 15 and a daughter who is 13. Both of them are excelling as students. They each have passions that they are pursuing with zeal. I think both of them are becoming good people. They have friends, they respect adults, they are both people that my wife and I enjoy being around.
When I was on staff with a large college ministry we spent a lot of talking about how to help college guys become men. We did men’s retreats every year. There was a very specific model that we thought these men had to fit in; tough, rugged, and macho.
We also spent a lot of time trying to teach college girls to be women. This focused a lot on their outward appearance teaching them to dress modestly so they didn’t cause the “men” to “stumble.”
When I read the Scriptures there is nothing more satisfying or exciting to me than when I see the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament. I love how the whole story fits together. Particularly, I like hearing the echoes of the Psalms ring out in the epistles.
As American Christians we have a very high view of ourselves. I remember being on a summer mission trip and participating in a learning exercise that was created to open our eyes to the need of missionaries to the world. The Americans were designed to be the heroes and the other parts of the world world were displayed as being less than in Christian faith.
That is illustrative of our individual hearts too, I think. Many of us believe that we really have our stuff together.
Yet, that’s not reality.
The book of Acts is one of my favorite books in the Bible. The story of the early church is fascinating to me. The boldness of the apostles blows me away. They are constantly standing in the midst of the people proclaiming Jesus. Paul traveled the known world and stood before kings preaching Jesus. It’s a beautiful story of grace and adventure.
Over the 40 years or so the Evangelical wing of the Church has become ever more engaged in politics. They are a coveted voting block. According to many pundits it was their ability to get out and vote that won Donald Trump the presidency over Hillary Clinton (though the real culprit was probably lack of voter turn out for Clinton). This political engagement has been seen as a key component to the “Culture War.” This war, according to some, is over no less than the soul of America.
We Christians get really excited about the resurrection and rightfully so. It is the cornerstone and bedrock of our faith. Without the resurrection there would be no Christianity. Yet, what’s fascinating is that Jesus was all about something else, the ascension.
One of my favorite book series is The Lord of the Rings. It is an amazing tale that gets richer as the books progress. Too many times "sequels" are not as good as the original. I think what makes The Lord of the Rings particularly good is that it was conceived as a whole from the beginning. Many of our current novel series were not. The first one is written and published and then after it has shown to be marketable the rest of the books are commissioned. Often this leads to holes in the plot or some disjointedness in the narrative. Not so with The Lord of The Rings. It goes somewhere from the start. The beginning of the story really only takes its full meaning from the end of the story.
Maundy Thursday is the day that we remember the evening of the Last Supper. It is when we Christians traditionally believe that Jesus celebrated this final Passover meal with his disciples and then was arrested. It is a somber evening. It is the beginning of the end of the life of Jesus. In mere hours he will be handed over, beaten, and ultimately crucified.
Yet, in the midst of this Jesus is looking at the bigger picture. He is shaping and creating identity for his disciples. He showing them that there is more to come after his crucifixion. The Cross is not he end, it is the beginning.
What do you think about? What consumes your mind when you have time to think a bit? Does your mind fill with worry, anxiety, or details? Are you consumed with thinking about all the things that you have to get done? Perhaps your mind wanders to what others think of you. Maybe you are filled with thoughts of your favorite sports team or what you're going to to do this weekend. Are your thoughts filled with the news and everything that is happening in the world?