For a long while it’s bugged me that the apostle Thomas’ name has gone the way of a byword. “Don’t be a Doubting Thomas,” some wryly throw about. It’s like what has happened to Albert Einstein – for such an intelligent man, we only use his name as a sarcastic insult directed at “stupid” people. Today, I think Thomas is the apostle we should most aspire to be like. And I’ll tell you why. Continue reading “Let’s All Be Like Thomas”
In my last post, I talked a little bit about the merits of criticism and judgment. Reading comments that others have shared and just taking some time to meditate on this over the course of the day, I feel like I have a little more to talk about with this one.
Like I said before, I think that it’s a bit naive to say that there isn’t wrong in the world, in the same way that, feeling ill, it would be naive to say “I don’t have pneumonia” until one is bedridden and debilitated. Sometimes something is genuinely wrong, and it needs to be addressed. I think the crux of the matter of criticism lies in the motive.
One of the things I recognize about myself is that I have an easy time presenting God’s truth and a hard time presenting God’s grace. I get frustrated easily and angry. Of course, God’s truth and God’s grace are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. So, in essence, I still don’t fully understand either.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1)
I still remember hearing a gentleman at a political meeting tell the gathered group that he had thought of the idea he was currently sharing while “not paying attention at church.” As he was speaking, because of varied distracted conversations between people not listening to him, this man ended up repeating that statement three times. I found that significant.
“Why,” I asked to myself, “would this man even bother going to church if he wasn’t even going to try to pay attention?”
I experience joy and sorrow at the behest of a group text.
There is a lot of hate in this world. There is a lot of hate in America, even from within the Christian Church. Sometimes that ‘even’ becomes ‘especially’. Mahatma Gandhi famously said “I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.”
I’m very concerned with appearances. It’s a struggle I’ve had for a while. Honestly, this blog post is not going to be as polished as some of the others I might write, because in my heart I know that appearances are less important than content. This world loves appearances because they’re physical, and physical is a great way to ignore the spiritual. But content is spiritual. Content is the guts to your physical skin. Content is the soul to your physical body. Content is what matters, ultimately – the contents of character and not the color of skin, to roughly paraphrase Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'” – John 1:23
Our culture has an infatuation with the apocalypse. I have a lot of theories why, but I believe it comes down to fascination and fear of judgment. That, or the idea that after the apocalypse, somehow, God’s judgment is finished – that God is dead – and those left behind are free to make their own moral code free of God’s natural law, living in something of a metaphysical badlands that the world forgot. Perhaps it’s seen as an exciting frontier, or an amalgam of purgatory and hell where interesting stories happen, free of God’s infringement of any kind of rational order and justice.
We used to do a game with hands
Like most things, as a child, I didn’t understand
But we’d fold them and split them and we’d point them towards the heavens
Like in most things, as a child, I simply wanted to go home
It took six years to learn about steeples and what they were
I remembered in high school learning about the one we had in town
In a class about current events
People argued whether it should be taller than anything else
To this day I’m still not sure whether it really is taller than anything else
Yet I understand the intent, and I look up at that chapel soaring high above the rest
We seem to focus on that and miss the things at street level
Doors to enter into and windows to see through
Brick and mortar
Glass caked with wax and glue from a hundred years of use
I think we sometimes forget that God appreciates a handmade candle
He doesn’t focus on them and dwell on them like we do, but He appreciates them
When He sees the things we’ve poured ourselves into, He sees us, and He loves the us that’s in them
I give glory to God almighty for anything I pour myself into
And then I understand why we built steeples
Yet we argue, and we fight over whether it needs to be the tallest, when we’re missing the whole point
When we get angry and hate each other for building a building taller than the building we’ve built
I suspect we missed the whole reason we built it that way in the first place
Like most things, as a child, I don’t understand
But I fold my hands like I did then and I split them and then I point them towards the heavens
Like in most things, as a child, I simply wanted to go home
Warning: This article contains Christmas spoilers. Oops.
As a follower of Christ, I try my hardest to love all people. During the celebration of Christ’s birth, it’s a great reminder of God’s love for mankind. Sometimes it’s hard, especially during this season when, unfortunately, many people seem to be stressed, angry, and at their worst behavior. But it’s something I work on every day. I genuinely want to love all people, and I’m getting better at it.
And luckily, Santa isn’t people. Because I really am developing a serious problem with Santa.
Not Saint Nicholas, mind you. If you set aside the fact that he punched a heretic in the face for denying that Jesus is God, which may or may not have been justified, Nicholas was renowned for acts of kindness done in secret. That’s righteous, and I like that.
Whether or not Santa haphazardly represents some righteous values for our society, the simple fact is that Santa is not Jesus. Jesus is the perfect moral example. If we focused our Christmas on Jesus Christ, I believe it would look a lot different than the Christmas we’ve built focusing on Santa.
For instance, with Santa, we have children expecting boatloads of presents and getting upset when they don’t get exactly what they want. We have adults complaining about the holidays, about their family, about work, about gifts, about shopping, about the weather… all because “the meaning of Christmas” according to society is a million different things. It’s family, it’s warmth, it’s snow, it’s charity, it’s gifts, it’s food, it’s friendship. So when those things don’t pan out the way we’d like them to, we get upset and disappointed. Anything we center Christmas on other than Christ himself will let us down.
Similarly, in life, the only thing that will never truly disappoint us is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God’s Word doesn’t return void. Put anything else at the center of your life, and things go wrong.
I’m honestly really tired of Santa. These Christmas decorations featuring the jolly man in red, with his big rosy cheeks, or reindeer and a sleigh, or elves. Maybe I’m a scrooge, but they really just don’t excite me at all. Believe me, it’s not because I don’t get excited. I get excited as all get-out, by practically everything. So the fact that Santa is the absolute buzzkill for me says something.
I have to ask myself: “what does Santa do for me?” Well, I guess he brings me presents. He brought me a really nice blender. Cool, I needed a blender. Thanks, Santa. Santa brought me a Twilight book. Thanks, Santa. He doesn’t really enlighten me. He doesn’t have much to say. He’s basically a cardboard cutout. We can throw all our problems into his big burlap sack and he’ll carry them away and replace them with a new shaving kit and some moccasins.
Except it doesn’t seem to be working anymore, does it? We’re not happy with Santa, are we?
Compare that to Jesus, who died for our sins on a cross to save us and then came back to life. He wants nothing more than to fill us with his Holy Spirit, regardless of whether we’re “naughty or nice” when we come to him, so long as we are willing to accept the fact that we don’t have it together and we need him to be our savior and the Lord of our life. He died so that we could could be more than we ever were without him, and so that even in the midst of the suffering and disappointment this world has to offer, we can have eternal peace and joy in his presence.
Salvation > Moccasins. Sorry Santa.
So please, if society could just stop. Please stop manically flinging Santa at me everywhere I turn and let me have Jesus. I would be really grateful.
Merry Christmas! Remember the real reason for the season, Christ Immanuel. That is something worth celebrating.