Musings on Cloudy May Day
Sometimes I repost here from my other blog, Partsofspeaking.blogspot.com This is one, and it's a bit amorphous but heartfelt.
Why is this a must read? Because he says better than I what I want to say. And because it rocked my world this morning.
I am playing hookey from church this morning, without any real reason but fatigue and a perceived need to meditate and reflect (and conserve gas money, as I drive 25 miles to get there x 2 x 3.54 per gallon and use 2.5 gallons!). I am reflecting on cliches, and he addresses one right off the bat: More people would come to Christ if everyone in the church acted like Christ and really followed his teachings
I've always doubted that, although my saving so is by no mean a defense of living in an unChristlike way. We are to model Christ fully because it is what God wants, not a public relations tool. The effects of really living His way, we cannot know. We are only to do it if and because we are Christ's, and while inward-focused moral purity is clearly involved, externally focused compassion is really more needful and surely more difficult. We are not to be compassionate so that others are impressed. As my son once said as a teenager, "Gandhi can blow it out his butt" (it's not like the Great Soul did much to help the untouchables or change the caste system).
Pity, empathy, and compassion are a Venn diagram. They share aspects but compassion distinguishes itself in action, at many levels. I don't care much about your empathy if it stays at the level of your emotional awareness. Pity can be condescending. Compassion does something as well as feels something.
I recommend this article: https://theseattleschool.edu/blog/difference-empathy-compassion/
French's quotations of Spurgeon support that his mind and heart towered over his fellows and speak to us today, thought "he being dead..."
I am facing a career situation and know in my heart of hearts that the claims of Christ on my life outweigh all other such matters. We probably face such choices every day of our lives!
Further, and to turn to another subject, I'm thinking a lot about this concept of brokenness. I think we misunderstand it, throw it around as a cliche, use it as a vague excuse for sub-par living. I don't read that we are broken in Scripture. I read are sinners, and even more to the point, we sin. We exploit others and the actions of others can exploit us. Broken implies no choice or agency on anyone's part, no accountability for what we do. Broken applies passivity. Broken begs the question, "okay, can we be fixed?" Well, can we?
The New Testament has a different vocabulary for our identity. We sin (whether because we are innately sinful from birth or by choices, or a combination, take your pick), we are redeemed by mercy and grace, we grow in Christlikeness if we choose to do so, and in eternity we are remade into His image. No talk of "brokenness." Second, does brokenness come from a moral failure on our own parts? Or from a tragedy we had no part in? Or from someone's exploitation of us? (three entirely different causes, but the word "broken" implies equality of cause).
I guess I prefer not to call myself broken. I prefer to use the words of I Peter 2, which shifts from our brokenness to the central facts and person of the universe.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”[b]
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”[c]
“A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.