14 October 2009

It's Morphing Time

It all started with a porn magazine.

A while ago I showed my husband Aaron one of my favorite childhood locations. There is a hidden wooded trail tucked away in a park I frequently visited as a kid. When I first found it, I felt like I had discovered a secret place of my own. It became the Sherwood Forest where all of the merry men camped out, the jungle where I discovered ancient ruins. Over the years, I have become fond of this special place.

As Aaron and I walked along the quiet the path, something caught my eye. Admist all of the flourishing green backdrop, something did not belong. Trash. I bent down to retrieve it and was shocked at what my eyes saw. There, lying in the grass and tinted with dirt, laid a remnant of a pornographic magazine. What was that doing all the way out here?
Afraid that someone else, particularly a kid, would come across it, I picked it up and tucked it away in my pocket. As soon as I arose to my feet I spotted another conspicuous piece of paper up ahead. Aaron and I shuffled over to pick that sheet of paper up also. Soon we found another, and another. We finally came to the end of the paper trail.
I was just about to continue down the trail when I realized that we weren't even on the trail anymore. In fact, I didn't know where we were at all! I had practically grown up on this trail... How could I have gotten lost?

Getting lost happens to us all. It could begin with a porn magazine, a swig of alcohol, a lust for material possessions, habitually neglecting your relationship with God, a sense that we are more "righteous" than other people. Some Christians tell you that the problem is that you were not spiritually strong enough to guard yourself from being tempted. The problem with this explanation of the problem is that it encourages followers of Christ to just avoid "not doing" certain sins. Perhaps the problem is not so much that we became enslaved in sin as it is that we stay enslaved to sin.

Many times we think of our "spiritual life" in terms of how we are doing, well, "spiritually." It is one more part of our existence. So, when we have wandered down the path of porn, we strive to "get our spiritual life together." We pray rigorously and more frequently. We suddenly focus on community service or attending church more regularly. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the religious equivalent of going on a diet. The truth is, our "spiritual life" is simply one way of referring to our entire life. God is not just interested in your "spiritual life" but is interested in your life! More than that, He wants to redeem it. There's a popular understanding that God loves you the way you are. This only presents half of the truth. God loves you the way you are, but He loves you so much He does not want you to stay that way.

Christ has not come so that we can merely abstain from sin. He did not come to make us holy people by making it easier to resist temptation. Jesus came so that we can become w(holy) transformed and renewed creatures. We do not become restored into His image by simply "not sinning" but by actively being transformed inwardly.
Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God's children are to be "conformed" to the likeness of His Son. This is a pretty bad rendering of the Greek text. Christ's followers are not to reluctantly comply to God's image. The Greek word here, sumorphizo, is where we get our word "morph." In other words, Paul is writing that we as Christians are to "morph" or take upon the identity and essential nature of Christ. When we conform to something we outwardly adapt. When we "morph", we inwardly and completely become transformed.

I think this is why it is so difficult to break sinful habits. Simply "not doing" something because we know it is wrong will ultimately keep us enslaved to our human nature. Yes, we may eventually stop committing that sin, but inside nothing has changed. We may look different on the outside, but the inside is still the same.

Finding yourself lost on that path may seem hopeless. Maybe you do not even know how you got there. Maybe you are convinced that you will always be there. Maybe you are not enslaved to sin but are content to stay right where you are, already on the path. There's good news: you do not have to stay there.

10 October 2009

Some Questions

Through what lens should we view other people?

What is the meaning of "justice?"

How should people with a holistic vision for Christ think/act relative to the issue of war?

If we are to be living embodiments of God's grace and love individually as disciples and collectively as the Church, how does our participation and/or approval of acts of violence make the love of God known?

What does the Cross say about the response to violence?

06 October 2009


Have you ever feel like you are going crazy? Like you're the only one who really gets it, and everyone else thinks they do... but don't?

Last week I was driving some new friends back from Columbus when eschatological subjects popped up on the radar. I, for once, did not initiate them. The conversation began escalating, and I hadn't said a word. Finally, after saying a quick prayer, I offered my understanding of what the kingdom looked like - not just as a spiritual reality, but in its ever-increasing earthly/physical embodiment.


They all thought I was crazy. It was against everything they had ever been taught, ever thought of. They had never heard anything like this in Sunday school or church. In a single moment I had become a radical, unorthodox liberal. I was one of "those" theologians.

And yet, the only replies they could muster up was that they did not "like it." I could see how uncomfortable they were with it.

I could write thousands of entries about this. I already have spent a countless number of hours developing these thoughts into writings. Maybe more of those thoughts will appear later on this blog, but right now something else is dominating my schema...

Why do so few people understand? Sometimes I feel so alone.