Wednesday, February 26, 2014

This In-Between Month, Day 10: Lion Tamer

Outside it is cold and gray and wet and inside it is only slightly less so. Haiti's warmth is a far away and I am missing her sunshine. (And her children, and her rice and beans, and her sea, oh and her starlight.) But there is coffee! And internet and the familiar faces of strangers. In my mind I make up tall tales about them. File them away for some story. The slumped red head there, with the oversized flannel filling out a job application. I imagine she is having a moral crisis, and finally she lies, claims she was a lion tamer, from the summer of 06 through the fall of 07. How she thinks this will sway the managers at Starbucks to give a job nod in her favor, I do not know. But it makes perfect sense to her. That's the best part.Then there is Dave, stranger than fiction. He is a volume of books, all of them start with what he's had or having for his last or next meal. If he takes his pills he is ok. If he takes too many he is far away. And if maybe, one pill is a little too small, well the real Dave bleeds through and he will show you his painted webbed toes and tell you of his current if not somewhat morbid fascination with squirrels.

But how I see them, real or imagined, matters not. George MacDonald said:

"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking." 

The most important thoughts I will ever have of me or you will have of you or they will ever have of they are God's thoughts. He does not make up more believable or less boring personalities for us. He is not able to be deluded by His own romanticism. He is not persuaded by jealousy or bitterness. He doesn't allow His opinion of us to be leveraged by our imperfections or our needs. He speaks only truth, at all times, and what He says is binding, for all eternity's days. 

Mind you all of the thoughts God has for us existed before time began. They are His heart and mind for us. But with our closed ears and hearts and minds we cannot, could not ever hear Him. The new life we are gifted in Jesus means opened ears and enlightened minds and a new heart too! Then we can begin to not just hear what God says about us, but because we have already begun experiencing His transformative power, we can trust that He will finish the job. And we begin to believe, when on our lowest days He doesn't run away, that He must actually see something wonderful in us.

We are new creatures in Christ. Which means we get a re-do! That chance to start over (and over, and over). "So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away--look, what is new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

We are children of God, heirs of heaven, with full divine rights. "But to all who have received him--those who believe in his name--he has given the right to become God's children." (John 1:12) "And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)--if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him." (Romans 8:17).

We are friends of Jesus. "But I call you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father" (John 15:15). And He proved it! Scripture says no greater love has a man than this than that he lay down his life for his friends. And Jesus did just that. Died in our place. I know that's elementary, sunday school 101...but it should shock us everyday.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Wow. Consider that, the intimacy that entails, that God would want to make himself at home in us. Geez. "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you." (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

This one sounds sacrosanct and too high for me, that we are the righteousness of God in Christ. But what I understand it to mean is simply this. Christ took the blame for everything we ever did, are doing, and will do and gave us instead His perpetual and immutable innocence to all those crimes. Talk about diplomatic immunity! The perks of being related (by blood) to a King. "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21).

We are accepted. "Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God's glory." (Romans 15:7). We are not alone, nor are we isolated or ostracized by our differences. We are part of Him now, along with all the others. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female--for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). We are free! "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the chains of bondage." (Galatians 5:1). We are chosen, holy, and blameless before God. "For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love." (Ephesians 1:4).

This is who we are?? Really?? How? Why?? Because God is love and He loves us!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you are saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5) "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience … (Colossians 3:12). We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you … (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

Now when you look in the mirror you may want to remind yourselves of these things. Don't use your sassy voice, and I promise not to use mine. This new us in Christ is a gift, we didn't earn it and therefore shouldn't flaunt it. For example. If you get pulled over by a cop you might not want to say something along the lines of, "My dad is God so send the ticket to Him, He can take it out of my heavenly inheritance." And please don't use your place of preeminence with Christ to cause you to step to the front of the Starbucks line in front of the rest of us. I may kill you. 

And though knowing how God sees us will help navigate the toughest days at work, and the lowest lows of loneliness, the most important reason for us to see ourselves as He sees us, is so that we will have the confidence to go to Him. "...In whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ's faithfulness." (Ephesians 3:12).

So for all the Daves and all the red-headed lion are unconditionally loved, and you are magnificently from the mind of God.

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