and yet you still believe the lie that he is “sent from God”.
You are pathetic in your dotter, ttaf supporter.
and yet you still believe the lie that he is “sent from God”.
You are pathetic in your dotter, ttaf supporter.
houses of grey blank walls decked out in smooth rich wood
panels and pictures of picnics and parties…
banal bacchanalia, all splattered in Blood.
Beds of spikes, hidden neath down comforters,
and wool knitted afghans of colorful,
threatening sinister pattern.
Houses in neighborhoods bereft of neighbors,
each one is serving themselves and alone
in community of this alienation…and all is
destroyed by their own bloody hands…
the work of rough hands…even rougher grave throats.
Our eyes are still bloodshot from staring at visions
of genocide done that we didn’t see coming
but now we continue to watch, in foreboding
but hoping in vain that the cute lil houses
are what’s really real and not all the horror,
lurking beneath in destruction and gore.
we are really in fear and wondering…
what happens when a killer comes home,
or (gulp) even worse
if that killer had never left home?
what happens when victims
look each other in the eyes again?
what then, and who blinks first and looks away in shame?
What are these wounds on your chest?
The wounds I received in the house of my friends.
What is greater: the pain of being violated
or the bitter agony of forgiving?
a valley of dry bones cannot be forgotten
even in the face of forgiveness so costly.
This impossible for me to try to describe
or even conceive of apart from the cross of Christ.
Because forgiveness is also
it’s own rare and exquisite
form of great suffering.
And so now we get down to it:
there is no exit, no escape from the agony,
no pitstop from pain…
all we can do is exchange suffering’s form and it’s face,
from our own for the pain of another…
and us become willing to be bashed and broken
by those very ones we so desperately want
to reach out to and reconcile and leave pain behind.
This is the agony of a tortured soul wrestling
and a wrecked body there…offered in prayer
on the altar of sorrow…for the forgiveness
of torturers’ torments in this dank dark world
of violence and victims, laboring heavy
beneath weights unspeakable and even greater,
the weight of the cross.
And Him? The Reproached?
The Betrayed, Who was Broken?
Him The Despised and King of All Criminals,
King of All Victims, King of All Shame?
Perhaps He knows of the path thru this valley
of broken dry bones full of dust, full of death.
Perhaps He can see those small signs of life
that are hidden from eyes filled with blood, hate and rage
and only seen by the eyes washed clean with tears
of repentance and wonder to look for our Spring
Constance, as you have figured out by now, I deeply respect, admire and trust this person John Pavlovitz, even though we have never met. His words are strong evidence of his integrity, and I suspect that an examination of the fruits of his life would reveal far more that come from Mama than the fields of the carnal being.
Please…read. Think. Act. Support.
Thanks, Brother John…and that is a title I do not use lightly or reflexively.
In deepest gratitude with much respect,
Hi Constance…this was just too good, too powerful to not post up here for you…please read and consider it? And as always, if you are not christian, try to not be put off by that orientation, but rather, parse it out for those universal principles of light and life that apply to all humans all places all times.
In much gratitude that you ever come here to read…
Harmless Petty Sins
A familiar fable tells of the hunter who lost his life to the leopard he himself had saved as a pet for his children when the leopard was just a cub. The moral of the story can be deduced easily from the title, Little Leopards Become Big Leopards; or else, sin is easier to deal with before it becomes a habitual practice that eventually defines our lives.(1)
Though the story as it stands is a beautiful illustration of a profound truth, there is a deeper lesson regarding the nature of sin that is easily concealed by this line of thinking and which, I believe, lies at the very essence of the Christian call to Christ-likeness. The problem is that the parallel between little harmless leopard cubs and little harmless sins can be dangerously deceptive.
Whereas leopard cubs are indeed harmless, there is no stage of development at which sin can be said to be harmless, for individual acts of sin are merely the symptoms of the true condition of our hearts. It is not accidental that the call to Christian growth in the Scriptures repeatedly zeros-in on such seemingly benign “human shortcomings” as bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, slander, and malicious behavior (Ephesians 4:31).
In his watershed address, The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus placed a great deal of emphasis on lust, anger, and contempt—behaviors and attitudes that would probably not rank high on our lists of problems in need of urgent resolution. Armed with firm and sometimes unconscious categories of serious versus tolerable sins, we gloss over lists of vices in the Scriptures because they seem to be of little consequence to life as we experience it.
But when we fail to grasp the subtleties of sin, we run the risk of rendering much of biblical wisdom irrelevant to our daily life and practice. While we appreciate the uniqueness and necessity of the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf, his specific teachings can at times appear to be farfetched and the emphasis misplaced.
Does it not seem incredible that the God who made this world would visit it in its brokenness, dwell among us for over thirty years, and then leave behind the command that we must be nice to each other? Can the problems of the world really be solved by having people “turn the other cheek” and “get rid of anger and malice”?
Unfortunately, those “little” sins are not only the mere symptoms of a much bigger problem; they are also effective means of alienating us from God and other human beings.
How many careers have been ruined only because of jealousy?
How many people have been deprived of genuine help as a result of the seemingly side-comment of someone who secretly despised them?
How many relationships have been destroyed by bitterness?
How many churches have split up because of selfish ambitions couched in pietistic terms?
How much evil has resulted from misinformation, a little coloring around the edges of truth?
And have you noticed how much we can control other people just through our body language?
From the political arena to the basic family unit, the worst enemy of human harmony is not spectacular wickedness but those seemingly harmless petty sins routinely assumed to be part of what it means to be human.
According to a NASA scientist, a two-degree miscalculation when launching a spacecraft to the moon would send the spacecraft 11,121 miles away from the moon: all one has to do is take time and distance into account.(2)
How perceptive then was George MacDonald when he uttered these chilling words, “A man may sink by such slow degrees that, long after he is a devil, he may go on being a good churchman or a good dissenter, and thinking himself a good Christian”!(3)
Similarly, C.S. Lewis warned that cards are a welcome substitute for murder if the former will set the believer on a path away from God. “Indeed,” he wrote, “the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”(4)
Now the decisive path out of this quandary is not just a greater resolve to be obedient to God. Such a response is usually motivated by guilt, and the duration of our effort will be directly proportional to the amount of guilt we feel: we will be right back where we started from when the guilt is no longer as strong. The appropriate response must begin with a greater appreciation of the holiness of God and a clear vision of life in God. It is only along the path of Christ-likeness that the true nature of sin is revealed and its appeal blunted.
Yes, brazen sinfulness is appallingly evil and destructive, but it only makes a louder growl in a forest populated by stealthier, deadly hunters masquerading as little leopards. It is no idle, perfunctory pastime to pray with King David:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
And lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24).
J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) For example, Paul White’s, Little Leopards Become Big Leopards, published by African Christian Press.
(2) John Trent, Heartshift: The Two Degree Difference That Will Change Your Heart, Your Home, and Your Health (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2004), 17.
(3)George MacDonald, in George MacDonald: An Anthology by C. S. Lewis (New York: Dolphin Books, 1962), 118.
(4) C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, in A C.S. Lewis Treasury: Three Classics in One Volume (New York: Harcourt & Company, 1988), 250.
I was just now thinking…it seems there is a huge virulent reaction to homosexuality in most of conservative/fundamentalist/evangelical christendom. It is thought to be immoral and sinful to “be homosexual”, and if you act on that orientation, regardless of how chaste and monogamous and full of integrity you might be, you are doubling down on your sin quotient.
Hmmm…let’s consider this: First of all, for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume for the moment that being homosexual is sinful in and of itself (I do not think it is, btw). That said, can we grant that there are many many many MANY other sins present on a regular basis in the people who comprise the body of Christ? I believe even a brief moment of thought will reveal this is true. And I would furthermore assert that these sins are even present regularly right smack dab in the middle of the congregation on Sunday Mornings during meetings! Sins of gluttony, gossip, greed, lust, lies, and I don’t really need to go on do I? THEY. ARE. ALMOST. ALL. THERE!!
And yet I have heard sermon after sermon which gently and compassionately reaches out to the so called sinner with grace…while at the very same time a virulence and abhorrence of homosexuality is railed out the likes of which is almost shameful in its implications…that perhaps even the precious Blood of Jesus is not enough to save a gay person! They have to get clean FIRST, and then…just maybe…suspiciously…we may accept them.
Why is this? Are not all sins of equal moral weight in the eyes of God? (yes, they are)
Here is my theory: so many things that are egregious failures of God’s good standard of whole relationship are interior states of being, or thoughts, or hidden attitudes, and not actions. It is quite possible to live in christian communities looking beautiful and white on the outside, and yet within be a tomb of death. But “no one knows”, so it is “okay.”
Homosexuality on the other hand, or for that matter being transgender, is something observable, visible, and obvious, and it is also something that can be hidden…either by not talking about things, or living a full life, or engaging in the cross-dressing that a trans-person is forced into when they are policed and othered for dressing as who they truly are. And thus comes the judgement.
The heart of this approach considers sin to be defined by actions: wrong acts = sin, and those acts defined by a list that is derived from a selective reading of behaviors spoken of in scripture…in the OT it is a capricious selecting of things from the law that one desires, and in the NT it is usually behaviors that are mentioned in descriptions of what life is like after we have an existential encounter and transformation of our being!
In truth, sin in the large and most deadly sense is simply separation from God. Period. Last word. When this is understood, one sees that no matter WHAT one does, or refrains from, it does not address the fundamental issue, which is restoration of our relationship with the Ones who made us. After that relationship is restored, the word for sin changes and means simply “missing the mark”. Once we are truly adopted and resurrected within with Jesus, we are set free from law…completely free. If you do not accept that, you need to re-read Romans and both Corinthians and Galatians. Paul makes some very bold statements about law and spirit and sin.
When one is in the very common error of attributing moral status based on actions, one is in grave error, and I think this is the root of the hatred of homosexuality above all other “sins” (again, it is not a given to me that it is sin)…because it is an easily identified behaviour and one can consider one’s self “sinless” merely by avoiding that behaviour!!
Here is a suggestion: let’s get our own house in order. Let’s spend our time and our zeal within ourselves seeking deeper connection with Them, deeper character development, deeper sacrificial attitudes towards all we meet…ok?
Love your neighbor.