meditations on the symmetry of grace.

Jeff Goins says that social networking is much more than a conversation — it is an opportunity to build something new. I’m trying hard to learn. But last week, another ugly headline shows up in my feed, which more often than not serves as a constant reminder of depravity rather than inspiration. A little boy bullied, no more an hour from my hometown; told that he is no good because he favors this cartoon over that one. And my heart gets heavy, because I’ve seen how those stories play out.

I marvel when someone comments and grossly chalks it up to survival of the fittest, as if to say that the world would be better off without this boy and his perceived weakness. They say that at the end of the day, we’re fallen and we can’t change it. They say to try to blaze a new trail will inevitably lead to more hurt. I quietly tried to ease my acid stomach, fire and frustration rising in my gut. And I tried to shake off the feelings of responsibility, knowing that I contribute to and reinforce this kind of thinking every time the weird kid talks to me at Bible study.

Maybe I’m writing this because I’m tired of being fallen. Maybe I’m writing this to own up to all the excuses I’ve made.

As we traversed through the foggy darkness towards the comfort and warmth of home, my husband and I speak of redemption and light versus dark. Sunday morning, words of redemption and identity fill up a screen and flood through speakers. The soul inside whispered amen again and again.

Redemption: the act of purchasing something with the intention of setting it free. 

Frequently, I hearken back to the day when Professor Wanner shifted the cosmos of my life in fifty short minutes with his talk on redemption, and how, really, grace is symmetrical. 

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The whole of creation was redeemed through Christ’s death and resurrection. Scripture says that we were purchased at a high cost. But the freedom song does not end there. True freedom is to fully live out our purpose. 

When God said “let us make man in our image,” He lovingly bestowed on humanity the ability and responsibility to take part in creation. It gave Him pleasure to allow us to share in the shaping of culture by expanding the kingdom-garden. Sometimes we look at culture as an ugly green monster that we must fight to overcome, rather than what it truly is: the overflow of our own hearts. We spend all of our time talking about how dark it is instead of assuming our true identity and purpose, which is to say let there be light. 

Maybe I’m writing this because I’m tired of a life spent basking in the darkness. Maybe I miss life with Him in the garden.

Let there be light in my thinking, let there be light in the words that I speak and the words that leap across this page. Let there be light in the way that I treat my husband and our families and friends. Let there be light in the way that I treat the girl at Starbucks who makes my coffee in the morning. Let there be light in the way I prepare for and raise my someday babies, who will, in turn, go forth and shape culture. Let there be light.

I am responsible for changing culture, and I have to start with myself. And knowing who I am begins with knowing who He is. There is no mystery or trickery to it. Knowing Him is never a game of hide and seek. The torn veil gave me access. The plan is outlined in His Word: to draw us to Himself, for His glory to be unleashed upon the earth in and through our lives.

It begins with believing what He says about me: that I am redeemed and restored. No longer am I a slave to the darkness. I am the vessel that God, in His infinite grace and mercy, chooses to use to make His appeal — a minister of reconciliation.

It begins with remembering that the head of the snake has been crushed. The source of all my doubt, he slyly concocted a sweet recipe for my anxiety: can I really trust what God says? How great the lengths Christ went to in order to redeem that which had been lost. How unimaginable the depth of despair as He turned His face away so that one day we might see Him for who He is.

We cannot possibly understand who we are until we begin to grasp who He is.

He could have just as easily done without me and my weakness. But in His grace, He chose me. He ran after me, relentlessly declaring love. Never ceasing for a moment to say remember, my love, who I created you to be.

 

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The Altar to an Unknown God

Acts chapter seventeen depicts the apostle Paul’s time in Athens, including a sermon he gave at Mars Hill. At the time, Athens was a major cultural hub. Paul notes that they are also a very religious people, saying that he has spent time studying the religious objects in the city. He calls attention to one, in particular, an altar with the inscription “to an unknown God.

We are homesick in ways that our souls are unable to utter. We yearn for more, whatever more looks like.

Musician Lisa Gungor sings of wandering through the world, looking for an anchor, a love that will set her free. I wonder, how long have I been searching for the same thing, with the answer right in front of me. I believe that worship is part of all of our lives, whether or not we choose to recognize it as such. We earnestly seek the glory of Hollywood, the perfect body shape, money, relationships, success, power, and sex. These are the things that carry weight in our lives. The Greek word for glory, kabod, translates to “to give weight to.” If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Its easy to get carried away with the idea that these things will make our lives better. But are they really freeing?

Christ told the woman at the well that she worshipped that which she did not know. Paul calls this worshipping in ignorance, and  goes on to say that the Creator of the universe cannot be contained in a temple built by flesh and blood. Moreover, this God, who gives life and breath to all, has determined the course of our lives so that we might find Him.

Is that not the crux of the entirety of scripture? Even in our darkest hour, when it seemed that all hope was lost — we were being held, and beckoned into the residence of this Goodness.

Perhaps I have been fumbling about my life in the same way, worshipping a God confined to a box with a steeple. Perhaps I’ve made assumptions about God, as if I was in a position to pass judgment on Him,  and have been entirely wrong. Its no secret that carrying on a relationship with someone that you can’t physically see or hear or touch is difficult. But scripture convicts that we have no excuse for not worshipping.

Paul’s letter to the church at Rome tells us that there is evidence of God everywhere. Our Father invites us to encounter Him in our small, everyday moments. But letting Him in is a choice, one to be made every day. Perhaps a large portion of our difficulty comes from the fact that He told us there would be trouble. He warned that there was no instant fix to life’s pain, and that, at times, can be frightening and even infuriating.

So what in the world, what in all this bleak and hurting world can we do?

Coming to the AltarLinking up with The Nester and a host of other amazing bloggers for {31 Days}.