Wednesday, December 12, 2012


One of the most hopeful and encouraging passages from the Bible--at least it should be--is the oft quoted John 3:16:

"For in this manner God loved the world, that he gave [His] one-and-only-unique son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not perish but would have eternal life."

God has heard our cries of despair, frustration, loss, grief, anger, confusion, and hopelessness.  He has provided the way back to dwelling with Him and Him with us, where our despair is turned to joy, our frustration to contentment, our loss to unending provision, our grief to solace, our anger to joy, our confusion to understanding, and our hopelessness to security.  And the way back is believing in God's Son, Jesus the Christ, whom He sent.

God is ready to deliver us from everything we lament (above) and the root cause of all our lamentations, which is death.  All we must do is accept the gift by believing in His Son.  But what does this mean, exactly?

Here, the Greek language, which was used to originally record the above verse, helps us to answer this question. The Greek preposition translated, in (highlighted in above translation) is actually the Greek preposition,εις. It is perfectly correct to translate this as, "in."  But εις differs from the Greek preposition,εν, which means in, on, or among, in that εν describes a static position, whereas εις means a movement from a position outside of something to a position inside the something; thus, εις is better translated, "into."  So we have, "...who believes into Him would not perish...."

Therefore, the believing--faith--trust--God calls us to is the same He has always required of us: a total surrender of ourselves into Him.  And this is not meant in the Eastern religion sense of becoming absorbed into the One by completely obliterating one's Self.  Quite the contrary,believing into God's Son means to surrender ourselves totally into Him through an unswerving trust He will bring us to being the very Self He created for us to be, as we respond and act in complete conformity with His will.  True believing is dynamic, not static.  This is what St. Paul meant when he wrote,

"...with fear and and trembling, work out fully the salvation of yourselves. For God is the one who effectively works within you both to desire and to work efficiently for the sake of [His] good pleasure."

Faith--believing--trust is not simply assenting to the fact Jesus is whom He claimed to be, as the English preposition, "in," can so easily imply.  Instead, we are to believe dynamically by fully investing all that we are, through both word and deed, into our Creator--who was, and is, and is to come--through His Son, Jesus the Christ.

To dwell together with God is to live life to the fullest forever in genuine rest.  God invites us to His rest because of the faithfulness of His Son, Jesus the Christ. All we must do is accept the invitation by believing into Him.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hate Thy Neighbor?

A colleague of mine was chatting with me the other day about how he was preparing himself for the annual Christmas party at his neighbor's home.  He wasn't looking forward to it, as I will soon explain. Personally, I would have thought such affairs had long since died out with service station attendants, horse-drawn sleigh rides, barn dances, bomb shelters, and the I Love Lucy Show.  So, I thought to myself, how nice.

It was quite apparent my friend didn't share my sentiment.  He was dreading the event because--according to him--all his neighbors were ________s (the reader should fill in the political party of his/her choice here because I'm not interested in supporting or deprecating either party, either by implication or otherwise).  He went on to say this made them all idiots, and their candidate less than the lowest form of life.  "I hate the guy," he said.  Then he went on to say something I later wished I had had the wherewithal to challenge--hopefully kindly--on the spot.  Unfortunately, I don't do well in confrontational situations, even relatively benign ones, such as the one I'm relating, here.  Generally, I'm the type of person who must go to the quiet of his library to ponder an idea, opinion, comment, and what else that had been launched my way.  Then, after deliberation--sometimes careful, sometimes not so much--I might seek the person out to comment.  Of course, often times I will never see the person again, or the person had been speaking via the TV or some other unapproachable medium; so, I am left with an unresolved debate festering in my craw, like water slowly bubbling up through a clogged drain.

I don't know if I will speak with my colleague about his comment; I find it difficult conversing with him because he tends to be sarcastic and evasive.  However, I know you, dear reader, are open to discussing things with me, even though we might end up disagreeing with each other.

After unleashing his cache of vitriol at his hapless neighbors and their political candidate, my colleague said--I guess as a way of validating his opinion--"You see, I take the matter of right and wrong quite seriously."

In the words of Spock, "Fascinating, Captain."

What I am to understand from his addendum is party X, its candidate, and its supporters stand for what is wrong, and the opposing party Y, which my colleague supports along with its candidate and followers, stands for what is right.

I would like to say two things about this.  First,  I've heard people from the opposing party spew the same degree of hate for my friend's party, and with equal conviction.  Secondly, all the people who play this hate card--regardless of their allegiances--are deluded if they speak of hating someone and being right while also keeping a straight face.

Our Lord, Master, King Jesus the Christ made it very clear one cannot hate another and be in the right. He taught us,

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." [NET]

Top line: We are to love everyone because God loves everyone.  If God, who is the only one with the the authority and wisdom, and therefore the right to hate anyone, doesn't hate anyone, then it is the height of arrogance for any of us to believe it is right to hate others--regardless of whom the others might be.

The buck needs to stop with each of us on this issue of hating; we can't look to others to solve the problem. If we pass the buck we will see the world continue to grew more bigoted, more divided, and more disordered.  And the violence that naturally accompanies such chaos will grow ever more virulent and commonplace.