Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Maintenance or Mission--Which one will get you there?

We just got back from a very nice vacation. We drove from western Michigan to Northeast Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri, to Warsaw, Missouri back again to Western Michigan--about 1800 miles in all. As we were driving something became abundantly clear to me--we spend ENTIRELY TOO MUCH TIME and MONEY on MAINTENANCE!!

That whole trip I never once FELT the importance of spending money on oil changes or tires. Sure, it could be argued that had I not spent the time and money on gas, oil changes, tires, brake repairs, air filters, wiper blades, wiper fluid, insurance, registration, etc. we would not be able to drive, but I don't buy it!!

What we really need to do with our cars is make them MISSIONAL!! That's right, it makes perfect sense. We use cars to get places, they take us on our missions, so we need to invest all of our car money into the MISSION of auto-ownership! Our car trip would have been much nicer had we had more room. Think of all the extra seats we could put into our car if we just didn't buy gas. And if we would cut out oil changes we could make those extra seats leather with massagers, cut out tire maintenance and those seats could be heated and cooled!!

If we stopped wasting all of our time and resources "maintaining" we could have high-def, flat-screen DVD players for all the passengers. Everyone could have their own choice of seat type, climate control, and entertainment choices. Why stop there? Why not give everyone their own STEERING WHEEL!!! If it wasn't for all that wasted time and money on maintaining we could make the mission of car ownership a truly spiritual and self-satisfying experience for all.

But, then again, if I would have done that I would not have made it to my destination. Oh well, at least I wouldn't be labeled a "maintenance" car owner!!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Our Desperate Search for Glory

Everyone has some singular event in their lives that they look back to (or forward to) with fondness. Perhaps it is that High School athletic championship. Maybe it is that professional accomplishment, or it could even be some wonderful family achievement.

The world is full of people who want to be something, who want some kind of glory. Why do you think the Guinness Book of World Records is so popular? Some of the bizarre things that are recorded therein were certainly not done for any one's health. We crave glory, we want to be immortalized because of something we have done, be it good or bad. Most people have a real desire to leave their mark on the world. Let's face it, Eve didn't eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because she needed to for nourishment or even because she thought it would taste so much better. She, and all humanity, wanted the glory that is reserved for God alone; the glory that comes with supreme knowledge.

At first glance, Christ's High Priestly prayer from the Gospel reading for the Seventh Sunday of Easter seems to be another bid for glory. We like that, and I'm sure the disciples liked that. You can almost hear them say, "Finally! He's gotten off of that 'repent and believe' soapbox and is going to go after the glory, fame, power, might that is truly His! And, goody for us, we will get a part of the swag for ourselves too."

But to read that beautiful prayer and only see our eventual glory falls far short of our present situation. St. Peter beautifully illustrates the constant strain the Christian is under: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.

While it is true that through Christ's glorification we will also be glorified, it is not the time or place to focus only on that. We must own up to the fact that we are sinful. So sinful that we hate God, so sinful that we want to reach up, take Him by the hand and force Him to bless us with His own glory. We are indeed poor, miserable sinners. We must have that blessed humility of repentance. So, with the full realization that we are sinners, we humble ourselves UNDER (not above, not side-by-side, but under--far, far under) God's might and glory. We dare not even lift our eyes to His glory, lest we perish. But, God in His infinite love, does not hate us or cast us aside as we deserve, He loves us and shows us the immutable, everlasting and glorious love He has had for us from the foundation of the world. He shows us this in the person and work of Christ.

Through His humiliating passion and death all of our self-sought glory is nailed to the tree to die. Through His glorious resurrection we have been justified. Through his wonderful ascension, our human nature, with all its sins and ugliness, has been lifted up, by Christ, to the glory of His eternal kingdom. So, we follow this most holy example of the Lamb. We humble ourselves just as He did and really, because He did it first we are now able to. We humble ourselves and bear our cross trusting that in His good time our Father may exalt us.

Our glory is coming, but not at our own hands or in our own time. It comes from the Father through the work of the Son and we are called to be partakers through the Holy Spirit. We humble ourselves, knowing that in His good time God will exalt us and glorify us for all eternity.