John wrote "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."
I don't feel very lovable this morning.
Yesterday at Living Waters, Pastor Scott was still preaching through Philippians, and he quoted Paul saying "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Scott pointed out that this was not a wish on the part of Paul. It was actually a command.
I don't feel much like rejoicing.
I'm in a sour mood this morning. It's cold and windy outside. Last night at work it was cold & windy AND wet! I was miserable. I was working in the parking lot with some of the kids when the wind whipped up so hard that I was actually hit by grocery carts sailing across the lot.
I just don't feel like rejoicing.
Warning: What I am about to write is, shall we say, NEGATIVE.
But it's just me venting.
Let me tell you a little about what I have seen by staring at the parking lot of that grocery store. Someday I will write a book of short stories about what I have seen there. I have learned first hand just how dumb humanity is...and I do mean dumb. I am often amazed that humanity ever learned to tie their own shoes.
I have been hit twice in that parking lot by drivers not paying attention to what they are doing. Last week, as I was standing in front of a car waving my hands and yelling for the driver to stop, (She was looking right at me the whole time, too.) she backed up 30 feet right into a line of carts which then smacked into one of the Maintenance kids. He ended up going to the hospital.
I see people back into other cars every week. I see people yakking on their cell phones as they are going in reverse. I see people dump their trash in the lot. I see lazy people leave their carts in parking spots when they are only 10 feet away from a cart corral. I see stupid people who never bother to look both directions right before they pull out in front of oncoming traffic.
(Yes, I have even caught people getting high and/or having sex in the parking lot a grocery store)
Now, once you get inside the store, it gets even better. I figure that it has something to do with our Fast Food mentality which makes us think that having to wait more than 3 seconds for anything ruins our entire day. There could be 500 people in the store, but every single one of them thinks that they are the only person in the place...and they behave accordingly. "Please be sure to park your cart diagonally in the aisle for maximum blockage of all other shoppers."
A study came out last Spring that said that 1 in 5 Americans have a personality disorder. "NO! Well, knock me over with a feather." I could have told them that ten years ago just based on what I have seen in that store. How else do you explain a person taking a dump in the potato chips ailse? I have been told by the overnight crew that it gets even weirder after midnight. "Please, Jesus! I want to get another teaching job so bad. If I have to stay at that store much longer I will lose what little of my mind that I have left."
When people think of the word Sin, they usually think of stuff that is really, really bad. Something along the lines of robbery, murder and such. People seem to rate sins. The catholic church certainly does. Depending on what you confess to a priest, you will be given a certain amount of Hail Marys and the like to do as an act of contrition. It's all relative because being good or bad is relative. You can be really good, or just sort of good. It's relative.
Sin doesn't work like that. In God's eyes all sin is the same. It makes you unholy. It doesn't matter what the sin is. It still makes you unholy. Being holy is like being pregnant. You either are or you aren't.
That lazy moron who left his cart in a parking spot, blocking another customer from parking there, acted selfishly. He sinned. That slob that dumped his trash in the lot instead of the garbage can acted selfishly. He sinned. Both of them are unholy.
Have you ever wondered about why, when Moses asked God to show him His glory, God responded with "You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."? In that story, God shields Moses in a cleft in the mountain and passes by him. God essentially Moons Moses by letting him see His backside. (Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?) That tiny glimpse of God caused Moses' face to shine so brightly that he had to wear a veil for the rest of his days.
When Isaiah had his vision of the throne room of God, he just about filled his trousers in fear. His response to seeing God's glory was "Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Isaiah saw the holiness of God and he was convinced he was a dead man. Nothing that is unholy can survive in the presence of God. That is why God wouldn't let Moses see His face, his Glory.
(I should point out that Isaiah's claim to being unholy was for apparently having a potty mouth. What's worse, saying a cuss word when you smash your thumb with a hammer, or dumping your garbage in a parking lot?)
I think you get the idea that humans are flawed creatures at heart. I certainly am. Some of the thoughts that raced through my head this morning...and probably will again in a few minutes...and this afternoon...and this evening, remind me that I am flawed and sinful.
So why in the world would God love us? Why would God take on human form, with all of it's irritating limitations like morning breath, acne, B.O., bad food, and having to put up with lazy people who don't put their carts away, when He knew that He would only be killed for His troubles? Why would Jesus allow himself to be crucified, knowing full well that the majority of humanity would still ultimately reject him? Because he loves us?!?!
Get that man some Zoloft at once, because he is clearly out of his mind!
There are a few people that I would take a bullet for. Certainly for my Mom & Dad. But would I take a bullet for the average person out there? No way. That guy that just dumped his ashtray in the parking lot? I would rather take a broom handle and turn him into a living sock puppet.
One of the aspects of Christianity that convinced me of the truth of Christ was his willingness to be murdered and resurrected, and to put up with all the other crap before hand, on our behalf. It just seems to be completely crazy. Why would ANYONE do that for us? We are not worth it. It just seemed so insane and contrary to the way the average person lives their life that it simply had to be true. I was further convinced by the lives of the apostles and others in the early church. Perhaps I should not say their lives, but their deaths. They just came across as so secure in the understanding that Jesus loved them and had something better than this turd of a world waiting for them, that they weren't at all afraid to live for him AND to die for him.
It's pretty clear that Paul didn't get much in the way of power for following Jesus. He didn't get money either. He didn't even get any chicks out this deal. What's up with all that? What he did get was a nice beating in many of the towns he preached in. He also got arrested and locked up a lot. Finally, he gets his head cut off by the emperor. And all the while, Paul was Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky. He was absolutely convinced that God loved him and was waiting to call him home. He was completely at peace with that knowledge.
At the close of his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul wrote "And may the God of LOVE and PEACE be with you." He really understood something that I am unfortunately still wrestling with...especially this morning. But it must be true. I have no other way to explain it.
The Bible is clear on the idea that my walnut of a brain will not fully comprehend the Almighty during this life time. I will not fully understand why Jesus did what he did for me. It really does come off as crazy, you know. It really does. Still, I can accept it. In fact, since I AM nuts, maybe it's just another of Jesus ways in identifying with me and the rest of humanity.
Maybe I'll feel more chipper after a warm shower.