Posts Tagged ‘true life’

life deathJesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” [Luke 13:2-3]

I had to go back and read this verse in context. What was Jesus really saying here? And then I understood. He is reminding the people, again (and again) that the death of the body is one death, but the death of the spirit is far more serious. If the personal spirit is in relationship with the Holy Spirit, if the life force within is right with God, when the body dies, there is more.

Apparently, based on this scripture, death is not a reflection of one’s goodness or evil: death comes when it comes for other reasons. And “like a thief in the night,” [I Thess 5:2] we cannot know the time of death anymore than we can know the  time of Christ’s return. Most of us can’t even fathom an early death. Not really. Who expects a child to die in three days time? Who expects a sister to die in the lobby of a hotel in Europe? Who expects a husband to die in a car accident?

When I was in school, I remember how much I hated pop quizzes. You know why? Because I was a last minute studier. I’d pull all-nighters the day before a big test or when an assignment was due. But a pop quiz? That would show the truth of it. I wasn’t on top of my work. I wasn’t doing a little every day. I was a procrastinator.

But this technique doesn’t work so well in the things of God, in the things of the Spirit, in the things of becoming more Human (that is the real intent for human). That journey is outlined for us all in the scriptures and writings of the ones who have gone before us. What are we waiting for? Granted, if I follow the paradoxes (love your enemy, give and it will be given to you, etc.), and the surrendered lifestyle, I am promised that my life here and now will be better for it. But more importantly, it is the life within that really counts.

How many ways does Jesus (or really, any of the saints and Spirit-led) have to tell us that there is more to “life” than what we see, hear, feel, and touch?

Do you want more? Are you thirsting for more of that promise? I am.

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Art by Ed Unitsky

What does the Godly life look like? And why would it be, that a person who is following in the way of Jesus, living out righteous, faith, love and peace, why would that cause persecution? It’s another type of contradiction.

II Timothy 3:12
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, . . .

I have seen people hold this scripture up as a banner when their particular political cause or moral stand is shot down or watered down or disregarded in some way. Some people have a litmus test like abortion or birth control or the death penalty or gay rights, and anything outside of their view is perceived as persecution: “right” being attacked by some liberal/left point of view.

There is one sect of believers who are known for door-to-door evangelism to the extreme and if people are rude to them or shut a door in their faces, they report that “persecution” to the team-faithful. It’s to be expected they say; they are living the life.

But where do we see anything like this in the life of Jesus? Our Man/God was so comfortable in his skin that He could be anywhere and talk with anyone without harsh judgments. The truth was in Him, the Spirit close by and available, the ability to love and connect with everyone was apparent. His persecution came later.

His persecution did not really begin until he revealed his identity, an identity that challenged the traditions of authority.

The poor did not persecute Jesus nor did self-professed sinners. The hungry and the needy did not persecute Jesus. Only those who had an agenda that was jeopardized by the long-awaited appearance of a Messiah who would turn their world upside down. Actually, even the Romans did not persecute Jesus until He was dumped into their legal system.

Living the life is more like the first thirty years of Jesus’s life — the silent years. Did Jesus love less in those years than he did in his public ministry? Did he care less, speak less, understand less? Or did he wake each day with the Shema Yisrael and with mindfulness toward the presence of God, and thereby simply live and serve his immediate world.

So, is there persecution in my life? And if there isn’t any, does that mean I am not living a Godly life? Am I too homogenized into the cares of this world? Am I holding on too tightly to my comforts?

Oh, I suppose I could take a political stand about this or that; I could march in the streets for one cause or another, but in the end, I would still come home to my middle class life, my credit cards, and my steak on the grill.

The chorus of the song below was framed and given to me many years ago and, in its simplicity, this is the only way I can see how to “live the life” right now, today.

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It’s not always what we think it is: true life. Understanding is particularly difficult for the wealthy and, even though I hate to say it, I am among these. Most Americans are. We have abundance and we have fooled ourselves into believing it’s the life, that American dream.

I Timothy 6:19
In this way they [the wealthy] will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Oh, compared to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, I’m not rich. But, compared to the millions of people who live on a dollar a day or who are deeply dependent on welfare and social security subsidies, I am flush. And yet, Paul admonishes his mentee, Timothy, to pay particular attention to the wealthy, who must be reminded often that it is not their goods, but their good works that have value over time. It is their liberal generosity willingness to share with others. . . . not just share money, but time.

The rich become complacent and arrogant more easily.

I can certainly attest to the complacency. If it were not so, I would be manifesting greater service to those in need. It’s not that I don’t care, I just can’t seem to “fit it all in.” How lame.

As a supervisor, I have asked employees who struggle with “best use of their time” to log their days for a couple of weeks and analyze how their time is really spent. Clearly, I need to to do the same thing.

What did I do yesterday that was investment in “true life?” What will I do today?

Sometimes and maybe even more than sometimes, generosity is not about money, but about generosity of the heart. If we give out of true self, like time and authentic connections, that has value too. Can I give bountifully of myself today? Can I stay mindful enough of the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, that I can be open to feel, to hear, to see, to sense, the pain of another, the loss, the hollow places that need an outpouring of love? Can I? Will I?

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