Monday, August 29, 2011

Intentional or Haphazard?

While I was at work today, I found myself thinking about this verse from Proverbs (27:19): "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."
Now, we don't have to look very far to see that beauty is something that is coveted in our culture. Beautiful people are everywhere- on TV, in movies, on the internet, in magazines and newspapers. It seems like all the world cares about is what lies on the outside. But this verse reminded me that God calls us to be so much more.
If I take this verse for what it is, "so a man's heart reflects the man," I think this speaks directly to character, and it stands in direct contrast to what we find in our culture today. Think of this like a math proof:
If my words and actions stem from what is in my heart, and my heart reflects who I am, then what I say and do speak to the kind of person I am. And if that is the case, then I should very much be concerned with what is in my heart. This forces me to ask uncomfortable questions about myself: Who am I? What is in my heart? What kind of a person am I, based upon my words and deeds?
This is exactly where love and service come into play.
See, if we claim to be Christians, then love and service should be what stems from our hearts. Through our relationship with Christ, our hearts are filled with those things, so that we, in turn, can go out and love and serve others.
It's not about being the "hellfire and brimstone" style evangelist. Where in the Bible are we called to preach at others and make them feel bad about themselves?
No. Instead, we are called to "Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength," and to "love our neighbor as ourselves," (Matthew 22:37-39).
What is in our heart reflects who we are, and who we are should be directly related to our relationship with God.
And it's not even about us. See, far too often, we make the Christian life about me. But it's really about others. It is about loving and serving others, just because we have a desire to love someone who is potentially a complete stranger.
Want to talk about changing the world, or making the world a better place? Start there.
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

T minus 12 days...

For whatever reason, it just dawned on me that I start my fall semester at Asbury Seminary in 12 days, and, upon further reflection realized that the "summer of freedom" I was so looking forward to is rather rapidly being put behind me.
It seems that the older I get, the faster time goes by. Being the ripe old age of 24 (25 in a few weeks), this might be strange for me to say, but I can remember throughout my childhood that elementary school years seemed to last forever. Perhaps it was because I had a lot less responsibility than I do now, but my sneaking suspicion is that I have forgotten how to "seize the day."
I am reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 6:34- "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
In its larger context, this entire passage (6:25-34) is Christ addressing the same people who went up to hear him on the mountain in the Beatitudes in Chapter 5, and he is commanding them to seek first the Kingdom of God, and all the earthly stuff will get worked out.
But even in light of this text, I would venture to say that us working-type-people far too often tend to drift from one activity to another, and end up getting caught up in the mundane things of life, allowing the familiar rhythm of our days to make us comfortable with where we are, and letting time pass us by.
I'm not suggesting that we should drastically change our schedules so that every day is different (which is ridiculous), but re-frame our thinking about how we live our lives. What if we looked at everything as an opportunity to to love or serve someone else? What if I saw doing the dishes as serving my wife, or changing my daughter's diaper as serving her (because she LITERALLY) can't do it for herself?
As a Methodist, I have come across this simple phrase, and I love it because it speaks to the heart of what it means to be a Methodist: "Love God with a warmed heart, serve God with active hands."
If we approach the activities of our day as a means of loving and serving others, whether it is our wives or husbands, daughters or sons, friends or family, co-workers or complete strangers, I think we would find that our days would "spring to life," and we would, rather rapidly I think, find that time is not passing us by, because we are directly influencing the people around us, for the sake of love.