Church · faith

a map to move forward

There have been a handful of times in my life when I really had no idea what to do. Lost at sea. In those moments just after the realization sets in, the panic, the denial, the pain, I picture myself flopping back down into the boat and holding my head in my hands. I’m past crying and screaming. I’m settling into apathy.

But I know better. I know it’s time to collect myself. I know it’s time to take a good look around and pull things together. I know that I have a strongly held belief that demands I first look within. This is the Gospel. That I am at fault. That I am a sinner in need of salvation. That I am lost at sea and my only hope, my one and only hope, is the Grace of God. So I look to Him. I ask Him for help. And He answer me with this:

“There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.” – from Proverbs 6

By knowing what the Lord hates, we can also know what He loves and what He will bless. I believe we learn from these things how to move through our world with gospel humility and the power of the Lord God Almighty, the Ancient of Days, the Holder of the Keys to Life and the Eternal Kingdom.

The American Church must more fully seek after and work for these things, the opposite things of what God despises in us. Dear sisters and brothers, may we endeavor all the more earnestly to root out our wickedness and sinfulness in our own hearts. May we be ever conscious of our blind spots, the hard to reach places, the buried skeletons in the closets, that are keeping us from being filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit and the Amazing Grace we and our world so desperately need. So help us, God.

1. Humble eyes
2. Truthful tongues
3. Hands that heal
4. Hearts that plan for good
5. Feet that run quickly to fight evil
6. True witnesses who breath truth
7. One who sows Shalom

It’s easy to put ourselves in a group that doesn’t kill or hurt anyone. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t see myself plotting to destroy or harm anyone or anything. So it’s easy to think I have a pass.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it? My silence, my looking the other way, my arguing and defending. My refusal to validate even the existence of another side, another viewpoint, another wildly different experience. I don’t have to physically touch you to wound you deeply. My hands are dirty. Forgive me.

I pray for eyes that are humble. It’s too much my default to be haughty, to look at others and think in some vague way that I’m better. I wouldn’t say that out loud, because I’m too “nice” – most of us are. But what lies just under the surface is a whirlwind of arrogance and deceit.

Lord, deal with us. When was the last time you prayed for God to reveal to you an area in your heart and mind that needed to change? Deal with me, Lord. Show me my sin. When was the last time you said, I am so very, very wrong? And then, when He does (and by the way, if nothing happens, you should be even more concerned than you probably are) maybe you think, well, that’s not that bad.

Or do you run to His feet and drop prostrate before Him and cry for mercy? When was the last time you were as angry and hateful about your own sin as you have been about something someone else has done? Gospel humility means seeing ME as the worst of all sinners – that I need Jesus’ saving power as much if not more than the next person, even if the next person is someone who drives his car into a crowd? I don’t make plans to hurt and kill. When was the last time I made plans to heal and care for those who are hurting and dying?

My prayer, in the end, is for more humility. We desperately – the world desperately needs to see gospel humility in action. Right now. The Church must be made servant of all. We must outdo any other group in love and grace. We must be more vigilant and dedicated to the dignity of every soul. We must rise up against hate and its counterpart apathy, meeting them at every turn with a call to repentance and forgiveness. No more coddling. No more inaction.

But it will take a humble heart to proceed, my friends. That is the work of the Gospel. That is the work Jesus has saved us for. Our hope, though, is when Gospel Humility takes hands with Gospel Confidence, knowing Who wins, knowing What wins. I know that I can do absolutely nothing for the rest of my life and that will still not change the fact of Kingdom Come. But I also know that all of hell and earthly powers and hate and pride and greed and doubt and dark can be unleashed with a mighty vengeance, and they will not prevail. They will not change Kingdom Come. And that is a confidence I must rest upon.

Lord, deal with me. Deal with Your Bride. Rescue her again and again from herself and the enemies of Shalom. Bring about Your Kingdom and use us – the pillars, the jewels of Your Holy City – to shine brightly in the darkest of nights. Let Jesus be our Map and Compass – to be angry and sin not. Then, remind us of the final chapter, the end of days, and our place in it… Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

“Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” – from Revelation 22