Jesus saw their faith

And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2:4‭-‬5 ESV

I love this passage of Scripture.

Did you notice this? “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'”

Does it seem a little incongruous? It seems that Jesus saw the faith of the friends and so rewarded the paralytic with forgiveness and healing. How did “their” faith benefit the paralytic? Is faith transferable?

I think their are a few answers. In one way, yes, it is (stick with me here). But before I get into that, I think it’s likely that “their” refers to all five of the guys, including the four vertical guys and the one horizontal guy.

But the sense in the passage is that the faith of the friends was marvelous to Jesus. They had lifted their buddy up to the top of the roof and broke through to get him in front of the Lord. Forget the property damage, I think it’s clear Jesus absolutely loved seeing faith in action.

In the gospels Jesus always honors faith. In this one sense, their faith was transferable to their friend: think about what it was that these four guys wanted? More than anything they wanted their friend to be physically healed. They wanted it so bad and they also believed so thoroughly that Jesus would provide that healing that they ripped open a roof and caused a spectacle. Jesus saw their faith, honored it, and went further even than they expected. He healed their friend spiritually first. Then physically.

Too often when I think of “faith” my mind’s eye pictures a person who is stationary, but who internally, devotionals believes in the Lord. But faith is something that is not stationary.  It moves, it breathes, it lugs a fellow up onto a roof and digs a hole to lower him down (and the implication is these four guys didn’t expect to have to lift him back up because that brother was going to walk out).

People shouldn’t have to have mind-reading capabilities to see our faith.

Jesus saw their faith.

Weight

I tend towards depression and anxiety, naturally. Not clinical levels of it, but enough to keep me awake at night sometimes. I’m not proud of this – I know with surety that it is a time-waster and a joy-stealer. And it doesn’t do a thing to help a person resolve the issue that is causing the depression and anxiety.

I’ve recently been hit with multiple circumstances that involve me waiting on other people to do what they need to do. This has stretched me and I’ve failed those tests of kindness multiple times.

So many people deal with so much more than I do in my relatively easy, comfortable life. But this is weighing on me today.

I don’t know how to end this post.

Knowing and being known

But now thus says the Lord , he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” – Isaiah 43:1‭-‬7 ESV

We are not accidents. We were created and formed. Because of this, we can know and be known by our Creator. And it is a very good kind of knowing; redeemed and called by name, a precious possession of the Creator.

Not called to a life of ease, but called to a life of intimacy, of knowing and being known as we walk through floods and flame with the One who promises never to leave or forsake.

The One who calls us precious and honored and loved. Us!

He promises to restore, to bring it all back, to make all things new and as they were meant to be at first, for his glory and for those who call his name and are called by his name.

Praise be to God.

“He wants Jesus to be the main character”

This is a good story of someone discovering what really matters: Why Jake Locker Walked Away From Football

An excerpt:

With a nudge from his mentor, Locker started to explore his relationship with Jesus. Hasselbeck could sense Locker’s angst over his hero status, and he told the rookie that trusting in Jesus could help him cope. Locker still drank at that point, but not as heavily as in college. Alcohol wasn’t his problem; it was a symptom of his problem, how he masked his problem.

Hasselbeck invited Locker—who had attended Catholic services growing up but who didn’t yet consider himself religious—to team chapel. Eventually the two men came to play a game that Hasselbeck called the Daily Bread, in which they competed to compliment at least one person each day. Later that first winter, after Locker appeared in five games, Titans players were packing up for the offseason when Hasselbeck invited Jake to fly to Orlando with him for a Pro Athletes Outreach conference—“just a weekend retreat looking at God’s design for your life,” Hasselbeck explains.

Locker had no preconceptions as he listened at one symposium to hip-hop artist Lecrae, but instantly the QB felt connected to this rapper who grew up surrounded by drugs and gang violence. After becoming successful, Lecrae explained, the pressure to “keep it real” overwhelmed him, until finally he chose to end the double life. He’d prioritize Jesus and his family above all else. The internal conflicts that Lecrae described seemed to mirror Locker’s inner turbulence.

Lauren had joined him on the trip, and she was pregnant with Colbie. Their life appeared to be perfect—millions in the bank, daughter on the way—but that’s not how Locker felt. “I was pretending with everybody,” he says, “because I wasn’t authentic with anybody.” (Says Lecrae of the notion that his Orlando talk in any way led to Locker’s retirement: “I hope his fans aren’t mad at me.”)

As the conference wound down, Jake and Lauren decided to be baptized, and with Hasselbeck standing in the water beside them, they dedicated their lives to Jesus. That moment, Locker says, is why “I can sit here today and say that I’m an extremely happy man.” It marked the first day of Locker’s new life—and the first time he asked himself, Do I want to play football anymore?

I have to include this as well, from earlier in the article:

He talks for most of the next two hours, answering every question. And yet when he departs that afternoon with a bro hug, he says he’s still not sure he wants to fully cooperate. I worry that he might have just bared his soul to an audience of one. If he’s to participate in any story, he says, he wants Jesus to be the main character.

Yes.

One-lane bridge

“At the one-lane bridge I leave the giants stranded at the riverside. Race back to the farm . . .” – Rush, Red Barchetta

I’ve loved that song since the first time I heard it. Heck, my tagline is a lyric from that song.

I love it because it tracks very well with a constant struggle in me; the quest for simplicity and for the solidity of tangible, non-digital life. Odd and ironic that I’m blogging about this, no?

I feel like God has put that longing in me; a longing for single mindedness and focus, to understand priorities from His point of view. It’s a  longing to work toward what’s truly important. That way lies joy.

I’m miles away. “I spin around with screeching tires…”

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:31‭-‬33 ESV

All together

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV

I had a meeting with the Core officers on Tuesday. One of them pointed out this verse while we were talking about themes and values for the club.

I love it. That’s a Body.

We’re good people™

There is a distressing phenomenon I’ve seen both in myself and other white evangelicals; I call it the “We’re Good People” syndrome.

The phrase “We’re Good People” is rarely spoken out loud, but here’s how this works:

Let’s say our tribal leaders – Congress, the President, pundits, opinion-makers – pass a terrible bill, sign a cruel EO, setup an awful policy, put forth a horrible opinion, or have a particularly bad moral failing. Conversely someone outside of our tribe points out an injustice or atrocity committed by our tribe, either currently or in the past.

The discussion that ensues has as its unspoken backplane the assertion that “We’re Good People”™

For example, supporting the administration’s policy of separating toddlers from their parents at the border doesn’t make us uncompassionate [Because We’re Good People].

Actively supporting, voting for, and even admiring rogues and scoundrels is fine [because We’re Good People].

Being insensitive to systemic racism is fine. We “know” why NFL players are kneeling during the anthem, and it’s not for the reason they claim: protesting police brutality against people of color. No, we know they really just hate the flag and our brave servicemen and women. We know this [Because We’re Good People].

Being white in a majority white country hasn’t given us any advantages, we say to ourselves. We’ve had to work for everything we’ve gotten and everyone has the same opportunities in America, right? This is true [Because We’re Good People].

See how it works?

It’s strange. As believers our theology warns us that outside of Christ we are not good people, and that even as believers we have to guard our hearts against the deception that lays there still and guard our minds and souls against the flesh which wars against our spirits. Of all people we should not fall for the We’re Good People lie.

I still don’t have this figured out, but I see it all the time. I’m learning to recognize propaganda when I hear it, and We’re Good People is a pernicious form of self-propaganda, a lazy form of (usually unspoken) argument, and an enemy of clarity.

Heading in to work

Heading in to work. Had a good weekend.

In particular, I immensely enjoyed another Moot with the Thinklings. It was a great night with those guys. I do fear that I spent too much time during it bemoaning the state of our politics and also bashing away at neo-Calvinism.

I have been wondering how much emotions are tied into my stances. I’ve been, in a way, granting myself more license to be angry at what is going on. In other words – and perhaps this is a function of age – I have shortened my approach to the “this has gone on long enough and needs to end now” phase of discourse.

Approaching decisions and stances driven by emotions is not the best way to go. It produces too much heat, not enough light. But emotions have their God-given role. I’m working out the balance.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. – Proverbs 16:32 ESV

“Slow to anger” doesn’t mean you never get angry. But the runway is long, and the transition between the “on the ground” phase and “wheels up” on your anger should not be abrupt and catastrophic but smooth and controlled.

It seems we live in such an angry culture. I don’t know if it’s just that social media amplifies the angriest voices; I hope it’s not as bad as it seems.

I certainly don’t want to be a part of perpetuating destructive anger. There is too much good and necessary and gracious work to be done.

As I said, I’m heading in to work. In more ways than one.

Now

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalms 46:10 ESV

And when that happens, all of our temporal cares and worries and labors won’t have the attention of our hearts and minds, will they?

And yet… I find myself falling into the trap of forgetting that, although the full exaltation of God in all the earth is yet to come, stillness is commanded now. Knowledge of God is something to seek now. God’s exaltation is already happening, now.

How is he exalted? In the hearts and lives of his followers, now, growing and spreading over the earth.  Now.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. – Habakkuk 2:14 ESV

To live in this “not yet”, now, as if it already is, brings it about.small and close and (I hope this makes sense) is all a part of bringing it to completion far and wide.

I’m wiped out by the cares of this world; in particular by cares related to my family. It’s natural and tempting to look toward a future, a “then”, when I’m through with the day to day struggles and efforts. Then I will be able to be still.

The passage’s grammar doesn’t allow that.

Be still and know. Now.