Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reflections on Compassion

Compassion is the topic, a component of the reason for living and the meanings of life to be found illustrated in the Holy Text. Billions of people reject that my reference to a “Holy Text” is valid.

We believe so because our experience of life demonstrates the world rejects the Truth revealed in the Bible and thus, among other things, lacks compassion. Human to human relationships without the revelation of the Spirit of God are rooted in many motivations, but these can all be analyzed as selfish, competitive, or driven by base, physical desires which are instinctive to the fallen nature and animalistic.

The “walk in the Spirit”, when found, is discovered to be a higher way because it introduces a compass, a way to hear and see as a human that looks and listens above the selfish, competitive or bodily drives. The human spirit enlivened by the Lord is tuned to a different frequency on the spiritual level. It is a frequency resonating from God’s heart, and it is the source of love, goodness and beauty. The human who will reject the nature driving all humans and look outside of him or herself for the connection to this Spirit will find the effort is not without merit nor will it be accomplished without the reward of seeing a reality in spirit. It is a reality of humanity to which the unredeemed remain blinded. Our God may be known within the parameters of our limited intellect, but more importantly in the final analysis, through an expanding, love-braced heart.

And the greatest wonder of all is that we do not merit anything, but an act of grace on the Father’s part has opened the door. We accept our sin as a disqualifier and receive the atonement of Christ by an act of humility. Therein we begin a walk into the true state of human existence, an existence defined in large measure by compassion and not competition. It is a reality, which in the act of creation, the Creator intended for those made in His likeness.

Some will say that acts of compassion are numerous among those who do not profess Christ, and as a corollary of evidence against my point, that many who profess Christ are simply mean. Yes, both are true. However, I would say in the latter circumstance of “mean” Christians, we find solid evidence of a rebellion against God; and wherein, some people who profess Christ are false believers. Some “mean” Christians are simply immature, but those opposed to Truth engage in misconstruing all failure to walk in God’s nature in negative terms. In the former circumstance of compassion existing in people who make no profession of Christ, it is evidence that many will choose to live by something God has written upon the heart of humans though they have not yet met the Author of their motivations. I believe that in the end when all is revealed about the earth, that goodness will have one source: the heart of God.

 All else that appeared to weak humans as goodness will be revealed simply as conspiracies of an evil seeking confusion on the subject for the purpose of manipulation. Consider what we know well, modern marketing is a master of making a consumer feel important and valued but only for the opportunity of making a profit on the consumer. Is goodness intended to manipulate truly goodness? 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Reflections on Romans 7 and 8

I ran into the self again yesterday. 
A familiar place, a dreaded place, in which I am not of the spirit of God.

One might attempt to curse against the barren land needy for a seven-times-seventy grace plan.
It only takes a glimpse to recognize the hardened, fallow soil of the earth,

dust and rock and dryness. 

A curse, curiously, is the self mocking righteousness.

The word of Truth ends up lying as waterless seed
in the cemented bottom of the rutted heart.

The lament of Paul
"O wretched man that I am," is identifiable.

Spotted heart, cancerous and blackened
by an illusion of foolish self.

Do not founder here...such run-ins with self

simply call for will 

drawing from a deeper well,


Living Spirit of Christ, 
in You is a love without separation.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Church is the Compost Bin for Human Garbage

Think of the human soul as a plant. The natural man, the one we know as our inner self, is fallen and sinful and good for nothing that is holy. Yet, this inner man is the rich stuff of humanity. Our ability to love and be compassionate, our ability to empathize, our desire to be helpful and supportive of others was a part of creation before the fallen creature became what humans are. We were created in His image, right? Now all this good stuff is destined to be used for selfish ends. Manipulation and coercion in the name of love, those pressuring expectations we resist from people around us yet continue to foist on others, all stem from our selfish desires mixed with our ability to love. We often believe we have another's best interests in mind, but our whole perspective is usually tainted to one degree or another with our own limited understandings. These limits are usually a manifestation of our self will.

We experience the spiritual birth and freedom from self given to us by an act of grace. We become a different plant in our souls--the new creature--but we fail the purity of the love of God often and adopt the stance, "It's a process." The composting metaphor is about this Christian growth process.

The compost pile achieves its wondrous reduction of organic wastes into a rich additive for garden soil by aeration. There are other factors, of course, but that exposure to oxygen enhances the effectiveness of the compost pile. That's why our ceramic, under the counter composter has holes in the lid. That's why our back yard bin has the grid system of vents on all four sides and from top to bottom. Exposure to oxygen is necessary. 

Remember I mentioned the odor sometimes in the under-the-sink container? That's because those holes on the top are a marketing feature. They don't work. There is not nearly enough aeration from these holes, especially as the container fills up. The stuff on the bottom has little air and rots without actually "composting." Those lid holes allow the label to read "kitchen composter" and not simply "multi-use ceramic container". The price is raised, as the container with the holed lid has "value" beyond what it actually is. I've seen this item at $15.00 in most stores. The phrase "Buyer Beware" comes to mind. (Ours was a gift.)

Our Christian journey is like this. We all know and understand the principle of confession. However, in application, we often regard confession as necessary once we have actually sinned. I think our sinful nature needs a place of open sharing on an on-going basis. We need Christian brethren to provide a place of exposure for willful thinking and desire, our sin nature, without judgment or censure. We need acceptance from others for the fallen creature we are. I am not condoning, condoning sin. Rather, I am suggesting a greater level of honesty. Because we fear condemnation from others in our Christian groups for having the thoughts that spring from a sinful nature, we only discuss this reality in guarded ways if at all. The result is our sinful nature doesn't get the exposure it needs to decompose. Exposed in discussion in a safe environment, we gain knowledge that others are experiencing the same and see we are not alone or different. This builds understanding of others and camaraderie between folks, and our sin nature weakens through an exchange that allows us space to deconstruct our feelings and motivations looking for the selfishness to admit in confession. A confession that comes before we act out that selfishness.

What's left in this process is an awareness of our core ability to love and an understanding of how to be angry without sinful attitudes; we gain a connection to our human ability of empathy without a need to manipulate others. By contrast, when we allow ourselves confession only after sin has occurred, it is a bit like those holes in our under the sink ceramic composter. It looks like aeration for the soul's need, it is marketed as such, but deep inside the container, the rot flourishes.

God's Spirit moved to reveal Himself to us; we responded by accepting the atonement. Salvation is the result. However, life within the Body of Christ is the functioning of a sanctification process which is intended to help us deconstruct the power of the fallen nature. We embrace this process fully as individuals through a group dynamic. We willingly create a Christian social climate that fosters mutual admissions of our fallen natures as a daily reality...or we only cautiously give lip service to the same which stumbles us all.  In open climates without judgment, we discover between us a patient love for who we are as fallen beings, and there grows freedom from the fallen state.

Individuals so connected to others will find worship in spirit and truth of our Creator in the prayer closet and throughout the day. When our earthly attitudes are being composted through aeration among brethren, we find ourselves more able to draw sustenance from Him, more connected to His purity and strength, and we become more spiritually skilled at abiding on His stem resulting in a flourishing of spiritual fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in abundance.

We by grace are connected to Him, and in a responsible manner among ourselves, we practice spiritual principles of forbearance and honesty. Then our core human abilities draw life and direction from the stem of the Spirit of God rather than from the spirit of the world which burdens us. We discover a vitally different source of nutrition for our souls.

Church is a compost bin for humans.