Friday, September 11, 2009

for which you stand

Last December, I had lunch with a friend. We talked about the election, the war, the Middle East, Israel, and Jesus. She reminded me of the verse in Matthew that I referenced last week. I found myself balking a bit because quite honestly, I had missed it. In all my years of being a Christian, I hadn't remembered what was possibly one of the most piercing things Jesus would utter.

That word - that many will turn away, or, as some translations put it, that the love of many will grow cold - sat within my soul for weeks. I found it disturbing. Why would Christians - those who had claimed to love Christ and His church - turn away? Especially when we are, as believers, educated about what's coming, at least to a degree, and what we stand to inherit through Him? My heart felt heavy as it became clearer to me: maybe we don't all totally understand anymore what defines a Christian, what sets us apart, what can give us assurance, despite our own weakness, that we won't turn away. As I look at my daughters, I wonder if the road they will walk will be darker than my own? Most certainly. At every junction in their path, they will be confronted with a choice: God or man. This may sound blase, considering this choice seems to have presented itself to believers for generations. But I think the choice will get less clear - grayer, if you will. No longer will it be black and white - here I stand for Christ, here the world. Instead, I believe they will begin to experience a world in which they are taught they can stand for both. In fact, to do so in the eyes of the world and in some cases, the church, will be a mark of progressivism, or realism, in the faith. Indeed, even now we are living in a time when black and white are no longer considered appropriate symbols for, well, anything. Nothing can be completely good or bad, completely wrong or right - everything must be draped in the uncertainty of gray. To determine anything as absolute is to be determined absolutely backward.

What a weapon Satan is wielding! He knows that we "have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside [our heads]....[that we don't] think about doctrines as primarily 'true' or 'false', but as 'academic' or 'practical', 'outworn' or 'contemporary', 'conventional' or 'ruthless'" (The Screwtape Letters, p. 1).

Are you swept away by being good? Even as a Christian, are you convinced, somewhere in the corner of your heart, that goodness does, in fact, matter? There is a video on YouTube about the new American pledge. What we should all be standing for. I heard it was atrocious; I found it actually rather innocuous. It is a five minute stream of celebrities determining to pledge themselves to one endeavor or the other, from turning off the lights to being good parents. Aside from a few overtly politicizing statements, they're all good objectives. Most of us could stand to do more good things. But Good will be the enemy of the Best every time.

How do you know you won't be one of the many? Be near to Him and He will be near to you - live in Him, and He will live in you. Do good not to get to Him, or to please Him, or to make a good impression - no, do good when you can't help but do good. When you are swept away by Him, and goodness - and love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and kindness, and faithfulness, and gentleness and self-control - flows out of you, not because of you, but because of Him.

When Jesus said that we are to love Him with all of our hearts, and all of our souls, and all of our minds, He was giving us a clue. A tactic for battle. We are dimensional. We are multi-faceted. We are made to feel, to understand, and to know. With these three things, we can experience love and hope and faith. We can find a relationship with Christ that isn't flat and conventional and based on routine or ritual - hardly a relationship, I daresay - but rather something messy and difficult but rewarding and rejuvenating. Something living, breathing... something alive that keeps us alive. But the battle rages. And Satan will use the Father's gifts against us. Be careful not to let what you think you feel, or what you think you understand, or what you think you know become what you proclaim as truth.

He is Truth. And there is nothing gray about Him.


  1. SOOO much food for thought. Thank you so much. I enjoy hearing your thoughts. You speak a lot of truth and remind me what it is that we were called to do. It is so scary to me, that my son will have it worse than I did when it comes to deciding which paths to take. But when you put it this way, "God or man" the choice is simple.

  2. Just had this exact conversation with my friend the other day. Glad to know other people are noticing that things are getting more and more gray.

  3. Preach it sister! Gosh how quieting this post was to my flesh and yet awakened so much of my spirit to put on my armor and walk into the battle. It made me think of a discussion (to put it mildly) that I had with a worker at L'Abri this summer.
    He was telling me that the post modern view is that we all have these "rights" and we are all fighting for people's rights. He said that we are all going to politicians proclaiming that it is the people's rights in third world countries to 3 meals a day, it is people's rights to be free, to have education, etc.
    As someone who is very passionate about the silenced people groups I stood up at this lunch table and said: "Ellis how dare you say it is not their right. Of course it is and of course Jesus would fight for their right to a full stomach, the taste of freedom, the confidence of an education!"
    "My dear, no he would not. Because our right is death and hell. We fight for these people out of His grace that has been imparted to us. For justice, restoration, and hope but, no child we do not fight for their rights. This is not their right."
    I quietly sat down and realized that the Gospel had sunk into my heart in a new way that will never leave me again.
    Everything is gray. Even the idea of justice for those who are oppressed. We are called to declare Christ, His love, His hope, His name, His justice, and His grace.
    The tricky part is that legalism is just as dangerous as the grayness of acceptance...

  4. Amen Sister. Our pastor was just preaching on this last Sunday! Charging us with our responsibities...warning us to not get numb to what the media and society is trying to get us to accept. We shall all pledge to pray for Christians to be protected from the world and to wage war on the flesh!

  5. So glad you are writing again. I love hearing your thoughts. They are challenging and oh so insightful. Can't wait to keep reading!!

  6. The things celebrities say and do disgusts me 99% of the time. They don't think anything anyone says is important except what comes out of their mouth. And why? Becasue they make 4 million a year filming movies? Seriously? Try creating the earth and mankind from dust people...

  7. Thank you for this post and addressing the gray that surrounds us and is attempting to take over.

    As a Lutheran at a church that is under the ELCA, we are now drowning in gray as a result of the recent poor decisions made by the ELCA. Specifically resolutions 1 and 2 referenced here:

    It is great to see how many Lutherans are upset and disagree with the recent poor decisions made by the ELCA. Unfortunately, the few that see it as gray have made this statement that is totally against black and white, but we must take a stand as Christians. If this can be gray, then you might as well throw the whole Bible out. And, I cannot and will not do that because the Bible is what our lives as Christians are based.

  8. excellent post. i was just saying to my husband the other day that it's like we are all trying to say to the world, "look i'm JUST like you, i just happen to love jesus." or like a game of how worldly can we be and still love jesus. lately i've been struggling to find the guts to walk away from too much gray.

  9. You speak a lot of truth and remind me what it is that we were called to do. It is so scary to me, that my son will have it worse than I did when it comes to deciding which paths to take.
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  10. Great thought-provoking post, Boothe!

    All these quotes from Matthew are the words of our Lord...

    "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matt.24:35

    As others commented, we must know His Word, know Him intimately so we will not be deceived.

    "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible".
    Matt 24:24

    "For no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
    Matt. 24:36

    "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
    Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
    The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
    Matt.25:31 - 40

    Faith and works. Maybe if we are so busy showing others God's love and being about the Father's business, we will be too busy to be deceived. I pray so.

    You always make me think and search His Word. Thank you!!!

  11. Happy Thanksgiving Boothe....


    Lake Arrowhead, Ca

  12. Boothe,

    Just wanted to say a great big

    Praying for an incredible day of celebration.

    Hope you can post some pictures of your gorgeous girls and the big celebration!

    He certainly has brought beauty from the ashes and we all have grown so much walking this journey with you. May God continue to richly bless your beautiful family!!!

  13. Booth, I wanted to let you know that I started reading your blog about over a year ago and it was your ponderings that stirred something within me to start my own blog. This particular post is such an encouragement to me mainly because these have been the same ponderings in my heart for so long. Thank you for your faithfulness in writing what the Lord puts on your heart despite the pressures to say the politically correct. Look forward to reading more of your ponderings.
    Your Sister in Christ,
    Liz Blalock
    Stones of Remembrance

  14. Been checking for a new post....hope you have a chance to write again soon. -Connie Deal (wife of Dave and I don't know how to sign out of his google account!)

  15. when you put it this way, "God or man" the choice is simple.

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