I don’t have anything to say. I mean, I can sometimes put something on a page that can make you feel or think. I can speak something in front of a crowd that you might take home. I’m pretty good at winning arguments. But that’s not the same thing. I’ve got no meaning. Not without something else. Another important ingredient.
The bible says something interesting about meaning, and it applies to pretty much every situation. It says that I can do everything right. I can feed the homeless, dress the naked, preach the good news and even die for my faith and it won’t mean a thing (nothing!) if it’s not done in love. It’s meaningless. Not less meaningful. Ultimately meaningless for us.
The bible says over and over again that life is about glorifying God. Any Christian who’s been to church more than a few times knows that our Salvation comes solely from God, not our works. They know that even our good works are inspired in us by the Holy Spirit. All praise, ultimately, belongs to God. But, you give us the smallest of reasons to take credit and we’ve gobbled up the whole shebang.
I want a pat on the back. I want the awards and the praise. I want to be recognized and thought of as wise and generous, kind and thoughtful. I just want to pay lip-service to God and secretly hoard it all for myself. I want, and I hate to admit this, religion.
Not that helping widows and orphans nonsense. The tit for tat, good news: Chad is awesome and much better than you sorry sinners religion. I hate that about me.
Capon wrote that God “wants empty vessels: preachers who have no religion left to preach.”
I want that too.
I really do. That’s the Spirit, by the way. I’d ignorantly choose the self-aggrandizing nonsense.
To do that takes total reliance on God. It takes reliance on him, not to clean us out like dirty pipes, Mario Bros. style, but to put whole new pipes in. You think that’s not scary? We’ve got our five-year plan and day-planner to think of!
He wants us connected to him permanently. And not as some integral part to the system, but as a conduit of his perfect love and grace. We’d screw it up. He finished it. He’s the root, we’re the vine. He’s the tree, we’re the branches. But, look, fruit! Connected to God, we become capable of doing that which we could never produce on our own.
So worth it.
When I stop thinking that kumquat of love is all me, maybe then I’ll stop acting as if I’m conveying a message to sinners whom I have nothing in common with. I’ll stop seeing the bible as a first-person shooter, where I’m the hero, blasting those wretched sinners, and realize I’m the wretched sinner. When I’m empty of all my rules-based religion, arrogant correction and unloving speechifying, I might have something worthwhile to say.
My voice will be softer and my eyes might not look so much like razor blades.
I might love the unlovely, the liars, the lustful and the ungrateful, because I finally see myself in their eyes and recall the Savior’s gentle forgiveness.