Sunday, June 22, 2008

Take the Lesser Seat

Picture a director, and a crew, and a set of actors, working together
to shoot a commercial for some product... The crew sets things up,
the actors are in place, and the director is giving the orders...
The sound guy starts recording, the camera guy starts shooting, and
the actors begin their lines...

Then one of the actors pipes up with some non-scripted line or two,
and the director yells "CUT!", the camera man stops the camera, the
sound guy stops recording, and the crew looks at this actor and then
the director, wondering what to do...

"What are you doing??!" asks the director... "Just say the lines you
are supposed to say!" The actor protests that he doesn't think the
lines are right, and that what he has to say on the product is more
compelling than the script...

How long do you think it would be, if this continued, before the
director tells the actor to get off his set and calls his aide to
find a more co-operative actor? Not long, I'm sure...


Because the COMMERCIAL is more important than this individual actor,
and there is money and time (not to mention all the people taking
part, trying to do THEIR jobs) at stake, and (as a good
director) he isn't interested in what this one actor thinks is compelling...

Christians are in much the same position: God's purposes, and the
people He calls us to serve -- even the very purpose for our own lives --
is more important than us, more important than our own
ideas of what should take place, even more important than whatever we
might be going through (good or bad) in our current circumstances...

Jesus advised His disciples to "take the lesser seat" at a banquet,
to avoid the embarrassment of being asked by the host to step down
and give up that seat to someone else... But it was much more than
avoiding embarrassment that He was trying to teach them; Jesus' focus
was always on "the Least of These", and He constantly
emphasized to them that "the Least" would be -- indeed, ARE -- the
most important in God's way of directing things...

Even as he nursed his sores and questioned God, JOB humbled himself and
acknowledged that whatever God's purposes were, those ends were
surely far more important than what he was going through, and in the end
of that story, Job was lifted up and everyone around him was put to shame
for trashing the Director's will and advising Job to think of himself...

And we can apply that same idea now, today, to everyone around us (because
God cares most about PEOPLE): My WIFE is more important than me,
my KIDS are more important than me, my Church family is more important
than me, and even what God wants to MAKE of me (for His own glorification)
is -- if we can grasp this! -- more important than the "me" that I try so
desparately to support and nuture and coddle and please...

If Jesus Himself could could be humble enough to submit to death, then surely
we ought to imitate Him and humble ourselves as well, retraining our minds
and our passions around the idea (and practice!) of considering every PERSON
we know, or encounter in our lives, and the works of Grace that God passionately
pursues in this life, as much more important than we ourselves...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Our journey toward BLESSEDNESS

It struck me the other day that there may be a significant difference
between "Blessed", pronounced "BLEST", and BLESSED, pronounced
more intentionally as "BLESS-sed"...

When we say, for example, "My, aren't we BLEST to live in this
great old house, on this beautiful street," and, "we're so BLEST
to have food and clothing in abundance," or even, "count your
Blessings", we mean the very good fortune that Providence has
granted to us... We intend, essentially, a call to Thankfulness or Gratitude...

But "BLESS-sed" may have a much higher meaning:
defines "BLESS-sed", in the sense I am using it here, as
    sacred; sanctified
    worthy of reverence or worship
    blissfully contented

Used as such, the word begins to describe Saints, both the
very few among us who are far along in their process of
Sanctification, as well as the Saintliness that will be
characteristic of all Christians when, in Glory, we are
finally and eternally perfected...

So then, to become "BLESS-sed" is both the End of
God's work in us, someday ("...He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion..."), as well as the Goal to encourage us
as we are being changed in this journey through life ("...that your love
may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight...")...

As I meditate on this startling distinction, then, I begin to notice how
it helps me understand, in a whole new way, Jesus' famous exposition
on becoming BLESS-sed, in the "Beatitudes" of Mathew 5:
    "BLESS-sed" keeping in mind this higher meaning
    "are the" suffering through the Sanctification process
    "for they will" experience Beatification if we persist

So it would seem that Jesus is holding up BLESS-sed-ness as
my ultimate "Soul state", to be desired above all else; He is also
pointing out that The Way to this state involves suffering in the present;
and he is very specific about the benefits of one day achieving this state...

This, then, is what I have to look forward to:
    Possessing, in some sense, Christ's kingdom
    Being (supremely) comforted
    Inheriting (have passed down to me) the Earth
    Filled with Righteousness
    Being shown Mercy
    Seeing God (!)
    Being called a son of God
    Again, possessing, in some sense, Christ's kingdom

Our pastor Ron preached a series on the Beatitudes not long ago;
THIS ONE, in particular, on Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness,
was particularly profound to me...

I have been challenging myself to set my gaze on becoming BLESS-sed,
to finally, once and for all and forever, be made complete and then
to be welcomed into the presence of almighty God; and I continually
ask God's forgiveness for the many times -- often daily -- that my
attention is diverted to sinful, foolish, temporal things... Those times when
my current course is toward Wretchedness, the opposite of BLESS-sed.