Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Love of His Life

I heard a voicE saying to me, "Rise, Peter; kill and EAT." But I said, "By NO means, LORD; for nothing common or UNCLEAN has ever entered my mouth." BUT the voice answered a second time from HeavEn, "What GOD has MADE CLEAN, do NOT call common." (Acts 10:13-15)

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We do what the doctors say, and our health just get worse. We work hard and we still struggle to make ends meet. We pray incessantly, and our loved ones still die, we raise our kids so carefully only to watch them make bad choices; we try as hard as we can, but our relationships fail. Our bodies turn on us, our hearts break in ways we never dreamed possible, and no matter what we just can't get it right. Then I hear about this idea of “positive self-talk,” and I just have to laugh. You know, when you look in the mirror and tell yourself things like, “I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone-it, people like me,” even if you don't quite believe it. Yeah, uh-huh. What a bunch of pop-psychology feel-good self-help b.s.

It's easy to hate ourselves. Painfully easy in fact, especially when we're constantly knocked upside the head day after horrible day with the reality of just how deplorably imperfect we are. Nothing beats us down with more blemishes and inadequacies than being sick all the time.

...but who are we to hate what God has chosen to love?

At the height of Jesus' suffering on the cross, His Father turned away from Him because He, though sinless, chose to become the most despised of sinners for us. YOU ARE WORTH IT TO HIM. And because of that gift, we are made completely clean in our baptism, covered by that one beautiful all-atoning Sacrifice. While you were still a sinner, Jesus loved you enough to die for you (Romans 5:6), for that body that’s betrayed you, for that person who feels like one giant mistake, for that life that doesn't seem worth living.

You've heard me say don't turn an ought into an is. Well, don't turn a seem into an is either. Satan is very good at helping us mix up what is REAL with how we FEEL. Yes, we are still sinners, but we are also saints. Yours is a life that God created, although it's not an easy one. Yours is a body made by Him, although it's not a perfect one. You are a gift from God, and we must never call common what He has made clean through baptism. That's all positive self-talk really is: refusing to call common what God has made clean. It's simply repeating a Truth that's greater than what we can see in our clouded mirrors and feel in our broken hearts. How's that for a Christian twist on the silly notion of self-help??

So, let's do it then. Let's start telling ourselves the Truth beginning this very minute. Put down the mirror Satan is holding in front of your eyes and give yourself a break. See in yourself what God sees in you for a change: the Love of His Life. Sing along with me and the rest of Christendom: “Jesus loves me, this I know...” If you don't know the words or the tune, ask your kids or your grandchild or any preschooler within earshot and sing it whenever Satan's common lie creeps into the Truth that is your salvation.

Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day
is from Acts 10:15b
What God has made clean, do not call common."
Here's the hymn “God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It” written by Erdmann Neumeister
during the early 18th century.

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