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Posts Tagged ‘life’

The Secret to Life

friend

She’s small and often shy.  She flies up to the clouds and sits with the sun whenever unimportant words are spoken.  She gazes off.  She runs away.  All her life she waits for an opening in the conversation.

He’s strong.  He’s loud.  He gets his matter-of-fact bluntness and good judge of character honest.  He’s street smart.  He falls in and out of fury over that which is most important.  He drives every conversation.

She’s small.  He’s strong.  She’s shy.  He’s loud.  She flies.  He’s blunt.  She gazes.  He’s street smart.  She runs.  He falls.  She waits.  He drives.

They love.  No matter what, they love.

She’s zealous.  He’s zealous.  They both have a fire that rages against all odds and opposition.   She’s inconsistent.  He’s inconsistent.  She fails.  He fails.  She cries.  He cries.

They love.  No matter what, they love.

She hurts.  He hurts.  She’s bitter.  He’s bitter.  She prays.  He prays.  She forgives.  He forgives.

They love.  No matter what, they love.

She rides on.  She wades through an ocean of pain.  Her white dress is tattered, wet, and dirty.  Still, she sings.  She searches.  She learns.  She loses.

He waits.  He wavers.  He wonders.  He moves on.  He heals.  “Onward,” he commands, “knock loudly upon yonder’s door.”

She rides. He waits.  She wades.  He wavers.  She sings.  He wonders.  She searches.  He moves.  She learns.  He heals.  She loses.  He commands.

They love.  No matter what, they love.

The secret to life is not winning.  It is not pleasure or pain or wisdom or knowledge.  It is not favorable circumstances or power or position or wealth.  The secret to life is love.  Knowing so allows us to love the men who hate and expel us with the same tenderness we do our own children.  Let it be said of me that no matter what men may do to me, I will refuse to love them any less.

No matter what, love them anyway.  For that is all that matters in all things at all times.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. ~Galatians 5:6

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well

So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. ~John 4:3-4

The context of this “leaving” is notable.  Jesus left Judea for a reason.  He left because the religious leaders of his day caught wind that he was gaining a following.  His disciples were baptizing lots of people – even more than John the Baptist.

Why would that make Jesus leave?  If Jesus was bringing people to God, why would religious men be upset?  Why would what some religious pretenders thought make him stop and leave?  Why was that a problem?

It was a problem because those religious leaders were extremely jealous.  Jesus knew they wanted the power and control of God’s house and God’s people that belonged solely to him.  Because they so coveted and idolized power and control so severely, they wrongfully assumed that that was what Jesus and his followers must want, too.  They thought that he came to take their beloved places of authority.  Because their identity was in their works and their positions rather than in a right relationship with God, they hated Jesus and his right-doing followers.

Ironically, Jesus had every right to direct the religious dealings of the Jews.  He was their Savior!  He had every right to be the authority among all of them and all the Gentiles as well.  He is the King of Kings!!!  Wonder what would happen if Jesus showed up today to put his church in order?  Wonder what religious men would do?  Wonder what would happen if he tried to do it through the testimony of an adulteress woman?

Somehow, people, especially particularly religious ones, do not like when Jesus is really in charge of the church.  When Jesus is calling the shots, men are not and their almighty positions of leadership are threatened.

Jesus does not fight with them over their pride and pretense.  Instead, he reveals it.  He reveals it by leaving.  He chooses to go through Samaria – a place and a people that the Jews overtly hated.  Jesus proves their hypocrisy without even saying a word to them.  He does it merely by purposefully preaching to a person they despised – a Samaritan woman.

Sometimes religious leaders cannot hear plain and simple truth no matter how clear and obvious it really is.  They cannot hear because they refuse to.  The wisdom of Christ recognizes that and stops talking.  The wisdom of Christ simply shows them up by doing exactly the things they should be doing but refuse out of their pride and hypocrisy.

Jesus went directly through Samaria on a route the Jews went far out of their way to avoid.  The text says he “had to.”  He had to because he had to show the religious men their fault.  He had to because he had to show the Samaritans salvation.  He cared equally about both the religious men in their error and the irreligious woman in hers.  He proved both in one act.

To prove the level of hatred for the woman with whom Jesus chose to speak, the text says this:

 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” ~John 4:27

No one asked these questions.  Despite their surprise, no one wanted to know?  There is a reason for that.  They likely did not want to be asked to do the same.  Even Jesus’ own disciples were tainted by the social norms of their day.  They knew it was social homicide to speak with Samaritans or honor them as brothers and, gasp, sisters.  They were not willing to risk their own reputation to honor people God had chosen.  They were afraid, prideful, and unyielding to those whom God had deemed clean.

Jesus is not like erring, religious men.  He does not avoid difficult and uncomfortable situations.  In fact, he makes it a point to meet the very people who instigate them.  He does it in order to show prideful men the hatred they have in their hearts for others and to show humble outcasts the love he has in his heart for even them.  He does both at the very same time.

Even Jesus’ disciples feared following his lead and example in talking to this outcast woman.  Not only  was she part of a social group they avoided, she was a she and not a he.  The contempt they had for her was doubly great.  Jesus shone a light on the contempt they had for her in order to show them the wickedness in their own hearts.

That is why Jesus “had to” go through Samaria when everyone knew you were supposed to take the long way around and avoid them – avoid her- at all costs!  He had to expose the attitudes that had a continual internal dialogue that repeated words like this: “What if someone sees?  What will people think?  She is a dog!  We cannot be friends.  We are enemies.  I’m so good and she’s so bad and what if someone thinks I like her?   What if someone thinks I like her more than I should?  What if I do like her more than I should?  How will I cover up my sin?  How will I regain my good reputation?  She will ruin me!  She is out to get me!  She is bad!  I am good!  Stay away, wicked wench!  You are not worthy of my words or my water!  God does not call people like you to serve him!  Let me just keep pretending you don’t exist so I can feel good about my own righteousness, good reputation, and religious position!”

The Jews were wrong about Jesus.  Their power-hungry hearts were desperately jealous.  They were wrong about the Samaritans.  They were wrong about women. The Jews were no different than any other human group on earth.  They just thought they were because they were used to getting special treatment; preference; respect; seats of honor.  They were, after all, the children of a long line of self-righteous, spoiled brats.  They were just as desperately needy and sinful as any Samaritan in Samaria.  Therefore,  Jesus pulls the curtain back on their dark thoughts and actions not by telling them, but by doing the very things they were not willing to do.  He shows them their sin by doing the right they refused to do.

 And the woman preached the gospel by her testimony.  The Samaritans were saved despite all the religious efforts to avoid the likes of these unworthy people whom they esteemed themselves so much better than.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. ~John 4:39-41

To that end I ask, are things really any different today?  If you think things have changed, try being a former adulteress with something to offer in a patriarchal church in 2017. Nevertheless, despite the odds, Jesus used an adulteress to save a town full of outcast rejects.  If anything gives me hope at all, it is that.

Be careful who you purposefully avoid.  Be careful who you hold contempt for in your heart.  Jesus might call you out on your hypocrisy and pride by using that very person to start a revival among those you consider most unworthy; those you personally despise.  What will you do when God’s church is full of people you have spent your whole life avoiding and despising?  You have two choices:

1.Crucify him

2.Love them

Kyrie elesion

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quote

The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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text

Runners like to zone out.  Getting in the zone is especially important for difficult or distance running.  As with many sports or intense activities, that place referred to as “the zone” is often the key to success.  It may determine whether you win, lose, or even finish.  An off day can often be chalked up to a lack of focus and inability to stay in the game.

 I always joke and say I’m not allowed to talk to my husband when he drag races.  I have learned to speak as little as possible out of respect for his need to stay completely focused and on task.

Sometimes not being distracted is extremely important – like with drag racing.  Sometimes the distraction itself is extremely important – like with distance running.  When laboring with serious intent, on one hand we need autonomy.  That’s the leave me alone zone.  On the other hand we need a neutral plan of action meant to distract us from the pain and push us to persevere without it feeling like punishment.  We can choose to make this zone a leave me alone zone, too…or we can actually choose to lean on the thoughts, needs, words, or even worries of another to help us finish the task before us.

I competed in the Mt. Summit Challenge Race this past weekend.  Well, participated is probably a better word for me this year.  Anyway, it is a 3.5 mile race straight up the mountain.  It is not the first time I’ve run it by any means and it certainly isn’t the longest or most difficult race I’ve ever run.  But it ranks.  It ranks up there among the races requiring an in the zone mentality.  If you are not all in, you are probably still on the mountain somewhere right now.

I had run up the course four times before the race over the past month or so and I am happy to say I did beat the goal I was striving for.  Though ten minutes slower than previous years, I needed some slack for this I just had another baby year.  So I feel really good about my slow time of 48 minutes.  I did not make it up alone, though.  I didn’t realize my goal without help.  The leave me alone zone only worked until the really hard part.  That’s the part of the race where you’re tired, you drank too much wine and ate too much food last night, your music is played out, you’re almost certain the feeling in your chest is legit heart failure, and you’re still climbing.  I had to find a way to get my mind off the pain or I was soon to be a spectator rather than a participant.  I texted my drag racer because I knew he would be able to speed me up.  “Tell me a funny story” was my plea for help.

He began to tell me about a dirt farmer and a beautiful girl who planted seeds on his dirt.  He told me how they made big messes and how their Master helped them clean up.  And they grew pickles and eggs and omelets and babies.  He sent me a picture of my baby, Sonny, and told me that that “egg” grew sonny side up.  I corrected his grammar and he encouraged me with good words all the way to the finish line.  I found myself laughing during the most difficult part of my race and smiling where I hurt the most.

That was this weekend, though.  Last weekend that dragster needed some encouragement of his own.  Last weekend my husband wrecked his drag car going 170 mph at the drag strip.  The first thing he did after realizing that he was still alive was turn off all the switches to cut the power, unbuckle his five point safety harness, and crawl out the window.  Even after rolling the car several times, taking out at least 50 feet of guard rail, and, by a miracle of God, not getting hurt or losing consciousness in the process, he was still in the zone.  He knew he had to do what he could to keep the car from getting fuel and catching fire and get out as quickly as possible just in case.  Because he is so tuned in to detail, all of his safety equipment worked and the Lord spared his life for his own purpose through those details.

A family from church came and brought us dinner even though he had no injuries.  The wife sat and talked with me about how thankful she was that his life was spared and her husband went and mourned the wreckage of a car he’d been working on since the age of 15 – a car his father gave him.  Another man from church brought Tylenol, cookies, and ice cream for the kids.  The pastor asked how he was several times throughout the week and talked with him about what it might mean in the grand scheme.

A friend told me just the other day that the gym is her church.  I know why without her saying it.  The people there love her, encourage her, teach her, and help her.  That is what feels most like family, especially to those who have no family.

 When I file these realities next to what we’ve been discussing in church about questions like, “Why should we even go to church?” and “Why not stay at home and be a lone Christian?”  I find the answer is crystal clear.  It is not that we cannot make it though life alone.  It is not even that we cannot be a Christian alone.  We can and we can.  What we cannot do is smile and laugh through the pain that life inevitably brings to each and every one of us.  Without encouragement, togetherness, help, and, yes, others whose main task from the Master is to cheer for us and we for they, life does not work as well.  The one-anothering theme is unmitigated throughout the entire New Testament and the focus on doing life in community is littered through the entire Bible.

Getting out of the leave me alone zone is crucial for Christian people.  Whether it is sharing our struggles, confessing our sins, or inviting others into our every day lives, we need one another.  This is how we glory God.  We must learn to encourage as well as or better than the world does with its own.  When the “family” that the gym has created among its members looks, feels, and sometimes even proves more attractive than the church family, we are missing the mark.  If you are a Christian, get out of the leave me alone zone.  Go to church.  Get involved.  Invest in others’ lives.  Serve them.  Listen to them.  Encourage them.  Love them.  Tell them a silly story when they hurt.  Remind them you are glad that they are alive.  Bring Tylenol and cookies.  Ask how they are and contemplate the possibility of intergalactic purpose.

Life is an intense activity.  Get in the zone and run with endurance the race the Master has marked out for you.

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heart

I am indecisive.

He tells me to write something.

 I ask why.

 He reminds me that I like to.

 I oblige.  The following is the fruit of that exchange.

Sometimes it helps me when I write.  But sometimes it is hard.  Sometimes I am at a loss for how to say what is on my heart.  Sometimes I know exactly how to say it but I do not want to.  Pouring out your heart and soul and dreams and fears and failures on the daily is scary.  You either have to resolve to not care how people read you or you have to care so much that you resolve to make your scribblings absolutely perfect with a willingness to correct them when they misinterpret you.  Sometimes it just feels like no one is really listening anyway.  Like those things that mean the very most to you, those things you’ve said and written and tried six ways from Sunday to express go wholly unnoticed and unheard.  Writing is like shouting out to all the world your deepest feelings only to let them float unabashedly through the air.  And you’re waiting.  Waiting for someone – anyone – to catch them; hear them; learn from them; know God through them; seek him…and know you; understand you; feel you.

So often those words don’t work, though.  It is like you are pouring yourself out all the time and the only thing that keeps you from becoming empty is to keep pouring out.  Even still, after all the words have floated away for days and months and years on end, you are left wondering whether you are yet altogether unknown; misunderstood; unaccomplished.  Who knows where the words have gone?  The writer prays for the somewheres where they might have fallen.

Sometimes I do not know myself as well as I would like to.  Writing helps me know myself better.  It helps me understand myself and who I am and why I am feeling happy or sad or frustrated or lost.  It helps me organize my thoughts on God, on life, and on who I really am and what I know as truth.

There is one thing writing does not do, though.  Writing does not talk back.  As much as I try to personify my notebook, she remains silent.  Writing does not talk back.  It only listens.  It is lonely.  I guess that’s why I write a lot about the Bible.  It is like God is talking and I am listening.  My writing is just me telling the world what I heard.

I am happy that God has given me this gift to write but sometimes I am sad that I cannot seem to say things audibly instead.  I feel so closed and unable to speak freely sometimes; many times.  I do not know why I am so afraid.  The fear I feel when I think about talking out loud about what is in my heart is often so strong that it makes me almost run away and hide.  I am so afraid.  I want to pray and tell God so many things but I am afraid to say them out loud.  Saying them makes them real and maybe I just wish they were not real.  So I often just pray about being able to pray.  I do not run away anymore.  I stop and I write it down instead.

I guess my biggest fear is rejection. That God or men will hear what is in my heart and what is most important to me and throw it away.  Or not care.  Or disregard it altogether.  Or hate me for saying it.  But why would I think that?

I think it because it is what happened to the most right and truthful one of us all:  Jesus.  It is what has been happening to me in many ways my entire life.  Because people reject truth and lack grace, I distrust and doubt the God who made them and somehow believe he will do that same thing.  Once I gave a man a paper with the gospel and he physically threw it down and trampled it in front of me.  But if I trust the God of the Bible I believe that even that kind of act – be it physical, relational, or otherwise – is a blessing working in my favor.

I digress.

Vulnerability is what the writer’s heart is made of.  Vulnerability is what God’s heart is made of.  He, too, chose written words to deliver his deepest messages to us.  He sent the One He loved most and watched him suffer in order to save.  And people throw his best efforts away.  We do not care about his words like we should; sometimes not at all.  We disregard Him altogether.  Some hate Him for saying  his best words and we even crucified his exact representation.  Yet, He spoke them still.  He speaks them still. He sent Him still.  He sends us still.

Maybe my written words will somehow send those same messages to someone.  The messages of love and forgiveness and grace and truth.  Maybe I will suffer long to find those just right words I have been called to write.  Maybe He will save through them; through Christ in me.  I dare to believe that hope every single day. It is the often only thought that keeps me from utter discouragement.  I lift my pen and let the words float away in greatest hope and terrible fear.  My prayer is ever, “God, please bless this trembling writer’s work once again.”

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An Outtake

“Sometimes when I try to read the Bible I feel like throwing my hands up and quitting because I don’t understand,” says my fellow ladies Bible study attendee.

“Sometimes that’s how I feel because I do understand!” I reply.

Here’s an outtake from Loriland on why this is true:

There are times I see the truth and it is so hard.  In the Bible I see the best men getting the worst lots…on earth.  I see God silent as they continuously cry out to him for help and relief.  I see other men and women doing this life so much better for Christ than I ever will and I loathe myself for the perpetual indwelling sin I should have put off long ago.  I see the altogether sovereign will of my Father doing whatsoever he wishes with each and every created being he has ever made and I am humbled by his absolute authority to do just that.  I remind myself that he is God and I am not and I get mad because I want control.  Then I grovel in self loathing some more for having such thoughts.  I see no where to go but back to him when I cannot understand and do not like his means and methods.  I feel inadequate, convicted, small, and helpless.  I am.  I realize that I always have been and always will be.  I know what he wants.  My obedience – even more, my trust. The one cannot come without the other.

Could I really have been studying this same old book for the better part of the past twenty years and still be stalled by the truths that trump all of my for what’s and faithless excuses?  I consider what spiritual age I could possibly be. Two?  Maybe three?  Right.  That’s why I want to quit sometimes when I understand the Bible.  But I don’t.  And I won’t.  Because he won’t let me.  Thank God that his ways are not my ways.

 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. ~1 Corinithians 15:10

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lives

Lives matter.  Isn’t that what all the hullabaloo is about these days?  Really?  In the year 2016 humans are still having to be told that life matters.  Is the agenda simply concerned with schooling us on which lives really matter most?  Or are the lives that everyone that is shouting about lives that are largely devalued by the majority?  And why does it seem like there is an elephant named stereotyping standing in every room full of fighters?

It started with “black lives matter.”  No doubt they certainly do.  Some take the statement of this obvious truth to imply that the rest of lives – those that belong to we who are not black – matter less.  Hence, the hashtag “all lives matter.”  Or what about the people group indicted by the “black lives matter” community?  As Chick-fil-A contends, “police lives matter,” too.  It has become a war about which lives are paramount.  And where there’s a war, there are no winners.  There are only  bleeders.

All the buzz, forgive me, has me a bit confused.  It’s one of those things I begin to think about and then look up to see if anyone else’s face reads as puzzled as mine.  We’re bleeding out all over America because we have been asked to pick a corner and fight over a fundamental truth that should be quite obvious.  Life matters immensely.  .

Don’t get me wrong, the issues are real.  There are bad cops.  There are racist people.  There are works of evil all around us all day, every day.  If there is anything anyone can do to shed light on the abuses against innocent victims, I’m all for it.  But, America, let’s at least be ambitious enough to uncover what is at the bottom of our outrage.

All of these thoughts swirled though my subconscious last night at the theater as I watched the movie “Risen.”  It was a fictional story about a Roman soldier who was alive during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  In that time and place, perhaps the hashtag would have read “Jewish lives matter.”  Maybe it would have said “disciples lives matter” or “soldiers lives matter.”  I don’t know for sure but I do know one thing.  Then, as well as now, many people were wrongfully abused, injured, and murdered at the hands of the authorities of both church and state.

 Think about that for a moment.  Let it sink in.  Like the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun.

But let’s get back to the movie.  Jesus shows up and he, claiming to be God, does not fight for the value of his own life to be recognized by those who hate him.  He does quite the opposite.  Instead, to those who love him, he teaches his example of self-abasement, humility, and how to consider others better than themselves.  To that end I ask, is that what we are doing, America?  Because it seems like there is a lot of finger pointing going on and none of it ever points inwardly.  We, who want justice, are just as responsible for valuing life as those we are shouting at.  And honestly, our own self is the only person we have the power to change.

As Christians, we should never minimize or ignore the suffering of others.  The truth is that every life was created by God and that is what makes every life intrinsically, immeasurably valuable.  That means nothing can make us more or less valuable.  Not our skin tone, our profession, or our age.  Neither our social status, salary, smarts, or even our sins.

The young black man who is shot by a middle aged white cop is certainly no less valuable than the young white cop who is shot by a middle aged black man.  We, as honest people, see the tragedy of both situations as equally horrific.

When our forefathers wrote that all men were created equal, I do not know what they originally meant.  I do know that the concept of human equality is borrowed capital from the Christian Bible.  What that means is that at the cross, the black man is equal with the white as is the woman with the man; the thief with the philanthropist; the adulterous with the virgin; the drunkard with the sober; the unborn baby with the ninety year-old.

Every life matters to the God who created them all.  He shows no partiality.  None.  If we follow him, every life must matter to us as well.  Anger does not win people and cause them to stop doing evil; believing evil; being evil.  Civil societal wars won’t save the lives being snuffed out daily.  Picking sides will only divide us further.  Instead, we must learn who we are.  We were made in God’s image and that is why we are all to be highly valued by one another.

Your addicted neighbor is valuable.  Pray for him.  The coworker who treats you poorly every day is valuable.  Show her love.  The waitress who got your order wrong is valuable.  Tip her well.  The man who spoke ill of you to everyone you know is valuable.  Forgive him.  The girl who always dresses inappropriately is valuable.  Teach her.  The wealthy man running for president who acts like an utter fool is valuable.  Do not hate him.  The mad black woman shouting about how valuable her life is is right.  Respect her.

It is easy to take up a cause and start shouting.  It is hard to live out a life of love toward fellow sinners day in and day out.  Nevertheless, that is what we must do.  That is the solution.  Love saves lives one at a time.  That is our job.  We must stop letting our differences divide us and pray.  Stop carrying torches and shouting about which lives you prefer and prefer them all in the sphere of your very own life.  Place value on those you least love for the sake of both solidarity and sanctification.  We are all yet students.

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