Sunday, March 26, 2017

All The People

What does all the people mean, does it not mean that everyone is included.  Jesus loves all the people of the world means all the people not just a select few.  Believers often confuse the fact that Jesus does not limit his love just to them.   They forget that we are called to love all the people, not just the ones that are easy to love.  In fact, Christ challenges us to love the least lovable, those who give us every reason not to love them.  Anyone can love the lovable, which is precisely why we all describe babies as so lovable.  Surround yourself with a bunch of two year olds and your perspective might change with regards to how lovable babies are.  In the end, we are called to love all the people much as he loves all of us regardless of their condition or conduct.  

In Luke 2:10-11,  the birth of Christ is announced and he is proclaimed as the savior of all the people, not just the most lovable.  Christ journeyed through our land to set the stage for His message to be delivered throughout the world so that all the people, Jews and gentiles, would through his grace find a path towards his gift of salvation.  His death and resurrection is the covenant that provides all people a path to salvation.

Salvation is the understanding that there is an almighty God, that He created us, and that God provides a path by which we can move out of sin and into holiness; the holiness that enables us to attain eternal life and a heavenly home. This path enables us to be reborn from a fleshly sinful life to a spiritual sinlessness and a sin forgiving life.  It is critical to understand that our flesh binds us to a sinful nature but Christ unbinds the flesh enabling us to overcome our sinful nature, to recognize sin and resist it.  His grace provides all the people an opportunity for repentance and never ending forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a washing away, a complete disregard of any sinful conduct regardless of the severity of that sin.  God is not particular about his forgiveness, it is given to all who seek it and given without condition to anyone who recognizes him as the giver of forgiveness; the redeemer of all.

The gift of redemption is evidence of God's love for all people.  It is an unconditional love that is freely provided regardless of who we are and how we are.  Whether believers or sinners, the love is never ending.  Like the prodigal son who left his father and persisted in pursuing his sinful nature, we too may persist in sin.  But the story does not end there, when the prodigal son returned covered in sin and filth his father did not curse him, deny him or tun his back on him.  Instead he ran out to greet him and welcomed him home.  He celebrated his return recognizing that while his son was lost for a time, he was now found.  He recognized that his son was seeking his forgiveness and love and unlike most of us opted to avoid the "told you so" verbiage and freely embraced him with his loving arms and a spirit of forgiveness.  So too, God welcomes each of us who repent and turn away from our sinful nature celebrating the fact that we have returned home.  His arms are opened wide waiting for all the people to find their way back home.   Just a little advice to go!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Why I Quit Facebook!

One of the detractors we face today is social media, not because it is bad but because many of us have allowed it to consume us. I was sitting at the movie theater today when I was distracted by the glow of the cell phone in the hands of the person sitting next to me. I turned expecting to see some young person acting irresponsibly only to find an elderly woman on her Facebook account. I thought to myself, we have all lost our way. It seems even the elderly are pre-occupied with staying on top of what is going on, possessed by an unquenchable need to know.

Facebook provides the benefit of constant communication which if properly managed could be informative and productive. However, when it becomes an addiction that keeps a person glued to their mobile device, there is clearly a problem. Additionally, the debates occurring on Facebook often lack a factual foundation leading to arguments based more on opinion than reality often resulting in divisiveness between co-workers, friends, and family. Instead of Facebook bringing people together, it is often doing quite the opposite.

So with great intentionality, I decided to do something about the problem. I quit Facebook. I removed myself completely from Facebook and guess what, I survived. I also shut down most of my cellular app notifications so my cell phone isn't dictating when I should open an app. This may make me appear weird in today's world and some may even suggest I am overreacting, but just google, "apps to help you stop using apps". You will find apps like Break Free to help you stop using your mobile phone, apps like SelfControl or Freedom to help you control your use of apps, and numerous articles on why your favorite apps are designed to addict you. Not kidding.

Today, I limit my media interaction to LinkedIn which leans more towards the professional than the social and provides a positive forum to express my views. I look at it once or twice a day and that is more than enough. When I want more information about what is going on in the world, I turn on the radio and listen to the local public radio station. When I want to know more about what is happening with family or friends, I make a phone call or write a letter. Radio news, phone calls and letter writing, some old fashioned advice to go!