At the Angelus Temple last fall, Pastor Matthew made a remark that lodged in my brain.
“Turn off your tv, it’s prophesying doom over your life,” he said.
It’s true. Facebook does it too and here’s how you can tell: As you watch or read news feeds, consider the imaginary arguments you’re having with someone over something they said. Feel the churning in your gut, the shaking of your head and the pejoratives you attach to that person. Doom!
Here’s how it’s supposed to be:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
That’s why I pray and read The Bible every day now. It is one thing to dump the cold, nasty stuff out of yesterday’s cup, it’s another to scrub it clean and refill it with fresh Dunkin’ Donuts dark roast with vanilla cream and sugar. Thank God Lent is nearly over.
Often, goosebumps rise on my arms as I praise God for the sunrise and pray for people I love. Joy swells in my chest and blows away negative thought loops, sending me on a different heading. This is the present-tense value of following Jesus Christ – you learn to quit seeing things like the world does and begin seeing them like God does. Go ahead and try it, your life and circumstances can’t resist.
“Well, what about all the __________ I am doing? What about all the _______I have done? What about the scriptures on __________I disagree with? What about all the __________Christians on tv?”
For a moment, please set it aside and listen to the gospel: God is holy and we’re not, so we’re separate. Jesus was tortured and died to bridge that separation. It’s a gift.
So it doesn’t really matter what you are doing right now or what you think, if you bring it to Jesus and hand it over, he will teach what love really is and then drown you in it. Out of that love you become a new creature, utilizing the purest, most creative parts of yourself – often in service of other people.
I’m hardly breaking theological ground here, people have been saying this for centuries. But when you strip away the acrimony that’s built up around the gospel, and try it for yourself, it proves to be awfully good news.
As the sun comes up, grab a cup of coffee and read the Gospel of John. It was written by a man who understood, perhaps better than the rest, how much Jesus loved him.
Then let Jesus love you like that.