“Therefore, don’t despair when you fall, but get up eagerly and do a metanoia saying, “Forgive me, my dear Christ. I am human and weak.” The Lord has not abandoned you. But since you still have a great deal of worldly pride, a great deal of vainglory, our Christ lets you make mistakes and fall, so that you perceive and come to know your weakness every day, so that you become patient with others who make mistakes, and so that you do not judge the brethren when they make mistakes, but rather put up with them.” + Elder Joseph the Heychest
I can’t read that without remembering that someone else once said “You cannot live as a Christian; you can only die as a Christian.”
If you’ve hung around these parts for a while, you know already what I’m going to say: Spiritual maturity is a particular emphasis for me. And the reason for that is because it is precisely what I lack and what I long to have. The reason why I lack it is because my will is still sufficiently weak and unskilled as to fully embrace and practice the spiritual disciplines necessary to achieve this aim, and the reason I desire it is because I have at least been stirred toward this goal by God’s grace and the example of others who are leading me. Plus, I’m tired of spiritual kindergarten!
Let’s face it, we humans have a problem with authority, especially we Americans. We don’t like. We don’t trust it. And we are suspicious of it’s motives. We want our freedom. The battle cry of our revolution that started this country was “Give me liberty or give me death!” Pretty radical, but at the heart of our nation’s founding.
“Uh, excuse me, but I was hoping for the ‘meek and lowly’ Jesus!” I bet that was the thoughts of the men the day the Lord walked into a section of the outer courts of the Temple in Jerusalem and started turning over the tables and sending the “men of commerce” running. “This isn’t the Man we heard about who sits little children on His lap! What’s He so upset about?”
He corrected even my prayer that I said at the beginning of our homiletics class! He was my homiletics professor during my college years and he was known as the toughest professor at the school, and somehow he became fixated on me. It seemed I could do nothing right in his class, and it also seemed he was intent on scrutinizing every move and word I made in the preaching class. He would say things like “Mr. Powell, words are your tools. Would you trust a mechanic that just tossed his tools around his shop as if they meant little to him? Words are your tools, Mr. Powell. If you aren’t going to use them well, you are an unfaithful steward of the gift God gives you!” Needless to say, I walked into his class for two years straight a bit nervous!
Today, we hear two different men respond to two different questions with “Come and See.” The first question was asked by some of John the Forerunner’s disciples about where the Lord was staying and He responded”Come and see.” And the second question was asked by Nathaniel of Philip about whether any good thing can come from Nazareth and Philip responded “Come and see.”
The truth is we are never going to come to grips with the reality of our faith without actually risking encountering it in it’s fullness. No amount of reading about it or contemplating it is ever going to be enough to see the fruits of practiced faith in our lives. We have to actually take the risk of practicing our faith, loving our Lord, and living our beliefs if we are ever going to “know” this eternal relationship!
And they’re off! The sales, the markdowns, the deals, all conspiring to get us to spend, spend, spend. The competition is hot. The deals are unrepeatable. Knock that person ahead of you down. Reach across that lady’s grasp. Get here first! Fight, fight, fight!
Think of one (just one) foolish thing you did as a child. I remember one “project” I attempted as a single-digit aged kid. I thought it would be “fun” to paint the basement of our house! The problem was I didn’t have enough paint to do all the walls. I didn’t have the right paintbrush to do the job. And I didn’t have the “know-how” to do it right. Needless to say a little paint here and a little paint there was all I managed and it didn’t please my mother at all.
“Who touched Me?” What? Lord, the whole crowd is pressing in to touch You, and you ask “Who touched Me?” Lord, it doesn’t make sense. Everybody is touching You. I imagine that is what most of the disciples were either thinking or saying when the Lord asked this question in a large crowd one day. In reality someone had touched Him, but she had touched Him in desperation, in faith. After all,…
It’s the Nike slogan: Just Do It! It’s the “American” motto: Can Do!It’s the modern world’s obsession: Make it happen. We are a people who have been shaped in our contemporary age with an expectation of getting things done, accomplishing goals, and doing whatever it takes to achieve our aims and dreams. We are an extremely “productive” race!