Monday, November 28, 2016

Our Secret Lives

Batman and Superman are not the only ones - we all have two aspects to our lives. There is the public life we live in the view of others and the secret life that is unknown to anyone but us.

It is tempting to say that all of the inane social media posts revealing seemingly every detail of some people's lives must take the place of an internal life that is unknown except to the person. But in fact, that social media presence is likely to be more of a mask than an X-ray. You only see what the person wants you to see - their created persona.

To some extent we don't even know ourselves perfectly. We don't fully understand our own motives for what we say and do. We surprise ourselves - usually in a bad way. We suppress certain memories, we live in denial of certain characteristics, we are blind to various flaws.

But God knows us perfectly - far more perfectly than we can know ourselves. Nothing is hidden from him. He can see right through us. We might bluster or pontificate. We might weep or shout. We might charge the enemy or flee for our lives. But God knows our fears, our rage, our pain, our doubts.

God knows and he offers us a mirror that will show us the truth about ourselves. Not only that, but he will show us the way to resolve our inner turmoil and find true rest.

Hebrews 4:11–13 (ESV)
11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hallowed Be Thy Name...

Jesus taught his disciples, "When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name." (Luke 11:2)  This beginning to our prayer confronts us with the nature of our relationship to God. That he is our father means we honor him and are dependent on him. 

The phrase, "hallowed be your name" expresses our respect. It means, "let your name be exalted as holy."  It is not that we are urging God to live up to our standards of holiness - but that we recognize and want others to know that God, our Father, is HOLY.

God is not holy because he measures up to some external standard.  God is holy because he is God.  As God, he is the measure of all perfection.  Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Moral and Immoral and any other similar standard is eternally calibrated by the ultimate reality of God and his holiness.  What conforms to God's holy character is good, right and moral.  Whatever conflicts with God's holy character is evil, wrong and immoral. To sin is to transgress God's standards of holiness.

When we come to God in prayer, one of the first things we must do is acknowledge who God is and who we are in relation to God.  We do not come to God to give him something he lacks or to tell him how to manage the universe or the circumstances of our lives.  We come to God in worship, desiring to be used by God to exalt his name as the measure of all perfection.

This is a very important thing to remember in 21st century America and it would be well for Christians to return to praying according to this formula, "Father, hallowed be your name."

Somehow we have strayed from these essential truths.  Instead of acknowledging God as the measure of all perfection we have come to think that we are the measure ourselves.  Too many nominal Christians have bought into the American idolatry that tells us good and evil are determined by cultural consciousness.  Views on abortion and human sexuality are prime examples, but not the only examples.  Instead of asking, "What does God say about these things?" so called Christians are parroting the views of secular humanists who have sold their ideas through various cultural channels over the past sixty years.

Let God be exalted as the measure of all perfection.  Let his kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Let it begin today by his rule and reign in my life.