Saturday, January 08, 2011

One More Time, With Contrition

Black and Blue Teacups (I), Iskandar Jalil
We were enjoying the tactile pleasure of cold finger-tips running over, exploring a jagged geography of warmth (and a pedantic argument concerning the word "zeitgeist" and whether it can appropriately describe the crowd-effervescent-think, drunken auld lang synes and the last-365-days-or-so-in-subjective-summaries of the last day of an old year).

Another new year countdown with fireworks, in different circumstances, amidst a different crowd.
Kushi Dango - Mochi on a Stick
Life's trajectory seems less linear than we would like. "Higher and better!" we toast, but the decades smirk. Though achievable in assets and status, internally holistically spiritually we are but dogs returning to our vomit of half-hearted resolutions and failed intentions.

For Christians, this circularity might perhaps occur with marginally decreasing radii, as we become alarmingly aware (from God's laws in Scripture) of the height of the Creator's perfect requirements, our tragic and desperate inadequacy and inability to really fulfil anything of it even if we wanted to, spiralling inward, but somehow never quite depending fully on, the absolute grace and mercy of God.

And all this is stirred into the puerile mess that is the God's ordained community: the church that is led locally by sinful fallen leaders with their baggage and insecurities, who can easily be observed not to practise what they preach; the church whose congregation is led in songs meant to praise God by singers (whether of heavenly voice or unable to hold a tune) and musicians eager for their own glory; the church of hypocrites who operate under appropriately spiritual and evangelical cover - bible study leaders who see the watching of their flock as a barely bearable chore and leaders who harness the trust and dependence of their sheep to build edifices to their own egos surrounded by adoring fan-club empires, parents who proudly marvel at their children's growth yet never bother to plant seeds of eternal life and parents who worship their children in place of God and parents who get home in time from their extra-marital affairs to ensure they read the Bible and pray with their children every night, singles who use their idle time to scheme to end their God-given state by every possible means and singles who indulge in godless chatter and pointless "hobbies", believers whose false friendliness and rampant flattery and calculated concern for others betray the need to be valued by men not God, older folk who wield their age as an excuse to be curmudgeonly etc etc.

And these by their sinfulness induce others to sin.

Yet, it is for these that Jesus died. It is the community of these undependable self-indulgent laughable perverts and criminals that God has ordained to lead others to his kingdom.

What a year 2010 has been - a grand clutter of failure - failure to love the unloveable as we should, to do what we know to be right, to love the Loveable, to be discerning about false teachers and wolves amongst the sheep; failure to be humble and not self-righteous in face of objective progress in godliness (thus negating such progress), in accurate assessment of the godlessness of others and when choosing to leave churches and bible study groups. The same as 2009 and 2008 and 2007 and...from the year of our birth. There is no fresh start per se in 2011 - only another year to add to the list of sins yet committed/re-committed, but perhaps hiding them with greater proficiency and intricate Christian spin that may fool all but God.

Who are we, with boardwalk planks in our eyes, to pick the speck out of our brother's? Who are we to tell others to give their lives to God in radical obedience?
Watermelon, Persimmon, Peach and Sakura Mochi
As the sun ascends on 2011...well...nothing different happens. A fresh start happened the day we first knew God and a fresh start can happen Today - any day that we hear God's voice in Scripture and are convicted by the Spirit working on our conscience that our tiresome attempts to usurp the King should be punished by death, and with contrite hearts (probably not the sort that stands back and admires its own contrition and proceeds to announce it on Facebook and Twitter) rely more heavily and needily on the blood of Christ to blot out our sins so that God remembers them no more.

We are unworthy sinners. But Christ has disarmed Satan by nailing the record of our sin to the cross (Colossians 2:14-15) so that we may, in acknowledging our brokenness, truly serve him.

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