Has anyone been kind enough to tell you that you are worthless? The truth is: we’re all worthless. Any system that requires human effort by necessity excludes someone. Any human system that offers you success demands failure from another…and ultimately, each success will be sucked away and all will fail.
I let my 8 year old daughter watch Meytal perform ÆNEMA by Tool in a pathetic attempt to inspire her to play drums. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting this was a good idea. And, for the record, it didn’t work. Thankfully it wasn’t a total loss. Around the 4:10 mark there is an enormous kick and tom triplet pattern that lasts almost a minute – you feel like you have to hold your breath in anticipation. The payoff was that when it was done, my daughter explained the effect of tension and release to me…and I cried (not really, but almost). Maybe I’m just ignorant, but it never occurred to me that she was ready to understand this concept on more than a base auto-response level.
My original idea for this series was to create tension by suspending the reader across four or five installments and then provide release in a final post. From feedback I’ve received, the delay is too painful for most. So, my 60-second intricate rhythm is now a two-bar fill that spills slightly across the bar line.
Christianity is not a system. Christianity is not a religion. There are no levels or objectives. There are no points to score and there are no secrets to figure out. Christianity has no hierarchy. There are no teachers. There are no leaders. No one is “good at Christianity.” No one moves “beyond the basics” to achieve some altered state. Christianity is faith in a man named Jesus.
The cynic is now asking two questions:
1. What is “faith”?
2. Who is “Jesus”?
First, “faith” is placing yourself subordinate to the object of your faith. You can’t really have faith in yourself because your ordinate position can not be shifted from center. So, faith in yourself is simply redefining yourself as both the beginning and the end of everything. That is not faith, that is self-centeredness – this is where we all start as children and we defiantly try to maintain this perspective throughout our lives.
Second, Jesus is God. The easiest way to tackle this is through word pictures. All word pictures breakdown. So, please do yourself a favor and don’t be so pedantic as to search for the singular false case in the literal interpretation of what I am trying to convey. Pay attention to the intent of the thought and try to see the broader meaning: Do you read fiction? Do you ever try to see yourself as one of the characters in the story you are reading? Do you watch sports? Do you ever try to see yourself as the quarterback? Do you play games? Do you ever try to see yourself in the world of the game? Do you listen to music and dream of being a rock star? All of us desire to enter into our fantasy and see what it looks like from the inside. We all desire the role of superhero in our own story.
God (Jesus) is the creator of everything. He created everything for Himself. He created the world for His own joy and experience. He created the world and then entered into it. He created the world so that He might be the Superhero.
We’re so stupid. If we ask one another what superpower we would choose, we would list things like: time travel, flight, super strength, x-ray vision (heh), adamantium laced skeleton with perfect regenerative powers and retractable claws, etc. Nobody would ever list their superpower as “the ability to save mankind.”
As I spelled out here and here, we are all broken beyond repair. We all carry with us a burden of guilt and shame beyond bearing. As such, we usually try just to ignore it – it becomes the elephant in the corner. In the process, we drive ourselves mad running to and from sin like a fat dude running between a case of Twinkies and a case of SlimFast.
This world is not about us. We are not the center of the universe. We’re all self-righteous, self-aggrandizing little fools and for some unfathomable reason, Jesus loves us. He created us and allows our existence and, as if that is not amazing enough, He grants forgiveness, without caveat, to anyone who will accept that He is the Lord of all things.
You do not submit to me. You do not submit to any other man. To be a Christian, you submit to Jesus: He is the boss. Unfortunately, men destroy everything they put their mind to. Thankfully, Jesus told us how to “auto-correct” all the weirdness that has arisen through people grabbing for power (or trying to avoid it):
Matthew 23:12 (ESV)
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
John 13:12-17 (ESV)
When (Jesus) had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a (slave) is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Philippians 2:3-8 (ESV)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Mark 8:34-38 (ESV)
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, (Jesus) said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Luke 17:3-4 (ESV)
(Jesus said,) “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
If you are not a Christian and you want (or need) any clarification or information, contact me by posting or emailing me and I will help as best I can. If you are a Christian and you disagree, contact me and I will help you understand where your theology has spilled from the “(pail) of orthodoxy.” I promise I will treat your ego with greater concern than Spurgeon would:
It is a remarkable fact that all the heresies which have arisen in the Christian Church have had a decided tendency to dishonor God, and to flatter man. They have always had for their covert, if not for their open aim, the exaltation of human nature, and the casting down of the Sovereignty of Divine Grace. Robbing God of the Glory which is due unto His name, these false prophets would shed a counterfeit luster upon the head of the rebellious and depraved creature! On the other hand, the Doctrines of the Gospel, commonly known as the Doctrines of Grace, are distinguished for this peculiarity above every other, namely, that they sink the creature very low, and present the Lord Jehovah before us as sitting upon a Throne, high and lifted up! So true is this, that the most uneducated Christian may, even if he is incapable of refuting an erroneous discourse, always be able to discover its untruthfulness, if it glorifies man at the expense of God. The merest babe in Grace may carry this test with him—in the midst of the diversities of opinion with which he is surrounded, he may always judge, and judge infallibly, too, of the truth or falsehood of a doctrine by testing it thus—“Does it glorify God?” If it is so, it is true! “Does it exalt man?” Then it must be false! On the other hand, does it lay man very low and speak of him in terms which tend to make him feel his degradation? Then doubtless it is full of the Truth of God! And does it put the crown upon the head of God, and not upon the head of man’s free will, or free agency, or good works? Then assuredly it is a doctrine according to godliness, for it is the very Truth of the Lord our God! My text—the very words of Christ, contains in it a Doctrine which belongs to the class of those which speak against the vaunting of humanity, casting down its high hopes—and scorning its proud looks; and to the same degree this sentence honors Christ and lifts Him up in the estimation of all His people. C. H. Spurgeon, “Self-Sufficiency Slain“
We all want grand systems that provide for us earthly rewards. Nihilism is the net effect when we realize that not only do we fail standard systems (work, school, marriage, etc) and the standard systems fail us, but we even fail the special systems we build for ourselves (“I’m good because I can do…”).
Only the Creator can redeem His creature.