Friday, March 19, 2010


It wasn't good for Adam, and it's not good for me, though not necessarily for the same reason. I'm not hurting for companionship or pining for a husband-- at the moment, anyway (like Nebraska weather, if you want it to change, wait five minutes). No I'm thinking about the self-deception that comes from being alone.

I have a number of teen friends here who talk about how they feel like their biggest challenge to being Christians is having to live in homes with unbelieving parents. I've realized that one of the biggest challenges to my spiritual health as a Christian is actually not living with anyone else.

Living at home with family, with parents and siblings, is the kind of environment that is frustrating. There is conflict, everyone has manifold opportunities to hurt others and be hurt by them. This kind of frustration with family life, I think, causes many people to think that their families cause them to be bad Christians. I used to think that too. But now I've changed my mind. I'm just as bad of a Christian when I live alone as I was when I lived with my family.

The real difference is that when I live with my family, I can't hide from the fact that I'm a sinner in need of forgiveness. I routinely hurt others, get angry with them, and generally create all kinds of badness with my mind, tongue, and hands. All of that badness is still in me when I'm alone, but it's hidden. When I am sheltered from my own wickedness by so much alone time, something much worse than sinful human interaction happens. It's called pride.

Because I can look back at my track record and see that I haven't hurt or angered anyone for a matter of hours/days/weeks or haven't myself been angry with anyone for that time period, I start to think that I'm becoming a better person. I begin to fall back into the sin of thinking that I'm getting the hang of being a good Christian, that "I can just take over from here Jesus, thank you very much for your help to this point."

Some might say that it's preferable to be sequestered away from other people where we don't have the opportunity to sin against them or to have them sin against us in these ways, I respectfully disagree. Of course I'm not a proponent of doing damage to my loved ones. Instead of promoting family conflict, I'm saying that to not sin against people simply because one hasn't the occasion to sin against them does NOT make one more holy than the one who has the occasion to sin against others and succumbs to the temptation.

A bigger and better life, one more meaningful and more useful for growing up as a Christian, than living alone and being "good" is to live with people who are frustrating and difficult, to live in repentance and forgiveness with one another. Love decidedly does NOT mean never having to say you're sorry...

So I pray that the Lord will give me a roommate or roommates when I'm back in the US with whom I can practice Christian restraint and charity, humility and forgiveness, and that He will bless me in the long term with a husband and family who will challenge my pride and never let me forget that I'm a sinner who needs Him. May He do the same for you, too.


What a word. So small, and yet enormous. All. So much in the Christian life turns on that word and one like it, 'whole'. The one that is biting at me now, as I read Mark 12 is "all your heart" "all your soul" "all your mind" and "all your strength." We are to love the Lord our God in this way. With ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Really? All? As in "all" all? Yes. 100% is required of each of these elements of our human being.

What a word of law! Have I ever loved God, even for a moment, with all? With my whole heart? My whole soul, mind, or strength?

Not a chance.

Have I ever done ANYTHING full out, have I ever done anything with my whole heart, soul, mind, or strength?


No. Never. Except maybe love myself. Blech.

No, 99.44 % pure won't float with God's law.

"All" isn't exclusively a word of law. Neither is whole. 'All' and 'whole' in the following passages are great words of Gospel comfort:

"On this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father's place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments." Leviticus 16:30-32

"For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever." Hebrews 7:26-28

"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God." Romans 6:8-10

"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21: 3-5

So, therein lies my hope. I can't muster myself to love the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. But Christ, one who can and did love the Lord with his whole being, and loved His neighbors as Himself, 100% love, does the loving in my place. He has atoned for my lovelessness, for my utter lack.

All glory be to Christ Jesus who loves with all in our place!