Sunday, December 26, 2010

The hope of the nations -- and of the Christians, and of the sinners

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, on them the light has shined. ... For unto us a child is born. (Isaiah 9:2, 6)
So as I mentioned before, "business as usual" is living in darkness and the shadow of death. I've read lots of words today (Christmas; I'm scheduling this to post the next day). Some of the words have been encouraging, but some have been words in which people rehearse their hatred towards other people, or criticize others for celebrating Christmas in a way they don't approve (like with all the sparkly lights), or justify thoughts that they are, after all, more knowledgeable about Christianity than most others. Sometimes it gives the appearance that knowledge is used to put down others; if one person has more facts about the historical background of the day, then the brother or sister in Christ they're presuming to instruct had best stop talking back and admit the superiority of the other. Even if they're as right as they imagine about facts, who is exalted? Business as usual is walking in darkness for all of us. Sometimes the temptation is for us to think we're the light, the "star". We're not.

We're Christian writers, right? I expect we all would like to see these things we write as righteous acts, or at least as our best efforts at it. Which brings into focus something else Isaiah taught us: our righteous acts are filthy rags before God, and it rarely occurs to us that "Chief of sinners" applies to us and our righteous acts, especially in our religiosity, especially when we're most sure we're not the problem -- especially when we're sure we're the light, the star. That was what convinced Saul of Tarsus, after all, to go full steam ahead with his wickedness back in the day: it was precisely his religiosity -- his certainty that here, he was in the right and the others were wrong, so no holds barred in opposing them -- that led him to be chief of sinners, that led him to shed innocent blood, that led him to be arrogant and cruel and ruthless, to lose all sense of perspective. Perspective comes with humility. It is often when we're most convinced that we are the light (the enlightened ones, or the stars) that we are in the deepest darkness. It's not about us. It's really not.
For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. And the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called: Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that day forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Okay, Anne, go ahead and regard yourself as Chief of Sinners. That's what we are supposed to do, so do it. But know that I regard you as a shining star indeed.

Weekend Fisher said...

Now there's a logical merry-go-round: if I think I'm all that then I'm chief of sinners ...

I think you're trying to be encouraging, and I appreciate that -- but is it just me? Does anyone else ever look around and just get frustrated with how easily we fall for the same sucker-punches from evil, time after time?

I'm really not trying to rain on the holiday parade here but man it just drives me batty sometimes. Why are we such easy marks to think so highly of ourselves and put others down?

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Howard said...

I wonder how often we're guilty of acting as Saul and not Paul in the manner we provide 'ministry' to others, especially when it comes to what we, personally, see as imperative (as if it were OUR great truth) - it's so easy to become lead by our own thoughts and feelings here, rather than truly 'breaking open' the fragrance of Christ Himself in such moments. When that is allowed to happen, we quickly fade into the background before something of true worth.

Weekend Fisher said...

I like the analogy there. Gets right to the point of things. It's hard to be led by something other than our own thoughts and feelings ... or someone else´s ... Keeping a true course towards Jesus takes a lot of focus.

Take care / God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

Well done!

Weekend Fisher said...

Thank you.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF