I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. —John 12:46
I think it’s universal that at one point everyone was afraid of being alone in the dark. As we grow up we come to realize that there isn’t actually a monster under the bed or in the closet. Being alone in the dark is no longer something to be afraid of. What’s unfortunate is that the older we get the more dangerous the dark becomes. Because as adults, we retreat into the darkness to hide our shortcomings, failures, and unhealthy habits or addictions (i.e., sin) from the people around us. The worst part is that choosing the darkness and choosing isolation only feeds our shame and gives power to whatever monster we’re struggling with.
Thankfully God sent Jesus into this world to take away the power that sin has over us. To allow us to embrace that we have already been forgiven. That each day and each moment is a new opportunity to live into our identity as children of God. Or for one last analogy, to turn on the light and show us that the monster is really just a pile of clothes.
Now let’s go do some laundry.
“Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” —Hebrews 2:1
We all experience important things slipping our minds. Sometimes I’ll have an event on my calendar that semi-surprises me every time I see it on the screen. Or I’ll put a new proof of insurance document that I need to take to my car right next to my keys, which is a perfect system—except I’ll still manage to grab the keys half a dozen times before remembering to bring along the insurance document.
It’s clear from reading the Old and New Testaments that the biblical writers were aware that the capacity to forget applies in our relationship with God, too. At the beginning of the book of Hebrews, the writer reminds readers that the revelation we’ve received in Jesus far surpasses any previous revelation of God. And yet even this unique revelation of God and the salvation offered through Jesus Christ sometimes drift from our minds.
I sometimes think that one way to understand the life of faith is that our spiritual practices (worship, prayer, reading Scripture, spiritual friendships, etc.) center us in God’s truth, and then the fallen forces of this world do their best to destroy our faith, and so we return to spiritual practices that remind us of the truth. This is probably an overly simplistic way to think about it, but there’s something to it. I’ve never met a Christian so mature that he or she doesn’t have to fight the tendency to drift away from the truth we’ve heard.
As frustrating as this can be, I actually find it encouraging and beautiful. Our faith lives are about relationship with God, and relationships require ongoing interaction. Our human-to-human relationships never reach a point at which they don’t require attention. You don’t tell your parents or your spouse or your kids that you love them one time. Healthy relationships require paying attention, and so it is with relationship with our Heavenly Father.
So let’s make it a practice to pay greater attention to the truth we’ve heard, and to the God who has provided so great a salvation.
Today’s reflection is written by Deacon Karen Katamay.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” —Mark 2:17
When I first think of being sick and needing healing, I think in terms of physical healing, which Christ did for many people during his ministry on earth. And indeed, my prayers every day include people for whom I wish physical healing. But with this passage, Jesus is referring to much more than physical healing. We all need healing when it comes to sin. And many times when we feel hurt or doubt or despair, we need emotional and spiritual healing as well.
I am especially drawn to this passage during this political season, as it is easy to become so entrenched in our views that we want to demonize everyone who has opposing viewpoints. We can forget to listen to others and fail to understand why they feel the way they do. And when we fail to talk to or listen to each other, we are not loving each other the way we should.
Jesus came to save us in spite of our sins. I know he loves me even when I screw up or become judgmental. He opens my eyes and my heart so that I may love others, even when they disagree with me. He forgives me when I fail to be the person he wants me to be. So, I am very glad that Jesus came not for the righteous, but for sinners, because that means he came for me!