Platitudes, Wisdom, & God: Part 3… The Example We Are For the World

The words and actions that motivate our beliefs into a lifestyle are reflections of what we believe the state of the human heart should manifest more naturally.

Here in Part 3, I will connect to the points of Part 2 by explaining how secular wisdom does not teach or influence transformation. I will later explain the importance of why the difference between transformation and inspiration is worth our introspection. On a deeper level, the challenge of this article will be to engage how these distortions affect our interpretation of purpose and disorient us from discovering a purpose more fulfilling and befitting for our intrinsic desires. By writing this, my aim is to provide clarity and discernment for the way we live by understanding what we ingest intellectually and in what ways these ingestions affect us. In doing so, I hope we can form an understanding as to how these concepts can change, and ultimately enhance or transform the way we live intrinsically.

INNER STRENGTH & SURRENDER

The incredulous, doubtful face of secularism often disparages the value of its own words of wisdom with a lack of transcendental merit. This is not to pour hate on the secular mind, but to shine a light on the finitude of disbelief the secular mentality carries regarding inner strength. From my own previous experience as an atheist for many, many years, I can give testimony to the empty, fallacious nature of believing in one’s own inner strength as a source of pertinacity. In the carefully constructed yet corrigible room of inner strength, the secular mind is always forced into a trap in the corner; the trap of redefining every belief and reason for belief without a foundation, source, or understandable explanation for those reformations. While the skeptical, unbelieving mind can certainly adapt to such an atmosphere with enough resolution and stubbornness, what remains is how making oneself comfortable in this position (by believing the shadow on the wall is the reflection of authentic inner strength) does not translate as true audacity or fulfillment in oneself, but rather as the excuse to never leave the room.

Secular wisdom mitigates the purposes of struggle and dehumanizes the purpose of pain by minimizing the need for growth and personalizing the existence of adversity as a legitimate reason to disbelieve in the existence of a loving God. When speaking of peace, the unbelieving skeptic emphasizes the power each of us has to create a purpose for ourselves, not recognizing the reason for the incessant lack of fulfillment is due to how created purpose is separate from discovered purpose.

OUR “FLEETING, CAPRICIOUS, AND INSATIABLE” MEANING FOR LIFE

In Timothy Keller’s book Making Sense Of God, he describes the way the secularist may choose to create their own meaning in life, centered on something Earthly; like a job, money, political pursuits, or even something personal yet marked with vulnerable fragility like family. Discovered meaning, on the other hand, recognizes the way we were created by God for relationship with Him first and foremost, and how when we deviate from this, we feel we must create a meaning for ourselves in order find a meaningful reason to believe life is worth living. Timothy includes and quotes Josiah Royce from his 1908 book The Philosophy of Loyalty:

Royce therefore believed that finding meaning in life could be done only if we rejected individualism. “The individualist puts self-interest first, seeing his own pain, pleasure, and existence as his greatest concern.” Modern individualists see loyalty and self-sacrifice as an alarming mistake, leaving oneself open to exploitation and tyranny. To them “nothing could matter more than self-interest, and because when you die you are gone, self-sacrifice makes no sense.” Now, tyranny is certainly a great evil but individualism, according to Royce, was the wrong way to overcome it. If every individual seeks his or her own meaning, we will have fewer shared values and meanings, which will erode social solidarity and public institutions. All this will lead to intractable polarization and fragmentation. And ironically, Royce argued, individualism undermines individual happiness. We need “devotion to something more than ourselves for our lives to be endurable. Without it, we have only our desires to guide us, and they are fleeting, capricious, and insatiable.”

What we can take away from this is that created meaning in life is birthed not only from our denial in something greater than ourselves, but that when we feel like our personal desires give our lives the most significant meaning, our created meaning is then rooted in narcissism; and like Royce wrote, our desires are “fleeting, capricious, and insatiable.” If we can understand the merit to this truth, can we still say we would rather create our own meaning in life if we already know our choice will lead to never feeling like enough?

BRINGING TRANSFORMATION BACK IN THE ROOM

Transformation begins with an action designated for a tug of the soul; not so much a force of the mind. Our individual interpretation of a transformational act (namely Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection from the dead as atonement for our sins) will instigate a choice, and it’s our choice that begins the process of transformation—that we would be so enamored by what is genuine, palpable, and promising that we would be driven to embody the hope of this promise with our entire self. Secular wisdom promotes the power of gauging oneself; of universal inner-peace, and of the power of love itself. While these notions are inspiring, they are not transformative. Why? The power of love, peace, and self are not only ambiguous (meaning it would take longer to explain them than to act out what they mean), but their faulty foundation lies in the transparency of their finitude—the very limitations and weaknesses of the corrupted heart—when we feel coerced to pull all that we need from ourselves in order to find fulfillment in life, we exhaust ourselves in the process. If in order to live a “fulfilling life” we must take from the very reserves of our being and ultimately deplete our sanity in order to dismiss the bigger picture of what it means to live a meaningful life by separating ourselves from narcissism—does this not raise the concern that there must be a better, more adequate source to pull our meaning in life from? Do we not want to live a fulfilling life where we pull from something stronger than ourselves who knows what we need and has an abundant supply to provide from? How does this tie into transformation?

ENCOMPASSED BY FAITH

When we are inspired, we think—we intellectualize—we introspect. But we don’t really change. Change takes place on the inside, or the change isn’t authentic. Change is not what we believe, but why we believe it. Similarly, transformation is not how we act, but why we act or behave the way we do. Inspiration starts in the brain and stays there, whereas transformation starts in the heart and spreads out towards the limbs, eventually coinciding with the brain as a spiritual complement to the intellect. When we act selflessly for others with no benefit to ourselves without so much as expecting a thank you or reward—and if we can do this without feeling resentment or bitterness—then we have been transformed by something outside of ourselves by inviting what was outside to live, breathe, speak, love, influence, and permeate all of who we are inside. To try something and be unmoved—this is not transformation.

To wear a facade that can’t slip off in the challenges of adversity is transformation; soaked through from the heart, overcoming and overriding everything that intellect claims; becoming not only convinced, but encompassed by a belief in something greater—more real, true, and intrinsic than mere desire; more significant than gratification and more fulfilling than created meaning. Whereas Earthly desire is merely the surface of our thoughts, transformation is the metamorphosis of our choice to surrender ratiocination in that we would replace it with faith; in turn, rewiring our habitual process from depending on our intuition in order to find purpose in life, and instead, depending on God by trusting Him to live inside of us, emanating through our words, actions, and beliefs. 

BRINGING THE PARTS TOGETHER

In Part 1, we brought kindness into question by objectifying it under the scrupulous lens of morality, understanding that either God created morality, or that we need to accept others when they deviate from kindness and dip into narcissism as the most viable argument behind the belief that morality is subjective (defined per the individual and their culture). To bring these parts together, how does transformation and inspiration tie into how kindness can be objectified by morality? 

With inspiration, something is triggered in our brain which influences us to rethink our older ways; forcing us to consider how seriously to ingest our inspirations and to decide whether we should heed them carefully or dismiss them entirely. The most common and impressionistic symptom of inspiration is observed most when we see others being inspired. This in turn provokes thought in ourselves—but once again, the action behind such thoughts often remains obscured and stagnant. This is the finitude—the very weakness of inspiration: That although we can all acknowledge the importance of being inspired, as well as the importance of ostracizing the social norms (what society expects us to say, do, and how they expect us to live—rather than what God wants) that separate us from exemplarity in the world—the only way to birth permanent change, and to influence not only our movements but the very reasons and intentions behind our movements—is through transformation.

We can see by now just how powerful transformation is; we know it begins in the heart, where many of us believe morality resides. What if a personal God who made us in His image and, out of love for us wants us to exist in relationship with Him—also resides in this place? Not only would that help us understand why we seem to have such a strong, intrinsic sense of morality (objectified by the power of God’s wisdom and justice), it would also bring the concept of transformation full circle: When we acknowledge the only God there is creates and builds everything out of love, we notice—or recognize—God’s love apart from any other form of comparison through people who have been effected spiritually by their faith in His existence and love for them through Jesus Christ. Truly, to be affected so deeply would not only change ‘this or that’ about a person’s understanding of their life, it would completely reframe their outlook and reshape their heart in accordance with the will and desires of the God whom they declare their loyalty to. When this all takes place, kindness is no longer an action derived from “just because” (narcissism), it is then an opportunity to point towards the Exemplar of kindness, compassion, love, forgiveness, mercy, passion, veracity, devotion, loyalty, trustworthiness, and fruitfulness. Kindness, when objectified by morality, extends its hand and points straight at Jesus; an action motivated by the heart of a person whose choice was to be transformed by the transcendent love of God.

THE EXAMPLE WE ARE FOR THE WORLD

If we are given the power as humans to be an example of strength, kindness, love forgiveness, and every other virtuous trait of an exemplar—how can we do this without first understanding what we believe in, what we stand for, and what we want to grow towards? There will never be a day for the rest of our lives where we won’t experience something, whether external or internal, that challenges who we are, that provides food for thought, or that moves us in such a way that invigorates us to learn why we are the way we are. We are not examples to each other because of merely due to work ethic or political statuses, we are examples by our pertinacity; staying true to who we are with authenticity, veracity, self-awareness, and a faith that does not wane in the face of a cruel world misunderstanding itself before judging others. Changing the world doesn’t just boil down to “living with kindness in mind,” and when we become convinced that life is just that simple, we have heavily mistaken purpose for attitude; we’ll remain blind, thinking what’s most important is perspective and not reality. Perspective derives from inspiration, but our reality shifts entirely when we are transformed. Truly, transformation doesn’t stall and cancel out in the heart; it affects the eyes, ears, mouth, and most importantly—the soul. If these aspects of perspective do not permutate and shift accordingly, we have merely been inspired to think, but not transformed to live. 

When we convince ourselves inspiration is all we need, we mistake motivation for movement, thinking what’s in our brain is all that matters. But what of the heart? What of what we do and feel and think when no one is watching? The veracity of our character is directly molded from the transformation of within. When Jesus comes inside, He does not leave us the same, as mentioned in Part 2. Transformation is the renewal of who Jesus originally created us to be, and who He intends for us to be when we listen to His wisdom and follow His ways. So, why choose transformation over inspiration? Because, presumably, when we do, we have discovered that we are ready and that we want to be changed forever from the inside. If we do not become ready, then our only call to answer life tomorrow is the inspiration to repeat all that we do in the same way as before; but we were not born to stay in our head, we were born to experience life from our heart.

THOUGHTS?

If you would like to read more, please follow this blog, and please share this with anyone. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017.. If you have any thoughts, questions, or feedback you’d like to share, I would love to read from you! I very much welcome comments by anyone, so please don’t be shy. I enjoyed writing this 3-part series, and I hope that reading it has helped you understand yourself, your faith, and the way you view transformation in a new light than before. My prayer is that walking away, you will see the choice to allow Jesus to work in you a little more tangibly, and less mysteriously. 

May God bless you all!! Have a blessed day!

Center

Platitudes, Wisdom, & God: Part 2… Transformation & Inspiration

After I finished Part 1, I realized there was more material I would need to cover before reaching the latter thoughts and questions which ended Part 1. What I’d like to do in this article is challenge and explicate the difference between what it means to be inspired, and what it means to be transformed, by explaining how they are different and why the difference is important to understand moving forward to Part 3.

To begin, think about this: When we are inspired, we consider and appreciate alternatives to what we already think and know; when we are transformed, our way of thinking changes the way we live

THE FACETS OF TRANSFORMATION

Coming to understand what transformation is, also considers understanding what transformation is not. Basically, transformation (with regards to Christianity) is the recognition of our faults (selfishness, pride, etc.), and the recognizable changes made by surrendering these to God. Transformation is not losing our identity, but finding it through a more fulfilling source. How do we surrender? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we can’t surrender to air; we need a relationship. We can’t have a meaningful conversation with someone who doesn’t exist. Likewise, we need to invite Jesus into our heart so we can speak to Him directly and hear from Him intimately. Letting go of selfishness also requires us to seek the opposite of selfishness—so, selflessness—and in so doing, we make room in our hearts where there was previously the clutter of selfish choices that put ourselves ahead of the rest of the world, and God. When Jesus comes into our hearts, and we share a discussion with Him, the feeling is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. And why is that? Jesus doesn’t judge, criticize, blame, or belittle—He loves. That’s it.

Now, loving doesn’t exclude being honest and authentic, and Jesus certainly inhabits these traits as well. Honesty many times means bringing the truth to the surface, and the truth sometimes hurts because we don’t want to look at it. In this way, Jesus is more real than a human being because He brings what is most important about us to the surface of our heart, and asks us to take a good look at it so that we recognize the problem without any confusion. He doesn’t do this to shove it in our face, but to be unmistaken; He wants to be absolutely sure we don’t stay the same after our encounter with Him. How can we be our best self if we stay the same? How can we be our best self if we hold back what shames us the most and never deal with it, process it, or move away from it? Jesus knows this far better than we do, and when He brings it to the surface and asks us to look at it head-on, He’s holding our hand, patiently waiting for us to ask, “What do I need to do?” He’s already got the answer, but He loves us enough to allow us to want to change on our own accord. In other words, He loves us enough to let us choose what He already knows we need. Our God truly is a loving God.

HOW INSPIRATION COMPARES

We are inspired by people who do things we cannot do, or things we will not do, but which impress us nonetheless. Now, what inspires us may or may not influence us to do anything different, and this is the key difference between inspiration and transformation. Inspiration says “Isn’t this great? Don’t you want to try it?” Transformation on the other hand will say, “If you want this, you’re going to have to do this.” In other words, inspiration allows room for us to sit still with our mouthes hanging open in awe. It motivates us to want to do more than sit still, to move beyond ourselves and into something more; but transformation on the other hand, occurs behind that motivation. That is, transformation occurs below the surface of inspiration, as the substance that invigorates us with the passion to be motivated. For example, I feel inspired to cook when I see my friend cooking in his kitchen like it’s no big deal, despite how I hate cooking and have never enjoyed doing so. Now, that inspiration occurs each time I watch someone cook who enjoys cooking; I’m inspired by their passion to cook, but I am not transformed by watching them cook. In other words, I do not feel called to cook, no matter how inspired I am. I do try to be a little more healthy for my own sake afterwards—especially after watching my friend bake a succulent chicken breast with lemon juice. But I rarely cook, even after watching him at work with his madly impressive culinary skills. 

On the other hand, I have been transformed from the inside out, and how I can tell the difference is that, for one instance, for 15 years I had been writing song lyrics and poetry dedicated to my anger, frustration, and bitterness about life. Writing had become an outlet for my negative emotions beginning a couple of years after my parents divorced. I wrote for me in order to express myself. Where, you ask, is the transformation in that if I’ve been writing all along? The transformation is in that ever since I started writing my blog almost 14 months ago, I rarely ever write songs anymore because I feel an absolutely irresistible urge to share the way Jesus has impacted my life, how that impact is worth living for, sharing, and evangelizing about. I’m not on here to preach, I am on here to share my testimony and how if Jesus works in my life so dramatically and transformationally, I want the whole world to experience this—this inner joy that never came from any other source throughout my almost 30 years of existence.

HOW TRANSFORMATION AFFECTS US POSITIVELY

My relationship with Jesus transformed my view of family as well. I used to believe family was only blood; now I fully believe sometimes family isn’t blood at all, that family is where the heart is, and my heart belongs to Jesus, first and foremost. My writing belongs to Him as well, not to me. And I rarely write my songs anymore, not because I feel obligated to write here instead, but because I have so little negative to write about. Every several months, I have something significant that knocks me off my axis point and writing about it helps me process my feelings. But I remember Jesus’s goodness and blessings in my life, and how my life has changed for the better since my faith began, and suddenly writing about my feelings leads me back to wanting to tell all of you how Jesus is real, and that His love is transformational!

I was inspired to hear how Jesus had worked in my friend’s life when I met him in college, and how others had been transformed as I went to church in Florida and then moved to live in California, and soon enough, I began realizing what I was learning about wasn’t about inspiration, but that it ran far deeper than that. I learned that in order to experience what my friends had experienced, a personal experience was needed, and that required a surrender on my part I had never given space or time to before. This was the seed to transformation for me. This is how I learned transformation begins in the heart, and inspiration originates in the brain. With inspiration, our minds recognize the way something we learn is better than our current knowledge base (like the example of my friend’s cooking), but nothing inside of us feels the need to do anything different. When I read about Jesus and listened to my friends describe how He not only inspired them but changed their hearts entirely and re-shifted their deepest desires in the direction of loving others in His name, that went beyond my mind—that went straight to my heart. God doesn’t just inspire through the selfless life of Christ in the Bible, He transforms with Jesus’s resurrection and allows us to ask how we can live differently when we understand the adventure He calls us into through receiving Jesus as the Lord of our lives.

See, inspiration can regard just about anything: Cooking healthier, exercising more, visiting church more often, wearing more stylish clothes, listening to cooler music, reading more sophisticated books, finding more interpersonal friends, studying more effectively, driving more safely, planning more efficiently, writing more eloquently, believing in ourselves more whole-heartedly, and on and on and on. Inspiration says, “Isn’t this amazing?!”, but it doesn’t require anything. Inspiration is like a prerequisite, the antecedent to what happens next. But when we fill ourselves up with antecedents, we never reach the goal, which is the change that the antecedent points towards. If we remain stagnant in receiving hints, we never reach the glory of discovering the treasure, and if we stay stagnant for too long, eventually our stagnancy takes residence by forgetting it was only a temporary visit. Consequently, selfishness continues to be the hot, stinging candle wax perpetually dripping on our skin. 

THOUGHTS?

How does this article speak to you? Does understanding transformation and inspiration from a different angle help you see how one affects you in ways the other doesn’t? If you have any questions, please feel free to leave questions in the comments below. If you have anything you’d like to add or mention, please mention that in the comments as well! This will lead into Part 3, where I will continue to talk about secular proverbs, and how our understanding of transformation and inspiration plays into the way we perceive what we read and intake from outside wisdom.

May God bless you as you come to understand how transformation works, and how important it is for us to comprehend the way transformation does not allow us to sit still and think about what we know forever, instead, it calls us to action. How do you respond to this? What does this mean for you? I’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to read more, please follow this blog, and please share this with anyone. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017.

Have a blessed day!

 

 

God Is In Control

All of my hope, all of my faith, all of my trust, and all of my purpose is in Christ, and Christ alone. Where is yours?

When I look at the world today, I have pity—but not fear. I am constantly reminded of the reasons why I know we are called to be the light in the darkness. Here is what I remember—this is what keeps me inspired. May the following words inspire you and nudge you towards the hope of what is to come when you place everything you are in Christ.

There is no status or title in heaven:

“The last will be first and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16).

On Earth, we will have trouble (pain, suffering, affliction, death):

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Our lives are like a mist (James 4:14). Constantly, I am noticing how fast time flies for me each day, as if life has become a race to the finish. But I am unafraid, because:

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

“What if I can’t accomplish my personal life goals?” “What if I never get married?”  “What happens if the world ends before I get what I want?” :

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)

What is most important to you right now? I spent too many years of my life living selfishly, lustfully, ignorantly, naively, and purposelessly. Life is too short for this kind of lifestyle. There is so much room for love; what’s better, there is so much room for Jesus—if you look at the news and the country right now, Jesus fits right in. He didn’t come to Earth when all was calm and happy. Jesus understands life when everything seems upside down; that’s how He spent the last 12 hours of his Earthly life. But that didn’t end His story, and our story doesn’t end with fear.

In the end, what doesn’t matter is who is in charge on Earth. Ultimately, God is charge, even if we can’t experience His full glory yet. And it matters not what people say; God will have the final say. It doesn’t matter how we die; what matters is how we live. It doesn’t matter if people reject us; God constantly invites us back to our relationship with Him. He loves us at full capacity, 24/7, and He never tires of loving us more than we can take.

Be lifted high today, there is nothing to be afraid of. No matter how life looks on the outside, everything is under control behind the scenes. Keep praying, keep reaching out and loving people no matter what the world is doing or saying. Keep forgiving those who hurt you and keep loving those who despise you for finding joy in the love of Jesus. Keep shining your hope and faith into the world, and keep moving forward. Keep going, keep going, KEEP GOING! There no God but one, no King but one in charge. Let this truth lift your spirits and calm your heart. Jesus is alive, and He is going to come back. Until that time, be ready. Love Him with every fiber of your being, and show your love for God to others by giving your time to those in need; listening and not sabotaging; loving and not judging; helping and not harming; praying and not complaining. People need godly love, and when we love others with a godly love, they can tell the difference.

Will you be that difference in the world today? Jesus is calling us to make way for His return. Open your hearts, ears, and mouths, praising God with joyfulness. There is nothing to fear! This is a new day, and God is in control. Everything is going to be alright! In Jesus name!

Overworked

Soaring with Him Ministries

The Light That Shines In the Darkness: Part 2

One of the responsibilities of being an effective writer is learning to reach your audience, and a part of that responsibility is recognizing who your audience is in order to reach them efficiently and purposefully. My audience, as you may have come to know, must be open-minded, vulnerable, and willing to think outside the box. You don’t have to be a believer of Jesus, nor do you have to be an unbeliever. You don’t have to be a certain age, although I think it helps to be mature enough to consider these subjects. 

The reason for this thought is that I have had to consider the needs of the readers who would benefit from reading from a blog such as mine, and what I have come to realize is this: Being how my blog is an amalgam of self-help and Christianity, one must desire to be helped, and one must be open-minded enough to enter the discussion of faith, Christ-follower or otherwise, if they are to glean something useful from my writing.

On that note, I would say that I’ve come to understand something else as well. What strikes me is that my writing would be beneficial to someone open-minded, vulnerable, and willing to think spiritually complex, but only those who are looking to be helped in those regards. What that means is there are a plethora of people in this world who do need help thinking more “outside the box,” who would benefit from considering faith, but most importantly–are looking for that help. Those who aren’t looking—and here’s the key point—aren’t reading about it. My words aren’t reaching people who need these articles to give them an encouraging nudge, a push in the right direction, a mental/physical challenge to get them out of the place they’re feeling too comfortable in—because they’re not on the search for something they don’t feel they need help with.

That means, those who read this are hoping to find something. You’re curious, you’re open enough to search for an article related to your quest for answers, and you’re wondering if what I have to say will fit your inquiry. What that means, is… you will now have knowledge that people who aren’t searching for answers directly will not have, and that means you are the bridge between them and that life-changing information. The difference is that, while they aren’t going online looking through blogs to find knowledge or wisdom, they know you, and when they talk to you, you have a light about you that they don’t have yet. That “light” is your desire to find hope (or it is the hope itself), to find answers; to not stay stuck in your hopelessness. 

My hope—why I even have this blog—is to shine the light of Christ into the world of people who do not yet have Him, but who are searching for the answer to life that He is. When people talk to you, specifically those who aren’t searching for what you are searching for—they can see the bridge between what they don’t know and what they don’t think they need. That bridge, that hope, opens their (spiritual) eyes to see that they don’t have something they need, and the revealing nature of that eye-opening experience allows them to yearn for hope. 

Now, that leaves you to either share the information directly (orally or through writing) when the right time comes to share it, or to share this blog (or another’s blog/book/resource which inspires you and encourages you). When the time comes, you will play a role in their quest, whether or not they realize they need to be on one. We all need this answer, but we’re not all going to find it the same way. Many, many people will not read this. But you are reading this right now. Already, you are one step towards a part of your life where you can move forward with something useful, something significantly better than before, and now that means you have acquired what others need to have shared; otherwise, they will remain in the dark.

See, you are curious enough to read this, which makes you open enough to receive it, and possibly bold and brave enough to actually apply it, whereas others haven’t even taken the first step. Their stubbornness precludes them from taking any step in the right direction; they will continue on in stagnancy if you or someone else like you doesn’t help them. This isn’t an obligation, this is a privilege. The same part of you which is curious, the part which yearns to grow, develop, and outlive the part of you that is damaged, broken, and unhealed—this same part of you can show others that there is something to yearn for and hope in. The fact that you yourself haven’t stayed stagnant is reason for others (unbelievers) to believe there are people out there who do the same, and that is inspiration to find passion in life through purpose in Christ.

Certainly, countless people have discovered the slow, torturous banality of monotony. The others around you who are not yet healed don’t even realize their own brokenness, but you can see it because you have eyes to see. You can hear it in their voices and discern the pain in their words because you have ears to hear (Mark 4:9). That makes you a vessel to help them see and hear. Truly, if you are only reading this, but are not sharing what you learn, you are rescinding so many others’ experience to grow out of their tedious state of desultoriness. You already know how that is; you have been there before. That’s empathy. You can relate to their pain because you’ve experienced their pain before in your own circumstances. But now you can step back and realize with a shift from your old perspective just how different things can be if we can change the way we view ourselves and the lives we’re in. This is not about enlightenment. This is about what it means to have a soul, and that our soul purpose on this Earth is letting others know about Jesus, His love, and His eternal purpose for our souls in Heaven—that, without Him, we have no hope in anything. That is why I write this blog, and that could be the answer you’re looking for. If it’s not, then perhaps you’re asking the wrong question.

Have you ever looked to anything else in your entire life and received a purpose outside of your own desires? Outside of your own selfishness? This is but one of the many ways I know Jesus is the answer: He loved us before we even existed on Earth. He created everything about us, from how much hair we have on our heads to what we’ll desire when we’re adults. To live for anyone or anything other than Him, it’s mere narcissism. There’s simply no eternal point to any of it. In a previous post, I mentioned our preference for chocolate or beer aren’t bad to have, and I hold true to that statement. What I’ll add here is that our desire for anything outside of Jesus is less important. That means, we’ll have many, many things we’ll enjoy in this lifetime, but ultimately, the only thing that we could ever enjoy, that will matter during and beyond this lifetime on Earth, is Jesus.

How do I know? Let me be frank. I used to be an atheist—I was an atheist for most of my life, and when I discovered Jesus and truly learned who He is and was, my heart was changed by Him. He enraptured me with His story and the purpose of His ministry; to be the salvation to the souls of the world by being the Mediator between our sin and God’s love and forgiveness. When I learned this, I fell to my knees in adoration for this man, this God Incarnate.

Once I realized faith had nothing to do with “going through the motions”, saying the same words over and over, repeating prayers out of a book instead of genuinely saying them from my heart—once I learned, in fact, that relationship is more important to Jesus than rituals and religious obligations, such as praying the rosary to absolve ourselves of our own sins**—I came to not only understand and respect faith in Christ, but to embrace the faith as my own; to walk in the light of Christ, meaning, to walk in His footsteps along His path, not making my own footsteps on my own disastrous path. My path, as I discovered along the way of pain and mistakes, leads to spiritual death. But when we “die” to Christ, or when we surrender everything about ourselves to His will and desire His love above all else we become even more alive in Him, inspired and drawn to His liking through faith in His truth: He died and rose again so that we could be with Him forever. This inspires hope: Christian hope. This is the reason people have riveting joy in Christ, joy that makes another person think, “What do they have that I don’t?”

**(I believe praying the rosary is helpful if, by praying it, you close to God, but I believe it’s utterly redundant if you pray believing the rosary itself will save you. Nothing saves us but Jesus. And it’s not praying that saves us—but Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. And He did that over two thousand years ago. The only thing that can save us is our choice to have faith in Jesus as Lord, accepting His love for us and letting Him rebuild our spirits through surrender and choosing to obey His command to love others the way He loves us. Only then are we saved; long, long before we ever begin the rosary, we have already been saved, if we believe in Him. The rosary is only a prayer, and it venerates Jesus, no doubt, but veneration does not save us anymore than talking about Jesus without believing in His Lordship does.)

Nothing, not even death itself, provokes any kind of fear:

(Philippians 1:21) “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

There is no way to lose when living in faith of Jesus. And if there’s nothing to lose, what is there to fear? When we catch ourselves feeling afraid of fear, we are not trusting in Christ, so really, believing in Christ requires us to trust Him, which in turn eradicates all remnants of fear. Truly believing in the hope of the promise of His love destroys all hopelessness, and shines light into all darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5)

You’re reading this, you’re searching for something. My writing can give you clues, thoughts, pieces of knowledge and wisdom for your soul to digest. But you must apply what you learn, and you must share what you gain from the experience. You must inspire others towards that light and tell them the reason for your hope. Hope is not food, nor a holiday, nor a day off, and not even in sex. Our hope is in Christ, and Christ alone. Through Him, we gain, and we truly live. Through Him, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death… fearlessly (Psalms 23:4). Through Him, we are renewed and rebuilt. We must be this light for others to help them find the path of Jesus to walk on as well. We must tell them that this life wasn’t mean to be lived without Him. We must tell them He loves them no matter what, and He always will. In every word we speak and every action we take, we point to Jesus, because He is our answer, and our hope. We must be this for others, so that they will not continue to wander asunder. Jesus commands us to feed his sheep; the “sheep” are the lost. They need Jesus, whether they know this or not. All we can do is shine, love, and direct them to the One who saves. That’s what we’re called to do, that is our purpose, and that is what will matter when we die: Did we believe in Jesus; did we make our faith known to the world, and in so doing, inspire them to the same love that inspired us to surrender and trust in His path, His way, His Truth? 

This is our reason to breath, to move, to live. This is the passion in our souls, and the fire burning to keep us going. Jesus is our everything, or we are only making up reasons as we go. Our reasons or merely excuses for narcissism, because at the end of it all, all the reasons we could ever conjure would only lead to self-satisfaction and pride. Through Jesus, there’s actually something left behind rippling throughout eternity; nothing and no one on this Earth could ever do this so flawlessly but the name that rings through our hearts, whether through admiration or controversy. Only such a powerful name would spawn argument for those afraid to be wrong about their own spiritual choices. Any vocation not inspired by Jesus is an agenda, and it will not glorify Him; it will not matter when they pass. They merely pass as another name in history, soon to be forgotten. But they could pass as someone who drove many to the one name above all names; not to their credit or glory, but for the prospect of making their life something meaningful, purposeful, and worthwhile. 

We only have a vapor’s worth of a life; a mist (James 4:14). For many, that means splurging on sex, drugs, and alcohol, flooding chemical after chemical into their bodies which we aren’t designed to intake, and they sit in that place of malady and discontent, telling themselves repeatedly so as to somehow convince themselves (since the pragmatic and empirical evidence isn’t adequate enough) that their habits are a means to an escape from the reality they are obstinately unwilling to embrace. But that morbid, self-sabotaging choice leads to a disappointing, worthless life of regret, mistakes, and deprecation. There is no success story of someone who tried drugs, sex, alcohol, and “escape,” having lived a life full of bliss and acceptance. These escapes are deviations from the purpose of Jesus in our lives, and without His love, we are already dead and empty. Chemicals won’t feed our hungry souls; perhaps the wise who choose to read this know that the only substance we would ever want to be addicted to is the Word of God. We can’t intake too much Jesus anymore than we can’t be too joyful. 

If you’ve read this, you want something you may not have. Honestly, I don’t have what you need (other than my faith), but I intend to try to point you in the right direction, and that means directing you to Jesus; His love, His sacrifice, and His promise—they are for you. They are for us all. Receive His Truth, apply the message, and be transformed. Be what everyone in this world needs us to be, because no one else has the boldness and bravery of a fearless Christ-follower who walks in the confidence of their faith, and not in the confidence of society, or culture, or religion, status, gender, race, or age; only bold confidence in the miraculous, transformative powers of Jesus, His redeeming love, and His proclaiming Truth. We are vessels, shining back to the God who saves. We are lights shining in the darkness, pointing towards the brightest Light of them all. 

To read more, please follow this blog. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone you think would benefit, and feel free to write in the comments below—a prayer request, a thought—I would love to hear from you! God bless you!!

Discover

Departing From Stoicism: Allowing Ourselves To Feel

What would be the purpose of healing if we didn’t first experience pain?

Like the shift in perspective between seeing the glass as half-full or half-empty, faithfulness is a drastic shift in perspective from faithlessness.

NUMBNESS OF HEART

Pain is arguably the most universal source of faithlessness. We blame God for our pain and then deny His existence because we refuse to accept the concept of a God who allows suffering. Many people attempt to obscure their response to pain with the facade of apathetic immunity. Some are convinced they have overcome pain with a numbness of heart, but they live in disillusionment; their attitude towards pain weakens their ability to handle the rest of their life adequately, and consequently, they have not overcome pain, but have been submersed in its misery while trying not to blink an eye or shed a tear.

When I notice the stoic personality of someone near me, I feel for them. I understand their expression of pain, as well as their apathetic countenance—the numbness of heart may seem like the appropriate response when it appears to give us strength, but in actuality, numbness is only the mirage of strength. What really lies beyond its scintillation is the schism between bitterness and acceptance.

INDEPENDENT STOICISM

Similar to the pain-covered stoicism is the numbness associated with faithlessness. There are an innumerable amount of people who live life giving off the impression that they are capable of taking on anything alone. The catch, however, is that they’re not one-hundred percent involved in the role they’re portraying. They are tenacious in that they choose to endure, but they leave their truest feelings, and their humanity, at the front door: They enter inside, walking on pins and needles with clenched fists and gritted teeth, just to walk back out and scream into a pillow. This is the immunity of stoicism of the faithless—those who say they don’t believe in anything, but are so disappointed that there seems to be nothing noteworthy to believe in that they feel defeated. This is how I was when I was an atheist, and this is the same malady I see so many others suffering through as they deny faith in Christ, all because they automatically and inaccurately associate the message of Jesus with the piousness of so many strict and misguided churchgoers who preach that rules and rituals (which inhere to religion) are essential to faith, while minimizing—or leaving out entirely—the importance of receiving and accepting the love of God in our heart (as in the walk of faith with Jesus).

WHY NUMBNESS IS NOT A STRENGTH

Like me, there are many others who have survived, although barely, by believing the numbness of heart is a strength. Personally, I have come a long way since living in that mindset. I would heavily argue its weakness in the way numbness completely contradicts our humanity. Basically, humans are designed to feel. Like the way we are designed to have desires (i.e. food, relationship, purpose, etc.), we are also designed to feel, and when we choose to pretend that we don’t have feelings, that doesn’t turn them off—we just live in denial—which contradicts the reality that our feelings are being compartmentalized in a place where they aren’t managed properly, where we don’t learn from them or with them, and where their negligence undermines our innate desire to live passionately; the very opposite of a numbness of heart.

I write this so that you can know, if you’ve ever been in a situation in your life where you’ve believed the compartmentalization of emotions on the back-burner of your mind is a helpful choice, it isn’t. Not only that, but the numbness we drown our emotions with also turns us against faith because the home of our emotions is our heart, where faith and hope also reside. When we lock the door of our heart from the inside, hope and faith are trapped on the outside, and we have then locked ourselves away from embracing the full human experience—comprised of feelings, experiences, and the passion to serve the God who gave us both.

If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, you will receive no judgment from me. I would only like to send you a message of hope that feeling numb about life won’t help you find any joy. Feeling apathetic towards life will certainly damage your attitude towards pursuing the purpose of your life, and even the process and journey of discovering what your purpose is. I lived this way for many years, and it made me beg for death. Please don’t let it do the same for you! Learn from my experiences; turn away from the numbness in your heart and embrace life’s experiences in full, and, if you’re ready and willing, take a step forward to surrendering your stoicism to Jesus, asking Him to meet you where you are, and to show His face to you. Ask Him to speak to you in a way you will listen for Him. If you’re uneasy about the idea of praying, just say a simple, “Jesus, show me who you truly are,” He will not leave you without a response.

LETTING JESUS INTERVENE

Feeling numb is not uncommon for people who have experienced heavy trauma, as their traumatic experience seems to leave them without an explanation for all the “why?” questions. When we live long enough without an explanation for our pain, our hearts become harder and more difficult to soften because the constant jabs of life causes bruising; sometimes we feel we’ve been battered to the point of no return. But I would argue that Jesus will never give us anything we cannot handle without His divine intervention. Ask Him to intervene, command it in Jesus name, and watch His power come into fruition with your reality. Believe in Him, and let Him show you His unlimited, accessible power through faith.

My hope for you is that you will come to understand the reason why stoicism isn’t a healthy way to live, and that you will choose to walk away from that path, entering the path where Jesus is standing and waiting, instead. His love for you is unending, and I imagine you would rather feel your heart overflowing with the unconditional love of God, rather than a numbness of heart, which often times feels like we’re laying on our deathbed, watching out the window of life into a still image of nothingness—weary of the rhythm of our heart stopping, promising us our life is over. Numbness of heart is a waste of existence, and we all have so much to offer. You are conscious (you are reading this post, after all), and most importantly, you are loved. Loved by Jesus.

A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON PAIN

We all experience pain, but the reason for pain is not to dwell in it, but to learn from it. Sometimes what seems like such a complex concept is really the most rudimentary life lesson: How can there be any healing if there is nothing broken? We are all broken, in one way or another. We all need healing, whether we admit to it or not. The solid truth behind pain—and the excruciating conversation about the purpose of suffering in our world—is that there would be no such need for healing, or for God—if there was no pain, and if there was no sin to cause so much pain. This life is a test to see if we will rely on the love, joy, hope, and strength of God above our own, if we will be willing enough to admit one actually exists in the first place. In Him, and only in Him, can we find healing for our pain. Would we not rather find healing in a loving God, than to live life feeling numbed by the world’s inability to fix what only God can?

TIME TO COME ALIVE

May these words reach you and inspire you to feel again! Don’t spend another waking moment feeling dead inside, but instead, wake up and remember you are loved beyond words. Don’t just take it from me, though—talk to Jesus, Himself! It would be beneficial if you did not pray to Him as if believing He’s trillions of miles away on a throne. No—He’s right there beside you, listening ever so intently to every word you say. He cares so much to know how He can help you to feel closer to Him. Stoicism builds chains to trap your heart in numbness, but feeling His love fills in the space between numbness and self-doubt, exposing the mirage of strength for what it truly is; a mirage—and fulfilling our deepest desire to feel accounted for; to feel like we matter and are seen.

Jesus never takes His eyes off of us, we are precious in His sight. Remember that, and move forward with your day. You are loved, and your are precious. May you feel these truths in your heart! In Jesus name.

Sacred

Hedonism In A World Transformed By Christ

Christianity is a walk of faith, and a life-long lesson in delayed gratification. In this life, we are given the choice to either indulge in hedonism and selfish pursuits or to surrender our desires and embrace the life God provides us. In order to fully receive God’s blessings, of course, we must surrender our selfish desires and reallocate our energy on our faith. The very thought of surrender can be daunting because it is much easier to pursue a life where we get what we want—but that is the foundation of hedonism, is it not? 

OUR FEAR OF SURRENDER

What seems threatening about surrender is that we are afraid we will never feel satisfied if our personal desires aren’t fulfilled, but that is a lie of the Devil. The truth is that the life God has planned for us is far richer and more fulfilling than all of our desires. How do I know? From my personal experience, I lived most of my life burrowed in selfish pursuits as an unbeliever, and when I finally began understanding the basics of surrendering to God, my life radically changed in ways directly related to the choice to surrender. For example, surrendering my desire to be well-received by everyone in order to receive the love and acceptance of God means understanding the world’s point of view is based on ego and identity, whereas God’s point of view is based on love. The difference of this example alone has helped me see and to embrace that my identity was forged long before I was born, and when I realize what it was intended to be, the way I express myself is much more influential and authentic than the way I express myself when who I am trying to be is a conglomeration of facades I’ve gathered from what the world likes to see.

THE IPOD STORY

For many years, I had an iPod Nano, I would listen to music in the car and during my walks, gathering thoughts for future blog posts, song lyrics, or just zoning out. My iPod was very important to me, and I used it just about every day; obviously, my desire was for my iPod. Sure, the songs I listened to included some Christian songs, but for the most part, rock and soundtrack music flooded my iPod. What’s important about telling this story is how heavily swayed to continue listening to the music without realizing the impact it was having on me: Unnoticeable to me was the truth that I was feeling frustrated, negative, and upset more frequently.

Well, recently, that iPod broke, and ironically, I did not get very upset, and I’ll tell you why: I was being humbled by Christ Himself, lovingly reminding me that I had not been using music to glorify Him or to build my confidence in my faith, and, furthermore—I had been going through a period in my life when I needed God more deeply (there is never a time when I don’t need God, but to be honest, this period of my life made me feel more desperate for His love). Since I was using my iPod abusively, I believe God allowed the iPod to break so that I would be forced to spend time in the car (and out walking) praying, listening, and practicing presence. Ever since the incident with the iPod occurred and I haven’t had music to give me company, I must admit that the difference has been humbling, sobering, and it certainly has had a positive impact on my faith life.

MUSIC IS A TOOL FOR WORSHIP

Sure, in some version of a perfect world, my iPod would be working, and I’d be listening to my music constantly while on the go. But, is that really a perfect world? If I’m being honest, viewing music so highly is tantamount to worshipping music, rather than using music to worship Christ. Music comes from God, and when I abuse His gift of music, I abuse my ability to sense God inside the songs I listen to. When I listen to music without remembering Christ, I abuse its purpose. Worse yet, when I glorify music instead of God, I misplace the importance of God with the importance of one of His gifts—and I believe that is why the incident happened with my iPod.  

While music is truly a beautiful invention, it is not God; but merely only an extension of Him. Is there something in your life that acts in the way my iPod did for me? Are you holding a gift of God above God? Are you able to worship God while using His gifts? If not, do you think that’s helping you to see Him as a loving God? When we’re unable to witness God in the blessings of life, it is not because He’s not blessing us, but because we are not perceiving His blessings for what they are. It takes one to extend their hand with a gift, but it takes another to take the gift and be thankful for the giver’s generosity. God gives us so much; food, shelter, water, relationship, cars, jobs, money, music—and so many times we receive these without any thanks, using our gifts while ignoring the Giver.

This isn’t intended to be a statement about thanksgiving, albeit that is a point which could be made—rather, this is a point more about the nature of worshipping God, and not the gifts of God. Where do we extend our worship? Do we worship sex, drugs, power, identity, relationships, alcohol, music, the internet? These are all things which can be worshipped, and none of them are God. 

A REMINDER OF HOPE

In this world, the pace and speed of life is ever increasing, and the challenge for the Christ-follower is needing to be constantly reminded to keep their faith in the hope of Jesus. When we surrender to the name of Jesus, we let go of all the things in our lives we could be worshipping instead of Jesus by releasing our grip from the desires in our heart. Since desire begins in the heart, it is from there that it must be surrendered. Surrender is a physical, mental, and spiritual release. When we release one thing, we grab another; in releasing our selfish desires, we must cling to the hope of Jesus by having faith in His promise that He has delivered us from Hell, providing a way into Heaven; an eternity without pain, death, suffering, loneliness, malady, or disease. When we place our faith in this hope, the hope itself nourishes our soul with humility, replacing the impulse for our selfish desires to be met, and in their place, we are replenished with the desire to be filled with joy, peace, hope, love, grace, and forgiveness—gifts of the love of Jesus. This is why I say Christianity is a life-long lesson in delayed gratification: We believe so strongly in the Word of God—Jesus, Himself, and His promise of redemption—that we live our whole lives in the hope and faith of seeing Him when we die, surrendering our selfish desires for our lifetime here on Earth, knowing He will fill them with something far greater.

For many, the notion of surrender sounds like a threat because they disbelieve in the promising hope of Christ. In our hope for Christ, we find reason to love unconditionally, to give generously, and to believe whole-heartedly. Without Christ, our hope is founded in the transient pleasures of a corrupted world. The world has a set of rules by which loving others adheres to, and to extend beyond these rules is to beg for judgment and condemnation (i.e. unconditional love versus expectation and disappointment). When Jesus came into the world, He set a new example for how the world can love: By dying on the cross while we were still sinners, He rescinded all our excuses to be phlegmatic about love. We can no longer explain away narcissism without first identifying its purpose by comparing it to Christ-like love; whereas the selfishness of narcissism lives for itself in harmony with hedonism, Christ dying and rising again opened the possibility for humanity to live in the embrace of the unconditional love of the Heavenly Father, through the most selfless, altruistic act given as a gift to the world; for all generations past, and all generations to come. Jesus became the epitome of altruism and the prime example of love, and when we try to excuse our selfishness, we must speak to the cross itself, for no example raises higher than Jesus’ choice to suffer for us. 

When we surrender, we surrender our desires in the faith of attaining Jesus’ promise of eternal life with Him. Not hope as in, “We’re not sure, but maybe,”—no. Hope as in, “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we know that what’s coming will be glorious.” Our hope in Christ isn’t some figment of “perhaps one day,” but rather, “only a matter of time.” The hope Christ offers is absolute, promising, and real. 

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE

Is there anything left in your life you haven’t surrendered that is keeping you from embracing God’s promise for you? Are you ready to take one step closer to Jesus and make a bold choice in surrendering any idols you’re worshiping which do not exult Jesus’ name–but instead, exult the propensities of a broken world? These are tough questions because they require more than just a “yes” or “no”—they require action. Don’t just think about these questions—apply them to your life. Where could you strip away parts of the world from who you are to leave room for Jesus to fill you up with peace, joy, and humility; hope in the eternal, painless, deathless future with God Himself? 

My prayer for you is that Godly humility will overcome you, and that His strength of spirit would remind you that you are not alone; you are never alone. God is with you always, and He desires to embrace you with His unconditional love. If you’d like to receive His gift of love through Jesus Christ, you can take that step by surrendering what’s holding you back from worshipping Him. I was worshipping music too much, and barely even Christian music! What kind of surrender will help you feel God’s love today? Ask yourself, and follow through by trusting in the process of surrender. Transformation starts inside. You can say “yes” and think “no” all day and never move. Instead, say yes, then get up and do something about it. Take action, surrender the world and receive God’s promise of love through Jesus. Truly, this will be the single greatest lesson in humility you will ever learn, for it will be a daily reminder of Jesus in your life.  

May God bless you as you go forward today! To read more, please follow this blog. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LancePrice2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone you think would benefit, and feel free to write in the comments below—I would love to hear from you! God bless you!! May He meet you where you are and encourage you with His love, in Jesus name. 

Tough Questions

The Purpose Of Faith: Jesus, Or Narcissism?

COMMON OFFENSE

Everyone gets offended. Whether by a friend or stranger, co-worker or family member, it matters not. As I’ve grown older, I rarely get offended anymore. The difference is in the way I receive what people say. In the past, I cared too much about others’ words, but now I care in a different, empathetic way; I care more about the position of a person’s heart than of the offense they’re trying to cause me.

Interestingly, I felt somewhat offended recently; indirectly, more or less. Not so much me, personally, but my beliefs. What stood out to me was why I felt frustrated because the people speaking were speaking from a place of misunderstanding. Let me explain.

SCIENCE, GOD, & THE BIBLE

Many people cling to this world with all their might and power because they choose to believe there is nothing to look forward to when they die. For them, the last breath of this life is the last moment of their existence anywhere. Not only is that an incredibly unfulfilling perspective to have, it is enormously miscalculated. An innumerable amount of atheists believe science to be the contemporary God, and they are willing to go to any lengths to use scientific discovery as empirical evidence that the Biblical God doesn’t exist. However, science itself aids in the providence of faith. As Leslie Wickman writes in her book, “God of the Big Bang: How Modern Science Affirms the Creator,” God can be found in science; not so much in that science precedes God, but we are finally discovering phenomenal truths about the universe, aiding in the explanation that God and science are not dichotomously at war in the modern argument of God and the Bible, but how they actually conflate through the evidence of each other—God used science to bring about existence, and we have used science to discover that the unexplainable aspects of creation were not formed by evolution, but by the miraculous power of God.

FEAR OF HELL

What saddens is me how many unbelievers claim not to believe in God, but choose not even to explore faith in Him. This tells me they might be afraid to be wrong. I was once afraid to be wrong. As an atheist for most of my life, there were several times in my teens when I wanted to commit suicide, and one of the only reasons I couldn’t go through with it was because I was afraid Hell really did exist and I would burn for eternity. Perhaps some of the unbelievers of today carry this same fear. And, obviously, I empathize. However, to stop there is ridiculous. How can we be afraid of what we don’t know, and then not try to figure it out?

That’s what happened to me: I tried to figure it out. And what I figured out was that no other explanation besides Jesus as Lord makes any sense.

MISUNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE AND HUMOR

For the spiritual antagonists out there, Jesus doesn’t make any sense, He merely instigates useful material for cruel religious jokes. Let me tell you, I don’t laugh at any of them—not because I don’t have a sense of humor, but because the jokes are unfounded, and therefore undermined by reality. To help make my point a bit clearer, the reason non-spiritual jokes we hear in comedies and raunchy TV shows make sense is because they’re founded in empiricism, relatability, and realism. The jokes about Jesus, on the other hand, are founded on assumptions; those assumptions are made by people who misunderstand the Bible, misconstrue its message, get frustrated by their misunderstanding, and then—instead of seeking a knowledgeable, willing believer to explain the message of the Bible in a clearer way—they transfer their misunderstandings into dark humor. Again, that isn’t realistic or empirical, it’s just presumptuous and immature. I don’t make fun of unbelievers’ lack of faith; why do they make fun of a believer’s choice to have faith?

MISUSING JESUS’S NAME

I understand the perspective unbelievers have about Jesus, and the flippancy in which they use His name in vain; I used to use His name in vain, too: before I cared about who Jesus really was (and is), I didn’t care about His name. But as I learned more about Him— why He came, what He offered, how He lived, died, rose, and what His offer means for us even today—His name took on an entirely newfound reason. I don’t use Jesus’ name in vain anymore because I believe His name holds power; frankly, I care about Him in a way that you would care about family. His name to me now is meaningful, sentimental, personal, familial, and deified. I empathize with those who don’t see Jesus this way– because I once saw God and Jesus the way they do. So, why then, if we don’t believe in Him, would we use His name at all? Why, in fact, would we hold such strong negative feelings against Him, if we don’t believe in Him?

PERSPECTIVES OF AN UNBELIEVER

The way I understand it, both from my past experiences as an atheist as well as how I’ve heard it spoken from those who mock Jesus/religion/faith is this: An unbeliever sees a believer and thinks they’re weak to have faith in something they, as unbelievers, consider intangible and fallacious; however, whereas unbelievers see a believers’ faith as weak, naive, or crazy, believers see an unbeliever’s lack of faith as revealing of their emptiness: Desperation for worldly indulgences to fill a void left unfilled by their unfaith. Furthermore, when an unbeliever refuses to believe in God but proceeds to complain that there’s nothing to believe in, their obstinacy comes across short-sighted, stubborn, and uneducated–or, perhaps more accurately–misinformed.

One of the thoughts that runs through my head during the back-and-forth spiritual bantering of an unbeliever is, “Do you not want these stories to be true?” Sometimes I ponder the detriments of disbelief, and one of the most rueful reactions I feel in response to others who don’t see Jesus the way I do now is, despite what they may hear, they don’t want to believe it. But, do they just not want to believe the parts that sounds incredulous—like the miraculous wonders Jesus performed—or do they choose not to believe in His story because of what it might mean for them as individuals; namely, that they have sin?

MISCONCEIVED NOTIONS OF FAITH

I remember as an atheist, I was afraid of being wrong. Meanwhile, I also carried the distortion that I would have to please God–if there was one–in order to receive anything from Him. But, see—that’s all Biblically incorrect! No one has to please God; no one has to believe in His Truth in order to make it true. It just requires faith… and that’s where I get confused when I ask unbelievers about their disbelief. “Do you want Jesus to be the Son of God? Do you want to be loved by an unconditional Father who just wants to spoil you crazy with His blessings? Don’t you want to follow a lifestyle of altruism based on something real and historically empirical as the love of Christ, instead of trying get what you can while you can, thinking this is it?”

What kind of life can we really live in the moment and think, “I’m going to die one day and none of this will even matter.” That sounds like such a waste of life. And while some would say “Then why live?”, I will argue back: “Why not Jesus?” What did Jesus not do for us that makes us think He doesn’t care? What did God do to make us think He doesn’t exist? Would we rather believe there is no God, no Jesus, no Bible, and no Heaven?

JESUS AND RELIGION

Religion is not what Jesus taught, readers—Jesus doesn’t talk about religion; He talks about God the Father, about relationship, about love, giving, and about being blessed by God. He doesn’t ever talk about religious anything. People made that up and that’s why religious babble gets people so exasperated and perplexed. Jesus only cares about relationship—not rules or rituals. He never commanded us to follow rituals. He only showed us ways to be more loving: He washed His disciples feet; He blessed children, He healed lepers; He answered questions with wisdom and love, rather than cynicism and judgment. He did not teach religion, readers. That’s just plain incorrect. If that’s what’s set you off, then please reconsider what you think of as “Jesus, the religion,” and try to think of it as “Jesus, my best friend and Lord.” No rituals, no rules—just the call to love.

God has never stopped loving us, which can be our biggest inspiration to love others. Do you want this to be the Truth of your life, or would you rather join in on the jokes, mockery, and criticism based on misconstrued notions of the Bible? Would you rather judge the Bible, or come to understand what confuses you?

 

LOVED BY CHRIST

I want to leave you with this, readers: Jesus loves you. If you won’t accept these words, my prayer is that your hearts will soon be softened by the Lord, opened to Him who died and rose again, for those would believe in Him. He gained nothing from doing that except knowing He would be giving us the greatest gift our entire existence would ever receive. Generosity and love are His nature. The most important question right now is, if you don’t understand the story of Jesus, do you want to?

My prayer for you is that you will find the genuine curiosity to come to know Jesus, to respect His name, to love the man, to glorify the God He is and was, and to allow Him to renew your spirit. There’s no better life than to have Jesus at the center. Ever since I found myself letting Him into mine, I keep begging Him to come closer. I can’t be without Jesus. My heart just can’t take this life without Him.

Can yours?

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Chaotic