Affected By Truth: Valuing What Matters Most

THE VALUE OF PERSPECTIVE

As I’ve gotten older (now in my early 30s), I’ve witnessed the value of what matters most to me change over time. What’s more, I’ve noticed what changed those values for me was the cost of loss during those times.

For instance, I remember distinctly how, for years during my adolescence, spirituality meant nothing to me at all; I had other interests that were far more important to me than the idea of an invisible God who allowed suffering to exist in my life (Notice the acute selfishness of my plight: My loss was, circumstantially, more significant to me than recognizing and acknowledging that I was not the only person suffering in the world!). That was my unapologetic perspective at a pubescent time when I was experiencing ineffable emotional pain and extreme loss. In hindsight, what actually shaped my personal concept of God was an amalgam of variables: the Catholic school I was a part of but didn’t feel received at, the music I listened to and embraced, which boundaries I did or didn’t have, the religious but not-so-spiritual people I was surrounded by—and my personal translation of all of those variables (and more) through a rigid, hurt, and docile mind and heart. It wasn’t until years later, after losing more of what I didn’t realize I had, that I began to value what it was that I did.

INTROSPECTION ON TRUTH

One valuable lesson I’ve learned through some experience and maturation is that with perspective comes Truth: the Truth of what matters most. I’ve learned what matters most sometimes isn’t what we think it is in the moment, and that what we think Truth is in the moment we’re in is based upon where our heart and spirit posture is.

What I want to explore in this article is how our Truth impacts the manner in which we live our lives, and how Truth changes the way we view our lives as a part of (or apart from) others’ journey in life together. I believe the Truth behind this matter can drastically influence how we live in every moment.

GOD’S GRACE LIFTS US UP—THE ENEMY’S LIES TEAR US DOWN

I identify myself as a Christian. While I believe in God’s grace through Christ, I understand—though I have a considerably hard time believingthat I am a masterpiece in His eyes through Jesus’s blood on the cross (Ephesians 2:10). As imperfect and flawed as I am, it requires consistently surrendering to God for humility to embrace and recognize I fail, constantly, to put Jesus first in my heart, mind, and decisions. One could easily condemn me for how frequently forgetful I am, or for how many areas I have yet to mature in, such as in my self-forgiveness, criticism, and working through frustrations. However, we are not the judge, and the Judge who has all authority in Heaven and on Earth has grace for the humble (James 4:6).

If God, the Judge of all, has grace on me even after all of my fallouts and misguided actions, what could man think of me that matters more? One valuable lesson as a Christian who is hyper-aware of his shortcomings is to understand that the most powerful Being in existence wants what is best for me in spite of my sin, wrongdoings, and failures. For me, that message—that Truth—is empowering and encouraging, uplifting and invigorating. Do we take the time to thank God for His grace, for seeing us as white as snow because of Jesus (Isaiah 1:18)? Do we slow ourselves to appreciate His goodness in spite of our shortcomings?

If we do not, then we are listening to the manipulative, fruitless voice of the enemy in our heads more than the bold, whispering promises of God in our hearts.

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD’S PROMISE TO RESTORE US

One of my favorite past times is reading a great book and soaking up some fresh knowledge to appreciate understanding something new. The books I would read were written by people about their own experiences, or about experiences shared by friends or clients, and the message/lesson would be powerful and moving; transforming and introspective. I found value in understanding how the perspectives of the people involved were shaped either by pain (I.e. Disappointment and failure) or fulfillment (I.e. Success story/overcoming “impossible odds”). The point wasn’t that the stories had a happy ending or that things always go well, the lesson was that even when life is arduous and challenging, there is something valuable to be taken away from the pain/suffering involved. That wasn’t and still isn’t always easily digestible information, but its inspirational truth has the potential to renew a person’s inner perspective.

These same elements are found in the Bible as well, but they are much more complex because, not only are they as relatable as they are historical, they are also infused with God’s incorrigible Truth: the Bible is so spiritually transformative that, even written two millenniums ago by witnesses who experienced God so intrinsically—it is still helping people to follow Christ today.

I love when Jesus enters the story (in the flesh), and not only because He is the main character, but because of the promises and the hope He brings. I love how every person He comes across is impacted in some fundamental way; no one meets Him without some inner ripple effect taking place: He heals, He forgives, He influences; He offends, He loves, and He serves. Jesus as God in the flesh never leaves someone the same once He has introduced Himself, and the Bible tells this story.

Do we take enough time to relate to the people who lived and told the story of how God influenced their lives? Do we embrace and receive, fully, the magnitude of the Good News Jesus brings, and the restorative power of His promises to raise us up as new?

If we don’t, then we are putting the weight of our purpose and existence into the flawed, empty promises of this world through the flesh, rather than the freeing, fulfilling hope and joy that comes with receiving the Truth of God through Christ in the spirit.

INFLUENCES OF THIS WORLD vs EFFECTS OF CHRIST-FOLLOWING

Previously, I would watch more horror films and listen more to darker rock music with aggressive, explicit lyrics because that was what I was drawn to, and that is what I sought out. What changed is that later on (in my late twenties), I began seeking more peace in my life and in my spirit. During this transition, I found a very practical way to find peace was to reallocate my mind and heart’s energy to more fitting, realistic sources.

In the midst of my pursuit for peace, I discovered that by not watching as many horror films, I no longer carried a heavy sense of darkness in my heart about the world, and I experienced less violent imagery floating around in my mind from what I’d watched. Also, by listening to more uplifting, light-hearted music, I came to feel more upbeat and relaxed; less anxious, frustrated, or bitter towards people and the world around me.

Even further yet, joining a warm, inviting community with authentic Christ-followers brought me to experience others in this world who believe in a loving, provisional God in Jesus Christ, and that their love for Him inspired them to live their lives in a different manner. When I joined the community, I found myself feeling less isolated from the world and more fulfilled in my desire to be a part of something meaningful.

Where do we spend most of our mental/spiritual/physical energy? Do we give ourselves to the plight of this world; to pain and vindication for being wronged by other hurting, boundary-less individuals? Do we consider turning to a different Source for grace, strength, acceptance, peace, and unconditional love?

If not, then we dull our spirits by exhausting ourselves on the yolk of heavy sin, rather than on the light and easy yoke of the spirit who wants to give us rest, comfort, peace, and passion for what matters most.

INEVITABILITY OF THE EFFECTS OF OUR TRUTH

How we define our Truth will dramatically alter the way we live our lives, the way we do or don’t express an appropriate and unconditional love towards others, as well as the way we view our purpose in the lives of others around us. Our Truth is that by which we see the reason we are who we are, the reason why who we are matters, and how who we are impacts the choices we make, effecting the people around us. When our truth is based on the promises of this world (I.e. money, sex, power, etc.), it is prone to be more selfish, narcissistic, cynical, envious, and boundary-less. In turn, the way we live our lives may be isolated, condemning, clandestine, conditional, and non-transformative. Whether we want to or not, our actions, whether good or bad, impact the other people in our lives; whether someone close, or a complete stranger. The importance of understanding the significance of the way Truth impacts our lives is the difference between how we love others (or how we barely even love ourselves) and how we deviate others from experiencing God.

If our truth is that Jesus is not Lord, and that loving others depends on certain parts of a person rather than accepting a person as different than ourselves (in a general but boundary-loving manner), then our truth is limiting us from experiencing God more fully, and limiting others from experiencing Him through us. When we can learn to realize, accept, and embrace that the manner in which we see our lives and the others in it is largely significant and therefore impossible to bypass, we will also grasp the pertinent nature of the selflessness in choosing to intentionally impact others in a positive way, because we will understand the ways we are also impacted by others‘ choices and their Truth.

THE WALLS OF SHAME: BLOCKED FROM GOD’S GRACE

How are we living our lives? How is our Truth shaping the manner in which we live? How can we be more intentional with people in order to unveil in ourselves the empathy and compassion necessary to impact them with unconditional love?

Though God is constantly extending His grace, we aren’t always ready to receive it, and therefore we aren’t always living in gratefulness for it. Instead, we sometimes fall prey to living under the umbrella of shame. As a result, the shame of our flaws ends up stalling or stopping us from extending God’s gift of grace for us onto others, and in turn, how others end up receiving us is the way we live and act through our feeling shame rather than how we act through feeling thankfulness and joy. This backwards spiral keeps us from experiencing Jesus in full, and consequently, this limitation prevents us from displaying to others the love we are freely and unconditionally given in Christ, which is given regardless of our shame and sinful nature.

Our shame is a lie of the enemy, not a Truth from God; God convicts, only the enemy condemns. The difference is that condemnation points out our sin, the problem, whereas conviction reveals the answer to the problem, and the path towards changing our ways according to God’s love and Truth. God’s unconditional love is more powerful than the enemy’s condemnation; only a person who refuses God’s love out of self-deprecation and shame will be less likely to comprehend the unlimited nature of God’s love, nor the immeasurable depth of His grace, to consequently act and speak out of love towards others in response to these blessings. This person needs to let go of past hurts that have convinced him he is deserving of such condemnation and worthlessness, which do not come from God—and to turn his heart towards God, living from the heart posture of gratitude.

HANDCRAFTED MASTERPIECE

What is God’s Truth for you right now? In what area do you feel God calling you to turn from the lies of the enemy? Which lies are you believing, and how can you learn to live in the Truth of God’s grace so you will not only receive His love, but extend it to others? I invite you to open your heart, drop to your knees, and humbly give yourself in surrender to God’s will for you and your heart. You are never a prisoner to God, but a masterpiece handcrafted to serve His kingdom with love, grace, forgiveness, the surrender of your spirit, and your obedience to His will. There is no other truth like the Truth of Jesus’ abiding love and perfect desire for us to be in relationship with Him.

What is your Truth?

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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 1

Whereas overly religious vocabulary can become so heavy as to saturate and bleed through its own potency, secular proverbs are remiss of the reason why such carefully chosen words of transcendence touch us on an intrinsic level. Let me explain.

The words “Love your neighbor as yourself” for example, can become so overused that the power of the command is depleted. The implementation of a command such as this becomes more essential than the words themselves. In another example, the words “Love the Lord with all of your heart, all of your strength, all of your spirit, and all of your mind” are denuded of their power when we do not humble ourselves enough to desire the relationship needed to embrace such a command. Humanity without humility is lost, pridefully convinced it can play the role of God while denying one exists, mistakenly redefining godhood by believing the supplanting of self-aggrandizement for faith has the strength to embody the characteristics of omnipotence. When we refuse to give God the praise and glory He is due and instead claim to be in control ourselves, we blind ourselves by pretending to take the title and power from an incorrigible God and fool ourselves by thinking our resistance to a Higher Power somehow gives us merit to praise our own intelligence, rather than use it to understand and seek the perfect transcendence of a selfless God. Ultimately, without a purpose given to us by Something outside of our will or knowledge—and without that Something calling us into that purpose out of love for us—what we define ourselves with instead proves transparent, incomplete, unsatisfying, unpromising, weightless, impermanent, pointless, and ultimately guided by pure, blind narcissism.

What am I talking about? The dilemma of secular wisdom with regards to the way humanity speaks to itself through platitudes and aphorisms is that all of wisdom without God’s truth is an incomplete conglomeration of pithy, anti-climatic, empty words; an aggregation of memorized ideas running without traction or destination; an egregiously misguided catalogue of self-made promises recognized virtually but not implemented palpably. What does this look like? Let’s take a look at one secular proverb (one for now) and understand this point for ourselves. 

In one example, the platitude “live with kindness in mind,” while not Bible-based may seem scrupulously admirable, begging more questions than promising answers. The questions which follow may or may not be obvious: What is the speaker’s definition of kindness? Is their definition spiritual or secular? Is it socially acceptable or subjectively defined within cultural perimeters and empiricism? Does kindness denote obligation or an invitation into something transcendently joyful? What picture represents the speaker’s idea of kindness most accurately? These questions reset the idea for what we expect kindness to mean when taken without context or foundation. These words are without objective moral principality, and yet so many times we consider these types of platitudes admirable merely because we associate the word “kindness” with something positive.

What is my point? Basically, if we only look at the words we speak as letters on a page, then we undermine the purpose of the value of using the words at all. Why speak about kindness from a universal standpoint if we only understand it subjectively? We mean no harm, we simply want to live with kindness; however, the word’s context as used by the speaker is presumably simplified to be associated with all people—and in that situation it is ignorant of the way listeners interpret how such a word operates compared to the way the speaker presents their belief. Put simply, kindness, when implied ambiguously, no longer holds a positive connotation because the people receiving the word do not know the context in which the speaker is using the word. The delineation of kindness may look one way to one person while being entirely empty and meaningless to another, and when this is the case, kindness is without any substance.

For example, kindness to one person may mean that they are affable and polite; but this is an altogether different kindness than the example of spending time with geriatric men or women who have lost their loved ones and live alone—sharing the love of Jesus with them by spending time cooking, listening, and praying for them. The difference between these two examples of kindness is that one is enigmatically barren of moral intent, whereas the other is altruistic at its core. Using this as our example, the person who says “Live with kindness in mind” may be referencing politeness; but to many, politeness and kindness are not equivocal; one requires a particular sincerity which derives of a selfless motive (to love in response to the inspiration of a transcendent, loving Source), the other is simply an etiquette with requires nothing but phlegmatic participation.

Backing up a bit, the speaker feels confused because their only original intent was for the word to be perceived positively. If their intention was to use the word to translate as something positive, can we safely expect they are using the word scrupulously—that they meant to speak of kindness as an antonym to something negative? If so, is it not safe to say they are speaking of moral particulars?

When the speaker dips into moral particulars, we translate this by understanding our reason to be kind by explicating the reason under the spotlight of morality. What follows is the argument of moral obligation and subjective morality. Moral obligation claims we all follow the same rules and that there is and always was a Creator for these rules in order for there to have ever been any. Subjective morality claims each culture defines morality for itself; killing may mean survival to one culture where it means mortal sin to another. Infanticide (the crime of killing a child within one year of birth) may be acceptable to one but an abomination to another. Who defines what is clearly right or wrong? Humans, or a moral Creator who speaks, acts, and exists as the mediator between what humans believe and the reasons why? If we claim to know these rules on our own, then we must claim to be the creator of morality. But how can we make this claim if each culture holds an astutely separate set of beliefs?

How does this roll into kindness? If we try to clarify kindness by claiming it as morally correct (compared to the opposite of kindness; arrogance, pride, etc.), we are claiming our view of morality bespeaks a presumptuously pre-determined set of rules which must be true for all people. But if kindness to one person means one thing and to another person it means something different, kindness no longer carries a universal definition. When people understand this schism between moral obligation and subjective morality, they get caught in the web of explaining right from wrong, sometimes for the first time; understanding their perspective is prematurely astute, based on personal opinion rather than the belief in a higher, moral Being; namely God through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, if kindness is denatured by the confusion of how it should be perceived, how can we assign moral scrupulosity to such a secular proverb? In short, we can’t. There is no befitting explanation, no viable argument, not even an inspiration denoted in the words “Live with kindness in mind” if kindness is so ambiguously fallible.

Is my point that we shouldn’t live with kindness? Of course not. But my reason for believing kindness is important is that I believe in a loving God who came in the flesh through Jesus Christ, who died and resurrected for me and anyone who would believe, and that in so doing, He gave us an eternality of hope which invigorates far richer inspirations than simply living with kindness. Jesus intends for me and you to live with passion, excitement, and adventure; trusting in Him, transformed (spiritually reborn) after being rescued by the jealous, unfathomably unconditional love of God through Christ. When we live off of mere platitudes—although many of these stay with us sentimentally—we fall fundamentally short of the freedom of the invitation which comes with receiving Jesus as Lord and embracing a life-altering relationship with Him. When we refuse this, and when we supersede His invitation with something like wise quotes and platitudes, we blindly march forward with a fragile confidence, without a firm foundation or viable explanation for anything beyond subjective arguments.

How do we expect to face a world of hatred, corruption, murder, rape, slavery, terrorism, and poverty by countering these with subjective arguments? How can we look into the face of the reality of a world like this and claim what scrupulosity stutters with the tongue of ambiguity; that the only promises we use to back up why we behave the way we do derives from personal opinion? How boldly will that stand in the face of horrible Earthly pains; such as suicide, depression, anxiety, abuse, or addiction?

What I would like for you to take away from this article is a choice: Do we define, objectively, why we say we live the way we do—or do we live with subjective definitions, pointing aimlessly when we’re asked why we believe what we believe? Can we expect to inspire others by the way we live when the reason for our choices is “just because”? Do we expect others to accept our decision to deviate from subjective moral actions when we act in an amoral way “just because”? Should we accept others when they do the same? If we expect kindness not to fall within the scrupulous focus of moral obligation, then we must expect others to accept our decisions to act either way. Is this the way we expect to be an example to the world? What does it mean then, to be an example? If we can’t answer these, what is the point of such secular proverbs regarding kindness, or others regarding peace, hope, or love? These thoughts will be the topics of Part 2.

If you would feel comfortable sharing your responses to the considerations of this article in the comments below, please feel free to do so. My desire is that this blog would be a place where people can have a healthy, productive, open-minded discussions. This is admittedly thick material, but I feel passionate about addressing subjects like these because I feel they deserve more careful attention than they receive. Perhaps some of you feel similar. I would love to hear from anyone on either side of the spectrum.

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.. May God bless you all as you consider these thoughts, and may you experience the love of Christ in your heart today! In Jesus name!

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