A Good Kind of Apathy

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Photo by Ryan Knapp

Obviously, apathy is awful. I would know as indifference has been a personal struggle. But, I’ve learned a certain amount of not caring can be a good thing. Or at least, it can be a sign of a good thing.

Sometimes, apathy is an indicator of growth. It can be what happens when you start to understand something for what it is instead of what you thought it was. Indifference can be a response to false advertising, a shock that follows radical change in perspective.

For me, one of those major changes was a full-on paradigm shift. When I readjusted the way I thought about the world from a self-determined individualistic view to a God-made gospel view, everything was turned on its head.

The things I thought were the most important became less important. The job I had always thought of myself having became less captivating. Impressing the people I wanted to show off to became less enticing. Even my interests started to feel less intriguing.

That might sound like a bummer, but think of it like this… If you were opening presents on your birthday, and you received an Amazon gift card, you would initially be pretty excited. But then you open another present and it’s keys to a Mustang. In light of having a new car, you might not be as enthusiastic about a gift card like you were a moment before.

I still like all the same things (Star Wars, Batman, writing…) but I don’t love them like I used to. When the focus of life is replaced with the source of life itself, everything else seems a good deal less important. Certain things begin to matter less once you realize what matters most.

If the parts of our lives we thought were the most crucial actually aren’t, then we have less reason to worry about “if it all went wrong.” No matter what happens, it’s not the end of the world.

It’s like when you run into someone famous. (As I’m writing this, Michael Cera walked into the coffee shop I’m at. He’ll inspire this paragraph.) If you wanted to introduce yourself to George-Michael Bluth, you might be anxious at first, maybe because you’re taking the situation more seriously than it deserves. You’re contemplating the possibility of looking bad, or it being awkward.

But when you think clearly and realize it isn’t an experience to take to heart, since you know the One you should take to heart, that anxiety is lessened. You’re excited, but you aren’t overwhelmed. Whoever the celebrity might be, they become just like you, under God’s dominion. That means their opinion of you isn’t defining. Celebrity run-ins are awesome, but they aren’t that dramatic.

With this perspective, we can relax. We can take a step back and breathe. Anxiety loses credibility, because the stakes aren’t so high after all. The “worst case scenario” isn’t the worst case scenario anymore, whether it’s an internship not working out, having to retake a class, or making a subpar impression on Michael Cera… None of them would’ve been life-giving anyway, so none of them are life-threatening.

As the book of Ecclesiastes says, everything under the sun is trivial in the long run. Everything is passing away, so your heart shouldn’t be in this life. It should be in the life to come.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

-Helen Howarth Lemmel

In this way, there’s a good kind of apathy. If you realize what is worth being devoted to, you’ll realize what isn’t worth being devoted to. Some things don’t matter as much as the world might like to think. Not everything deserves your heart. 

Apathy can be toxic. When you don’t see the relevance of things where there is relevance, it threatens your well-being.

But when you don’t see significance where there isn’t any significance, a certain amount of indifference makes sense toward the things God doesn’t want us to completely give ourselves to.

If you value what’s worth valuing, everything else becomes less valuable in contrast. If you know God as beautiful and worthy of praise, everything you previously considered likewise receives a demotion.

I confess that most of my apathy is wrong. Most of it is self-destructive. But by God’s grace, there is a certain amount that I’ve grown from. There is a sort of reasonable indifference. There is a positive kind of apathy that honors the thing of first importance, and pushes you into knowing a truer reality.

Our Divine Purpose

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Photo by Allison Mitchell // Source: Instagram

This past semester in a literature class, I wrote an essay that focused on the theme of restoration in the gospel, similar to a previous entry. One line describing the new heaven and the new earth read, “Where there was once chaos, there will be purpose.” Where things used to seem meaningless, we will see meaning. Although our purpose in life was once obscured, it will be made clear. We won’t need to contemplate our meaning because we’ll live it out for eternity. It won’t take faith because it will be sight.

When we received feedback on our papers, another student told me that this idea of there being purpose in a perfect, sinless world sounded like a paradox. In this life, there is so much work to be done to correct and improve our conditions that we can hardly imagine what “purpose” is apart from trying to make things better. If there’s already peace and justice in heaven, how is it possible that we have any purpose left to serve? How is there a role left for us to fill?

Today’s Purpose

To understand what our future purpose in heaven could be, we first have to realize what our current purpose is on earth. We’re used to defining our meaning by what we do and how our actions affect others. But what if we actually have purpose apart from this? What if God has given us a meaning that transcends our circumstances — whether we’re unemployed, or broke, or failing in school? What if the way God works isn’t the way the world works? What if meaning isn’t what we thought it was?

The reality of our purpose conflicts with everything we’ve been taught in the west. Even after you hear it a few times, the answer still sounds like an oppressive, authoritarian purpose to be given. It can be hard to grasp whether you know Jesus as your personal savior or you don’t. For a long time, I was aware of the answer, but I didn’t understand it. Even though I grew up hearing it repeated, I didn’t get it.

The answer comes from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a book of foundational Christian doctrine written by English and Scottish theologians in 1646, based on what the Bible already teaches. It opens with a question on life’s purpose.

Q. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

It’s a simple answer, and it’s an offensive answer. One of the verses cited is 1 Corinthians 10:31 which says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

The word “glorify” means “to exalt,” “to praise,” “to attribute importance to.” It’s telling us we’re meant to live for God and not for ourselves.

Questioning Purpose

For a long time, C. S. Lewis struggled to understand how God could create us with this purpose of worship. Lewis considered it selfish that God would ask us to live entirely for him. It’s important that we raise this concern. We would all agree that a man who told us to bow down to him, and to sing for him, and to do everything in his honor, has a pride issue. But, we call him prideful because he’s wrongfully full of himself. He’s ultimately undeserving of our praise. No one has lived up to a standard worthy of us devoting our lives to him, except for Jesus. When God tells us to live for his glory, it isn’t equivalent to some guy telling us to do the same for him. God is different, because only God is worthy of our praise.

However, Lewis was onto something when he called God selfish. For us, selflessness is a virtue. When we live selflessly, we give up our rights for the good of others — but when we’re full of ourselves, we’re inconsiderate of anyone who isn’t us. When we’re selfish, we live independently of God. We make our own rules, and we’re prone to sin. When we’re selfless, we lay ourselves down for others as Jesus commands us. We resist the temptation of comfort and easiness, and we accept Christ as our authority. When we abandon ourselves, we become better as we grow into being more like our Savior.

But, if God were to be selfless and abandon his character, he wouldn’t be anything like how he is. He wouldn’t be good, or merciful, or gracious, or loving… In many ways, God is full of Himself — and that turns out to be a good thing. He isn’t like us, because he’s good on his own. He doesn’t need to grow into someone he’s not already. This is why he’s worth following, because he’s perfect as he is. While we’re sinful by our nature, God is holy by his nature. 

This is the purpose that Jesus invites us to partake in — to live for the One worth living for. To live for God’s glory instead of our own. To live for Christ and not for self-interest.

By intentionally creating us with this meaning, he loves us. He redirects our mindsets from living for “the now” to living for the eternal. Our purpose no longer has an expiration date, because it isn’t reliant on abilities we’ll eventually lose, or a name that will someday be forgotten. He shifts our motives from our good to his glory.

“God is the one being in the entire universe for whom self-centeredness, or the pursuit of his own glory, is the ultimately loving act. For him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things ‘for the praise of his glory,’ he preserves for us and offers to us, the only thing in the entire world, which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now and always will be, first, for himself. I urge you not to resent the centrality of God in his own affections, but to experience it as the fountain of your everlasting joy.”

-John Piper, Is God For Us Or For Himself?

The parts of life where we’re often told to find our meaning and satisfaction (such as career, relationships, school, family, or any other passion) can’t compare to the real reason we’re here. None of them can truly satisfy our desire for meaning because God didn’t intend for any of them to. True, lasting purpose can’t come from the created. It can only from the Creator.

We might be content with our idols for a season, but our contentment never lasts because we weren’t made for the finite. We were made for the infinite.

“Anything you put in the place of God will fail you… No matter how good it is, it can’t handle the weight of your soul.”

-Dave Lomas, a sermon titled On Christian Living

Only a life lived for the Kingdom is sustainable because only the Kingdom is without end. It goes on because God goes on.

To Enjoy Him Forever

The Catechism’s answer about the “chief end of man” doesn’t stop at glorifying God. It also tells us that we’re meant to “enjoy him forever.” To some extent, this is the easier part. But, to worship God actually goes hand-in-hand with enjoying him.

“I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…. The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game…. I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”

-C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

Our enjoyment of him is praise to him.

“Adoring God for being what he is, is the very essence of Christian worship and of Christian praise.”

-Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Living Our Purpose

We tend to complicate the practical application of how this purpose God intends for us affects the way we live, but it’s easier than we realize.

We ask questions that bring up the mundane parts of the everyday like, “How am I supposed to glorify God when I’m listening to music?” or “How can I serve God when I’m stuck in traffic?” Scripture is straightforward in telling us to do everything for God’s glory, but when we’re actually in the moment it describes, glorifying God seems like a distant concept. How are we supposed to apply it practically?

Some might say it’s through obedience. It’s true that we can glorify God through obedience in our actions. When we’re on the 405 going 20 miles an hour, we can practice patience. In everyday situations, we can always ask ourselves “what would Jesus do?” and then respond with the answer.

But I don’t think that’s all the verse from earlier in 1 Corinthians is saying. It doesn’t just mean that we should glorify God through the things we do. That’s part of it, but that isn’t all of it.

Going back to the example given: how can we glorify God when we eat and drink? How was Jesus glorifying God when he was having dinner?

I think it’s simpler than we make it out to be. When we’re eating, we should attribute our enjoyment of our meal to the One who provided it. We should also recognize that it’s God who gave us the people we’re at a table with. We live to the glory of God when we accept what he gives us. We recognize it all as grace, so we give thanks to him. It’s then that we forget ourselves and embrace who he is.

We can only really live well in our purpose if we live in remembrance of the cross that Jesus was crucified on and his resurrection that came three days later. This is the necessary response to such a sacrifice. For God to not only show us mercy by dying in our place, but to show us grace by giving us new life, we have a love that demands our attention. This is why we have more reason to live for his glory than we have a reason to live for anything else. No one other than Jesus is capable of this kind of abundant love and grace he has for us. He deserves our devotion in a way nothing else ever could.

The alternative to acknowledging God is ignoring him. In the moments we write God off, we’re really saying that he isn’t worth our consideration. Whether it feels like we’re abandoning him or not, this is our default setting. It isn’t always a conscious decision to push him aside, and that’s what makes it so dangerous. To neglect God is to forfeit our purpose.

This is what the Enemy wants us to do. Satan wants to strip us of the divine intention for which we were created. But, he’s rarely the one who takes it away from us. Instead, he persuades us to take our purpose away from ourselves. Often, his method succeeds.

“Subtlety is key. The whispered suggestions of the Enemy will rarely tell us to look away from God; he is much more effective when he simply suggests we look to ourselves.”

-Tim Chaddick, The Truth About Lies (an awesome book on temptation that’s only $2 at Barnes & Noble)

To live in response to yourself instead of in response to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is to live in sin. By making up our own purpose and taking matters into our own hands, we’re saying that his death and resurrection doesn’t matter. By sinning, we’re also saying that God isn’t the authority he says he is. Instead of living to his glory, we attempt to live to our own. By choosing sin over holiness, we violate the reason we’re here.

But this is why he went to the cross. We sin daily, abusing life so that it can go along with our desires instead of his design. By dying for our debt and returning on the third day, Jesus invites us to walk in his glory. He paid the price of death and rose again so that we could have something worth living in light of. Now, we have something to celebrate. We have something worth proclaiming. This is how Jesus restructures our routines to fit his will instead of our agenda.

Our Future Purpose

As we live out our purpose to bring glory to God, things will change. Gradually, without noticing it, we become the person that God intends us to be through the sanctifying power of the Spirit. This process is brought to completion in Jesus, whose presence will restore us fully in heaven.

In one sense, that’s when our purpose is finished. That’s when God is finally glorified in the way only he deserves. It already happens through us in moments, but someday it will be a constant. In this sense, our purpose continues. The meaning we serve in heaven turns out to be much of the same as the meaning we serve on earth.

The difference is in how our purpose plays out. I don’t think anyone can give a definite answer for what it’ll look like in heaven. I wouldn’t trust anyone who says they know. It’s not far fetched to say there’ll be singing, but beyond that, there’s not much we can assume. All we truly know is this — that we’ll have perfect, full communion with God, and that our reconciliation to him will be to his glory.

This divine purpose we have is one that doesn’t have an end. It isn’t like a seasonal job with a final day of employment. Our purpose doesn’t stop once we gain a feeling of success from getting to a point in life we’ve always wanted to get to.

Our purpose doesn’t end in satisfaction, and it also doesn’t end in disappointment. It doesn’t end in quitting, or failing, or breaking up. Our purpose doesn’t even end in death.

That’s why the only real purpose is lasting purpose. It’s purpose that overflows into every part of life. It isn’t confined to work hours, a classroom, or a community. It’s relevant in our moments alone, and it’s relevant in our moments in public. It matters regardless of circumstances. It even matters when we feel like it doesn’t.

Glory be to God for making us with a purpose that can hold the weight of our soul.

A Story of Restoration

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Photo by Titus Haug // Source: Instagram

When I started writing a story a few years ago, I didn’t know everything I would be writing about. As the characters evolved, I realized I shared the hope of my protagonist. Subliminally, a personal desire became the main theme — a longing for restoration.

I had been writing about the thing I wanted to happen to me. Ultimately, this is a desire we all share. Everyone wishes that things could go back to the way they used to be, whether it be in relation to our childhood, a friendship, or a show that jumped the shark after a few seasons. Our wish isn’t simply for things to be good again, but for them to be whole again, for them to be as they were supposed to be. Often, it’s nostalgia that triggers in us a longing for things to return to their former glory. Whether it be a momentary desire or a long-term fantasy, everybody wants restoration of some kind.

In a sermon I recently heard by Jon Tyson from Trinity Grace Church in New York, he talked about a Bon Iver concert he attended not too long ago. In the middle of the show, Justin Vernon gave a short talk on how he believed a lot of the world’s problems can be traced back to the church’s focus on heaven instead of on earth. He was saying that the church shouldn’t put so much energy into the future if they don’t put any care into the day-to-day, and that it’s a major reason our society isn’t well.

While many criticize religion for focusing too heavily on what is ahead and not what is ongoing, Tyson pointed out that Vernon’s desire for earth’s renewal is a Biblical desire. It isn’t an idea that was originally proposed by humanitarian movements, but a promise declared in scripture. As Tyson stated, the Bible begins on earth in Genesis when sin first came into the world, and ends on earth in Revelation when sin is finally cast out of the world. The renewal of creation is at the core of the gospel. It’s why Christ came to die on the cross and it’s why He will come again.

Clearly, this desire for the world’s restoration isn’t just a Christian desire, but a human one. We all know this life isn’t the way it should be. Instead of peace, there’s conflict. Instead of justice, there’s corruption. Instead of joy, there’s unrest.

“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”

-C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I don’t quote Lewis to excuse being kind or charitable, but to give reason to why we ought to be. As believers, the heavenward mindset we have shouldn’t be used as justification for us to sit back and wait for the Lord’s will to be done. Instead, it should lead us to partake in His will. Since we’ve experienced the presence of Christ and know that one day we’ll experience His full presence, we have an endless joy and peace worth expressing in everyday interactions.

Around this time last January, I started to consider going to a different church than the one I grew up in. As I thought about the kind of church I saw a future with, I noticed that many younger churches emphasize something that older churches seem to more or less disregard. Plenty of contemporary churches apply a phrase from the Lord’s prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven” as a tagline of sorts. Some replace “earth” with where they’re located like, “in Los Angeles as it is in heaven.” The verse is Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

By using it as a mission statement, churches put emphasis on God’s plan of renewal while also directing focus on the church body. The Lord has given us the purpose of living out His will so that Christ’s name would be glorified through our actions. His will is to be done through us.

“We are best employed when we are actually doing something for this fallen world, and for the glory of our Lord. ‘Thy will be done’: we must come to actual works of faith and labors of love. Too often we are satisfied with having approved of that will, or with having spoken of it in words of commendation. But we must not stay in thought, resolve, or word; the prayer is practical and business-like, ‘Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’… Many might wish that to think and to speak were to do the will of God; for them they would have effected it very thoroughly.”

-Charles Spurgeon, a sermon titled “A Heavenly Pattern For Our Earthly Life” (April 30, 1884)

It’s easy to forget that it’s by acting according to His will that we can begin to grasp His will to come. Although we’ve known a spiritual renewal through faith and repentance, it’s often difficult living in a culture that tends to be bent against God to imagine the future reality of a new heaven and a new earth in which God is at the center. In times when things are increasingly regressing instead of progressing, I return to this passage to remember what lies ahead:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”

Revelation 21:1-5

When a story introduces a conflict, it tends to be an indicator that there’ll eventually be a resolution. In the story I referenced writing at the beginning of this entry, my main character longed for renewal and likewise, his desire was fulfilled by the end.

Since the Bible is a story of restoration, we can also say it is about God’s promise of restoration, and He is a God who keeps His promises. Reconciliation to our Creator has been foretold since the fall of man in Genesis. The one who has tried to condemn us will eventually be condemned, and those enslaved by sin will be liberated from it.

“‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’ It was so once. Perfect obedience to the heavenly upon this earth will only be a return to the good old times which ended at the gate of Eden. There was a day when no gulf was digged between earth and heaven; there was scarce a boundary line, for the God of heaven walked in Paradise with Adam. All things on earth were then pure, and true, and happy. It was the garden of the Lord. Alas, that the trail of the serpent has now defiled everything… Those who desire to set up the kingdom of God are not instituting a new order of things; they are restoring, not inventing. Earth will drop into the old groove again. The Lord is king: and he has never left the throne. As it was in the beginning so shall it be yet again. History shall, in the divinest sense, repeat itself. The temple of the Lord shall be among men, and the Lord God shall dwell among them.”

-Charles Spurgeon, A Heavenly Pattern For Our Earthly Life

When Christ was crucified, people wept because they thought God’s mission to redeem them from their sin had failed. Many even assumed their messiah had been proven a fraud. But it was through what seemed to be the ending of all hope that He gave us everlasting hope. This is how our Lord works. When Christ rose from the grave, God’s will for us was revealed in a way it had never been before. The cross is no longer recognized as an ancient death sentence, but a reminder of eternal joy.

As matters in our world get worse, we can take comfort in knowing that we aren’t approaching an end, but a new beginning. What was previously a sign of death is now a sign of life. Where there was once reason to dread, we now have reason to anticipate.

Everything that has been lost is being called back to Him. 

Christmas: The Hope of Easter

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Photo by Alesha Brown // Source: Instagram

“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m just not happy.”

-Charlie Brown

For the past few years, the festivity of my holiday season has been replaced with the melancholy of winter. Christmas hasn’t felt the way it used to when I was younger. At some point I lost the joy that comes with waking up early to unwrap presents on Christmas day. Like Charlie Brown, I appreciated the holiday but I didn’t anticipate it. The traditions I had grown up with became just that — traditions.

This year, I’ve found myself looking forward to Christmas again, and it’s for the same reason I originally lost my excitement for it: I started seeing Christmas for what it really is, or at least, what it’s supposed to be.

Growing up in church, I was always told about the nativity story, but I never knew the point of the nativity story. If Christmas was about the birth of Christ, then what was the birth of Christ about?

I think a lot of people are in the same place I once was. While our culture acknowledges the birth in the manger through TV specials and front yard decorations, there isn’t much clarity on why it’s relevant to begin with.

To understand why Jesus came, we have to understand his birth as a response. He wasn’t born randomly, but as a solution to the world’s greatest need. Ever since the Garden of Eden, we’ve all chosen to live our lives on our own terms instead of the way God intended. Rather than embracing dependence on our Creator, we’ve chosen independence from him. We’ve chosen sin over holiness, death over life, the temporary over the eternal.

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

1 Timothy 1:15

God sent His Son so that we would have reconciliation with him. By living according to God’s will and dying in our place, Jesus has brought redemption to those who put their trust in him instead of themselves. Because the Son has come to us, we have a way to come to God.

“Jesus came because we needed him. The purpose of Jesus’ birth was twofold: to bring glory to God and to make peace between God and those who trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

-The Gospel Project curriculum from the children’s ministry I serve in

When I used to think of Christmas, I thought of the newborn Savior without reflecting on how he saved. I thought of Christmas without Easter, but the reason his birth is worth celebrating is because of the hope that Easter brought. The events these two holidays represent are inseparable from each other.

A lot of us, believers and non-believers alike, separate Christ’s birth from the rest of his life, but it’s important that in celebrating the newborn King, we put our minds on more than only the manger.

“Remember, young believers, that from the first moment when Christ did lie in the cradle until the time when he ascended up on high, he was at work for his people; and from the moment when he was seen in Mary’s arms, till the instant when in the arms of death he bowed his head and gave up the ghost, he was at work for your salvation and mine.”

-Charles Spurgeon, A Treasury of Spurgeon on the Life and Work of Our Lord

The reason we can sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come,” is because of what he came to do through dying on the cross and returning on the third day. He came to deliver us from the sin we’ve grown comfortable in so that he could show us something better. Christ was born to show us a life worth pursuing, one lived for him and not for ourselves.

Simply by being born with the purpose to fix the very thing we had broken, God showed us his grace. Not only that, but by being born into a lower class, we know that he is a God who identifies with everyone. He came humbly, and we can rejoice in that, knowing he didn’t just come for one type of person, but for all of us. We are the ones who need a Savior. We are the people he came to restore.

“There is hardly a better way to sum up what God was about when he came to re-claim the world in Jesus Christ — his glory, our peace. His greatness, our joy. His beauty, our pleasure. The point of redemption is that God is glorious and means to be known and praised for his glory by a peace-filled new humanity.”

-John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy

We can look forward to Christmas because of the hope we have in Easter. Since he rose again, we have a reason to celebrate. Our Savior has overcome death, our sin has been covered, and we have been made new. Hallelujah!

The Purpose of Self-Awareness

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Photo by Maci Elise // Source: Instagram

It’s commonly said that for personal growth, we simply need to be aware of our flaws and the things we struggle with. However, just as “with great power comes great responsibility,” there are a few ways in which we’re called to respond to our self-awareness.

If we’re in the mindset that just acknowledging our sin is enough, we’ll use our awareness as a justification for complacency. We’ll address our flaws while excusing them by saying things like, “I know it’s bad, but I didn’t hurt anybody,” or “I know it’s wrong, but I’ve been forgiven so it’s not a big deal.”

Being knowledgable of why we do the things we do is also not a valid reason to continue to do them. It doesn’t make our sin less wrong and more acceptable before God when we attribute our behavior to how we were raised or an internal struggle we’re going through.

Eventually, we believe our excuses and become disabled by them. In trying to escape ourselves and the awareness we have, we become trapped to ourselves and lost in denial.

It might be an absence of spiritual self-awareness that causes us to underestimate the seriousness of sin and our need for change. In my last entry, I wrote on how the secular idea of what it means to know oneself can only be fruitful when informed by a spiritual self-awareness in which we see ourselves through the lens of scripture.

“A vision of God secures humility. Seeing God for who He is enables us to see ourselves for what we are.”

-Dallas Willard, Living in the Vision of God

When we’re spiritually self-aware, we recognize that we can’t truly change on our own, nor can we be fully aware of ourselves. It’s only by looking to God and relying on the work of the Holy Spirit that we can be transformed and made new in Christ.

It’s important to keep in mind that God’s purpose for self-awareness is the same as His purpose for everything else. We are made self-aware so that we can pursue holiness, and that in our pursuit, Christ would be glorified. When we deny our awareness or the call that comes with it, we deny Him and what He wants for us.

Called to Face Ourselves

When we’re aware that we’ve sinned against God, we’re called to confront ourselves with truth and look to the example we have in Jesus. If we try to justify something we’ve done to get out of a situation or to relieve guilt, we lie to God and decide to believe that lie ourselves.

He wants us to see our sinfulness. Not just through the eyes of someone we’ve wronged, but through the eyes of the One we are ultimately sinning against.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”

Psalm 51:4

Called to Repentance

Although it’s important to be aware of the wrongs we commit, it can’t end there or our knowledge is in vain. Self-awareness isn’t a destination, but the beginning on a path to repentance.

Genuine repentance involves regretting what we’ve done against God, asking Him for forgiveness, and diligently pursuing holiness. By admitting wrong and asking the Spirit to work in us, we give up any notion of self-reliance and become Christ-dependent.

Called to Empathy

If we know our need for God’s grace and recognize that everyone else needs it just as much as we do, then we have a responsibility to empathize with others rather than judge them.

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.”

1 Corinthians 4:3

Humbled by the realization that we don’t have the authority to be judgmental, we need to practice the opposite behavior and care for those around us. This call to empathy is not simply to feel for someone, but to feel with someone. If a friend is depressed, we can use the awareness we have of ourselves to discern what might help us if we felt how they feel. That’s not necessarily going to be accurate, but self-awareness also contributes to what we view as appropriate.

As cliche as it is, the best example of someone who was responsibly self-aware and knew which ways were wisest to respond to others is found in our Savior.

“The gospels describe Jesus as exceptionally self-aware. He knew his role. He knew his purpose. He knew when it was time to keep his identity secret and when it was time to share it.”

-Michael Johnson, Theology of Self-Awareness

Praying for Awareness

For a long time, I thought I was more self-aware than anyone else and I took pride in it. However, I didn’t see my faults. I couldn’t tell what sins I struggled with. I knew the small offenses, like swearing on occasion or being inconsiderate of someone, but I couldn’t see the bigger picture. Since I didn’t think I had anything major that needed to change, I started to believe in a false perception of myself. I became prideful, and this pride blinded me. It prevented me from seeing the things I needed to see.

The first small group I was a part of had a time for prayer requests where we would pray for one another. Requests typically related to different sins we were dealing with, and when it came to me, I had no idea what to say. I was going through an apathetic season so there wasn’t a specific area I felt tempted in that would cause me to sin against God. The sin I was aware of in my life didn’t seem as bad as everyone else’s. My request ended up being to see the areas that needed change, even though I wasn’t convinced there were any.

At some point, I read the Book of James and this verse convicted me:

“Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

James 4:17

I had heard something like this before. It reminded me of how people say that not speaking up when you know something that should be said is selfish. My struggle was similar. The apathy I felt might have kept me from temptation, but it also kept me from serving God.

As self-aware as I was, I didn’t use my awareness for the good of anyone. I wasn’t actively empathetic, and I wasn’t allowing myself to be humbled by the things I knew. This is because I wasn’t innocently self-aware, but self-focused. Like I mentioned in my previous entry, I wanted self-awareness for myself. I didn’t want it as a way to bring glory to God, but to be my own god. I disregarded His purpose for it and used it for my own means. By knowing who I was, I felt control over my life.

His Glory, Our Good

Even though I misused the self-awareness I had, there was an aspect of its purpose I recognized: it was supposed to help me.

It’s true that when we act on the things we know, our lives as well as others’ lives can improve.

“The Holy Spirit uses growing self-awareness in His sanctifying work in our lives. Self-awareness causes a husband to know why certain actions that may not hurt others, hurt his wife and children, and thus be able to avoid those behaviors.”

-Michael Johnson, Theology of Self-Awareness

Our awareness is for His glory at the same time as our good.

When we accept our place before God, we’re humbled. When we understand ourselves in a more honest and sincere way, we have deeper intimacy in our relationships. When we see who we are to who He is, we grow in our reliance on Him.

Self-awareness matures us into faithful disciples of Jesus.

Spiritual Self-Awareness

I’ve been working on this entry for a while because I had trouble putting what I was thinking into words. I’m going to post a follow-up entry too, about the responsibilities that come with being self-aware. If there is something I could write a book on, it would be this. I think we should all strive for self-awareness, but not just the secular idea of what it means for someone to know who they are. There is also a Biblical self-awareness that is essential to a life lived for Christ.

Thank you for reading!


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Photo by Maci Elise // Source: Instagram

“Self-awareness” has become a common term in our culture over the past few years. It is usually associated with methods of self-help, saying that the better we know ourselves, the more we can improve and be content with who we are. Lately, I’ve been learning of another kind of self-awareness that is Christ-led instead of self-led.

The concept of self-awareness that we’re used to depends largely on self-reflection, leaving the majority of work up to the person trying to understand themselves better. However, it’s easy to become blindsided when you’re your own guide. We are all unaware of some key aspect of ourselves, whether that be how we appear to others or how we think about things subconsciously. We aren’t able to grow alone. This realization that we can’t be our own leader is humbling.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 17:9

Attempting to figure out any of our hidden or misplaced motivations is often a hopeless task. Thankfully, scripture tells us that it’s impossible to know our own heart fully, which means it must not be essential for growth to be self-aware.

When I was younger, I realized that the older I got, the more aware of myself I was. I started thinking that eventually I would gain enough perspective on myself so I could turn into someone who I wouldn’t need to change. I began to idolize and rely on my self-awareness along with the sense of control I felt from it.

Despite how well I knew myself, I didn’t grow very much, and in looking back I can see why. My first mistake was thinking I could understand myself in a way only God does, and my second mistake was thinking I could change myself in a way only God can. Instead of trusting Him to make me new in Christ, I trusted myself to become someone who fit my own standards. By focusing on who I was, I neglected who He is and what He wanted for me. I learned it wasn’t through knowing myself that I could be free and experience change  it was through knowing God.

I still believe it’s important to be aware of who you are as well as how you are seen by others, but this process of self-reflection requires discernment. It is crucial that we rely on something that isn’t biased or constrained to a limited perspective. This is the beginning of growth: to come to terms with the fact that we can’t just depend on ourselves. Even if it feels like it, we aren’t always able to see the things we need to.

“Any teaching which urges a man to trust in himself is merely a deception.”

-John Calvin

In order for us to know ourselves, we have to know more than ourselves. The Bible shows us Jesus, offering a clear perspective on who we are in light of the Gospel. Instead of focusing so heavily on how we see ourselves, or how others view us, we need to shift our focus to Him and how He thinks of us.

This view of looking at yourself through the lens of scripture is humbling. It removes any proudness, because it lives on the fact that He chose to die for us when we were unable to pay the debt we owed. With perspective, we see how we were sinners in need of saving. We didn’t know how in need we were before He showed us by dying on the cross. Despite knowing us perfectly, He redeemed us.

Through this new relationship we have with God, we can learn more about who He is, and in turn, who we are. When we come to terms with how little control we have over our lives, we become grounded in how reliant we are on Him. The sense of control we’ve had isn’t as relevant as it once seemed, and we can finally let go.

You don’t know yourself unless you know yourself in relationship to God.”

-Tim Keller

While spiritual self-awareness is Christ-centered and Christ-led, the world’s idea of self-awareness is self-centered and self-led. This is dangerous. Without proper guidance, we will lead ourselves astray. The broken can’t look only to the broken to be fixed.

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Jeremiah 17:5

To understand the things below, we must first look to that which is above. To know the lower, we must seek the higher. We cannot be genuinely aware of who we are unless we know who He is.

Hope for the Apathetic

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Amanda and Rachel Trafford at the Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona // Source: Instagram

This week, I was writing an entry on self-focus and how it can be destructive. I was getting off topic when I was putting it together, and I’ll probably post it sometime in the future. For now, I wanted to write on what I’ve been dealing with lately: apathy.

There aren’t too many blog posts out there about apathy because it’s not simple to resolve effectively within the length of an article. Apathy can be complex. Ironically, the person who doesn’t care won’t always care enough to find a way out.

I doubt that many people who deal with apathy even recognize it as apathy. Instead, it’s interpreted as a casual “I don’t care” mentality that’s become so accepted in our culture that we don’t give it a second thought. Apathy is often a lie of contentment. It is hopelessness disguised as underwhelming disinterest.

I’ve misinterpreted a lot of my own “easy-going-ness” as patience. It’s not that I was great at being patient, it’s that I didn’t care about waiting. I thought being patient was easy, but it turns out what’s easy is being indifferent, to not invest any passion or care into something.

In an article posted on Desiring God, Paul Maxwell wrote, “‘I don’t care’ has become a parasite on something much more forceful: ‘That doesn’t matter.’ Recently, apathy has thrown off its garments of unrespectability and taken the judgment seat of cultural prestige. ‘I’m not motivated’ has been replaced with a bigger philosophical gun: ‘I’m not persuaded it’s worth caring about.’

Last year around this time, one of my lungs collapsed. When I felt the pain in my chest, I had an idea of what happened. I’d heard about collapsed lungs before and that they were pretty common for my age.

I don’t know why I didn’t panic when the doctor at the ER told me I would need a procedure in a few moments from then where I’d be stabbed in the side with a tube. I barely remember being scared. That wasn’t courage, and I don’t even think it was shock.

I wondered why I didn’t care that my lung collapsed. Why didn’t I mind staying at the hospital for three weeks? Why wasn’t I scared that I would soon need surgery, which prior had always been my biggest fear?

In retrospect, I realized apathy was a defense mechanism. I didn’t allow myself to care. It wasn’t that everything was happening all at once and I couldn’t process anything, it’s that I didn’t want to care. I learned there was no risk in not caring, so I withdrew from the situation.

I reasoned with myself, knowing a collapsed lung being treated immediately wasn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. I acknowledged that the classes I was missing, some of which I’d have to drop, weren’t that enjoyable anyway. I was also in a long-distance relationship at the time and I knew being in the hospital couldn’t take time away from it.

That might sound like optimism, but it’s not like I was happy to be stuck in a room unable to breathe normally. I didn’t think myself into a place of positivity and contentment, but of emptiness and carelessness. Apathy was the easiest way out.

I shouldn’t have done what I did. The decision to not care and avoid risk is cowardly, even when it’s easy to sympathize with. It can cause you to not have a say in whether you care or not about other things in the future. This is what’s happened to me.

When fear turns into carelessness, it should be taken as a warning for your soul’s well-being.

During seasons of apathy when everything feels irrelevant, there is one thing that I need to be reminded can’t lose its importance: eternal truth that transcends every temporary situation.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us…

Hebrews 6:19-20

Christian hope is different from other kinds of hope. Instead of looking ahead for things to get better, we’re told to look to Christ. We aren’t told to look inside ourselves and pursue the thing that makes us happy, which if you’re apathetic isn’t really an option. We aren’t told to remember that life gets easier, but instead to look to a person who lived and suffered for our hope. Because of His life and His sacrifice, we don’t have to be constrained to our brokenness, to guilt or shame or depression or emptiness or imperfection.

If our identity is found in the blood of Jesus, then carelessness doesn’t have the final say in defining us. He is greater than a feeling, or a lack of feeling. Jesus is greater than our fleeting passions and our discouraged plans.

An anchor is also needed to keep a vessel from discomfort, for even if it is not wrecked, it would be a wretched thing to be driven here and there… Unhappy is he who is the creature of external influences, flying along in the breeze. We require an anchor to hold us so that we may abide in peace, and find rest unto our souls.”

-Charles Spurgeon, a sermon titled “The Anchor” (May 21, 1876)

A life lived for Christ is one of love, and it is worth more than a life of indifference. This is why apathy doesn’t have the capacity to last forever, even if it seems like it does when we examine our circumstance. When Jesus is at the forefront of your life, apathy is too weak to last. Focusing on your situation by itself can only lead to blindness.

What we need to do is step back, and remember that Jesus didn’t live and die for us so that we would be stuck in the same place forever, not feeling as though we have the capacity to carry out His plan. Jesus not only died for those who hated Him, but also for those who didn’t care about Him. Jesus died for those who watched as He suffered on the cross, not mourning His death.

His resurrection is a promise that He will not let us have hardened hearts forever. Because He rose again, prayers for joy are not in vain. To think we won’t change is to not trust Him. In reality, we are being made more like Christ. We are being molded by the redeemer of infinite grace.

If we feel as though our lives have ended and our passion has run out entirely, we need to realize that we aren’t looking in the right direction.

We need to look to Him.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Psalm 51:12

Idolizing Life

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My Tumblr’s archive is full of aspects of living that I’ve put more worth in than I should have.

One of the biggest idols in our culture is the same one that’s easiest to justify. People tend to recognize the cost of putting too much value in the wrong things like their appearance or a relationship, but what we often emphasize above everything is life itself.

We think it’s okay to put such importance into living adventurously, because shouldn’t we take advantage of our opportunities and live the most satisfying life we can?

Even subliminally, we think it’s okay to put so much value in how we live. This is a reflection of an exaggerated self-worth. We’re told that we’re entitled to experience something more than “the simple life.” The world tells us that we deserve more than the mundane.

But if we put so much importance in our experiences, we’re basically saying that the point of life is simply to enjoy life.

According to this way of thinking, life has to make you happy for it to be worth enduring. In order for our time to matter, life has to look like a movie. You have to be active as the main character and everything that happens has to impact you in some way. We have to be in control and affect other people because otherwise our efforts are meaningless.

By putting our lives on this scale, we devalue ourselves while losing our authenticity. We don’t need to live up to these standards. If we don’t have the career we went to school for in a decade, it’s okay. In the end, our jobs and our accomplishments don’t define us and neither do our shortcomings or our limitations.

Living is about more than succeeding like the hero at the end of a story. Life is more than a character arc.

I am grateful to live for God and not for myself. I am thankful that by His grace, He stood in our place. Through believing in Jesus, I have been redefined by Him.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

-Proverbs 19:21

I remember the discouragement I felt in my freshman year of high school when a faculty member gave a presentation on the universities everyone would be going to after graduation. “You only live once, so you have to make this matter,” she said to the class. Knowing that I would eventually go to community college, I couldn’t look forward to living in a dorm room or a college town.

When I started going to PCC, I couldn’t help but be envious of everyone who had been posting sentimental statuses about moving away for school. I had lost out on an experience that I was told I was entitled to.

Except, I wasn’t entitled to the “university experience” any more than I was entitled to the “community college experience.” (Yes, we’re all entitled to an education, but that’s not what I’m talking about.)

After I realized that we don’t have to rely on our stories to define us, I started to understand that I don’t have to feel loss for not attending a university right after high school. Life isn’t about our experiences. It’s about the One who gives us experiences.

In Him, disappointments lose credibility.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

-Romans 8:28

The devil’s greatest temptation is in trying to convince us that we’ve missed out on something good, which can lead us to doubting the goodness of God. He wants us to doubt the character of the One who gives us meaning. Satan wants us to forfeit our purpose.

This is exactly what happened in the garden when Adam and Eve didn’t understand why God restricted them of the tree. The serpent questioned what God had said, and caused them to doubt His goodness. From their perspective, it seemed like God had withheld something good. The devil made Adam and Eve doubt the love and the trustworthiness of their Father who made them.

Instead of choosing and listening to their Creator, they abused creation by taking fruit from the forbidden tree. We do this when we choose our own way of living and trust our own judgement instead of choosing God and listening to what He wants for us.

If a friend bought an AMC gift card and gave it to you to hold onto so you could watch a movie together, it’s implied they want to hang out. It only makes sense that you use the gift card with them, and it’s hoped that your intent is to be with them more than it is to just watch a movie.

God wants us to enjoy life, but not apart from Him and not more than Him. We’ve all neglected His grace, but there is no true, long-lasting happiness that can be found without Christ. Our attempts at finding satisfaction or meaning in the world can never compare to the kingdom we have been brought into.

Not too long ago, one of my friends sent me a quote from the testimony of a former atheist in The Reason for God.

“While sitting in a coffee shop reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I put down the book and wrote in my notebook, ‘the evidence surrounding the claims of Christianity is simply overwhelming.’ I realized that my achievements were ultimately unsatisfying, the approval of man is fleeting, that a carpe diem life lived solely for adventure is just a form of narcissism and idolatry. And so I became a believer in Christ.”

To Want What He Wants

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Lately, I’ve noticed churches promoting the idea that we live for each other; that we are given our gifts because we are meant to encourage people with them. There’s truth to this (1 Peter 4:10) but using our gifts for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ is not the foundation of our faith. Some say we’re supposed to want for others so they might be content, but the groundwork for Christianity is not simply to put others’ needs before our own. It’s to love God, even before our friends and ourselves. If this sounds off-putting, then you know that it’s probably because there’s a reality to this statement. Living in a humanitarian culture, it used to sound a little strange to me, too.

Everything is meant to be done through our love for Him. There have been times when I’ve become exhausted because my care for others was rooted in a self-reliant attitude. We act independent as if we’re trying to prove something to ourselves. (I wonder why we would need to prove to ourselves so often that we’re self-reliant?) Not that caring for others through Christ wouldn’t wear on us, but when we have God in mind and in heart, we are given a peace in Him.

Praising those around us is not the fundamental way to praise Him. Helping a friend move from an apartment to a house or keeping a person in prayer isn’t entirely for that person.

It’s for God. Not only is it for Him, but it is because of Him.

He wants us to want the same as He does, and this is where humanitarian Christianity tends to become confused. It says to act for others, rather than acting for Him. It’s difficult for us to set this in our minds and live by it. We’re used to thoughtless care, and we’re told that’s what we should aspire to. This is a hollow love that compliments who we are, instead of a passionate love that recognizes who God is.

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Peter didn’t shout, “For Lucy, Susan, and Edmund!” at the beginning of the battle against the White Witch’s army. He fought in Aslan’s name, because Aslan was the king, and Narnia was under his protection. It was for the good of his creatures, not Peter’s brother and sisters.

I realize most that we live for Him when marriage and family is brought up in the Bible. The purpose is to grow His Kingdom, because He wants us to know Him. Being able to have a family is a gift, but the real reason we can have all that we have is to glorify Him. How could something ever be good for us if it is not first good for Him?

We are given gifts to serve Him. We misuse them, as He knows we will, but God gives them to us anyway. It’s grace upon grace.

To want what God wants demands our feelings and biased interpretations to be put away. God commands us to live as the new self for Him, instead of the old self for us. He doesn’t only tell us to put what we want for ourselves to the side, but sometimes what we want for others. A lot of the time, it is only God who can give others what they need, and not us. When we realize we can’t live as self-dependent people in caring for others, we’re humbled by His care for us. Encouraging and loving on those we care for isn’t the purpose of our lives. It’s to glorify Him.

It’s easier to understand this relationship of sacrifice when you think of a romance. When seeing that we should desire what He desires instead of what we want, pity is pointless. Some people might feel sorry for somebody if they didn’t pursue a relationship with someone they liked because this other person was without Christ. To understand the true act of love it would be for someone to put God before themselves, it would be admired, not pitied.

God asks for us to give up what takes us from Him, because He wants to love us, and for us to love Him. No one would pity a husband for giving up something that distracts him from his wife, for his wife.

“Don’t get in touch with your feelings, submit radically to God, and do what is right no matter what. Put your love life on the altar and keep it there until God takes it off. Suffering is normal. Have you no scars, no wounds, with Jesus on the Calvary road?” -John Piper

Wanting what He wants goes above everything we could ever desire, whether it be rooted in our love for someone, or if it’s something that’s wanted for us by another.

My Dad would talk about “tough love” when I was younger, as being the type of care that a parent has in disciplining their child. “Tough love” is a good way to describe God’s sovereignty.

The lyrics of a song called Gold In Them Hills say, “Sometimes it’s a case of cruel to be kind.”

If God gave us what we wanted, it would often worsen us. We would lean on temporary things, and reduce our satisfactions to things below us rather than that which is above. But He wants what is best for us, even if He pains for us as we endure suffering that brings us closer to Him. It’s grace.

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” -C. S. Lewis

Our Creator is making us better in His image. He’s letting us remember where we are, what’s to come, and who He is. When He does give us what we ask for, we praise Him. When He gives us what He wants, we have even more reason to be thankful.

“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” (Mark 14:35-36)

Life Humbles Us

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When I was a child, there was a time when I thought Christianity was a selfish faith. Not selfish in believers, but in who God is. I knew it was never about Adam or Eve. It was never about anyone, except God. It was about Christ. It was what God wanted for us and for Himself, not what we wanted for Him or for ourselves. We take offense at this, because we think we are good. We think we are sufficient on our own and that we deserve more when we turn from the Cross, but that contradicts worship. (See last post!)

It is easy to forget why we worship. Yes, because we have been saved by Christ. Except, it’s more than that. We were saved by Christ because God is good. We worship because God is greater than we realize. This is a common disconnect for both believers and non-believers. Believers can struggle with knowing how good God is. There is a lack of understanding and relatability because the truth is, we are not good. We delude ourselves into thinking we are worth something without Christ. Without God, we are just humans, but not Christians. We make up lifestyles that go against the reality of our design. We do what we want. We neglect that we were made in His image. We do not understand our sin because we live in it. We think we’re justified in everything we do. We put our judgement above His commands.

It isn’t often we realize we’re wrong for doing something until we look back at having done it. At that point, we can disassociate ourselves from our actions. “I’d never do that now.” It’s as if we are more relevant today than we were then. We grow with time, so there’s some obvious truth to that. That’s why we have a better perspective and can say we once did something wrong.

But we still did something out of accordance in what He wants for us. We’ve been humbled, and now we’ve grown. We start to realize that we can be wrong. We aren’t as great as we thought. We’re growing.

Everyone’s house has a smell. When you go to a friend’s home, you might pick up on it. You might think it’s musty and that they should open the windows to circulate air. But will the friend realize they should do this? They won’t, because they live there. They’re used to the ora of their home. It’s normal to them, just as sin is normal to us. (They’ll probably hold offense to being told their house smells, and will specifically not open the windows because of the offense… Even if they realize it does smell bad.)

Life is humbling. We think we’re always right, but that’s not true. Perspective is not immediate. Perspective cannot be rushed.

Emphasizing on the anti-climatic, down points of life makes a person better. A writer does not put their characters through hardships for them to remain the same, or for them to get worse than they already are. A writer makes their characters better, molding them to fit their personal ideals of what a person should be, by putting them through a a series of events, a journey. This has been done to us. Everything is for the good of the believer, and then must be for God’s glory.

In a culture where everyone is right all the time about everything, humility has been lost. We are told to not correct ourselves. To accept who we are, as we are. When looking for a relationship, we’re told to find someone who doesn’t want us to be any different than we are. We emphasize acceptance, and open-mindedness, but we go against what we say. We say we’re fine as we are. “Never change.” I don’t trust staying the same forever.

“I’m not an advocate of ‘self-acceptance’ in the way it’s culturally marketed. I think it’s good for our egos to get shaken up, and when they do, instead of ignoring the toxicity that flares up within us, invite God to extract the poison of your brokenness, and experience the joy of self-growth – something far more beautiful than mere acceptance.”

—LB, The Guts & Glory of Grace

I only trust people who know that they have never been as great as they once thought they were, and know they still aren’t even what they now consider to be great. I’m posting this, knowing I might regret it, either after a day after, or a year after. (That feeling isn’t foreign. I used the internet more than I should’ve when I was younger.)

I’m going to go back to what I was saying earlier. While we have wronged ourselves in our actions, we have also wronged God. In misusing life, we have taken advantage of the One who gave us life. We have been given a purpose, and we don’t even want it. We have been told the point of living, and we hate it. We hate that we are not meant to live for ourselves. But it’s true. That’s why Christians are Christians. As a friend recently said, church is offensive, but people come back because they don’t have a choice in what the truth is. And when seeing what is true, love also comes.

“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

The truest humility comes from the truest truth, and growing to love Him.

We are not our own, but who we belong to, is good.

-Timothy