Friday, March 13, 2009

Introducing our featured speaker...

Welcome all. Generally, I find introduction, firsts, and the like rather mundane and trite. Hopefully, this will not be of a similar nature. I find it interesting that it took spring break to rekindle my love of both reading and writing. I decided to start this blog, mostly as a result of a conversation with my good friends aaron and ty, but also to put my thoughts into words. The reading part is the result of recently finishing Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Nothing I have read lately has had quite the impact as this has. For those of you who haven't read this book I encourage it greatly, for both Christian and non-Christian alike. When starting a blog, I never would have pictured this as my first post. Not that Christianity doesn't play a large part in my life, it's just that often for lack of a better word I "suck" at showing it. However, this book challenged me in many ways, and renewed some past challenges I've struggled with for some time.

The first "chapter" presents the idea that all men struggle with "human nature" the idea that they should behave a certain way. It is interesting that men only make excuses for "bad behavior." Where has this conception of good and bad come from? In addition, men know how to act, but do not act they way. Why? Mainly, because men have free-will and are often able to justify and devalue their misdeeds. Most faiths around the world share common beliefs, however, they are not all seen as correct or the true path. In my own view Christianity is this "correct" path, but I recognize not all share this idea. My only goal is to differentiate between "being a Christian" and simply having "Christian ideals" . To be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus was the Son of God, died on the cross, and rose again (in the process taking away the sin of man, those who believe in him, and granting them eternal life). Those who are unable to believe this are not Christians, this is not to say other "faiths" are terrible and wrong. Some share many tenants of Christian faith, and are closer to Christianity than others. However, ultimately without belief in Jesus, no individual can be called a Christian. These faiths often encourage similar good works and a "good" lifestyle, but do not embrace Jesus for what he truly is. He cannot be simply a "great teacher" as many believe. Either he was who he said he was (the Son of God) or he was a complete liar. Many have trouble with this, and I'm not here to pretend I understand everything. But this is the step one must take to become a Christian, and fighting over subtle differences on unrelated matters has prevented many from accepting this for centuries.

I was greatly struck by the rest of the book, which in various ways deals with pride, forgiveness, and man's love for himself. It would be foolish to remove myself from this critique, for I am as guilty as anyone else. Men judge other men on a variety of issues: social status, wealth, appearance, education, intelligence, among others. As do I. This is societal, and some of these judgements are unavoidable. However, pretending superiority over others in one matter is ridiculous and extremely arrogant. When a man judges another for murder when he has stolen, both are guilty. Yes, the relative magnitude of the crimes is different. However, each man still is guilty of a crime, and God does not make separation between sins. In the same manner, no individual is above his fellow man, supremely, in any discipline. Man is not to judge, or be judge, this is God's matter of authority. Of course, earthly punishment is necessary and some trial is needed. But the moment a man puts his own behavior and person above another he has sinned. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Jesus said this in the Bible, as townsfolk were about to stone a prostitute, and every person dropped their stone because they all had sinned. I, too often, want to be the one to cast the first stone, but I am with sin just as much as the one I would accuse. This is where forgiveness comes in. As a Christian, I should be more willing to forgive than the world is. "We forgive, as God forgave us." A spirit of forgiveness separates Christians from the world, it does not put as above others, but shows the Christ-bestowed difference we are suppose to possess. Asking for forgiveness is difficult, giving it often even more so. Forgiveness frees us, and it allows love and peace to come into hearts. It removes anger, bitterness, and a sense of superiority we often have. Finally, man as Bono says "likes the sound of [his] own voice, and [we] don't give anyone else a choice." We love to hear ourselves talk, praise our accomplishments, and details our exploits. Even now I worry about talking, just to hear myself talk. We, and I, are obsessed with outdoing and impressing one another. No one is ever as busy as we are, or as successful, or talented, etc. The suffering of others should be of much greater concern than our own comfort. God will provide for your needs, not your wants and pipe-dreams. I often believe things should go my way, because I am so special and I deserve it. Aside from being ridiculous, this fails to take into account all that goes on the world. Nothing that I consciously attempt to claim as my own is ever original. Telling the truth is original, because it doesn't require imagination, and takes the emphasis off the individual. Those who love themselves this much, make no room to love family, neighbors, and especially not for God. Often I struggle with the notion of my superiority to other humans. I believe I'm more intelligent, more capable, among other assertions. This is arrogant, and extremely foolish, but I would wager many hold this belief. That is proof enough that man is not original when he tries to be. If you want to truly be original, let go of your pride, shame, and arrogance, and embrace the offer of eternal life offered by Jesus.

If this became incoherent and a large ramble I apologize. It's difficult to love another without conditions and care for their well-being despite actions. But this is what God offers: unconditional love and rest for the weary. If you're lost, hurt, or tired I don't have the answers. Neither does college, your x-box, or that "psychic" at the mall. For those of you who have tried everything, give Christianity a shot. I suppose this is some sort of conclusion, I'm not exactly thrilled with this post. The material is fine, but it could use refinement. One down, many more to come.

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