These are the lyrics to a song called Beautiful Eulogy by Beautiful Eulogy off the the album Satellite Kite.
Take a minute with them. They are powerful.
There used to be a time when we were fine, living life with no particular religious bend.
Pretending to be our own gods inventing our own systems of belief so as to not depend on anything other than our own self-governing consent.
Defending an impending doom with no perceived need to concede or repent.
Presuming our innocence in a sense dissent.
The sting of death was only the inevitable end of everything we could never rightly understand or comprehend.
We used to fear the unknown so God made Himself known and atoned mending the relationship between God and man.
Giving His life as a ransom for many when He died and ascended and in that one event the certainty of eternal death was circumvented, making a way for the day when history stops and time suspends, spending eternity in fellowship that never ends we see the greatest expression of God’s love extended in that moment when those who were once enemies instead became God’s friends.
And when it’s my time to go, go ahead and take me home I know I’ll be with you, I know I’ll be with You.
And when it is my time to go, go ahead and take me home knowing that I’d rather go, I wanna be with You.
How sweet the Gospel sounds to ears like mine, well acquainted with pain and strained relationships.
Friendships that suffer from long-distances or even worse they get severed from something more severe.
And He still hasn’t wiped away all my tears yet, my cheeks get wet every now and then, even when I give my best, I know I fall short, I get scared when the ball’s in my court.
Focused on my performance, wretched and poor, it makes the message more real when I preach it, I’m not there yet so I’m reachin, reaching for a goal to stand before my King and be speechless. Then, never again will I question if His grace is sufficient to cover my sin, because death is gone and all the effects of the evil and wrong will be conquered when His kingdom comes.
So this is my hope and my prayer the air that I’ll breathe in eternity with lungs that never fail me.
If it pleases my Lord, and only by Your grace, use my life till it’s poured out for Your sake.
Until then I’ll remain where You have me, with joy when I feel unhappy and a peace that surpasses all my understanding, my life is in the hands of Your love everlasting.
And when it’s my time to go, go ahead and take me home I know I’ll be with You, I know I’ll be with You.
And when it is my time to go, go ahead and take me home knowing that I’d rather go, I wanna be with You.
…How true the lyrics are to the cry of my heart. His grace… Such a gift. Such a savior.
The album is available legally for free here: http://noisetrade.com/beautifuleulogy/satellite-kite
The song can be heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmNlXE0dCfg
Spending the last month or so pledging a Christian fraternity isn’t something I would have told you I planned to do 2 months ago. Sure I thought about it, but it would require sacrificing independence, time, etc. Yet here I am, and man I got to say, the reasons I had for not doing it sound so ridiculous now. Beta Upsilon Chi has been a life changing experience.
Here’s the odd thing about me though. I’m a junior. I’m right at half way to being 22 years old. I don’t fit the “typical” pledge. I mean I’m older than most members after all. This has its burdens and its blessings. I want to share one of its blessing.
When your time is limited, you appreciate what you do with that time. I have very little time to influence BYX, at least in comparison with my fellow pledge brothers. I’m acutely aware that every time I let an opportunity pass by to put myself out there, to encourage, to uplift, to take initiative, I’m wasting a precious moment. When you only have one little bag of candy, you notice all the subtle flavors it offers because its got to last you. That’s how my time in BYX is. If 3.5 years is the typical life span of a member, then I’m going to live just half of that. I want to leave a legacy behind in BYX and that means I can’t waste my time.
Now that is where God takes that thought and flips it on me and turns it back towards my life as a whole and I end up feeling small. If 75 years is all we typically have, how would I live my life if I only had half that? What if I died at 38. I mean I’m over half way there… It’s terrifying. I’m living with urgency, I’m not wasting my life being frivolous. I’m not putting things off to later because I know the end is very close for me in comparison to others. I have no time to waste.
Then He backs it up on me again. What is 70-100 years (if you are seriously lucky) in comparison to the eternity that follows it? What I do now affects eternity more than I ever will know. There are forces beyond me that are watching my actions with great anticipation. My time here is short, and I must be diligent to serve my part, to carry my cross daily. At the resurrection, I don’t want to look back on this and regret all the times I squandered opportunities. So what should I do?
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”
It means investing my time in things that last, that keep their value. One day all of heaven and earth will pass away, what will remain then that I can put stock in?
What are their value? Well, they were handcrafted by the Great Craftsman, in the image of the most beautiful Being that will ever exist. They were paid for by the blood of the Son of God, which the bible tells me is quite the price.
So knowing that, I pour myself out to others. Sometimes that’s fun and easy. Simply sharing joy and encouragement and living life with them. Other times it requires deep sacrifice. Not just sympathizing with others sorrows, but entering into their sorrows with them, being vulnerable, living in a way that is consistent regardless of circumstance or others reaction to me. In the end, the amount I put in will always be so much less than what is returned in eternity. The people around you, they are the reason you are here. You are either an agent of reconciliation for Christ or you are the image of the power of Christ to overcome all things to unite and make a people of his own. People matter is my point. Don’t waste friendships. Don’t waste brotherhood. Don’t waste sisterhood. Every human interaction is a divine interaction. Every conversation that has goodness in it brings life and is holy. Realize behind every person is a soul. A broken soul, that just like yours is desperately seeking wholeness in the Father and sometimes they don’t know that’s the case.
When you realize this, people become more than just people. A stranger isn’t just a stranger. They are an opportunity, a potential friend, a possible divine moment of life changing serendipity. Friendships are messy because we are messy. The Church can be jacked up because we are jacked up. That’s why grace is so amazing. That’s why we are different. We aren’t chosen because we are perfect. We were chosen because He is and He loves us. This means that nobody is too far away, too difficult, too unlovable for us to pour into. So those times we ask ourselves, is this person too cold or hardened for me to encourage or love, we know the answer is always NO. No one is too far gone. Anyone is welcome. God does the work, we give them our best and in the end, lives are changed. It’s pretty cool.
The love you share, the relationships you’ve made, the bonds you build, that is all you will have one day. Those times I spent on me, what do they buy me in the end? Make the most of this time to invest in them. Don’t lose yourself in things that will perish, the cost is far too great.
One thing I’ve told my pledge brothers this about pledgeship: Its not about finishing first, it’s not about being the winner. It’s about crossing the finish line and crossing together, leaving no man behind. Carrying people on your back, exhausted, finishing 10 hours past when you expected to, but still finishing together. That’s the truth of our lives. We need each other. We finish together. Help everyone. Love everyone. Give everything. Because time is passing us by quicker than we’ll ever know.
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Lately I’ve been listening to a spoken word poet and rapper who goes by Propaganda, specifically his album Excellent (Which is available legally for free via the link, I highly recommend it) He has a song called “Forgive Me For Asking” in which he calls out American Christianity for hypocritical, agenda-oriented, shallow faith. He then calls out Muslims on their faith, followed by the scientific and agnostic\atheist community. Finally he finishes on a personal level by bringing to light our tendency to a hypocritical works based faith instead of by grace through faith. It’s a deeply thought provoking song. There is one lyric though that has stuck with me for the last few months, its after he has pointed out flaws with Christians, Muslims, and Agnostics, as well as himself:
“Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you’re right.
Maybe we’ll find out the day after the world ends.
Yeah, I guess we’re all a little inconsistent,
So maybe we can just show each other some grace?”
That gets me. I know I’m inconsistent. One day, my sin is so clear to me that all I can do is beg the Lord for grace and forgiveness in that moment. The next day, I’ll some how have convinced myself that I got it all figured out. God gave me a hand up, but I did the hard work. All these sinners need to get their lives together and stop disappointing the Lord. I’m on my own level. Anyone else ever like this? Anyone else find it easy to slip into self-righteousness? I do.
The fact is I’m human. I carry the human condition. This means I am innately inconsistent. Some days, I say and do the all the right things. Others, my life looks like a train wreck. This is why we fail to be excellent. Excellence has consistency. We rely on the source of Excellence, the Christ. And that’s a beautiful, relieving moment.
See I feel I’m a generally good person, not by my nature, but only because the Spirit within me is constantly course-correcting my devious bent for wrong. I didn’t earn that Spirit, it was a gift and isn’t something I can brag about. Left to my own devices, I’ll always act on my own selfish ambitions and desires and make no amends for their consequences. With the spirit, while, still not truly consistent, I’m working towards it. Not to be saved, see that’s already been given. I’m working towards this because I’m free to work towards it, to refine myself and better myself without having to “win” anything and I can do it free of arrogance, because it wouldn’t have even been possible without the Cross giving the ability.
This is a great thing. Yet this isn’t my point. I am still so quick to point out other groups failures and issues. Yet I have just as many failures and issues! Don’t lose me here, I’m not making a statement over whose right and wrong. I’m simply saying, instead of all of the bickering (I mean look at the status quo, has it really gotten us anywhere?) why don’t we show each other some grace. Instead of labeling the president a heathen, Muslims as terrorists, Professors and scientists as liars and Christians as bigots, can we just own up to our own inconsistency and share the same grace we bestow ourselves, to others? There is a really famous thought about all this: “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
It doesn’t mean you have to agree with someone else, it just means you show respect, and goodwill towards them. It means you stop waiting for them to misstep so you can pounce on that moment to prove your point. It means trying to get along.
Specifically to Christians, I just want to say, you are called to serve Christ by serving others. Rich, poor, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Republican, Democrat, Anarchist, Communist, Capitalist, Pro-choicer, Pro-lifer, Pro-Guns, Anti-Guns, White, Black, KKK, Westboro. All of them. They do not serve you. You serve them, just as Christ served us (who are a wrong, ignorant and hostile people) It doesn’t matter how wrong or right they may be. The foundation of every word and action is love. Our actions are never reactions, because in all things we love and serve others. This makes life far less complicated for us too, though not necessarily easier. Whatever good or bad some person or group does to you, you already know your response. Love and service. Working that out, isn’t easy, wasn’t for Christ either, but we are called to do it. So maybe instead of spending so much time explaining why the other side is wrong, we can work on this whole love-service fundamental. Alright?
“It is this lack of love among Christians which today makes the church an insipid, lukewarm institution. People come to find affection and are turned off by our tepidity.”
“If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary’s love.”
“Assuredly there is but one way in which to achieve what is not merely difficult but utterly against human nature: to love those who hate us, to repay their evil deeds with benefits, to return blessings for reproaches. It is that we remember not to consider men’s evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them.”
Kony 2012. You all know it. Some of you get psyched hearing about it, many of you wish they’d just shut up about it. I’ll go ahead and say I’m a supporter, if you’ve read any of my blog, you know my heart for Africa. I’ve shared the video, I’ve donated to the cause, and I plan to take part in a Cover The Night rally. This isn’t about picking sides or even the campaign at all really. This is about Jason Russell and what needs to be understood from his tragedy.
If you don’t know Jason Russell is the guy from the Kony 2012 video. He’s a co-founder of Invisible Children. Two weeks after the video had gone viral, Jason was detained after apparently suffering a breakdown. He was found in the street, in his underwear screaming and pounding the ground. He was malnourished, dehydrated, and hadn’t slept in over a week. The cause of all this was from the backlash to his campaign.
Much of the criticism to the campaign wasn’t logical or beneficial to the discussion of the topic. Instead they were hateful, personal attacks on Jason himself. It wasn’t just secular cynics throwing insults his way, it was also Christians who took part. Worst of all, after his breakdown, again both Christians and secularists alike took to mocking him again.
As I saw the hatefulness being brought on Jason, I began to feel the pain of it myself. Many of you know I have a vision for Africa and specifically Somalia. Since I was 15 years old, child soldiers and those regions of Africa have been monumentally important to me. I plan to spend my life in service to these areas trying to aid in fixing the brokenness there. I also plan to inspire and persuade as many others as I can to use their talents and training in whatever career they are pursuing in service to these areas to give them a better tomorrow. Jason’s vision isn’t that far off from my vision, so when I see my friends and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ insult not only his attempt to shine light in this world but Jason himself, it’s not hard for me to see myself facing something similar one day. That’s incredibly discouraging.
There is no place in the Christian life for mockery, insults or crude jokes. I don’t care how funny and cool it seems and I don’t care how much you dislike a person or what they stand for. We are all made in the image of Christ himself, and take part in or allow any of those things is to insult the One who created us.
We wonder why Christians are so often called hypocrites, yet we need look no further to see it.
I ask that we all stop for a time and meditate on these:
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
I hope and pray that we the church can rise above this mob mentality we have grown accustomed to using. We must look into our own hearts, and find the bitterness, hatefulness and cynicism we harbor. We all have it, I’m no different. Then we must make it right before the Lord and by His grace leave it behind us. Secondly, pray for Jason and his family, they need love and support. You don’t have to agree with him, but you do still have to love him.
“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always,” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-16
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