When evil seems to be winning

There are periods in which it appears that evil is prevailing. This has been true in the past, is true now, and will be true again in the future.

These are periods of time in which we go day to day waiting for what’s next. We almost expect it to happen. And when it does come, it is not all that much of a surprise. It’s more about us noticing.

When these periods of prevailing evil come, we may want to crawl away, hide, or just curl up and go to bed. We may want to just call it quits, tell God that we are exhausted, or that we are up against evil systems that are relentless and unchanging – so what’s the point?

Those are the reactions that evil wants good people, followers of God, to have. Evil is counting on it in fact.

It is in those times of prevalent evil that followers of God are tested. Not tested in the way that God is putting people to the test to see if they will remain faithful. Rather, tested in a different way. Tested in the sense of revealing one’s true character.

God never promises that following God will be easy or pleasant. God doesn’t promise that following God’s ways will yield material reward and the pleasures of life. Jesus does command his followers to pick up their cross, die daily, and follow him. That’s testing someone to see what they are really made of. Are you all in or not is what the test is about.

Evil asks the same question when it seems to be winning – are you all in on God or not? If you aren’t, evil offers you a way to back out.

But God offers blessing to those whose true character is that of a disciple.

The Beatitudes speak to this:

“‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'” (NRSV, Matthew 5:3-12)

Notice who is blessed – those who have been tested and God has found goodness, in spite of the evil that happens. Blessed are the poor in spirit. That means there is poverty. Blessed are the peacemakers is a message that tells us that peace is not happening, and yet, there are those who will do what it takes to make peace – real peace, not just the absence of conflict. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (justice). That means that justice is not happening and there are those who will not stop until justice is obtained. And on it goes.

When evil seems to be winning, the disciples are called to respond. To show their true character. To show what they are truly made of. But it isn’t really about what the disciples are doing. We can’t do it on our own. Rather, it’s about what God is doing in us and through us. It’s about how we die every day to our own desires (to avoid the pain of evil). It’s about how God gives us everything we need and equips us to do what needs to be done and to say what needs to be said. All that in spite of the consequences of standing up to evil. We don’t face evil by resorting to violence or evil. We face it with godliness – love in the face of hatred and fear, peace in the face of violence and war, justice in the face of greed and corruption, forgiveness in the face of mistrust and revenge, mercy in the face of power and might, grace in the face of judgement and selfishness.

Evil doesn’t rest. It keeps going and going. But the problem with that is common. Everything needs a rest at some point, or it will kill itself. Humans need to rest in order to survive and thrive. Animals need it too. And so do systems. But evil believes it can just keep on going, without stopping, without pausing. That is the very essence of pride – that the rules of life don’t apply. And it is that very nature of pride which brings about evil’s defeat. The very thing that brought about its apparent success also leads to it’s great downfall and failure.

Evil works tirelessly. We aren’t called to match evil. We are called to present something far different – God’s kingdom. Shalom (wholeness). Sabbath rest. Freeing those that are oppressed. Life-death-resurrection. Stewardship. Service. Humility. Imago Dei. Love of neighbor. Justice. These are life giving things.

Evil falls because it never rests. We can rest assure that God prevails. And holds us in God’s hands.

What do we do when it seems as though evil is winning? We do nothing. Instead, God encounters us, transforms us, and sends us out to be God’s hands and feet in the world. And we proclaim the Good News to the communities we are called to share it with. We can’t defeat evil on our own. And it’s not really a battle anyway. It’s a different way. A life way. A God way.

Evil doesn't rest

Evil doesn’t rest. Ever. That’s the nature of what evil is about.

God, on the other hand, rests. And calls on God’s followers to rest.

Evil believes in constant, unending production. People are just a tool to produce. Produce more stuff. Produce more profit. Produce more entertainment. Produce more bricks.

God is different. So different that God instilled God’s image and likeness in humanity. In the creation story, we are told that God rested on the seventh day. The Sabbath is created for humans to rest in order to worship God clear from the concerns of laboring. For God, what we produce is not as important as the relationship we have with God. Part of the reason is that regardless of what we produce it will eventually fade away and be forgotten. But God will not forget us.

Evil systems don’t rest. They work hard to maintain themselves. They suck in good people through lies and fear. Evil systems create an expectation that things will stay the same, so there is no point in resisting or, God forbid, changing the system. Evil systems create an expectation that God doesn’t show up and is only a character of the past – not the present or the future.

But the Good News is that evil will end. Evil Systems will crumble under their own weight. Their lies will be exposed. And when they fall, those who prop them up will come crashing down with them.

In place of these evil systems will be the Kingdom of God which has no end. The Kingdom offers rest from the labor of maintaining a costly evil system. The Kingdom of God is built on truth and on the very nature of God. And it will last. Evil will pass. It falls just at the time when it appears strongest and winning. It falls at the moment when it thinks it has won. Because pride proceeds the fall. And fall it will. And fall hard.

God is patient. The end result is already determined – God wins. Labor away evil. All of your labor produces nothing and will be forgotten. God wins. Amen.

Being Offended

I’ve heard several complaints about the Half Time Show of the Super Bowl. I’m a bit confused by it though.

First, let me be honest – I watched a total of about two minutes of the Super Bowl. It was at the end of the first half. We watched part of the Half Time Show – probably about half of it. Enough to know what happened. And enough to be left confused by the complaints.

Was there a limited amount of clothing? Sure. Just like past Half Time Shows – nothing special about this one. Last year the singer was shirtless. Was the dancing sensual? Sure. I’m pretty sure past ones were too.

But really, we’re going to be upset about a Half Time Show as if that is the main problem? I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. And I don’t have the energy to be upset.

I don’t get the Puritanism. I don’t get it when we spend more and more every year in our nation on movies that are for more sexual in nature and we brag about going to these movies. We spend more money, as a nation, on porn than most other things. But we think the Half Time Show is the problem?

I don’t get it when we are upset about a Half Time Show, but ignore the human trafficking that goes on all around the city hosting the Super Bowl. Or that the game generated around $1 Billion in revenue – what will that money be used for? Or that there is a ton of gluttony that happens across the US in relation to this game. Or that there’s a great deal of violence that happens in the game – football is just a violent game. Or any number of other things that we could be upset about.

Instead, it sounds more like we’re upset because we couldn’t possibly get away with wearing the same outfits and look good, or do the athletic moves that occurred. So they must be a sin. And we must be innocent.

There are plenty of injustices that exist in the world for us to be upset about. Things that we should get upset about – upset enough to actually start to act to put an end to them. The Half Time Show isn’t one of them. It’s more like looking for something to complain about and feeling like we did something, because we complained.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. It’s just not that important. If what you saw bothered you that much, do something to empower women. Work to pass legislation that will protect women from violence. Don’t just complain, go and do something to build people up.

I'm uncomfortable

I’ve heard of people leaving their church in recent times because they are “uncomfortable.” I understand. I’m uncomfortable too.

I’m uncomfortable.  Since following Jesus I’ve been very uncomfortable.  I haven’t had a day in which I have been comfortable actually. And it’s getting worse. Every day I am more and more uncomfortable.

I’m uncomfortable with the level of homelessness we have in the wealthiest nation in history.  

I’m uncomfortable with child hunger.  

I’m uncomfortable with tearing families apart.  

I’m uncomfortable with the mistrust that exists in our nation.  

I’m uncomfortable with the brokenness that exists.

I’m uncomfortable with how our stewardship of God’s creation is.  

I’m uncomfortable that we listen to the god of money to make decisions, and that our first concern is the economy and not the welfare of the population.  

I’m uncomfortable that we have been in a near constant state of war for most of our nation’s history.

I’m uncomfortable we have adopted the belief that the ends justify the means.  

I’m uncomfortable that the truth and seeking truth doesn’t seem to matter that much.  

I’m uncomfortable that there is a large segment of society that sees no value in education.  

I’m uncomfortable that people seek salvation and Messiah-like figures from the world of politics and have for most of human history.  

I’m uncomfortable that we fully embrace scapegoating – that we are in fact addicted to it.  

I’m uncomfortable that we think others need to repent, but that we are innocent and in no need of confession or repentance.  

I’m uncomfortable that our vision is clouded so we can’t see the Image of God in others.  

I’m uncomfortable that we reject and dehumanize the stranger, the foreigner, instead of doing what Jesus tells us to do – welcome the stranger. 

I’m uncomfortable that we don’t practice health care, but rather only care about treating sickness because there is more money to be made that way.  

I’m uncomfortable that racism seems to be alive and well in our nation.  

I’m uncomfortable that our criminal justice system is unjust.  

I’m uncomfortable that people are mistreated and dehumanized because of their sexuality.  

I’m uncomfortable that it seems to be acceptable to degrade women.  

I’m uncomfortable that we embrace the idea of power as a value, and dismiss the virtue of compassion and care for others.

I’m uncomfortable that we believe selfishness and greed is good.

I’m uncomfortable that there are many Christians who think they can claim to be followers of Jesus without actually doing anything that Jesus commands them to do as followers.  

I’m uncomfortable that there are Christians who think that being a follower of Jesus comes with a promise of being comfortable.  

I’m uncomfortable that many turn a blind eye to facts and evidence and data that doesn’t agree with our beliefs and we think that our beliefs are fact.  

I’m uncomfortable that we put our faith and hope in political parties, and only give lip service to the faith from God.  

I’m uncomfortable that we care more about our own stuff, as opposed to those suffering around us.  

I’m uncomfortable that we think that strength means defeating ones opponents rather than listening and making peace with them in a way that benefits all and starts to build trust and community.  

I’m uncomfortable that we have fully embraced the idea of us vs. them.  

I’m uncomfortable that we can read what Scripture says and can spin it into something completely different because we don’t like it.  

I’m uncomfortable that we have Christians who think they don’t have to read the Bible at all.  

I’m uncomfortable that we have Christians who think they don’t need to grow spiritually and in faith because they were confirmed when they were in 8th grade.  

I’m uncomfortable that we think we can be loyal to Jesus and anything else at the same time, especially when that other loyalty conflicts with what it means to follow Jesus.  

I’m uncomfortable that we can justify excluding whole groups of people from God’s kingdom because they sin in a way that we are not likely to sin.  

I’m uncomfortable with the level of hatred and fear that exists in our nation and in our churches.  

I’m uncomfortable that we have many Christians who don’t actually believe the faith.  

I’m uncomfortable that many Christians don’t expect to encounter Jesus and really don’t want to because that would mean their lives would change and be transformed.  

I’m uncomfortable that we value being in control, the very first sin recorded in Scripture, is what we value more than transformation and resurrection.  

I’m uncomfortable with so much more that could easily be on this list.  

I’m uncomfortable that this list is so very long and leaves me exhausted.  

I’m uncomfortable.  

But I am comforted by this – I am not alone.  You are not alone.  We are not alone.  Jesus never promised that following him would be comfortable.  In fact, he promises the exact opposite thing – to the point that we may die for the faith.  He doesn’t promise that we will be comfortable.  But he did promise that he would be with us.  And he is.  Right now.  In the midst of discomfort.  He is here.  He is present.  He is active.  He is alive.  Let us cling to him.  

Privilege

According to Dictionary.com, privilege is defined the following way:

  1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most.
  2. a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities.
  3. a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.
  4. the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.

Privilege is a touchy subject. Which, itself, is amazing. Of course privilege is touchy – especially for those who have privilege. It is expected by those who have privilege, that they would, by definition, be exempt from having a conversation about privilege.

And so, as a society, those with privilege often get to dictate what is acceptable to talk about publicly. Public discourse is contained so as to protect the privileged from being uncomfortable.

If you don’t have to deal with or think about politics, because it doesn’t really impact your life, then you are privileged. If you don’t have to think about or deal with issues around race or gender, then you are privileged. If you don’t have to think about or figure out where your next meal is or where you are going to sleep tonight, then you are privileged.

Let me be clear – none of this makes you a bad person, or a good person. It’s more just a recognition of your status in society. Let me repeat that. If you are privileged, it says nothing about what type of person you are. There’s no accusation that you are inherently bad or evil. It’s only a statement of where you are in life right now. Right now being the key.

You might not have always been there. Maybe you were though. You might not always be as privileged as you are either. It’s just where you are right now. The future doesn’t promise that you will remain where you are.

The better question is this – given your level of privilege, regardless of how much privilege you have, what are you going to do with it?

Does it exist for your own benefit? Are you more interested in turning inward on yourself to use your comfort to make your life comfortable, to protect yourself? Maybe you’ll even extend that to your family and friends.

But what about to those who you don’t know? Do you have an obligation to use the privilege you have to benefit others – even those you don’t know?

By definition, privilege frees a person from obligations.

So the question becomes this – if you are a follower of Jesus, can you live by the definition of privilege? Are followers of Jesus exempt from the obligations that God places on them?

Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Are we obligated to do that? Or are we exempt from that, and hence, privileged? Can Christians – disciples or followers of Jesus – truly be privileged?

In Matthew 25, we hear Jesus talking about how nations will be judged. Nations are privileged too, not just individuals. Can a privileged nation be exempt from God’s commands?

Jesus tells us to follow his commands. Jesus tells us to offer forgiveness. Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us. Jesus tells us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and die daily.

So which is it, Christian? Do we hold onto our privilege? Or do we embrace Jesus? The two are not compatible. It is literally impossible to hold onto our privilege and honestly follow Jesus. Scripture talks about Jesus emptying himself and becoming a slave. Jesus didn’t take his privilege of being the Son of God and use it for himself – instead, he used it for the benefit of all creation. Followers of Jesus are called to follow his lead and example.

For those of us that are privileged, we are called to use that privilege for the benefit of those around us, and to those we don’t even know. It’s the very meaning of the doing until others as we would have then do unto us. It is the meaning of what it means to love our neighbor. It is the very meaning of living into the Imago Dei – the Image of God.

Let us use our privilege to benefit those without privilege. Let us deny ourselves daily, see the image of God in those without privilege, and love our less privileged neighbors. That’s what the unfolding of the Kingdom of God is all about.

Comfort and Following Jesus

Sorry, the two don’t go together.

There are verses about comforting. There are verses that offer comfort. But there are no verses about following Jesus being comfortable.

There are times when we need to be comforted. Those are times when we are afflicted. There are plenty of people who are oppressed and exploited around the world – those folks need to hear a message of comfort. And God does comfort the afflicted.

But no where in Scripture does it tell us that following Jesus will be comfortable.

In fact, there are plenty of places in Scripture that tell us the exact opposite. We hear Jesus tell us that we are to pick up our cross, die daily, and follow him. That’s not comfortable. We are told that those who follow Jesus will be reviled. We’re told how Jesus really doesn’t like lukewarm followers – those that claim to follow Jesus, but the actions don’t match the rhetoric.

Following Jesus is not comfortable. I haven’t had a comfortable day since I really followed Jesus. Yes, I’ve had joy. I’ve had contentment. I’ve had peace. But I have never been comfortable in following Jesus.

I think part of this has to do with the fact that following Jesus is about growing. Growth is uncomfortable. I’d go so far as to say there is no growth without discomfort. Doesn’t matter if you are talking about physical growth, mental growth, emotional growth, relationship growth, or spiritual growth. Discomfort is a way to know that you are growing.

We should rejoice when we are uncomfortable in our faith journey. It means there is some kind of growth going on.

The first followers of Jesus were uncomfortable. They all died as a result of following Jesus – 10 of the 11 faithful ones died as martyrs. The last one died alone and broke. Tell them about your discomfort. Or you can look to Paul or Stephen – both died for the faith. Want to complain that you are uncomfortable to them? I’m sure they will happily listen.

One of the reasons following Jesus is uncomfortable is that Jesus opens our hearts and minds to see things differently. When we follow Jesus, we can’t unsee the injustices around us. We can’t go on ignoring things that should not be happening. When we hear about children starving, it’s uncomfortable. When we encounter someone who is experiencing homelessness, it is uncomfortable. When we come across racism or other injustices, it is uncomfortable. And it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be so uncomfortable that we act in response.

Where did this notion come from that following Jesus was comfortable? I don’t know. But it isn’t grounded in Scripture or faith.

When we focus on comfort in church, what we are really doing is being blind to the purpose of church. Church isn’t a social club that meets everyone’s needs. A church doesn’t exist to make you comfortable. It exists to make you a disciple.

When we focus on our comfort, we are really trying to control the Gospel and Jesus. We are trying to put boundaries around God, put Jesus in a box, and contain Jesus. We want to tell Jesus what he can and can’t do.

Here’s what I have experienced. When we do that, we create low expectations for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We don’t expect prayers to be answers. We don’t expect lives to be transformed. We don’t expect the hungry to be satisfied. We don’t expect to be challenged. We don’t expect much from God, from church, from faith, from Scripture, from worship, from pastors, from each other. We don’t expect God to show up. We don’t expect God to even be alive and active. We expect everything to remain the same.

Comfort isn’t where transformation happens. When the Gospel is unleashed, it’s uncomfortable. And it’s where lives are literally transformed in incredible ways.

So church, what’s it going to be? Are you more interested in your own comfort, or in following Jesus? If you prefer comfort, then don’t expect anything. And no one else out side of the church will expect anything either. Why should they?

But if we are committed to following Jesus, then it’s time to go all in. To be uncomfortable. To expect amazing things. To expect Jesus to show up. To expect transformation.

Being uncomfortable isn’t fun. It’s not supposed to be. But it’s where growth happens. It’s where lives are changed. It’s how Jesus works in us individually, and in our congregations. It’s what the core message of Christianity is all about – Life, Death, and Resurrection. There can be no resurrection if we first don’t go through death. And death is uncomfortable. But thankfully death doesn’t get the final say. That’s not where the story ends. It’s merely a stop along the way.

Faith and Sin

Is faith only a private matter? I hear arguments from some Christians that say that their faith is only a private matter, that it is only a matter of personal piety – how one acts privately.

But I find no Scripture to support such a claim. And I find many elements of this argument lacking on many levels. It seems like faith is a waste. If faith is only a private matter, then what’s the point? If faith is only a private matter, then how exactly is it transformative?

Scripture tells a different story. Jesus sends the disciples out to proclaim the Good News. That’s not a private piety. It has a public impact.

Jesus eats with sinners and tax collectors. That’s not a private piety only. It has a public impact – the Pharisees and Sadducees comment on it and criticize it. It impacts them. And it impacts the lives of the people Jesus ate with. It gave them dignity.

Matthew 25 records Jesus telling us about how the nations will be judged. That’s certainly not a private piety matter – it’s very public. It has public impact.

Jesus is labeled many things – Messiah, King of the Jews, King of King, Lord of Lords, Son of Man (or humanity if you think in the broader sense), and many more. All of these titles have public implications, not matters of private piety.

Jesus wasn’t crucified because of his private piety. He was crucified because of his public ministry and what it meant. It was having an impact on people’s lives in very public ways – affecting the status quo and all that supported and defended the status quo. And what was the status quo? Simply put, the status quo was oppressive, exploitive, deadly, and destructive. Jesus was a threat to all of this. If all he wanted to do was private piety, he would have not had a public ministry at all. He would not have had disciples. We would not have traveled through the land. He would not have been resurrected. He would not have appeared to people after the resurrection. He would have been completely forgotten in history because he would have had no impact on anyone.

That’s what an emphasis on private piety leads to.

That’s not to say that piety is unimportant. It is important. But that’s not where faith ends. It’s only the beginning.

Here’s how I know that faith is meant for more than just private piety. Sin isn’t just a private matter.

Sin is the brokenness of relationship. In order to have relationship, there needs to be more than just the self. There is an other. Sin breaks the relationship with the other – this makes it public. Sin has implications on the rest of creation – hence it has a public impact. We read this in the story of the Fall in Genesis 3. Because of sin, the ground is cursed too. When sin persists, the entire world suffers. Sin exploits and oppresses, it kills and destroys. It has a very public impact.

And faith exists to counter sin. How can faith do that though if it is only a private matter? It can’t.

Both sin and faith are public matters ultimately. As much as we would prefer to not face the reality of the public nature of sin, we are called too. We are called to name sin where it exists and to live out the faith we have been given – publicly. Sin is like a stain. We can choose to ignore the stain and pretend that it doesn’t exist. But we are only fooling ourselves. Faith is the oxyclean that comes in and knocks the stain of sin out – making things right again. Really right. Not, “let’s pretend we can’t see what’s obviously there” right. That’s just avoiding conflict because we are uncomfortable with conflict.

Living out this kind of public faith isn’t easy. There will be critics – those devoted to sin and the lies it tells. There have been many who have died for faith. They paid the ultimate price for fully living their faith. But what’s the point of claiming a faith that you aren’t willing to die for? What’s the point of claiming a faith that you aren’t willing to live out in a public manner? What’s the point of hiding the faith that we have been given because we are soooo concerned with our own safety that we will never speak out when faith cannot be silenced? That’s not faith at all. If faith is only private piety, then it is not really faith. It’s just another form of sin – a self-centered care and concern for one’s own safety and comfort. If faith is anything, it isn’t that.

Sin is both private and public. And so is faith.

History

Here’s a fun fact – most of history is forgotten and will be forgotten. Sure, we have plenty of historical facts, but put them up against the the entire span of humanity’s existence and think about how little we actually have been able to preserve.

We know the name and dates of “important” people of the past – and in some cases we know what they did. Or at least what the spin has become on what they did. Although the further back you go, the sketchier it gets.

Our own reality is that by the fourth generation after you, you will most likely be forgotten. Or at best just a picture or a note. You will not have any connection with that person and they won’t think of you in a personal way. You become just a footnote. And give it another generation or two and you won’t be remembered at all, unless someone has really good notes on family history.

I don’t think any of this is a bad thing. Sure, it’s sad, but really – how far back can you go in your own family to where you know the person in the past? How far back can you go that you know the stories about a person? If you can go back more than four generations, you’re probably in the minority. And going back every further is really impressive.

Think about this – considering we have a handful of people that are remembered in history (for any number of reasons), it is minuscule in comparison to the billions of people who have lived on this planet. Their lives are gone, forgotten to history.

But the good news is that’s ok. As Christians we believe that the only whose memory matters is God. God remembers us. We hear this when God shows up and says that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is not a God of the dead, but of the living. And in God, all are living, even those who have died. In other words, their memory is not dead. They are merely asleep and will be awoken at the resurrection.

Often we believe that our time in history is the most important time – just like all generations before us had the same belief and all generations after us will most likely have the same belief.

And for us, that may be true – at least in terms of our lives. But for God, it is not true. Every time is important. Which is why God remembers people and waits to resurrect all people at the end of time.

History may forget each one of us, but God doesn’t. And we should take comfort in that. It’s the most important memory that exists.

What is sin?

Martin Luther defined sin as the turning in on oneself. I like this definition and description. It’s pretty accurate. When we turn in on ourselves, we turn away from others, and more importantly, away from God. When we turn in on ourselves, we are acting in a narcissistic manner – making ourselves into a god, where all of our focus and attention turns. It’s about me, what I want, what I desire, what pleases me, etc.

In this sense, sin is the antithesis of the two great commandments – to love God and to love our neighbor. We can’t do either when we turn in on ourselves.

I think there are other ways of defining sin too that are helpful. I have heard sin defined as broken relationships. Sin is a broken relationship with God and with others. In a sense, it is also a broken relationship with ourselves. Again, the care and concern of anything outside of ourselves is broken. Trust is broken. Faith is broken. And it can’t be re-established until things change.

Another way to define sin is to talk about vision – as in sight. Sin is the clouding of our vision. Our vision is clouded so that we can’t see what is actually best for ourselves and others. Sin is a distortion of vision that prevents us from seeing the reality of truth. Sin is like a pair of eyeglasses that are not your prescription. You can see elements of what is there, but you can’t see clearly. The blurrier the vision, the more anxiety and fear enter us as we become concerned for our safety. People become blurred – we don’t recognize them and if the blurring is bad enough, we may not even recognize that we are seeing a person.

Sin distorts our view of the Imago Dei of the other – the Image of God. It blinds us from seeing the image of God in another person. This is brokenness in relationship. It is turning inward on oneself.

Original sin is the concept that we are born in a state of sin, through no fault of our own. This original sin blinds us from seeing what the goodness of God is fully. Only with God’s action, are we able to respond.

In a sense, original sin is like color blindness. I am color blind. I have never seen what some colors are supposed to be, unlike people with “normal” vision. So if I have never seen what normal is, how am I supposed to pick out the proper color. I can’t do it – I have no idea what to look for on my own. It is only when I receive help or direction that I am able to even have the option of choosing the right color. God’s grace works like this when it comes to original sin.

Sin is not a popular topic right now. But it is important. Too often sin masquerades as something that it is not. Sin dresses up as something good, when it isn’t. It delights in fooling people. Sin is never satisfied.

And thankfully God never stops – never stops pursuing us, transforming us, and giving us sight to see sin for what it is. God never stops forgiving us when we sin too. Sinners sin. That’s what we do. It’s a part of our nature. And God loves. That’s a part of God’s nature.

The state of health care

What is the state of health care today? Would it be considered healthy? Depends on how you measure it I guess.

I’m not interested in the typical debates around health care though.

I’m interested in examining something much more fundamental. Do we really do health care?

In some cases yes, but overall, I don’t think so. Rather, we are more inclined to do sick care, rather than health care. The health care system really only kicks in when someone is sick. We spend inordinate amounts of money on people when they are sick. Our medication is focused on alleviating symptoms of those that are sick, and to some extent doing some kind of cure to move people towards health.

Our nutrition certainly isn’t oriented towards health. We are asked to change our eating habits only when there is a problem. Our mental health system is poor at best.

We don’t do effective preventative care. We certainly don’t invest money in preventative care like we should. I think part of the reason is that preventative care saves money. There is more money to be made off of sick care, rather than preventative health care. Just as there is more money to be made from poverty and war and addiction.

Our tendency here in the US is to try to make matters better after they have broken down – at least we tell ourselves that. Why not do preventative care though? It’s more economical. It’s more dignified and caring. It humanizes the health care system. And it means that fewer of us will need as much sick care.

I suspect one reason we don’t alter our system is that we don’t have the imagination of what this might look like. And so we stick with what we know. That’s not a good reason though. That’s lazy. We could use more imagination when it comes to our health care. And we could use more motivation to change it also. Our health – physical, mental, emotional, and financial – should be enough motivation.