1. I've been thinking a great deal about returns. When we were children, we were who we were--trusty and true. Do you remember how easy belief was in the days of felt-board Jesus, Goldfish crackers, and cherry Kool-Aid? John 3:16 leveled the playing field, taught us that we loved God because he first loved us. That was that, and many of us believed.
Somewhere along the way, though, the lusts set in and we began the metamorphosis. We learned cynicism, violence, and greed. We learned to cheat (whether on tests and girlfriends), steal (whether candy bars or lusty glances at our neighbor's wife), and kill (whether the farmland or our children's spirits). This was the intoxicating brokenness of adulthood, and we created clothes from the poison and shards of glass, tried them on and called them the fashion of the day.
Stop. Examine. You know this to be true.
There's a lot of talk about systemic sin and oppression, these days. The conservative crowd (whatever that means) laments the sin (mostly sexual) that seems to be permeating the culture at an alarming rate. They preach, and the hellfire fills their cheeks as they call an entire nation to repent.
The progressive crowd (whatever that means) points to other cultural indicators, shows how the market beats back the least of these. The classes aren't on a level playing field, and widows,* orphans, and poor have their rights trampled. This is the sin of ancient Israel, they say, and their cheeks fill with a different sort of hellfire as they call an entire nation to repent.
If I'm honest, on most days my right cheek is filled with the conservative fire and my left with the progressive one.
It's important to talk about systemic sin and oppression; let's make no bones about it. But is there a point at which all this calling for societal change leads us away from personal examination, from personal repentance?
This is not a piece to point out anyone's particular fault. It's not a piece to point out systemic sin, either. This is a simple piece to remind myself of the days of childlike faith, the days before all that lusty, greedy, violent fear filled my noggin.
Do you remember your own similar days? What happened to them?
Put away your thoughts of society for a moment. Turn inward and remember. Is there a turning that needs to happen in your own spirit? Do you need to come back toward that child-like faith? So often, I do.
"If all that you are is not all you desire," says Damien Rice, "then come."
And former-Baptist that I am, here is your hymn of invitation.
*In the original post, "widows" was "windows." My friend Erika Morrison believed this to be a typo, but I indicated that no, actually, everyone is always trying to save the windows. She thought it made more sense with the substitution, though. She's a good and right life-artist, so I changed it.
In this month's Tiny Letter (my monthly newsletter), I'm discussing the idea of resting within church practices. There, I'm speaking candidly about some recent changes in the Haines' household, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Sign up to read along!