Friday, October 26, 2007

Growth hurts

For most of my life, I have avoided confrontation. Rather than confront burglars in the house, isn't it better to lock the door? Of course, not all confrontations are quite so clear-cut. The burglar knows he's doing something wrong, or if he doesn't, he at least knows he could be caught by the police or by an unexpected homeowner.

I don't like telling people they're doing something wrong; I'd rather they pay attention and not mess things up in the first place. On the other hand, when I mess things up, and if I'm liable to keep doing so, I want my friends and family to tell me.

So why am I afraid to tell people stuff -- the kind of stuff I wish they'd tell me when I need it? Probably it's for the same reason people are afraid to tell me; they're afraid I won't take it well, that I'll give them a bunch of guff. And of course sometimes they're right, although I hope I do that less often, now that I'm less young and less foolish than I used to be.

I have two things to think about now:
  1. I need to
    • be willing to accept corrective feedback, and
    • invite people to give me that corrective feedback
  2. I need to offer such feedback appropriately

Which reminds me of Ezra 7:10, which says:
For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
My tendency has been to do a little of the first, and less of the second.

Well, what's the problem with that, anyway? It's not that I won't get to heaven; rather, it's that I won't grow as much as I can and should. Will it hurt? Golly, it hurts my stomach already just thinking about a conversation I have to have soon.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What does the gospel promise?

We had dinner last night with some friends, including a couple who don't share our faith. At one point, I mentioned something I read in Yancey's Reaching for the Invisible God: the good news that I'm already forgiven and that I will one day be made perfect.

This caught the ear of the non-Christian husband, who asked me to explain about being made perfect, and for a brief second I wished I'd been reviewing my Scriptures more frequently. I came up immediately with Philippians 1:6, the one about how the one who began working in "you" (which I take to include me) will complete it. As I was talking, verses from Romans 8 came to mind -- those ones that talk about how those he foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, i.e., predestined to become like Jesus (how's that for good news?) and how God will use everything to accomplish that goal. I explained about how I want to be a better person, kinder, more patient, courageous, tolerant, gentle, etc., and how there is this huge gap, but God has promised....

The Christian husband reinforced this, mentioning that whatever God starts, he's obviously going to complete (an intuitively appealing concept), and pretty soon offered to lend a copy of Wright's Simply Christian... which was accepted.

I was recounting this to the younger teen, and I remembered a passage from 1 Thessalonians 5 -- may your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus; he who calls you is faithful and he will do it. Yes!

Oddly enough, contrary to what I sometimes hear about, there is no guarantee that God will give us tons of money, a big house, or a fancy car. But all that stuff, versus becoming the kind of person that God wants me to be? No contest!