Fruits of the Spirit Series: Peace

17 06 2016

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  –Galatians 5: 22-23

Welcome to the next installment of the Fruits of the Spirit series!  I am so thankful and grateful that you have come to this site!  If you’ve not been following this series thus far, please go back to the beginning and catch up!

I have a confession, first of all, I had another peace entry written, but then the shooting in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando changed all of these things.  If given guidance, I may publish that later, but I do want to re-write this entry in light of this event.

The Peace Alliance offers a few statistics on violence, some of which are listed below:

  • Violence causes more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year. Violence is one of the leading causes of death in all parts of the world for persons ages 15 to 44
  • A World Heath Organization report estimates the cost of interpersonal violence in the U.S. at more than $300 billion per year.
  • 35 percent of women worldwide — more than one in three — said they had experienced violence in their lifetime, whether physical, sexual, or both. One in 10 girls under the age of 18 was forced to have sex.
  • On average, the cost of violence related only to paying for police, justice, corrections and the productivity effect of violent crime, homicide and robbery is $3,257 for each U.S. taxpayer or $460 billion for the United States economy.
  • The 20th century was one of the most violent periods in human history. An estimated 191 million people lost their lives directly or indirectly as a result of conflict, and well over half of them were civilians
  • In 2005, 5,686 young people ages 10 to 24 were murdered–an average of 16 each day.

This is not an exhaustive list.  I’ve just included some of the facts that really stirred my heart when I thought critically about this.  When I think about violence, I think wars, I think mass casualties, I think of governments and armies.  But, my thinking is skewed.  If you look at the statistics, I think it’s safe to say that the large majority of violent acts occur between individuals and not in wartime.

When I meditate upon these statistics and that conclusion, I realize something very profound.  Violence is not a problem of how, it’s a problem of why.  Gun control is a great attempt at reducing violence, but it only takes care of the HOW, and not the WHY.  Reduction in ammunition, gun buy-back problems…they all take care of the HOW we wage violence upon each other, and not curing the root of the problem.

What is the Root of Violence?

When I started to think on this topic, I decided to look back on the first violent act ever committed.  So I looked to the Bible.  I looked at the account of Cain and Abel.  I’m not going to cite the whole story or post it here, but the basic premise of the story goes that Abel was favored.  Cain got jealous because of his favor, and so he took a rock and stoned Abel to death.  The violent act there was the result of human emotion given free reign over Cain’s heart.  And what happened as a result?  He is punished by exile.

Is the rock to blame?

No.  The rock was just sitting there, minding its own business, you know…being all rock-like.  Suddenly, somebody picked it up, and did something with it.

Someone had to do something.

Therefore, the root of violence is not in the guns, it is not in the weapons, it is a disease of the heart.  And not only is it a disease of the heart, but it is the failure of that person to be intentional in allowing the emotions to not control oneself.

How do we solve the problem of the heart? Trust.

It’s not that easy.  Like most things dealing with spiritual things, it is a discipline, a choice that you have to make, in order to grow and to be more peaceful.  It is something that you have to understand what is asked of you and what is expected of you, as a believer, and as a follower of God.

When anger seeks to destroy our peace because we have been wronged against by a brother or sister, scripture is obvious, we have to trust that God will get his vengeance for us.  When we take matters into our own hands, our first impulse is violence, but scripture is clear:

  • Hebrews 10:30-For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”

  • Romans 12:19-Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

  • Isaiah 57:21-There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Scripture is clear, that it is not up to us to get even, especially through violence.  It is not my job and it is not your job to get even.  Mother Tereasa best explains this through her quote in the following image:

motherteresa

When we start dealing with issues of violence, we must realize that the idea of violence and peace is an issue that is much bigger than us.  It’s something that we all contribute a small part of, but as a whole, the problem of violence lies with a need for a world-wide change in the heart.

How do we see a change in the heart?

Well, there are several things, the first is major.  We’ve got to be intentional about keeping close to God.  That’s it.  This and this alone causes the rest of the steps to fall into place.  We must be intentional about prayer, worship, time with God, study of the scriptures.

The second is this:  Live out what you believe.  As you study in scripture, you will notice some commands, some things that God expects of us, and we must live them out, in both large ways and small.  Scripture has some really prevalent truths about living with people and pursuing peace.  But it’s not enough to just know what scripture tells us to do.  We have to live it out.

Third, make sure the things that you advocate for, also pursues peace.  If you advocate for a war to be waged, consider if that war is going to actively promote peace.  Sad to say, but war for the greater good of getting to peace is still war, and it is still something that we should avoid advocating.

But….that does not fix it on a wide-scale!

You’re correct.  Until all of human population sees the validity of controlling human emotions and trusting in a larger-scale move of the great deity….peace will not happen.  Because it is an issue we have to fix of the hearts of men and women, there’s nothing out there that we can do to force others to turn their methods to peaceful ways.  However, we can do our part in our own little worlds to bring about peace in the way we relate to each other, and by investing time in organizations and efforts to bring about change.

Some statistics from the Peace Alliance again:

  • Nonviolent resistance campaigns tend to succeed because nonviolent methods have a greater potential for eliciting mass participation — on average, they elicit about 11 times more participants than the average armed uprising — and because this is the source of major power shifts within the opponent regime. Mass participation that draws on diverse segments of society tends to empower and co-opt reformers while cutting off hard-liners from sources of support. When such participation is nonviolent, it increases the chances of pulling the regime’s support from the leadership, allowing security forces, economic elites and civilian bureaucrats to shift their loyalties with less fear of bloody retribution.
  • In West Philadephia High School, within two years of implementing a Restorative Discipline program, incidents of assault and disorderly conduct dropped more than 65%.
  • After the Longmont Community Justice Partnership (in Longmont Colorado) implemented its Community Restorative Justice Program, recidivism rates among youth dropped to less than 10% in its first three years.
  • Washington State Life Skills Training programs in schools (Social and Emotional Learning) show that for a $30 per student cost, benefits are around $1290 — a $1260 value.  At the national level, benefits are estimated to be $810 per student.
  • A study on the cost-effectiveness of early intervention to prevent serious crime in California, showed that training for parents whose children exhibited aggressive behavior was estimated to have prevented 157 serious crimes (such as homicide, rape, arson and robbery) for every $1 million spent. In fact, training in parenting skills was estimated to be about three times as cost-effective as the so-called ‘‘three-strikes’’ law in California.

There are many more statistics like this, but the big conclusion that I can come to from these statistics is that preventative efforts work.  Get involved, advocate.  Don’t just stand by.  Go ahead and participate in efforts that promote peace!

And maybe, just maybe, we will see a little change in our world.

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1. Fruit of Spirit Series: Love

23 04 2016

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  –Galatians 5: 22-23

Topic #1 of the Fruits of the Spirit deals with love.  Honestly, I feel like the word Love is used in so many different contexts.  I’m not going to make a comment on the over-use of the word love, but I will try to clearly be specific on the context that I am talking about.  The kind of love that I am talking about today is love that we share between and for people, not the kind of love we have for a cheeseburger, or video games.  But the kind of love that we have for others that we share our lives with, and that we run into each day.

One of the themes in scripture that I have studied the most in discipleship training deals with how the disciple of Jesus is identified through.  I notice several things from scripture and I’d like to share some characteristics of that love:

Characteristics of the Love of God

  1.  God demonstrated love first.   

1 John 4:9-10 says:  “This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  God loved us first.  Before anything else, before anyone else, he loved us first.  That’s it.  There’s no ifs ands or buts about it.  The thing is, we’ve done nothing to merit or earn God’s love.  At all.  Period.  We have nothing to brag about, as being special or unique, and so God loves us.  He loves us because of who he is.  It’s not in his nature to hate anyone, because he is all love.

2.  God’s love does not change based on my emotions. 

This is a theme throughout scripture.  Before we even talk about Jesus and who Jesus is and the person of Jesus, we have to look at the overarching themes and stories of love.

One of my favorite stories in all of scripture is the story found in Hosea.  If you want to look at a love story, look at Hosea.  It’s a little overwhelming, particularly when you examine it in the light of God’s love for us, which it, from my understanding, is a very accurate reflection of God’s love for us, and was intended to be an allegory.  Very shortly and briefly, the story of Hosea is this:  Hosea is called to be a prophet, and he is instructed, by God, to marry a prostitute.  He is obedient and marries Hagar.  They’ve been together for a bit, and she runs back to her old life, and becomes pregnant.  She does that several times, and each time, Hosea goes back and takes her back.

If I am honest, my commitment to God isn’t as steady as it could be.  But instead, it rocks and rolls similarly to the ocean tides.  Sometimes, it’s really rocky and windy due to a storm, and other times, it’s just cycling over and over again.  But you know what?  God’s commitment to me does not waver, it does not increase or decrease based on my response to God’s love.  It’s not about how committed I am to God, because really, I don’t have a choice.  God has already committed himself to me, and he shows this in Hosea 2:19:  “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.”

This is regardless of my response.  Regardless of when I run or how I run.  It’s regardless of how I feel.  From that, I have determined that my love for others, it must be regardless of how I feel.  It must be regardless of whether my feelings are hurt or not, it must be regardless of anything.  My ultimate goal has to be to love people regardless of their response.  Sometimes, people can’t accept love, because of all of the ways they’ve been hurt in the past or how they preconceive that love is….but the thing is, I must love on God’s definition.  And God’s definition is not like humanly definition.  God’s definition is already about commitment, regardless of what I do.  I’ve done nothing to deserve or earn it, but it is my joy to enjoy it, as a free gift.  And that should also be our task, to show others that same type of love, regardless of who they are, their response or what they have done to us.

 

Therefore…..

  1.  If God is love, then we are to love others too.

It’s easier to hate people.  It honestly is.  It’s easy for me to write someone off instead of getting to know them.  It’s easier for me to arbitrarily just decide that I don’t like someone or that I don’t want to share my life with someone, simply because of some random thing that I have decided makes a person unworthy of love.  If I am honest, humanly honest, I have written off people in the past, because I decided that one aspect of them didn’t appeal to me.  I decided that they were not good enough or something.  Thankfully, I have learned the errors of my ways, and am maturing enough to finally realize that everyone has value and is worthy of being loved.  But it takes something for you to be able to recognize that it’s not up to us to decide who gets to be loved.  It’s not up to us to decide who is worthy, because all people are loved.  And therefore, all people are worthy of being loved.  Here’s some convicting words:  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  -1 John 4:7-8.

That thought always sobers me.  When we refuse to love someone, or we decide that someone is not worthy of being loved, we are not of God, and we are not a believer.  That means, in previous moments where I have decided that I don’t want to love others, it means that I haven’t been of God.  And anytime that I used my own reasons to justify why I am not going to love others, then I am not being who I am supposed to be, and I am not loving like I am supposed to.  I am not being obedient like I am supposed to be, and I am not showing love like I am commanded to.

The fact is, the failure to love marks us as nothing but ignorant of the commandments and the person of God.  When I allow politics, my personal beliefs, preferences, or what have you, to discolor my viewpoint of a person, or to prevent me from loving a person, or prevent me from making a person feel like they are loved, then I am in the wrong.  I am in the entire wrong mind frame, and I am in the wrong.

It’s hard to accept that.  It’s hard to be honest with myself and it’s hard for me to call myself out on my wrongness, particularly when I think that I have a good enough of an excuse to justify my hatred or dis-love of others.  I think the reason that the writer of 1 John was so severe, was because he recognizes the weight of love, and the impact and power of love.  See, God endured Calvary for the weight of love.  And so, we should also reflect that weight.  We should also be mindful of the saving power of love, because it is love that allowed us to be redeemed and ransomed.

2.  God’s love makes us sincere in love.

It’s easy to say that we love someone, but it’s much harder to actually do it.  It’s easy to do when the people we love, love us back.  But when they don’t meet our “standards?”  When they don’t meet our expectations?  But what if they hurt us?  What if they upset us?  What if they do something wrong?

The problem with that assumption, is that we are assuming that love has something to do with us and our emotional state of being.  But that is a lie.  See, love should be shown regardless of what we feel or our personal state of being.

How can you do that?  Honestly, it’s very difficult.  But that’s part of sanctification (the process of growing closer with God), because the more that I am close to God, the more that I can and am able to become more like God.  And the more I become like God, the more that I can love people like God does.  Scripture says:  “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” -1 Peter 1:22

We can only love, like God does, when we have been growing, and when we know a thing or two about God’s love.  Then, we can obey the truth, and have sincere love for others.  Sincerity is something that is rare in our world today, because it’s hard to take people at anything other than face value, or to imagine that they don’t have ulterior motives.  The people who follow God and have a relationship with God, should love sincerely, without reserve.  When we fail to do so, then we don’t accurately reflect the love of God as it truly is and reflect the experience of God’s love for us.


But, the question remains:  What is sincere love?

This is a very stereotypical answer, but let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13.  “If I speak in the tongues  of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

To answer that, very quickly, I want to pull out three more additional points about love:

  • If I am spiritual at all, but I do not love, then my works are worth nothing, and I am not reflecting the grace and love that has ransomed me.
  • Love is a very tall order. It moves beyond my own mere human definition, and into something else, something motivated by more than just selfish desires.
  • As I grow, my love will mature and change. And if it doesn’t, then I don’t know love at all.

 

Conclusions

The first thing that I’ve realized through studying these passages, is that I have a lot of ways to grow in love.  But, thank God, how I have grown!  It’s always enlightening and encouraging to see where you have grown and matured!  It’s always a burst of gratitude when I see where God has moved and changed me, how he has changed me.

And if love of God changes me and allows me to mature, how also, could my love for others help to grow others?  If love from God helps me to grow, then it could also help others to grow, and how I could be a beacon of hope and love for others, especially those who need it.

I don’t get to decide and define who God loves, and I don’t get to decide and define who is worthy of my love, and I don’t get to limit love at all.

And the cool thing about love?  “Against such, there is no law.”





Personal Connections in a Digital World

25 11 2013

It seems like the more and more that I live, the more jaded I could become, the more skeptical I could become of people’s true intentions, the more I grow afraid that people will hurt me.  The older I get, the more cautious I get about falling in love, making plans for forever, maintaining friendships and living out my life with people. 

It’s easy to see where that comes from.  Turn on your TV, we have 24 hour news stations that constantly report on the thousands of things going wrong in the world.  Our Congress can’t get along, Walmart workers are not being paid a reasonable wage, so they’re rallying against their employer, the wrong people can get their hands on guns, schools are not safe, the world is so many inches away from nuclear holocaust….the list of negativities goes on and on.

Then if we look at the human population in general…and we see a bunch of self-centered people that are obsessed with using technology to undermine your relationships and who use it to control others.  We see people who are constantly glued to the television set or computer screen, or telephone…and not tuned into the relationships they have in their lives.  Instead of sitting down and telling someone how we feel, we use a song or a scene from a movie/TV show to explain how we feel, just in case they don’t return it, because we’re so afraid of being hurt and experiencing that hurt in a real and honest way, that we’ll do anything to avoid it.  And when we are hurt, it’s usually over a silly thing, but we broadcast  our feelings in a facebook status, or we are passive aggressive about what we say. 

The truth of the matter is that we would rather have technology to express it all, than to actually deal with the emotions we experience, or use that technology to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on with us.

For that reason, I find it hard to be an optimist, because it’s like we are turning into robots that are pre-programmed to think and do certain things, instead of making each experience a unique, human experience. 

Until we can utilize the technology to enhance face-to-face time with people and not use it in ways that it was not intended to replace human interaction, our face-to-face interactions will suffer.  When facebook and texting replaces the face-to-face time, we have simply become robots in a highly connected, but disconnected world.  It’s easier to communicate things using technology, but the problem with that is that we don’t have the opportunity to look in the eyes of the other person and recognize that the words we are saying have an effect on another human being.  That’s why cyberbullying is so rampant!  It’s harder to look at a person and say mean things about them, but much easier when it’s a computer screen looking back at you.  The computer screen doesn’t cry. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for technology.  Skype is a wonderful invention that allows me to interact with my friends who are long distances away.  Texting is a great way to keep in touch or ask quick questions.  Phone calls are good when you can’t physically go see the person.  I am very grateful for technology!  I truly am thankful that it is there.  But, use it wisely.  Don’t use it for the wrong reasons, and remember that there is a person behind the screen on the other side of it all. 

Through all this, this technology reminds me of how important it is to maintain personal connections.  It reminds me of how much of a gift love is, regardless of the form it is in, and it reminds me of how special it is to have found someone that you can share life with.  Technology is there to enhance this, not to use it to become a stalker or constantly question a person’s whereabouts.  When we keep and maintain such connections with people, we truly get to experience the miracle it is that we call relationships. 





Some People Change

6 09 2013

This is one of those songs that just continues to catch me.  I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my love for this song, before, but it just resonates within me so much and so deeply.

I think the reason I love this song is because some people can change.  Changing yourself is hard.  It really is.  But I know that it can be done, because I have changed myself, I have come through some really awful situations and circumstances, and I have emerged to be not quite as screwed up as I could be.

Change is not impossible.  This song is the story of two people who do change, and who leave their prior lives for a new way of living.  My life is the story of someone who was silenced once, and whose opinion and perspectives were told were irrelevant and unimportant…to become a person who chooses to share those opinions and perspectives with people.  I have become someone that people come to with the understanding that I understand where they are, even if just for a small fraction, and can share with them a perspective that may make them look at things in a whole new light.

You can change!  The excuse of “well, this mental disease is something that’s in my blood and I’ll never be able to recover”, that excuse is invalid.  I know this because I have people in my life who stopped a habit that is a family trait, and continue to be strong-willed people, determined to grab control of their lives and carry on.  I know this because I personally, also deal with mental instability.  Believe it or not.  But I have made the decision to force myself to get over that, and to use that to fuel my desires to live my life to the fully, and not hold myself back. 

Excuses are really your way of being lazy.  I know, that’s harsh.  But the reality of this is that if you’re going to make an excuse, it’s because you’ve already decided in your head, that you’re not going to change, but you’re using the excuse instead of the reality which is:  that you don’t want to change.  If you don’t want to change, then you quite simply can’t complain that you can’t change, because you’re not even trying!  If you don’t want to change, you can’t expect people to be sensitive to you and still work around you, if you don’t want to change and get out of the rut you’re in, then that’s fine.  Just don’t cover it up with an excuse. 

Why do I think you can change?  Because I’ve seen people who have changed their lives.  Almost all of the people that I keep in my life on a daily basis, are people that I see that have changed something or another about their lives.  They’ve recognized something that they see in themselves that they don’t like.  Instead of becoming a victim of that seemingly impossible task of changing their life, they’ve chosen to change, and have struggled with that.  Then, they’ve done it. 

Changing your life happens one day at a time.  It is so easy to start a habit, but so much harder to stop that same habit.  Changing your life doesn’t happen in a day, a week or a month.  It make take a long time to accomplish it, but it’s worth it.  It’s continuously trying and challenging yourself to refuse to become a victim and deciding to become a victor!  When you just use the excuses, you continue to perpetuate the idea that you are a victim, and that doesn’t give for a healthy self-esteem.

The most important note about changing:  It has to be for you.  Sure, I can get encouragement to change something, but until I decide to do it myself, that change won’t happen.  I can’t change my way of thinking for someone else or because I want someone else in my life not to leave me (for example), I have to change it because I see how a particular way of living my life puts me in an unhealthy scenario.  You can’t change for your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your grandma, your mom and dad….you gotta choose to change for you, not anyone else.  Because when you choose to change for someone else, then you’re just being rather unhealthily codependent upon someone else.  YOU HAVE TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE.

What if the people around you don’t support the changes you’re trying to make?  What if they say those changes are wrong?  I am sorry that they’re not responding with the love and support that those whom you love and support should give you.  I am sorry that they’re not reacting the way you need them to be.  But, you have to figure out if this is a dealbreaker.  Let’s take an example.  Say that I’m going to become a vegetarian.  And let’s say I tell my family and friends.  Perhaps some of those people are really supportive, and they’re encouraging of me and they encourage me to teach them about what I’m doing.  They may continue to eat meat, but they don’t pressure me into rejecting my decision.  This is a healthy response.  An unhealthy response may be that person who tries to pressure me into eating meat or they’ll try to make me feel guilty for changing my life.  Weird response, right?  You have decide what you’re going to do.  You can try to assert yourself and make it known that they’re not supporting you like you need them to be, and if they choose not to support you, there will be other decisions made.  You could decide their criticisms are something you can ignore.  Whatever it is, you deserve to have people who are your cheerleaders first and foremost, any other response is going to be difficult to receive and to hear all the time. 

I love this song, because it is so true, people can change.  They really can.  But change is self-driven.  If I were to sum up this entire entry, it would be in that previous statement:  Change is self-driven.  You have to stand up for yourself, up to yourself and up from yourself.  You can’t allow anyone else to call the shots for you!

You can do it!  Now go on, you fantastic person, you!  Start that process of changing your life!  You might be glad you did!





Look for the Light

5 07 2013

 

Let me first preface this with a single statement, I love TED.  If you don’t know what TED is, they are talks that have a vision for what the world can become, or how to make your world better now.  Inspirational.  Encouraging, uplifting.  I highly encourage you to look at the other videos.  They are worth your time, for sure.

Anyways, I really enjoy this video for two reasons:  1) It incorporates photography stuff.  2)The talk itself.

I’m gonna warn you, this entry has a bit of religion tied into it.  If you don’t subscribe to a particular religious belief, that’s okay, I think you’ll find the message meaningful anyways.  If you’re really religious and married to beliefs, you may not want to read this, I could offend you.  Just so you know where I am in my religious belief….I really don’t know.  There’s no map.  I’m on uncharted territory right now.  God and I, we’re trying to figure out each other over again.  Good luck with that, right?  Hah.

Anyways….back to the point.  I’ve been in a church recently where the speaker was like dissing the world.  He was saying that all of our media, all of the celebrity-ness….all of it was terrible, and that we should really just reject the entire content of what the world has to offer.  After the recent bursts of violence, a church came out and said that this was judgement from God to America for what they’ve allowed to happen.  When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex relationship legality, churches everywhere across America had their prayers rejected by a God who claims to have their interests at heart. 
So, they came out and said that this is just tribulation, and that they are still the church of God, and they will still refuse to allow gay people in their church. 

We can look around and see all of the brokenness that we have in our churches, all of the ‘holier-than-thou’s attitude, and we can condemn it.  We can condemn how they don’t fit into their own beliefs 100% of the time.  But that is not the purpose of this entry.

The point I’m trying to make by mentioning these moments of negativity is that this is a very depressing viewpoint to have towards anything.  If you reject the world, you reject everything and everyone.  Which kinda makes it hard to embrace others.  If you reject the church based on its imperfections, you’re rejecting it because its imperfect….just.like.you.are.

I think there are moments and little lights that we need to look for, in order to jump over this hurdle.  If we look for these lights…we can have hope in something.  If we look at a good aspect of society, people who are trying to help others….churches who are wrapping its arms around those who need shelter…if we look at those good aspects, we have reason to hope.  We have reason to live, even.  If we can find one person that is doing it right like it’s supposed to be done, there is still reason to hope. 

I have many people who are these “delightful” people in my life.  I have friends who are Christians, but still are able to accept those who are different or walk a different path.  I see people who try to cheer others up, rather than running them into the ground.  I see families that try to take care of each other, despite the hardships.  I see lovers who love each other despite difficult circumstances, and choose each other despite all of the unhappy circumstances. 

All of these are acts of love, and if love is of God, God has to be in it!  If God is not in it, there is no love, no compassion.  Look for those moments of love, and I swear you’ll be in on something that God is of.  But if you surround yourself with hate, it’s not of God. 

Maybe I’m a dreamer, or an optimist, but I have to believe that there are good things in our society that are good.  I have to believe that our world is a good place.  There are bad things in it, certainly.  But look at it in me…I would say that I am a good person, but yet there is bad in me, there are moments of selfishness, immaturity, impatience, etc.  I don’t have to paint a picture of how bad I am, but I accept those aspects of me.  I may not ever become the most selfless person, but I am working on it, and I hope to be better with it someday.

Look for the light, and that may change your approach to all things.