Thursday of the first week of Lent

Colossians 1:20

...And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
 I'm well aware that the Greek word apokatallasso, meaning "to reconcile fully" has nothing to do with Legos.  But for some reason, when I think about the doctrine of reconciliation, I have the mental picture of tons of tiny Lego pieces spread out over the surface of a table and God stretching out his arms to scoop them up by bringing them close to His body.  

However, this analogy is an incomplete one.  Most people like Legos.  At most, some may be ambivalent.  What I mean to say is that I don't know anyone with a strong aversion to Legos.  I am not a Lego.  I am proud and self-righteous, and the Bible says that my self-righteousness is like a filthy rag.  Instead of Legos, we should think of ourselves as used tampons.

Isn't that a sobering thought?  That Christ would reach out and grab us, reconciling us to himself.  He did not reconcile from afar, but instead literally stooped down to our level.  He touched us and lived with us.  He showed pity and compassion.  He healed our infirmities, but that healing came at a price.  He who knew no sin became that dirty tampon for us.  He bore the dirtiness and the shame.  He became revolting before the eyes of God and man so that we could have his holiness.  He made peace by the blood of his cross.

February 23

This week's sermon was about identity. Our identity in Christ can be summed up by three different truths:

  • we are children of God
  • we are the family of God
  • we are missionaries of God

These are not things that we become, but rather things that we are. This is our new identity in Christ when he has made us new creations.

I was reminded of this while reading 1 John 5 today.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Whoever believes has been born. And those who have been born have overcome the world. These verbs "has been born" and "have overcome" are both past-tense. These things have already happened. As stereotypically Christian as this sounds, my identity does not lie in what my grades say about me, what people say about me, or what law schools say about me. The reason why it sounds so old, something that has been repeated over and over isn't because it's just the party line. It's because it's true, but it's a truth that is so easily forgotten. This is why I need to remember who I am. I am a sinner saved by grace who has been born again into a new family, into a new mission, and who has overcome the world.

We do not work for these things. They just are. However, we have the choice whether or not to live these identities out. To reference my pastor's sermon on Sunday, are we going to be birds that walk or birds that fly? Either way we are birds, but we have the choice whether or not to live like them. If a child of a God who is powerful and loving, why live like a child of a world that will destroy me if I let it? If a member of the family of God, how will I show love to my brothers and sisters? If sent with a mission, will I fulfill it? And if I have overcome, why live defeatedly?

Thursday After Ash Wednesday

I'm a nondenominational evangelical*, but I still observe Lent as a time for preparation for Good Friday and Easter. Though Lenten observance is not Biblically required, I have found it in past years to be a useful tool to focus even more on the cross.

During Lent, I have decided to post my reflections on my usual posting days (Tuesday and Thursday). If a reflection particularly lends itself to a comic post, then I'll do it, but I want my primary focus to be preparing for Easter instead of coming up with blog content. I will publish my reflections instead of simply shutting down the blog for Lent because I hope the posting of Scripture will encourage people's souls.

However, my text blogging tends to be more disorganized (which is why I chose the formats that I did for this and my other blog, Heroic Bytes. I hope that you will be patient with me through this process.

Thank you for reading, and may God bless your own preparations for Easter.

*I'm not fond of labels for many reasons, but sometimes they're helpful.

Matthew 4:16

The people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

The poetry -- its descriptiveness, not genre -- of this verse struck me in my devotional reading today. A few thoughts that came to mind were that people dwelling in the darkness do not know that they are dwelling in darkness. There is nothing to which they can compare their existence. The light, however, provides a point of comparison. The brightness is painful and blinding, frightening and new. Because of the light, people can see outside of themselves, outside of their circumstances. When light dawns, some of these, those that the light draws in despite (or because of) its immensity, come to understand their former condition. They name the former way of life death and the shadow of death and name this new presence light and life.

However, though Christ has brought me out of darkness and into the light, though I abide in Him and He in me, though I have been made a new creation, there is still much darkness in my soul. The closer I draw to Christ and understand the immensity of His Light, the more magnified my sins become. The light has dawned and continues to shine into my life, and the idols I hold close are revealed for what they are. They are not my saviors, but they will poison my heart against my true Savior, the one I love. The heart is deceptive above all things and desperately sick.

I am reminded of a recent blog post likening purging ourselves of sin to the body's self-purging during food poisoning. In the violent and sickening convulsions, our bodies know what's good for us. It recognizes a harmful substance and gets rid of it as quickly as possible.

But I am not able to get rid of my sin. Not on my own. And if my reflection on Christ simply leads me to mourn my sin, I have missed the point. The purpose of the light is not simply to define the darkness. It is not simply to see. This is where the analogy breaks down. Christ is light, but He is also a person. By shining in the darkness, He is not simply an entity emanating photons but extending relationship. I mourn my sin, but I don't stop there. That mourning draws me closer to my Savior.

Based on a true story

Photographer: prepreet of Flickr under CC2.0. This work is hereby released under the same license. Use of the original photo does not suggest the photographer's endorsement of this new work.

A False Indicator

Text: HT Ray Ortlund

Three Midterm Week

Illustrator: Abraham Bosse, for the frontispiece of Hobbes' "Leviathan," which will be on the second of my three midterms