Wednesday, June 19, 2013

To Be or Not to Be

The right blogger known as Brave New Life had an excellent post that I only just read, entitled "To Have or to Be".  He says it well, but in a nutshell, he challenges you to target a particular quality or state of being, rather than the usual thing, skill, job, etc.  Want a promotion?  Aim at being a better employee.  You get the idea.

 This got me thinking about life, the universe, and everything, and especially how all this frugality/DIY/early-retirement hubbub fits into a Christian worldview.  I think BNL is on the scent, though I have no reason to think he would make the extrapolations I am about to make.

The Christian can frequently focus on attributes or sins in the same manner as BNL discusses a focus on "having".  My examples are not made up, for the sake of authenticity.

Want to stop lust?  Aim to be a faithful husband.
Want to lead in the church?  Aim at being a faithful member.
Want to love your kids and wife better?  Aim at being humble.

Underlying all these things is the axiom "Aim at being like Jesus". 

Wanting to stop a sin or start a beneficial practice is going to leave you disappointed if you make THAT your goal.  That's just legalism.  If all you want is modified behavior, you will be disappointed.  That makes Christianity repugnant to the world, which seems to expect us to 1) be perfect and 2) provide this service to others at no charge.  The church is liable to oscillate between hard-eyed and hypocritical fundamentalism, which demands the Christian to look perfect all the time (but they can't, and scandals WILL rock this view to its core), and the mush-mouthed castrated social gospel, which wants to make ALL people better, regardless of creed (and can NEVER deliver lasting results).

If the church is to be faithful to her husband Jesus, she MUST aim to be like him.  She must aim at being faithful to his word.  She must not aim at "having" anything, because that would take her eyes off of Christ and point them at self, the world, or anything else.

The admonitions in scripture frequently speak in these terms:
    Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Hebrews 13:5
    Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. - James 5:7-8

And when Paul talks about having, it's frequently in contexts like these:
    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, - Philippians 2:5

 So for anything you want, look underneath it and figure out what you must be.  Tend the root, and the fruit will come.  Gardening really is an apt metaphor (our Lord used it), so consider a citrus tree (common here in AZ)- water, manure, weeding, that protective white paint, all aim down at the root.  The only tending up top is to prune back unwanted or dead branches. 

Hamlet, unfortunately, chose to be a loon and was skewered for it.  But that's tragedy for you.

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