Today's blog will be slightly on the edge, so I'll start with a funny story...I was on a flight from Dallas to Dayton yesterday, and about half-way into the trip, the alarm on a guy's cell phone went off. He was sitting right behind me, so I looked over my shoulder to "check it out..." He was asleep...totally konked out...so the alarm just went off...paused 5 seconds, and went off again...over and over this went on...
Finally, I motioned for the flight attendant to come over, and explained that this guy's alarm kept going off...she leaned over, gave him a good shaking, and said very loudly, "Sir!! Your alarm is going off!" I laughed at the irony of having to wake someone up to tell them that their alarm is going off...but perhaps it's only funny to me.
With that, I'll retire from a short career as a comedian-blogger...the thing I really want to talk about makes me a little nervous...so perhaps I'm telling the joke to distract from my nerves...it wouldn't be the first time I've used humor to deflect a deeper emotion.
If you've ever been to a therapist or counselor, you might know that one of the most effective questions that a therapist can use is this one:
"What is it that you're not telling me...and why?"
For whatever reason, this question is often effective at cracking open the part of a person's heart that is sealed over with a protective coating, and the therapist can then begin to learn what their client most needs to talk about in their counseling sessions. I was thinking about this question when I read the New Testament reading for today, because I've been conscious of the fact that I've blogged very little on the New Testament passages that come from the letters of Peter and Paul. What is it that I'm not saying, and why?
Today's readings include a passage from the second letter of Peter, and it's a passage that I genuinely love, but out of my fear of offending those who might not share my Christian perspective...or even offending those who hold a slightly different viewpoint within the Christian faith. Here's the passage:
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perserverance; and to perserverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
When I wrote about joy yesterday, part of what informed my perspective was this passage; because God has given us everything we need for life and godliness...and I believe he has given it to us through Jesus Christ. While this seems like an obvious thing to say for a Christian blogger, blogging through the season of Advent, I'm aware of the fact that my decision to take a position on Jesus...a position that makes him the central focal point of my spiritual perspective, might lead to my losing readers who don't share my view.
It's a balancing act...sometimes a risky one...writing about scripture and the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, without alienating folks who don't see Jesus as God. In the end, the reason I write is to share Christ...to share the love of God as I've come to know it...to encourage and challenge every reader, regardless of the reader's spiritual perspective. I am not primarily an "apologist" (a person who argues for the tenets of our faith), and I am not primarily an evangelist...
I am...I hope, salty. I am like the free bowl of peanuts that you'll always find on your table in the local bar...eat a few peanuts, and perhaps you'll become thirsty for something to drink. In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."
This verse has never meant much to me...until today. Today, I want very much to be salty...I want to be free peanuts for you, whatever your spiritual persuasion...and I hope that reading these blogs will make you thirsty to know more of the God I know...and thirsty to know more about the Jesus we celebrate during Advent, and all throughout the year.