The Pope, the church, Sin, Old Cars, and Restoration

Adoring crowds that revel in love, hope, and acceptance from the Holy Father, and people outside it all speaking of a possible bridge between religion and our society. The beauty of the rituals and practices in the catholic church, the triumphant and glorious music that transcends centuries, and reverence that engenders an awe and respect for God.

No, I am not converting to Catholicism, but as I watch the events unfolding in Washington D.C. this week, I am filled with emotions and questions for us all.

One could point to the past of the church at large and find tremendous fault, corruption, lies, greed, even cruelty; that is all of our heritage who believe and serve. Even today we fight among ourselves to be heard and to be the most relevant voice, attacking anothers beliefs and motivations to somehow elevate ourselves in the fight for more “butts in the seats” or what I have heard called a “tithing unit.”

We are quick to point out the sins of others that disqualify them from not only having a voice in the conversation, but also put our presumed limits on their vision to reach others for Christ.

We rush to judgement, often demanding a harsh and weighty penalty not considering the great and boundless grace we have partaken of, over and over again.

We sit at a distance and judge, not taking the time or making the effort to truly invest in and help the fallen find truth. We wait for them to come to us instead of going to the place in which they are burdened and crippled and offer them a hand.

Then we make excuses and blame the sinner, the addicted, the blinded and write them off to a fate unmentionable, turning away with a Pharisaic smile and forget what we have seen. We are too busy serving the masses to stop and pay attention to the great needs of the individual. We don’t follow the true image and example of Christ when we don’t go to the least of these.

Maybe we don’t fully understand the nature and relentless vigor with which Satan is working in the Earth. Is it possible that because we have somehow risen above our obstacles that we think everyone else should? The challenges someone else may face might be much more frightening than ours ever were! Could we possibly even admit that?

I understand that there needs to be a standard, I know that integrity is key; but I also know that every one of us has a struggle or two that we tend to minimize.

“Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me all your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, mourning.  Let your remorse tear at your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered; he is full of kindness and anxious not to punish you. Joel 2:12,13 (TLB)

Tears flow from my eyes as I repent before my God, I am laid out and humbled before Him, I am exposed with all of my sinfulness on display. But what does God do with that? Love overwhelms me from His embrace as he whispers sweet words of grace in my ear. He reaffirms His vast and unbreakable love for me. He restores my soul, and renews the vision He has placed in my heart.

before-after-restoration2

The image that comes to mind is that of an old, broken down relic of a car being restored to it’s former glory. That is an example that pales in comparison to the beauty of the work God does in the life of a soul restored in Him!

“I’ll make up for the years of the locust,
    the great locust devastation—
Locusts savage, locusts deadly,
    fierce locusts, locusts of doom,
That great locust invasion
    I sent your way.
You’ll eat your fill of good food.
    You’ll be full of praises to your God,
The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder.
    Never again will my people be despised.
You’ll know without question
    that I’m in the thick of life with Israel,
That I’m your God, yes, your God,
    the one and only real God.
Never again will my people be despised.  Joel 2:25-27 (MSG)

It seems that my original intent in writing has gotten sidetracked a bit. There is great hope and truth in the church and there is something very powerful when a humble man speaks so quietly and truthful, yet commands great respect, such as the pope. I am saying that our past is something we all share, there are regrets, sins, and unmet expectations that are universal to humanity. Lets come together, truly, and not in word only. Let us not be more concerned with resumes and deeds of the former as we are with who someone is now. Remembering the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit and the newness of life that God gives

There is no song as sweet as the one sung by the redeemed soul, there is no consecration as complete as when one has been delivered from the greatest and deadliest foe. There is no child more committed than the one so fully loved for who he is that his security is unquestioned, and by his Father, unconditionally assured.

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