Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What lasts

I wonder if my biggest trouble in seeing God in the poor is because I have a hard time seeing God.

And I wonder if I have a hard time seeing God because I am confused about what he looks like, about who he is.

I have these unspoken, unconscious, deeply felt senses of what is preferable, of what signifies blessing, of who is good.

If someone dresses in a certain way, carries themselves in a certain manner, uses a certain kind of vocabulary, smells a certain way-- there's a hidden, unconcious or barely conscious and never admitted telegraphing that goes on-- "I like that..." "They are good..." "They are well-off..." "They are ...impressive... "

I have this deep sense that those who have certain particulars-- a style, a type of church, a bearing, a giftedness, even a cleanliness and order-- that these people are some how God's blessed ones, God's favorites.

I have this other barely voicable prejudice that God is not so much with those who I feel less comfortable with or less impressed by-- sometimes it is those who have less education, perhaps less social standing, less commonality with me, maybe those who don't go to the churches I think are right on, maybe those who are desperate and in need.

I have realized how much I have a picture of what I think a blessed person looks like--but these pictures are not so much based on the truth of the Bible--on the goodness and graciousness of God-- they are based on my prejudices, on my background, on what the media and my personal history tell me is desirable, comfortable, and good.

James says... "let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low."...

It seems to me when he says this, he's telling us that there is nothing about being rich that signifies blessing and there's nothing about being poor that signifies distance from God.

This is easy to say. But it is a big deal. We live with constant bombardments of messages that say wealth and privilege and the comforts and help they confer on our lives signify our value, our worth. A very rich person is impressive to us. A beautiful person is impressive. A well-educated, well-dressed person seems blessed. A wealthy church seems blessed.

But any simple understanding of the basic message of the Bible reveals that this is not how God sees things. This is simply not truth. And if I don't know truth, then how can I see the one who is Truth?

If I want to see God, I have to examine my eye-sight. I have been using the distorted lenses of my culture and this world's value system for so long, I imagine that is the only way to see.

There are a few remedies I can think of, and every single one of them requires the Grace of our merciful, humble King if they are to be effectual.
-- Be honest about about what I value, prefer and desire. Tell the truth about myself. And by grace, repent.
-- Steep myself in the Bible, in worship and prayer. Seek to know Truth.
--Begin walking with, looking at, and making friends with those whom I once imagined were not the blessed ones. Seek to know Truth with them.
--Unplug in intentional ways from this culture's incessant messages about what is good, beautiful and blessed.

As I think of this-- it looks like Lent... which gives me hope. Maybe I have been in a long, messy, up and down season of Lent for the last six years. If so, Easter lasts longer and cannot be that far away.