Citizen or Poser

16 02 2006

Citizen or Poser

Leviticus 25:17 (NIV) 17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God.

Psalm 25:16-18 (NIV) 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.  17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.  18 Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.

Acts 22:28 (NIV)  28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.”       “But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

My heart is raw.  I feel very exposed.  I heard a conversation between two men today.  One said, “thanks for saying all those good things about me.”  The other said, “Sure, it feels good to support you.”  And then the first man replied in a typical male fashion, “Yeah, but I don’t like being the guy who needs to be supported.”

If that doesn’t explain the male condition, I don’t know what does.

I am about three weeks behind in all my work – probably more.  And for a task-oriented, highly-productive, goal-focused, driven male – that is nearly killing me.  It isn’t that I don’t have good reasons – it is just that I don’t like it.

In two months we are undertaking a huge project.  We will have close to $60,000 wrapped up into this.  More importantly, we are investing in the future of people who haven’t met God in a real and practical way.  Lives are at stake.  And, to be honest, the future of our fledgling church is at stake.

I am broken.  I am sick.  I am under attack.

The only way I know out of this is through Christ.

One may wonder why I chose the texts above.  In fact, looking over other posts, you may find similar erratic choices.  Interestingly, they fit together in my mind – even if I don’t take time to always explain the connections.  I like the artsy, postmodern connectivity approach.  Let the reader make the connections, if you will.

Let me explain what I’m seeing from today’s readings.

First, in reading Leviticus 25 I see God trying to teach balance and fairness to those who are on the same team.  Oh that we could learn these lessons.  God says, “don’t take advantage of each other.”  Why?  Because He is the Lord – He alone should we fear and respect.  When we see it in this light – the BIG PICTURE – we realize that the rest of us are all relatively equal and puny.  

For instance, the difference between my dog’s intelligence and mine is relatively minor compared to the difference between mine and God’s.  Or put another way, I used to brag that my Golden Retriever was one of the top three breeds in intelligence.  But someone once said, “Yeah, but he’s still just a dog.”  When we try to put ourselves above others, we fail to realize that we are still just human.

It’s like being the smartest kid in the dumbest class.  Or the richest man in the poorhouse.  Or, the sickest inmate in the asylum?

So, having put it all into perspective, it still leaves me lonely and discouraged.  Yes, intellectually, I know where I am, who I am, and where I’m going.  However, I’m still right here in the middle of this mess.  I’m still lost, I’m still a sinner by nature, and I’m still three weeks behind in my work – with deadlines looming.

I also know that God loves me and that I have a future in Him.  But being melancholy by nature, I see great gaps between knowing and feeling and too often feeling controls my destiny.  So, I turn to Psalm 25 and cry out to God.  I give a 911 shout out to the only one who can make a real difference.

Finally, we come to Acts 22 and the confidence of Paul – a man renamed by God Himself.  The commander brags about how much he paid for his Roman citizenship.  And in that braggart statement, I hear three things.  First, “I too am a Roman citizen.”  In other words, I’m cool too!  Second, he is giving testimony to his resources.  “Yup,” he says, “It was expensive, but I can afford it.”  In other words, I am powerful because I have money.  Finally, in the slightest hint, in the simplest of nuance, he says, “How much did you have to pay?”  Or, simply, are you smarter, wiser, stronger, tougher, or more powerful that I am?  Did you pay more or less than I did?  Did I get ripped off, or did you?  Did you pay more because your citizenship is of higher value, or did you pay less because you are smarter than me?

Paul has the answer of all answers – the only answer that could put this commander in his place – without bravado from Paul.  He replies simply, “I was born a citizen.”

Now, you ask, how does all this tie together?

There is nothing I can do to deserve the life I live now, or the eternal life of my future.  I simply am born into this through the rebirth of salvation in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV)  19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

I have nothing to brag about – but I have this hope!

Dear Lord – please bring peace, courage, and hope to my feelings.  In the meantime, I’ll accept it on faith.

I love you too Lord.





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