Christianity Is: Fixin’ the Whole

“I’m fixing a hole [the whole, my whole] where the rain gets in
And stops my mind [life] from wandering
Where it will go [out of control]”
– Beatles

There’s a meme flying around social media that depicts the worst ways that men, who claimed to be Christ-followers, instead utterly denied him by their actions. It’s an image of torture, probably from the Inquisition times. I won’t say any more about it specifically.

My Dear Friends, this is not what Christianity is.

To be Christian is to desire – above all else in life – to be like Jesus Christ, Son of Man/Son of God. Desire and above all else are excellent words to describe this faith. It speaks of passionately wanting, longing, yearning – not for some thing of this world – but to be whole as a divinely created human being.

Perhaps what is not so obvious is, that in order to want to be whole, one must first be aware that there is a hole (or holes) to fill. To feel brokenness. To admit to wrongdoing or simple mistakes, colossal goof-ups, or words and acts of purely evil intent.

Another way of looking at it is that Christianity is carpentry of the soul. We’re rebuilding ourselves to be a temple for the Lord God to inhabit. The wood we build with is our own habits and behaviors. Any sawing, cutting, sanding, or planing if done on our own lives.

Jesus Christ taught and demonstrated exactly how a flawed humanity could grow toward perfection. He spoke of two ways to make consistent, ongoing progress, as recorded by two people who personally knew him. Jesus said:

Mark 12:30
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength…
“Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.”

Matthew 28:19
“So go and make followers of all people in the world.”

There may seem to be a question about the letter of this law, due to the many possible interpretations of the verbs used, but it is the spirit of these ‘commandments’ that is the key to living them.

First and foremost, to follow Christ is to live every minute in a deep and extremely personal relationship with The Creator. To seek to know God, who literally and figuratively made me, as intimately as I know myself. (Maybe even more so.) To be inseparable from him. To be with him with every fiber of my being. All my heart (my emotions), my soul (my six senses), my mind (my logic), and my bodily strength (my very life).

Getting to know God leads to realizing every good and potential thing about myself, and to see where I am lacking. Then, with his forgiveness, I receive the power to change – the spark that only he can give. Daily, moment-by-moment, I can then apply myself to fixing the whole of me.

As I grow and mature towards more-often-than-not being able to say and do what is “loving” for myself and for those who are in my life, I am able to see that they are like me in brokenness, in mistakes made, and even in purposely or reflexively causing harm. I can then feel and extend the same forgiveness – that God gave me, that I give myself – to them, through my own words and actions.

‘My words and actions’ means that I “walk my talk” of abiding in God – of staying with him. This is leading by example, not by forcing or dictating expectations of behavior for others. Consider the verbs used in English translations of Matthew 28:19:

  • make followers or disciples
  • teach
  • disciple
  • train
  • immersing them into

None of these implies the use of force or punishment. Instead, they give the sense that people will voluntarily want to know my secret for living with peace and joy in any circumstance.

Revelation 3:3
So don’t forget what you have received and heard. Obey it. Change your [own] hearts and lives!

Focusing on God, on myself in him – this is what will lead other people to a desire to know him for themselves.

To Speak Of Knowing What I Can Not Prove

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Let us take a moment to speak quietly. Let us each be quick to listen, thoughtful in our response, and very, very careful to watch for even the slightest resentment in our words. Everybody knows a gentle answer turns away wrath, while a harsh retort stirs up anger.

We are all the same, are we not? Don’t we all have eyes? Don’t we have hands, bodily organs, a human shape, five senses, feelings, and passions? Don’t we all eat the same food, get hurt with the same weapons, get healed by the same medicine, and warm up in summer and cool off in winter? If you prick us, don’t we all bleed? If you tickle us, don’t we all laugh? If you poison us, don’t we all die?

And if one of us is verbally treated badly, what then?

I speak just of speaking in this post. Discourse is truly what connects us in a civilized society, written or spoken. But there are at least two layers to it. On the surface, our meaning might be plain, but, buried between the lines, there can be a very different thing. Sometimes we hope it will harm. Don’t we all know this?

We all stumble in many ways. Is there anyone who is never at fault in what they say? Is there anyone who is perfect, and able to keep their whole body (and tongue) in check? I have only ever heard of one, Jesus Christ. And he taught and showed – he was a living example of – what is then the best, kindest, most honest, and purest reply.

(Apologies, but this is not a post about what Christ actually said. May I suggest a study of The Bible if more information is desired?)

My point is that Jesus spoke quite honestly with those who disagreed with him, even when there were no facts or data or statistics – nothing provable – to be had about what he said (specifically about the corruption of the Pharisees, etc). He spoke of knowing what can not be proven, yet is still truth. Parables, allegories, analogies, metaphors were helpful in doing this.

I’ve read and heard many opinions about Christ – in regards to whether he was truly who he said he was. But – regardless of the state of the speaker’s faith – none denied that there was a man who, roughly 2000 years ago, turned the world upside-down as the founder of Christianity. This is history, and we all believe history happened, don’t we?

Likewise, history documents many other social and political events and movements, wars and the causes for, in, and of them, and world-changing individuals. Those who did good and those who did evil. Those who brought great evil here: assassinations; enslavement; genocide; swindling of basic human rights. Can we agree on this? That these things happened, and they still happen today, and that no person or nation is NOT susceptible. “Caveat Emptor” remains a necessary watchword.

We can disagree on the why this happen(s/ed). I believe that humankind was created to be good, but, in falling (in the proverbial Garden), has been broken – beyond our own ability to repair. Hence the need for salvation, for being made right with our Creator. We now individually must specifically and intentionally choose good – and can quite easily take the other path.

We can choose poorly because of greed, or hurt, or hate, or simple ignorance, or purposeful deception by another. It is this latter cause I am writing about today. Knowing what can not be definitively proven. We can be very sure, with history as our witness, that there are people who deceive and manipulate to get what they want, and that sometimes what they want is power over others. These people will seek to conceal their methods. To hide what they do. For everyone who does evil hates the light – for light will expose his deeds.

Same as it ever was.

These days, I keep no doubt that there’s at least a grain of truth in any rumors and allegations I hear. And I hear so many! They are, in themselves, damning evidence. We all know. We don’t need it to be proven to us.

This post took a while to put together, and I could spend a lot more time on it! But one thing about blogging is that it is meant to be more of a concise form of writing (as opposed to a book). Hope you enjoyed reading this and can see the point I was trying to make.

Regarding the ‘why’ I wrote this today, I hope it’s obvious that it is about the US presidential election. “Corruption” and “government” go hand-in-hand. It’s one of those things you’re either realistic or foolish about; one of those things we just ‘know’.

And, yes, I quoted or paraphrased Bible verses, movies, songs, and even Shakespeare in this post. Kudos to you if you recognized:

  • The Merchant of Venice
  • James 1:19
  • Proverbs 15:1
  • LotR
  • Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
  • John 3:19-20
  • Talking Heads

“I Am What I Do Today”

Journal entry, March 22. 2009
Background: My mom’s death, March 13, 2008, was the event that kicked off my journey of recovery and transformation from pornography use and self-harm (and many other things). (Jokingly, I like to say that “18-1” that February might also have had a little something to do with it…) A little more than a year later, I wrote a series of very introspective entries about what I had learned – how I had already changed – in those short twelve months of recovery (and eight months of sexual sobriety). [Minor edits in brackets.]

This entry is entitled “What do I mean by ‘I am what I do today?'”

I am what I am – a man who must follow some strict behaviors in order to be sexually pure for his wife.
man who believes fervently in God and Jesus.
man who takes one moment at a time.
man learning to be whole.
whole man, fighting to stay that way.
man who is loved, by God, by his family and friends.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stands against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:10-11

What do I mean by “I am what I do today?”

This statement is in the present tense. Now is all I can affect. I can not change the past. The future will always be something yet to come.

While it is true that what I have done can be used to define me, whole-ly, without considering my recovery, it is most honest, and most considerate to me, to look at what I am doing now. In this sense, these eight months [since my suicide attempt in July] do outweigh the previous 32 years [basically, since puberty].

This is why I introduce myself as a “recovering (present tense) child of God” at [my sex addict support] group. I am a man with a past that contains perversity and deprivation BUT I recognize and admit that my actions were sinful (and there is only one kind of sin). I have confessed (past tense) those actions and been forgiven (past tense) for those actions. I am a believer in God and His Son, Jesus, and His plan for my salvation. Each day is my chance to show and live this.

The keyword in “I am what I do today” is “do”. Faith/belief together with action is expressed by this word. It shows that I know I must live by/within limits – because I am (present tense) how I have been made (past tense) to be. This is the only way my past is a part of me today. I need, I must adhere to strict behaviors or risk falling back down to a level I, with God’s help, have risen [above] and continue to rise daily above. [I think I kind of stress God’s part in the recovery more in 2016.]

Some will say, “Once a pervert, always a pervert.” All I can say is, “I am what I do today, not what I have done yesterday, nor what I could do tomorrow.”

If a man is condemnable for his past or future, then we are all bound for hell, for we all have had or will have moments or [even just] thoughts of sin.

So, do not throw the first stone. [This was my first realization of “Judge not, lest you be judged.”]

[End of entry.]

Today (2016), I can see that this line of thought was one of my first steps on the path of forgiving myself, (and truly accepting God’s forgiveness of me). In retrospect, it is easier for us (those filled with shame and guilt over the things we did after we were warped by the things that were done to us) – it is easiest for us to forgive others and hardest, still, to forgive ourselves. Because of this difficulty, we have a hard time understanding how God forgives.

When doubt about God’s existence hits me, doubt about my forgive-able-ness follows right behind, and I again cycle through James 1:8

A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

“The past is history.
The future is a mystery.
Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”

When “Finding God” Is All That’s Left

You, Lord, are our Father. We are nothing but clay, but you are the potter who molds us.
Isaiah 64:8

Heavenly Father, Master Potter, you design each one of us and sculpt us from clay and dust into images of you, the likeness of Jesus Christ – but you give us a choice. The choice is a simple one: to accept that we are the product of your hands, skillfully made for specific purposes, for glorious reasons; or to see ourselves – not as beautiful reflections of you but as standalone originals, equals to you, gods in our own lives, in our own minds, with ambitions we decide and define for ourselves.

How we must disappoint you when we choose the latter!

But some of us are blessed to be given – to be suddenly struck by – the recognition of our origin, our place and means of manufacture, our humble beginnings, middles, and ends. For us, life ceases to be a struggle for survival (of the fittest). It is no longer a challenge and a competition to make something of ourselves – by ourselves – through our manipulations of others. Instead, life becomes a peaceful and joy-filled journey of adventure to see and experience every single thing and moment – even the frightful ones – and each and every companionable meeting of brothers and sisters that you have planned for us. On our years-long trips through your wondrous creation, we find opportunities to demonstrate our choice – not to build our own vain-glory, but to lift up, encourage, and shine your light to illuminate the paths of those trapped or lost in the darkness of despair.

What a treat to have such a cause as our motivation! To simply, humbly follow the clues and cues you have hidden, sometimes quite plainly, in this divine “scavenger” hunt, when “finding” you is all there is.

Lord, the work of “doing” within people is yours. Yes, we can boast slightly that it starts with what they see and hear and feel from us, those who believe and know just this much: that you are the Master Builder and we are of your workmanship.

God, we have a funeral today, to celebrate a broken but repaired jar of clay returning to your eternal workshop in glory.  We who remain here need to discover again your comfort and assurance. I pray for this.

In Jesus’ life-changing name, Amen.