The Puke Parable

Picture this: One of your friends gets sick with the stomach flu and is puking into a toilet every time you come over. Chances are, you’re not going to get angry and offended because they’re throwing up around you. You probably wouldn’t approach them and say, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you being so disrespectful to me by throwing up around me? What did I do to you that made you so upset that you had to go and make a mess in our relationship?”

Chances are, you would just support them, realize that what’s happening on the outside is just a manifestation of something not right that’s happening on the inside, trying to evacuate their system. If they threw up on your shoes, you wouldn’t take it as a personal attack and therefore withdraw your friendship, and you probably wouldn’t assume that you’re the only person getting that treatment.

Unfortunately, this isn’t how we respond oftentimes in our relationships when gunk starts coming to the surface. When our friends and family act in a way that is contrary to their nature and the heart that God has put in them, we either get hurt, offended, hostile, or we distance ourselves. Any one of those is too easy to do in response to the negative stimulus of vomit-like behavior.

What we sometimes fail to recognize is that everyone goes through seasons, and God is constantly drawing the dross from our depths as he continues to purify us. And in order for the dross to be slaked off and removed forever, it has to surface. When it surfaces, it’s going to spread over the top of the silver and change the silver’s appearance–but does that mean that the silver is no longer silver just because the dross is the most visible ingredient in the purifying container? Absolutely not.

It’s the same with people. When we are born again, God gives us a new heart and we are called saints, and the purification process begins. So many have dropped out of the Church early on in their walk because of the constant conviction they feel for sin in their lives. “Oh, I’m supposedly holy and perfect now that I’m born again–but now all I see is the sin in my life! I’m so discouraged! This doesn’t feel good. It’s not worth it to feel this way all the time, so I’m leaving.”

This is neither an unrealistic nor an uncommon thought pattern to have, especially if you’re surrounded by people who demand an explanation for your feelings, your behavior and your sins. “Why are you vomiting all over my shoes?” is an accusation that can only be answered with a mumbled apology as you stagger back to try to make it back to the toilet before your body tries again to expel whatever has made it sick in the first place.

When how we relate to people is dependent on their behavior and not their identity, we create relationships of punishment, woundedness and distrust.

I strive to be the kind of leader that relates to people based on their identity and their potential, whether they are curently operating out of that potential or not. My prayer is that God would forge me into a person who can see beyond the puke, beyond the mess, beyond the mistakes, into the heart of the matter. That I would have the same attitude as our Lord who said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, sick people do.” That I would be an active solution, a healer to a world of hurting people, not the self-appointed informant diagnosing death sentences for every symptom.

There’s Got to Be More

“I’m not afraid when I hear about things getting hard over the next 10 years…Because it lets me know that the end is near. I’m not afraid of getting persecuted for being a Christian…”

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This came from my uncle at dinner last night, though not to my surprise. I hear stuff like this from Christians all the time.

I grew up with my mom saying things like, “I’m ready for Jesus to come back now.” When I was younger, I didn’t know to think any differently. I was taught to live like Jesus was coming back any second—which Jesus did say was the truth.

Mark 13:32-33 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.

However, now that I’m a bit older and think for myself, I realize a flaw in my parents’ eschatology.

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Jesus is not just randomly going to come back, and He’s not coming back in response to spiritual death or the lack in the world. He already did His job 2,011—almost 2,012—years ago.

1 Timothy 1:15 – Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

His second coming will be a response to the unified cry of a perfected, purified bride. He has done His part to save souls, to instigate a love affair with not only His own special possession, but also to the rest of us, the Gentiles.

But He didn’t just say, “Be right back” when He ascended. He left specific instructions for the Bride to carry out in His absence, in anticipation for His return.

Mark 16:15-18 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

How heartbreaking, then, that so many of us sit at home, twiddling our thumbs and watching a dying world getting fatally sicker through the safety of a TV screen. How perverted, that the Bride of Jesus Christ can’t stop talking about how bad the world is or will get 10 years from now, while in the meantime we are doing absolutely nothing!

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I would like to fantasize that Jesus won’t come back until every thing is decent and in order, once the entire Church becomes a brightly lit city on a hill instead of a broken and divided sidewalk orphanage. But He is coming, whether the Church is doing her part or not.

In Matthew 25, Jesus gives a parable about 10 virgins with oil lamps, whose job was to escort the approaching bridegroom to the wedding. All 10 of the young ladies fell asleep while they waited, but when the cry arose signaling the bridegroom’s approach, all awoke. That’s when five of the virgins realized they were not prepared…they had not brought extra oil in their lamps, while the other five had.

The foolish five had to go back to town to buy oil, while the wise five escorted the bridegroom to the joyous celebration. When the other five returned with the extra oil, the wedding celebration was in full swing, and they could not come in.

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I’m not into preaching judgment. I’m not into wagging fingers or manipulating, condemning, and criticizing. Rather, I believe in preaching to inspire—definitely not to persuade. The purpose of correction should be to call someone to a higher level of freedom, with greater measures of joy, of peace, of every sweet thing of this eternal Kingdom.

The only reason I exhort is to cry out that there’s something better. And I’m telling you, if you have been fed the lie that we must helplessly, passively wait for Jesus’ return, watching as the world goes to hell—it’s supposed to be so much better than this. We were not designed for misery!

We have access to all of Him. We have access to everything He offers…Right now. While we’re alive on this planet. Think about it—we are allotted 120 years of life on earth, then eternity. What loving Father would give His kids dual citizenship in Heavenly places with Christ, and in a world of chaos—if not for the purpose of drawing from Heavenly places to tame the chaos of a world created for our pleasure?

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How sadistic it would be, if God were to create us for the sole purpose of a one-time encounter at some point in our 120 years, then to live life the same as we always have, and tough out whatever time we have left until we get to die and go to Heaven! There has got to be more.

I know because I’ve seen it.

I have seen the lives of people whom God radically encounters on a daily basis, who in response to this love go and change the world around them.

There has got to be more to life than estimating the dwindling life expectancy of our blue and green rock, like kindergarteners scrutinizing the number of gumballs in a Mason jar.

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I’ll confess proudly, I’m not afraid of the next 10 years either—or the next 20, 50, 100—because I know there’s more. I know there’s always more of God for me, my life, and my world. I know it always gets better, even while it appears to get worse. Because my God is big enough.

Jeremiah 29:11 promises a future and a hope. The dreams and legacy and destiny I have, all seal that promise. As a Christian and forerunner, it’s my job to cry out that Jesus is coming back. But it’s not my job to say when, and it’s not my job to say who He is or isn’t coming back for. It’s my job to take up His passion, the zeal for the Lord’s house, and go proclaim the good news.

To love God and love people; radically, affectionately, and loudly.

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Isaiah 61:1-3
The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.