Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Piglet Problem

There are Eeyores and there are Piglets. In almost every picture I could find of piglet, he is pictured as a happy-go-luck little pig, Christopher Robin's best little friend. But, the only thing I could remember about him was his favorite line, "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dearie, dearie, dear!" Piglet is perpetually worried. He can show incredible bravery, but seems constantly insecure. In one of the Pooh stories, Piglet and Pooh were sitting on opposite sides of a tree. Piglet said, "Pooh!" "What is it Piglet?" Pooh asked. To which Piglet responded, "Nothing, I just wanted to know you were there." For Eeyore, there is no worry. His only expectation is for another cloudy day. Piglet, though, longs for security, peace, and a beautiful day. Piglet dares to believe, dares to hope, but doubts.

Most of us are not that different. We have dared to hope, yet often find ourselves insecure, without peace, and wondering. Faith is a risk. To hope for a better day is the better way to live, but hope alone is not enough. When God says that we should not worry, He doesn't leave the command hanging in air. It is not a "You should not worry, you wicked Christian." It is quickly followed with instruction in how not to worry.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Prayer is not the answer. Buddhists pray, Muslims pray, Pagans pray, and even agnostics pray, but not to God. The answer is trusting God. Prayer is merely the means of exercising trust in God, "in everything BY PRAYER." Faith without works is dead. Trust without prayer is presumption.

Piglet has peace only when all around him works out. People who put their faith in prayer, only have peace when their prayers are answered to their satisfaction. People who trust in God, find peace when they exercise that trust in prayer.

Entwined In Christ

What a blessed thing is the marriage of two believers, of one hope, one discipline, servants of the same Master! together they offer up their prayers - together they lie in the dust, and keep their fasts, teaching each other, exhorting each other, bearing up each other. They are together in God's Church, together at God's fest, together in straits, persecutions, consolations; freely the sick are visited and the indigent supported; there are alms without trouble; sacrifices without scruple; daily unimpeded diligence. Christ sees it and rejoices. ~ Tertullian

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pity The Eeyores

I write this article as one skilled in the practice of Eeyore-ness to all the other Eeyores in the world.

In case you've lived in a bubble, Eeyore is the eternally pessimistic donkey in the Winnie The Pooh stories. No matter how wonderful things are, no matter how happy everyone else is, Eeyore is not. He always sees the downside of everything, always doubts, always fears. His dark cloud is his protection. If he always expects the worse, then nothing can disappoint him. Yet, because of his attitude, he lives perpetually disappointed.

There were Eeyores around Jesus. Thomas would not believe the report that Jesus was risen from the grave until he could touch him. Martha would not enjoy Jesus' presence in her home because Mary would not help with the dishes. There are Eeyores in every crowd in every age. Monks have elevated Eeyoreness to a virtue. Artists and musicians have embraced it. Today Eeyores are called Emo, and identify themselves with the virtue of joylessness.

How sad it is to be so sad when God is so good. How sad it is when God lights up a room to be the one under the cloud. How sad it is to live in fear, so that no matter how good God is we fear He will not be that good tomorrow or to us. How sad it is to be so self-focused that we miss what God is doing all around us, and so miss what He would do in us if we would only believe.

Whether our cause is pessimism, self-protection, fear, a self-focused life, or even the misdirected compassion that sucks us down into the pit with those we have compassion for, the real reason for Eeyore-ness is a lack of trust in God. Joy is the product of trust in God, and no matter what is happening outside of us, there will be a cloud over us if we do not trust God regardless. Eeyore-ness is not a virtue. Pessimism does not reflect thoughtfulness or practicality. In the end it is simply a public demonstration of distrust in God.

May God never let us remain under the cloud for long.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Any One Is Better Than No One

Most of the people I know are currently praying that God would be clear with them about One unsaved or unchurched person they can pray for, befriend, and tell about Jesus Christ . . . one person to love with the love of Christ in the coming year.

One asked, "Can it be someone who is already in church but just needs to be loved?" The short answer is, "no." Love them, yes, but they are not unsaved or unchurched. Why the "no" answer? Because Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. The shepherd left the 99 safe sheep to actively seek out the 1 lost sheep. That doesn't exclude loving the saved, it just means making loving an unchurched or unsaved person the same priority that Jesus did.

One asked, "What if my One lives in another state?" Pray for and love them, but "no." Why? Practically, you can't be the kind of friend to that person that you can to someone near you because you can't spend the time with that friend that is needed. You can still love them, pray for them, and share Christ with them when you get the chance, but someone near you needs to see and hear Jesus through you.

So, what if you still can't figure out who your One is? This may not sound terribly spiritual, but in the end, "Any ONE Is Better Than No ONE."

The unsaved and unchurched kid who carries out your groceries is of no more or less value to God than your unsaved cousin who lives in West Texas. If you just can't figure out who your One is, just pick One and love them with the love of Christ. Surely it can't be wrong.