Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I came back from China on Thursday but was fully occupied with answering emails and catching up with work. I don’t know why it took me longer to recover from my jetlag this time – it could be two Asian trips within two weeks that confused my body. But thanks for your prayer. I am feeling better today.
I was preaching in BACBC yesterday on Holistic Spirituality. Spirituality is not just a religious activity of our lives. It is a non-negotiable and personal part of life, which directs and empowers all the other elements of our lives. As we face hardship or pain in life, our spirituality puts us in direct link with our Creator God for help. And the Holy Spirit will mentor us through His very own presence. I like two Peterson’s devotional sharing about enemy and sin to be helpful reminders for myself:
If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and GOD will look after you (Proverbs 25:21-22). The last word on the enemies is with Jesus, who captured the Psalms: “Love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you.” But loving enemies presupposes that we know that they are there whether many or few, and have begun to identify them. Enemies, especially for those who live by faith, are a fact of life. If we don’t know we have them or who they are, we live in a dangerous naiveté, unguarded from the “virus that stalks in darkness” and “the destruction that wastes at noonday,” foolish when we pray “deliver us from evil.”
Our hate is used by God to bring the enemies of life and salvation to notice, and then involve us in active compassion for the victims. Once involved we find that while hate provides the necessary spark for ignition, it is the wrong fuel for the engines of judgment; only / love is adequate to sustain these passions.
But we must not imagine that loving and praying for our enemies in love is a strategy that will turn them into good friends. Love is the last thing that our enemies want from us and often acts as a goad to redoubled fury. Love requires vulnerability, forgiveness, and response; the enemies want power and control and dominion. The enemies that Jesus loved and prayed for killed him.
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Sin is not what is wrong with our minds; it is the catastrophic disorder in which we find ourselves at odds with God. This is the human condition. The facts of this disorder are all around and within us, but we would prefer to forget them. To remember them is also to remember God, and to remember God is to have to live strenuously, vigorously, and in love. We have moments when we desire to dc this, but the moments don’t last long. We would rather play golf V would rather take another battery of tests at the hospital. We would rather take another course at the university. We keep looking for ways to improve our lives without dealing with God. But we can do it.
When we pray, we immerse ourselves in the living presence o God. When we pray the Psalms we pray through all the parts of our lives and our history and cover the ground of our intricate implication in sin. We acquire a colorful lexicon of words by which we recognize our detailed involvement in the race’s catastrophic separation from God: rebel, wanderer, lawless, evil-doer, guilty, liar, fool, corrupt, wicked. The seven “penitential psalms” (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143) are the most famous for bringing us to this awareness but hardly a psalm goes by that does not bring another detail of our sin out of the shadows of our practiced forgetfulness.
I’m tired of all this—so tired. My bed has been floating forty days and nights. On the flood of my tears, my mattress is soaked, soggy with tears (Psalm 6:6).
I hope they are helpful to you as you encounter life with God each day.
Love you in Christ,