Till We Have Love

This is my complaint:

Every beautiful strength has a hideous weakness. My brother, Mufasa, is truly a trendsetter of that adage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother. I have always wanted the best for him. However, the kingdom of the Pride Lands was turning into a nation bound for doom due to his weak incompetence. That said, I refused to call him King Mufasa as the rest of the nation does. I love him far more than any political title can represent.

My name is Scar; the younger sibling to Mufasa and frequently seen as the Ghost of Christmas Past in his shadow. Mufasa was always the “good” one in the eyes of others. He foolishly relied on his Faith. Even through it all, I was never jealous of Mufasa – to the contrary I loved him but simply disagreed with his ways of doing things.

Mufasa and I were inseparable growing up. Mother used to say that we counted on one another from birth. There has always been a joy-filled pride in me when it comes to my brother. I looked up to him. He was the fastest in the pack, he had the 2nd best looking mane (second to myself of course), and his leadership presence was quite satiable. Rafiki, who serves as shaman of the Pride Lands, spoke of Mufasa as, “Having a temperament rivaled only by the angels.”  But a boring temperament if you ask me. He’d always waste many hours a day staring at the distant mountain gorge. Foolish.

We had plans to rule Pride Rock together, but the political tradition of our nation put my brother as the sole heir to the throne. Before his crowning, I pleaded with him three times to instead fight with me so that we could rule together. This was for the good of him, me, and the kingdom itself. I failed miserably in my attempts.

Things worsened when his son was born. Whatever piece of intimacy our relationship had left was forfeited over to his investment in Simba, the next heir to the throne. That was the real day I lost my brother – not today.  I love Simba, but Mufasa needed a brother in arms not a little kid in waiting. See, Mufasa cannot sustain this nation without me. We are best when we have each other which, in turn, benefits society.

Therefore, I am writing this letter to you, Lord, with my fist raised. My complaint comes against you. Even though I have done nothing but serve and honor my family their entire life, they have given nothing in return but pain, grief, and destruction toward me. Even more scary is that it can affect the Pride Lands. You are a cruel God who must be blind to the needs of this world. I recognize that I am powerless before you, but if there is one thing I can do against you, it is to make my complaint known by speaking it to the nation.  

Before Mufasa fell to his death, I tried once more to reason with him. The plan was not for
him to die. To the contrary, you know that it was simply scarto scare him into submission. No one is at grief more than I. It was the hardest decision of my life. Even then you could have saved him but you failed.  What do you have to say for yourself?  You have no answer.


Dear Scar,

my name is Leo. I am a head angel in Heaven writing this letter to you on behalf of our Father God, our Savior Jesus, and The Holy Spirit.

We have heard your complaint in Heaven and watched your life long before receiving your letter. The Father watched your life even before there was a second of it. You are worse than you think you are, but you are more loved than you can ever imagine you are. There are many things that you will not understand, but I will try:

In one way or another everyone on earth is just like you. You are the bitter cynic who cannot possibly understand the love between God and his creation. None of you understand. Your perspective of the very love that you claim to have for your brother is infected by your fallen heart. We know you loved your brother. No one “on Earth” loved Mufasa as much as you loved him. You loved him overbearingly so.

The feeling that you call love has ended in the death of your only brother and the estrangement of your nephew. And now you put God on the judgement seat?

Mufasa used to wake up in the mornings and stare at nature. He’d think to himself, “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing – to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from – the place where I ought to have been born.” Do you think it all meant nothing, all that longing

What do you long for, Scar?

The Mountain that Mufasa longed for was The Kingdom of God. The Mountain you long for is one of yourself. Without the Divine Love which comes from God, any other love become corrupted. Any other type of love turns in on itself and becomes narcissistic. For example, without the presence of selfless divine love, the beautiful gift of erotic love becomes lust-based and power-based. This is when so marriages break down. fourLoves

The “joy-filled pride” for your brother turned in idolatry. It grew to the point of wanting him to be at a height of perfection that is unachievable on earth. Mufasa was always destined to be crippled in your eyes, no matter what philosophy he followed or action he implemented. Your love of the Pride Lands and every living creature in it drove your fear into manipulation and control.

Instead of following the God that Mufasa follows, you created your own version of God that only saw life how you see it. You have a wicked heart. The nature of sin isn’t always the obvious bad thing. Sin can also be the internal twisting of good things by the heart. You would rather kill your brother than have him attain joy apart from you.


Dear beloved Leo,

Had I known before how the Angels watch earth, I would’ve shuttered at the very thought of an audience to my humiliation. I now see that it was not they who treated me so wrongly, but me who treated others wrongly. I am my worst enemy – Not anyone else and certainly not God.

All my life I doubted the validity of the love which comes from Faith. For now all I can tell, the only difference [between our love and God’s love] is that what many on earth “feel” we call a real thing, and what only one feels we call a myth. But things that many feel may have no taste or moment in them at all, and things that are felt only to one may be waterspouts of truth from the very depth of Truth.

Now I see well why God did not speak to me and used you instead. Till the true understanding of love can be dug out of us, why should He listen to the babble that we think we mean? How can He talk to me about love till he gives me His love?

God is the answer to my question. In front of His love, all questions die away. What other answer would suffice?

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The Praise of Cute Babies, Ryan Gosling’s Abs, and Holiness

There we sat in the movie theater, with about 200 other people, just in time to see the opening of Crazy Stupid Love. With this being in the genre of a romantic comedy, it is safe to say that the female gender took the majority count in the room, ha. Midway through the movie we finally approached the imminent flirtatious scene between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (my future wife). What happened next turned out to be hilarious – Ryan Gosling takes off his shirt… and on the 32-foot tall, 75-foot wide movie theater scene, 200 people received a full HD view of his 8-pack abs. I kid you not, every girl in the theater automatically gave some type of audible reaction. 70 girls gave a deep gasp, 70 other girls giggled, and 30 other girls clapped. The 30 guys in the movie theater just smacked their teeth in a jealously retorted gesture. However, the reactions from the girls were priceless. There was a warm delight that triggered in their eyes and bubbled up into a spontaneously audible reaction. An external praise.

ImageNow, let us ask ourselves a question: Why is it that there was such outward expression givien off by those girls? Why did they not just feel the delight and keep that feeling to themselves? We know that their reactions to Ryan’s abs were not forced out but, on the other hand, were naturally performed. That action is slightly weird when you think about it, is it not?

Another example – In the church that I attend we have experienced this “baby boom” over the past 10 months. Literally, there are babies everywhere. I am scared. (I have a prophetic theory that the babies are going to take over the church and turn us into their slaves… but that is neither here nor there). One established fact is that the babies are awfully adorable. I mean my goodness they are precious.  They turn heads like it’s their jobs. People are continuously complementing the babies, continuously gathering around them, and continuously telling other people about a new baby that they must see. What is it that causes us to react like this? It is not as if we haven’t seen a baby before.

The answer happens to be the exact same reason that God asks us to praise him. All throughout the Bible we see numerous instances where God says to give him joyful praises.  C.S. Lewis, who used to be a staunch atheist until his conversion, used to hate Christianity for this reason. He felt as if God was this old beggar-woman asking for praises all the time. After his conversion, he realized the truth behind why God demands that we praise him:

C.S. Lewis –

Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’…

…“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”

What Lewis is saying is that the reason girls in a movie theater naturally give an external reaction to Ryan Gosling’s gorgeous abs is because their joy in those abs does not feel complete until they let it out. The reason we tell people about cute babies is because we have to share this news in order to complete the feeling. The initial joy is fuel that leads us into some form of obedience to achieve the full joy. We see this with Instagram and Facebook as well. We post pictures of the coffee we’re sipping or the delicious meal we’re eating because we must tell someone. Weird, huh? We do it all the time. We are by design worshipers and want people to join us in that feeling of gratification. God wired us for this. God’s demand to praise him is not meant for Himself.  God does not need our approval. He tells us to praise him because in the act of praising we walk into a fulfillment of the eternal-like joy that we were created for. If God loves you he would want what is best for you. What is best for you is Himself. In order for your joy to be naturally completed, it must be expressed. The scriptures are hinting to us, “do you want fullness of joy…do you want everlasting peace and freedom…then praise God in all things with all your heart.” Isaiah 25:1, Psalm 150:2, James 5:13, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, etc.

The Lord wants us to understand that anything we praise that does not end in praise of the triune God will be fleeting (Job 7:6-7, Psalm 144:4, James 4:14). Ryan’s abs will not last forever, babies eventually reach the terrible twos, delicious sandwiches will quickly disappear, and Tom Brady will eventually grow too old for the game. Unless our everyday pleasures end in ultimate praise in Jesus Christ then those pleasures are restricted. Everything that is seen is transient. Our hope lies in focusing more on what is unseen. Jesus takes our sins, dies on the cross in our place for our sins, then rises from death. He gives us his righteousness. He gives us his heart. The more our affections are stirred for Christ, that joy will fuel our obedience to worship, to evangelize, and to naturally give off fruits of the spirit…freely. Not as a job or obligation but because we already feel his affections for us. Continually sitting underneath this Gospel story causes us to continually remember, which in turn, naturally triggers that “joy of eternal significance”. That joy that creation yearns for.

Let us adore Him. Let us praise Him.

Sources:

Reflections on the Psalms. C.S. Lewis. 1958.

Glory, Creation, & Clemson Football!!!!!

I went up to Clemson this past weekend. Clemson just breeds awesomeness. I have always been an avid people watcher/learner. There is this strange, immense amount of joy that comes from seeing other people experience just an ounce of happiness. Now that I’ve been a graduate and away for 4 months, it seems as if the ability to observe people and vividly comprehend & appreciate their uniqueness has magnified.

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After the Clemson-South Carolina game, some friends and I were journeying by foot back to our car and were reminded of just how crazy traffic is after games. Especially night games! While downtown we could see a far-out view of all the cars in traffic ahead of us. It reminded me of something C.S. Lewis once wrote. He compared the concept of  “the traffic flow of vehicles on roads”  to  “God’s creation of the flow of rivers”.  Now this gets beautiful when it’s fully thought about. We just need to practice the fun, vivid Christian imagination that we all have. Christianity is never meant to be boring. It is meant to be repeatedly awe-inspiring.

Here’s what I mean. We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

Anything true of the “whole” will be true of the “part”. So if the entire Pacific Ocean is salt water, taking a small bucket of water from the Pacific Ocean will contain salt water. The purpose, meaning, and direction of the universe will be seen inside of what each of us do everyday. Any subset of the universe that God has created (i.e. people, rivers, trees, clouds, passions, video games, high school proms) will have some qualities and/or desires similar to that of God.

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We create things because we were created by The Ultimate Creator. Creativity, imagination, and beauty are God’s imageness in us. God is the master architect of creation. So since he created us, we display his qualities (even in things we create ourselves). People invented cars and even this can show traces of God’s influence.  If you look closely at cars moving together in a pack, they mimic a natural river flowing on its own water-path. My friends and I were literally able to look at the traffic in front of us collectively acting as if it were a calm-flowing river.  I for sure need to wake up and open my eyes more.

Not only do we create, but we also constantly exalt (i.e. glorify, praise, honor, rejoicing) things because we were created to give glory to God (Isaiah 43:7, Matt 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12, Habakkuk 2:14). During the football game this Saturday, I couldn’t help but notice this and laugh. By just taking some time to closely observe things around me the joy of everything was seen.

There were a number of girls with their arms tightly wrapped around their boyfriend’s arm due to the cold weather. That brings a certain type of honor to her boyfriend. It shows an appreciation for him and what he can provide.

Similarly, I can watch my guy friends that may have girlfriends whenever that girlfriend is around them. Some of the guys…I can see it in their eyes, just in the subtle ways they look at their girlfriend when she is not even noticing. It’s as if they aren’t looking at her in a physical sense, but looking at her soul. They are involuntarily rejoicing in the fact that they are in love with the soul of their girlfriend. Now my one favorite couple….. it really is all over his eyes when he looks at her. As plain as day. You can see joy, love, worry, and passion all at once in his eyes.

Friends that haven’t seen each other in a long time joyfully yell each other’s names in unison and hug before/after the game. Sometimes being so noticeably overwhelmed that everyone around them stops and looks.

Strangers sitting next to each other automatically are unified friends because they share a common bond. They give high fives when things go well. When they’re sad because Tahj Boyd got sacked…they’re sad together.

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In a broader way, we can look at the 80,000 Clemson fans yelling and screaming for a victory, bringing glory to the football team. All the while we can look up above the stadium into the night sky and witness something more intricate. The infinite number of bright stars, in their own uniqueness, scream for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 15:41, Psalm 19:1). It’s a funny irony though: how as we cheer for our football team, the stars in sky are simultaneously cheering for our Heavenly Father (Romans 1:20).  They’re picking up our slack as we cheer for a little football game.

Clemson will sometimes loose and let us down. Boyfriends will many times be dummies. Girlfriends have cooties ALWAYS. Friends will let us down. Strangers come and go. Cars will eventually die on us and end up in junkyards. But our holy & perfect God, so focused on the glorification of himself and of Jesus Christ through the fulfillment of the work done on the cross…never fails. He wins. And he loves us. We rejoice in that and put our hope in it. That is why Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So let His name be lifted higher and higher by us. The rivers and our own man-made cars are already lifting his name high. The stars are doing the same. ALL of creation was meant to do so. Focusing on Christ will always guide us into more joy.