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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mat Kearney: Just Kids

You will spend the rest of your life recovering (or not recovering) from the loss of innocence. 

No one escapes the brokenness. 

It was a moment that you remember well, because up until that point you didn't have a clue. You weren't aware that the darkness was so dark. You hadn't felt the pressure of being here, in this inescapable coffin of a world. Your disappointments until that day were small and easily solved with a kind word or a lollipop or a hard game of soccer. 
But then it happened. 
And nothing was ever going to be the same. 

Maybe you've been fighting it, and lashing out at a world you rightly hate for the crime and the loss and the death and the pain. Maybe you're pretending that it isn't so bad and grasping at whatever fantasy numbs the searing wounds of your shattered heart. But I know, and you know, we don't belong here ultimately. At least not the here that we can see and feel and taste. And we long for a way to be strong enough to face the abyss with courage and yet be joyful enough to walk away untouched. 

This is the longing I feel when I listen to Mat Kearney's song Just Kids. The imagery of his personal memories make the experience powerful. This is one man's wrestle with the loss, not of his youth, but of the simplicity that made relationships beautiful. The first verse poetically refers to the "wet cement" in the souls of children that catches whatever happens around them. Of course, the cement hardens and can't be changed, whatever was marked there. The first chorus expresses his longing that he could have started this relationship back when things didn't feel broken, back before they even knew about the pain they would cause each other and the messiness of the families they come from. 

After detailing the chaos of their backgrounds, the artist cries out for answers in a second chorus that resonates with anyone who senses the relentless, ubiquitousness of the Fall and the gnawing desire for restoration. 
For crying out loud I wanna know
How the waves keep on crashing down the doors.
Feel the weight of the world and they keep on bringing more.
If it's just you and me on the floor,
Go grab your coat, and I'll drive us home
Like we were just kids. 
Kearney articulates that it will take a return to that innocence and simplicity to make the relationship work.  That return will require the paradox of embracing the brokenness and surrendering it. Without denying or fighting, we can be just kids again.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Thinking Gospel: Romans 5

There may come a day when I will not have to be so intentional in my war against the poisonous legalism that my heart loves. But I think not. These scars do not disqualify me from joy. And I'm beginning to understand that the necessity of conscious dependence on the grace of God hardly discounts me from relaxing in it.

This weekend, my pastor led us through the first part of Romans chapter 5. (Listen to it here! It's worth the time.) I realized afresh that legalism is only thinly veiled heresy. It doesn't drive me to Jesus. Instead, it drives me to selfishness. Through it, I want gifts and rewards for good behavior. I cannot accept that He gives freely, and I don't like what He offers. The six gifts of justification by faith laid out in the passage are twisted when I see them through a false lens. When I wrote out these contrasts of how the gifts are received on the basis of law or grace, it helped me to see how devoid of the cross my natural thinking is. I am praying that God will continue to weed out the old, deadly thinking and replace it with the gospel.

Romans 5

Peace with God

The Gospel: Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, I am no longer at war with God; instead He and I are waging war against my sin. But my sin is completely forgiven and He gives me His righteousness.
Legalism: He forgives my sin if I ask correctly, but I have to work for the righteousness. God and I can't be at peace until I have done enough.

Access to God

The Gospel: I am invited to come boldly as His precious child without thought for what I'm interrupting or worry over how I'll be received. I'm already in. I'm accepted. I'm loved and cherished.
Legalism: I can't really talk to God unless I'm performing well. He might love me, but it doesn't change how He interacts with me. I'm a bad person trying hard to be a good person.


The Gospel: I will see Him! I will be in His presence and I'll finally reflect Him completely as I was created to do. I'm sure of this, because He has promised it.
Legalism: I might be sure of Heaven if I work hard enough, but I am not sure He will be delighted to have me there.

Joy in Suffering

The Gospel: I'm suffering, but it's not because He is angry at me. He is using everything to shape me into a beautiful reflection of His Son. Nothing can destroy me. All I have left to do is rejoice as He works in me.
Legalism: I'm suffering, so I must have done something wrong. I can remove the suffering if I find where I messed up and fix it.

Experience of the Love of God

The Gospel: He loves me. Always. He proved it by living the life I couldn't live and dying the death I deserved. He loved me when I was against Him, so of course He loves me now that I'm reconciled. I didn't do anything to earn His love so I can't do anything to lose it either. He was for me when I was against Him. Now I can experience His love.
Legalism: He loves me when I'm doing a good job. I live in constant terror of His wrath if I make a wrong move.

God Himself

The Gospel: Greater than the gifts of the gospel and more wonderful even than the peace is the gift of God Himself. I get to be with Him! He is the greatest treasure and the One for whom I was created. I love Him!
Legalism: I want safety and dignity and a sense of self righteousness. I'm not really interested in God for who He is, as long as I can have what I want. I love me.