deep down...

Last night I was in a haunted house. My own. I was haunted by holiness all night long. And it's not the "condemnation" kind of hounding that I know all to well, it's the "conviction" kind of wooing that makes you sick to your stomach at the sell out that you've become one day at a time over a long period of time. It's the whole over-used "frog in the kettle" illustration in living color. I'm a unsuspecting frog in a happy little hot tub of relevent Christianity.

I'm a cool follower of Christ because I say fricken and crap when I talk to people. People like it that I talk their language at their level. I bring the cookies down off the top shelf, so to speak. I don't speak in spiritual platitudes like a pedantic prude. I'm a popular pastor. I'm a day at the beach or a walk in the park. I'm your best little buddy ever. I'll tell you what you want to hear how you want to hear it. Not only do I let you be who you are, I let you stay where you've been. I'm so cool.

Last night and into this morning, I don't feel so cool. I feel like a sell out. I feel like I've sold my life to the highest bidder. I feel like too many things have been for sale in my moral garage sale for so cheap. Increasingly, I've noticed that I believe God to be this mysterious being who you can't understand or explain or follow for that matter. He's just so nebulous and arcane that it does no good to attach words or beliefs or principles or explanations to Him. Holiness is simply embracing the Great Mystery in the sky. But is that what Holiness is, really?

The fact of the matter is the Bible is chuck full of explanations of God and desires of God and demands of God and descriptions of God. It shows us what pleases him and angers him. It shows us the things that honor him and the things that unerve him. It demonstrates his wrath over rebellion and his grace over repentence. We can say that it's not about rules, it's only about a relationship...but it's not true. It's about both, cause any relationship has unspoken, ethical, inherent rules in order to function with health. Try nurturing a relationship without rules and see how far you get. We say that God isn't about lists, but this is simply an understandment made to attract turned off church dropouts or people who want to follow a God that has no requirements or restrictions. There are lists all over the Bible...all over. And we need them...we need to know what's right and wrong...we do. I need God to say, "NO." every once in a while. I can't turn everything about Christianity into an optimistic, positive family friendly radio type of spin. I can't just say that God wants us to be faithful in marriage, I have to say God wants us to not have adultery. I know that I tucked the "not" word in there, but most of the Ten Commandments are "nots". I can't say keep saying that God wants us to be alive without raising people's awareness to the things that are killing them everyday. I know it's negative, but sometimes the most positive thing you could say is something negative.

This morning, I feel like calling my parents and telling them how much I love them for raising the bar of holiness in our home growing up. I was just crying my eyes out thanking God for a family that wasn't scared of looking "out of touch" or "off the deep end" with their standards. No matter how far I stray from God's holy heart, I can feel my parent's teaching chasing me down. There have been so many times that I'm coasting along just fine...satisfied, ordered, pampered, successful...and out of nowhere God just puts something or someone in my life that reminds me God's desire for righteousness and I'm undone. Sometimes I can taste God's tears. I am so gripped with how far we've all fallen that I just want to snap. I want to snap over the perversion. I want to come unglued over the malaise over churches and families and individuals caught in a slow boil of sin.

My language has gotten out of hand. I don't ever swear and I feel like it's still less that what God has called me to pursue in my conversation. I'm tired of double meanings and hidden sexual connotations. I'm fed up with safe sarcasm instead of risky questions. I'm fed up with gossip, slander and rumors that are cloaked in humble honesty. I'm fed up with exaggerations and half truths and embellished stories. I'm sick of slang verbiage (crap, darn it, fricken, and any of the other of the 1000 replacements for swearing). I'm tired of settling for my thin and tired vocabulary and not advancing to another level of maturity in my conversations. God has shone his light into my heart and I am blinded by his eyes of fire. I want to crawl out the darkness into his marvelous light.

My mind has to be brought into obedience. I can't keep telling myself that what happens in my head, as long as it stays in my head, makes no difference. It is reality, it is not an alternate reality. My mind is real and it's where the real me resides and responds. Even if I've mastered the art of hiding it, I must deal with my responses, motivations and activities happening inside my skull in the most sober way. I can't harbor bitterness and tell myself that I can manage it like a domesticated lion. It can't be tamed. I can't play around with lust like it's a normative masculine thorn in the flesh meant to enjoyed on the inside. I can't forget the need to purify my mind with the "washing of the Word" thinking I've got enough Bible to last me the rest of my life. My mind is a cesspool sometimes.

I could go on and on. I'm just plain convicted by how much I've let go inside me and around me. I've been so desensitized lately that I don't know the counterfeit from the concrete. I'm tired of hearing the phrase over and over again in our culture, "Deep down, he's really...this or that." Either I am or I'm not, but this deep down business is a myth that keeps us from cutting the chase of reality. I've been to so many funerals where the charade continues on. "So and so was such a good man deep down. For any of you that really got to know him." I'm thinking to myself..."how deep did I have to go to meet this person you're describing and how well did I have to get to know him before I was introduced to this figment of your imagination that you are so eloquently making believe exists?" I don't want to be described this way to anyone. I want to be holy. I want to be passionate. I don't want it to be deep down, I want it to pour forth.

I might say more on this subject sometime later...I don't even care if this is cohesive thought...I just have to get some of this off my chest this morning. God, I want to be holy.


Nick Nye said…
I need to learn these things...
pianoman said…
"Not only do I let you be who you are, I let you stay where you've been. I'm so cool..."

man, i've forgotten how well you read my thoughts and capture the words of conviction that echo in my mind...

i was just thinking about this today. how is it possible to show people the same unprejudiced, unwavering love that Jesus showed to the prostitutes and tax collectors and yet still remain a defiant light burning through the darkness of the world?

i hate how cliche the phrase "in it, not of it" has become, because that's one of the most important concepts of my faith that i have yet to fully comprehend. i NEED those words, but yet they've been reduced to an empty shell of 'Christianese'.

how am i able to live a uncompromised, Godly life while still relating to all the people who don't see the world through the same eyes as me?

how can i let them know i hate their sin but i love their hearts? what words do i use to show them they've been traveling on the path of destruction when the path of redemption is closer than they think?

i don't know how to shine a light without judging, to correct humbly and lovingly without pretentious righteousness...

when will i find that perfect, delicate, impossible balance between being 'in the world and not of it', because until i do, i'm salt without saltiness, a candle without a wick...

is there really a concrete answer out there, or will i be searching closer and closer to the truth for the rest of my life?

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