Too much Sacrifice and too little Mercy

Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a lot of us who’ve grown up in the church.  But there’s little difference between us and the world.  Just like them we’re quickly aging and either frantically searching or habitually exhausted by never finding the right answers.  Our goal is to save enough for retirement and the paradox of that day when we will finally have enough money to spend our days without having to go to work is that we will also be too old to enjoy it.  We take pride in our career milestones and the nicer our homes the better we feel about ourselves.  We give sparingly in proportion to what we’ve been given but our conscience is soothed by the fact that we’ve at least done something to help those less fortunate.  Our knowledge of God is a one dimensional story teller version and the reality of faith is only felt when we’re in crisis mode.  God’s presence starts to feel real right around the time we lose someone we love or when we’ve just experienced a financial crisis.

We know God exists because of the warmth of his living Word felt all over our spiritual being when we watch a Christmas or Easter pageant in which our children or nieces and nephews are dressed the part of shepherds and angels.  We’re watching, we’re seeing, we’re hearing and for a moment we’re feeling, but we’re painfully busy and that pain overwhelms the joy.  We’re so tired to the bone that it’s even next to impossible to believe in more than the here and now.  We’ve worked so hard.  And our lives are so performance driven that we cease to hope for anything but a bonus at the end of the year or that grand day when we finally get out of debt.  Sometimes we catch glimpses of eternity, the everlasting dimension of our existence that seems to be alive beyond the moment.  Hope almost ignites the flame of eternal passion once again.  But then evening comes and morning is just behind it and things seem to tumble in on top of us until we’re all used up and worn out and we’ve forgotten how to be still and know.

Often times, as professional Christians when our life is no more victorious than an unbeliever’s life we say all we need to do is try a little harder, that everything will eventually click into place because “near is the day of salvation.”  We comfort ourselves with Scriptures that warn we’ll always “have trouble in the flesh” or with songs like “Nobody told me that the road would be easy.”  The only problem with that kind of living though is that Jesus actually did make reference to his yoke being easy and his burden being light.

In general, my reading of Scripture and my acceptance of Christian teachings has done nothing but weigh me down because I’ve been obeying what I thought the Bible taught through the eyes and interpretation of others with no real examination of the fruit or the source of fruit. 

So with God’s continuing help I decided to examine the fruit through a re-reading of Christianity, and it struck me that perhaps in doing so I could also help others to re-read Christianity as well, through a lens that accentuates the Good News of the Gospel of Christ over the knowledge of good and evil.  I went to Christ and told him that I was weary, that I believed in Him but for whatever reason I just couldn’t seem to figure myself out, figure others out, figure Him out, figure Christianity out and that I needed His help.  “Help my unbelief, Lord.  Help me to connect some dots so that I can begin to see a full picture of you.”  Through a period of searching Scriptures my heart and mind settled on a new way in which I could relate to my faith and explore many of the church’s teachings on that form of godliness with which I’ve struggled my whole life.   The original teachings had been ritualistically served up as shiny and deceptive fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil on a platter of salvation and grace and my spiritual life was suffering the effect of too much sacrifice and too little mercy.

From here on out, I decided, when I feel burdened, when things seem too hard to bear, when it seems like I just can’t take one more step in the direction of skin deep Salvation I would filter my circumstances through Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

According to Jesus, HIS burden is light.  If my Christianity, the cross I’ve picked up is too heavy, if I feel like I just can’t possibly live a joyful life as a Christian, if I’m almost ready to throw in the towel and never look back then I must be following the Tempter instead of the Savior and my head knowledge of Redemption is most likely very far from the heart warming, overshadowing and omnipotent power of God’s grace that really is a lot more than just a pretty song sung in Sunday morning worship.

I was seeking salvation.  I needed rest for my soul.  I was longing to be saved from the everyday rut, the habitual sadness, the nagging guilt, the overwhelming fear and the mindset of slavery to sin.  I’m crying out to God that he might save me from everything I know and open my eyes to how I am known by Him.  And he answers, not always in a sweeping magnificent display of his glory but sometimes in the small and very uncomfortable steps up to the edge of the pier, peering down at my reflection of His likeness, still afraid to jump in with both feet.

I am Eve, clamoring for something more.  Ready to discover the unknown.  I denounce all evil, but I keep digesting it as I fall prey to the nagging temptation to keeping eating those lies, the truth about what is good for me and others, the knowledge that I’m now more aware of evil than I ever truly wanted to be.   How will I ever bear good fruit when I’m too busy building my nest in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, attempting to protect my children with its branches?  I cannot remain in Christ when I’ve built my home elsewhere, when my existence is inextricably weaved, and perched at the height of what everyone else thinks of me and what I think of them–“Mirror, Mirror on the wall–who’s the fairest of them all?”

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2 thoughts on “Too much Sacrifice and too little Mercy

  1. I have no really intelligent comment to make. I just want to be a support and encouragement that your are praying and seeking the right thing. Dallas Willard has been a strong encouragement to me in that regard, exhorting me to listen to God more actively. Peace be to you.

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