Monday, December 19, 2005

I Own a Leather Jacket...

I was sitting in church yesterday listening to the announcements at the beginning of the service and I looked to my right because my eyes have a tendency to wander all over the place (I love to observe people, what can I say). As I was looking all around, my eyes brought themselves something very familiar to me--my adored leather jacket. From there I began developing a thought about sacrifice. First, let me tell you how I came into the possession of this beloved jacket.

It was Christmas six years ago when I opened the last present under the tree. We all know the last present under the tree is the grand finale, the one we've been hoping and asking for all year long! I was afraid it was going to be a joke because one year I was pulling the blanket off my Final Gift thinking it was a new bike, when my family got the picture of horror across my face as I had uncovered my old, regular, beat-up bike...yeah, they got me.

But this time was no joke. I opened up the box and sure enough, it was the expensive, black leather jacket from Structure I had wanted since I first laid eyes on it. I laid my nose upon it, taking the sweet smell in that remains still to this day. I put on the medium-sized jacket, hoping it would fit me just right, and boy did it; since I wasn't growing anymore, I knew this one would last me a long time!

Since I live in Florida the jacket only comes off the hanger a few weeks out of the year, but oh how I love those weeks. I feel so stylish and confident as I walk around in my nice winter clothes which are all accentuated by the lovely leather that I adorn on the cool, wintery days like the last few have been. On special occasions I must take it with me for trips to really cold climates like Santa Fe, New Mexico, thus I can enjoy the warmth the jacket provides. I love my leather jacket and I will be honest and tell you that my leather jacket loves me.

What does it all mean though? As I looked at the jacket I love, I began to wonder if anyone looks at me as I have a tendency to look at others and judge them, thinking, "Look at that jacket. That is a nice, expensive jacket. Surely if he owns that jacket he can afford to do more for his church and his community. He needs to learn what it means to sacrifice." A person with raincoat for a winter jacket may look at me and think this, while I may look at someone with $1000 coat and judge them. That is not the point. Simply because I am sitting there with less material possessions than another person does not mean I know the meaning of sacrifice. If that person who has the $1000 coat is willing to give it to a person who has no jacket at all, while I sit there and hold tightly on to this coat I love so much, unwilling to give it up because I am too busy thinking the person with more can give up with they have easier, then I have not learned the meaning of true sacrifice.

It has never been about what we do have or what we do not have; it has always been about what we are willing to sacrifice. I can look at people who have a lot and judge them, but I can be sitting with very little unwilling to let any of it go. Whether having much or having little, we must be willing to sacrifice it all at any point for that is the heart of true Christianity.

Simply look at Christ:
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
-Philippians 2:3-8

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Reality and Faith: Part 1

It seems like quite some time since I last updated my online journal. Life has not been short of anything, but crazy. But here is a reflection I have been wanting to write for quite some time:

Reality and faith. The pervading thought in today's society tells us that reality is dependent on faith; this is the essence of post modernism. Granted this is only thought, but many people try to argue the existence of objective truth based on the idea that each individual perspective is truth and reality is simply left to the mind of the creator of that reality. Thus what an apple is to one person may be an orange to another. Reality is relative and thus objective truth has no concrete foundation.

The problem is that reality exists beyond our perspective. Let's say one man is convinced that the object we have designated to be called an "apple" really should be called an "orange." This he finds to be truth and this he shall defend as truth. Granted, he probably will not convince many other people to change their perspective on what the object should be called but that is not the point we are making here. Unfortunately this is the major flaw of post modernistic thought. Everything about the argument for the post modernistic mind is based off of language and not on the object itself. Regardless of what we call the object--an apple, orange, peach, cat, windshield wiper--the object still remains as it did before. It will not disappear or change shape and conform to what our language has defined it to be; it will still be what it was before we gave it a name. The reality is not dependent on the language, but because it exists outside of our language and definitions, it is independent from our constructs and limitations. Simply stated, if there was no language, reality would still be real, we would just be lost and unable to begin to understand any of it. The true foundation of our language is the faith behind the words we use to define all objects.

Therefore what's left is reality and faith. What must be understood and reiterated is the fact that reality does not depend on faith, but that faith reinforces reality. It is as though reality only becomes real to us once two things occur--we first acquire knowledge and then have faith that the knowledge we have come to attain is truth. An example of this is the everyday activity of cities, states, or countries. I have never been to China, but I do read about how the church is being persecuted over there; I see pictures and read stories of people who are not receiving basic human rights and freedoms that we take for granted here in America. As I come to know of these things I have the choice of either believing them to be true or discrediting them as false stories that are developed to sucker people into giving them money. The organization that provides this news is also of good repute, which only aids in confirming the truth behind these stories. Even with this evidence, I still must make a decision of faith to trust in the knowledge of the reality I am presented. And so it is for every bit of reality, but some aspects of reality require more faith than others.

To Be Continued...