Reflections of a Broken Man

On Wisdom by StephenMac
March 11, 2009, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

**Currently playing in iTunes: Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights) by Anberlin**

I think the chorus of this song sums up this post:

Live, I wanna live inspired
Die, I wanna die for something higher than myself
Live and die for anyone else
The more I live I see this life’s not about me

Wisdom is the art of godly living. It’s something that I make no claim to know extensively, nor even able to live out. It’s about living our life in a way that brings glory to God. I also think that wisdom is a moral category: to act foolishly (to act without wisdom) is morally wrong and reprehensible, because it fails to bring glory to God (cf. Romans 1:21-23).

As Christians, we live in a family: adopted children of God, and so interpersonal relationships is a key part of our life. Thus, I would argue that wisdom involves understanding how to be in relationship with others (specifically other believers), and involves selflessness.

Oliver O’Donovan, in the CASE lecture series in 2007, describes morality in terms of being “awake” and “aware” of what is around us. It is morally wrong (foolish) to be inattentive, or unconcerned, or even ignorant of what is going on around us.

Drawing these threads together, I want to say that wisdom is being aware in our relationships, and failure to do so is morally wrong. We need to be attentive to how we are interacting, how we are impacting and affecting people around us.

What is the motivation for this left-field post? At the risk of trivialising this post, I have recently been reflecting on relationships. To put it verbosely, what is the wise way to pursue courting? To be blunt, what is the wise way to tell a girl you like her? Wisdom, being aware of the way that you affect people, warns us that just because you think that asking a girl out for all the right reasons as you see it may not be the wise thing to do. You may think that she is the right person for you because:

– She would be a great partner for ministry
– She is precisely the kind of girl you want your sons to marry, and daughters to be
– She is the epitome of Prov. 31.

Wisdom warns us that we need to be aware that in fact, our “overtures” for a relationship may not be wise. What happens if our pursuit of a relationship in fact harms her, for whatever reason? I would argue that our inattentiveness, our lack of being “awake” or “aware” of the impact of our intentions is therefore morally reprehensible, foolish, and wrong.

Wisdom tells us, “The more I live I see, this life’s not about me.”


New Beginnings by StephenMac
February 2, 2009, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , ,

*currently listening to mewithoutYou – Messes of Men from Brother, Sister*

There is something about new beginnings… whether it’s a new job, new house, new church or new school, there is that air of hopefulness and excitement. Sometimes, there is that tinge of sadness, because the departure breaks something, a connection.

I lead the New Year’s Eve service at the beginning of this year, and I was reminded that as Christians, we have one new beginning, Easter Sunday, that amazing morning two millennia ago. We have no more new beginnings other than that… Our life is measured then in milestones, ticking off the years, days, hours, seconds until Christ returns. We have one beginning, our life in Christ, and one destination, our relationship with him.

And so the leaving of my home at Liverpool South and the entering into a “new family” (well, same family, just different branch) has kinda got me with mixed emotions. Leaving home at Liverpool and moving into Newtown has filled me with false hopes. Resolutions have been made already, optimism is filling my mind, yet I need to remember that it’s not a new beginning, merely another step in God’s massive plan.

So this evening, when I found myself disappointed with the way things were working out, that despair upon realising that nothing special or awesome has occured as a result of this perceived new beginning, I was reminded that life is not discrete units, new books whatever metaphor you want, but all one story, the story of how God is using me and how I am at times disappointing him or pleasing him.

I left Liverpool South on Sunday. I left home. My brothers, my sisters. I don’t think until you leave that you realise how much you are going to miss them. Despite the stresses, despite the pains and annoyances, despite the awesome highs and low lows, God has blessed me (maybe inflated my ego somewhat) by allowing me to see how much of an impact that I had in the lives of some people. Humility, false humility, not sure which, meant that I was genuinely moved by the “toasting” that I received from dear friends at LSAC… And I really wanted more of a roasting, but they were too kind.

Despite the fact that I felt that I had failed so many of them (I don’t even know peoples names…) they were genuinely going to miss me. How much of that is me as God’s creature, and how much of that is God working through me? Should I even differentiate the two? I wanted to scream… I am a broken man, could they not see that it was God who did these things, that had moved their lives, who had built them and encouraged them? I knew who the real actor was, but I couldn’t find the words to tell them. I knew, but I think I liked the spotlight…

I am thinking about next week… I am thinking about how God is going to use me, and whether it will be a new beginning (where I ignore the past and pretend like Liverpool didn’t exist, like my failings didn’t exist) or whether I can get the perspective right and overcome my arrogance, my abruptness, my false humility, and do this thing right, whether I can see this in the big picture of God’s plan, where my past failings are used for God’s glory, and the mistakes I make still have value. I am thinking about whether how I am going to impact these brothers and sisters, and whether they will see me, or whether they will see God working through me. I think at Liverpool, I made it so they would see me, and I don’t want to let that happen again.

I am thinking about relationships… There was a lady at church, a lady who treats me as her son, who prays for me more than my parents do, who is concerned about in things that matter, not the financial or career or success that my biological parents desire for me. She is concerned about the things that really matter. I may have played way too much World of Warcraft over the holidays at the expense of doing homework, but on my last night there, I found that I had two guild members who were praying for me and had found great encouragement in my ministry. I have never met them in real life, I have never even seen them face to face, or even heard their voice, and yet, they encourage me more than most people I know. I am thinking about school teachers, who even six years after I have left their tutelage, are still teaching me and praying for me.

Do you know that encouragement? That despite your failings, your screw-ups, your awful, selfish, lonely and unjustifiable sinfulness, they still care for you and pray for you? How much greater then, Christ’s love who made it all possible? How much more awesome, and genuine, and affective that love, shown upon the Cross.

Hebrews 12:1-2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.