The Virgin Jesus – Part 3

In the garden, the serpent led Eve to question God’s motives when He withheld a certain gift from her. We all know what happened after.

The Cross
There is a reason we remind ourselves that “God is good.”  It’s because the moment we lose sight of God’s goodness, everything we don’t have becomes a reason to believe God hates us and is keeping good things from us.

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied.“It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

-Genesis 3 (NLT)

I think if Satan can attack the love relationship man has with God, he can break everything. If you can convince me that the only One who cares benevolently for me actually intends to harm me, then what do I have left in this world?

If we get this picture of God in our head as this conniving, jealous and mean tyrant, then the powerful hand with which He desires to save us will become our worst fear. We will only see a hand with enough power to crush us. We won’t approach. And even when He calls out to us, we will hide because we don’t believe He is good.

I have found comfort in knowing that God would never call us to walk through something he hasn’t already walked through a billion times over. Whenever you feel that thought creep up that makes you feel cheated or makes you feel like He’s being unfair, I want you to remember some things:

  • Jesus will wait until the end of all ages for His bride, the church. He will literally be the last to get married.
  • On earth, He walked alone for so much of His life and ministry. I think His strength came from His intimate relationship with the Father.

Jesus understood something we really need to get in order to walk this path with Him: God is good and God can be trusted. Until we get that, it will always be a tug of war with our emotions, our expectations and our reality. God is here to purify our hearts and to do it well. Sometimes, that means walking alone for a season. If we cannot hold His hand through that time, I suspect we will not do well when we partner up with someone else either.

Love Him today; love Him tomorrow.

Love Him single; love Him married.

Love Him happy; love Him sad.

He is not your enemy. He is your closest and strongest ally.

-Buki

The Virgin Jesus – Part 2

I came up with this post a long time ago. I find it especially challenging to assert today, but I would like to rest in these words. I pray it does something good for your soul (and, yes, I am writing this as a single woman). Also, before we begin, you should read “The Virgin Jesus – Part 1.”

The Cross

There is a reason we are not born married. In the natural order of things, it is to our advantage to get to grow alone before joining our lives with our partners. That initial season of singleness is where we deepen as people. it is when we get a clearer sense of who we truly are, what we like and what our callings are.

Jeremiah starts off his book like this:

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,

“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!

-Jeremiah 1:4-9 (NLT)

The maker matters. You might look at facebook as a way to connect with your friends but on the other side of the interface, facebook owners view it as a powerful advertising and data mining machine. The maker matters. The purpose of something created lies in the heart of its creator.

Your God-given purpose is the reason you’re quite good at reading, dancing, loving, organizing… God knows why He gave you those gifts, likes, dislikes and strengths. When you discover them, it feels like the whole Universe is vibrating at the right frequency. You feel a sense of inward-facing and outward-facing harmony. When Jeremiah had a sit down with his maker, he discovered who he truly was. Jeremiah’s story began with an intimate conversation with the Father about his identity. Starting from there, he built a strong life, a life we still follow today.

The Virgin Jesus built His life starting with an intimate connection to the Father as well. We should take a cue from these guys.

The issue here is not whether a life of complete celibacy is better for everyone. Clearly, most of us will get married. What matters, I think, is how we live in the single season. It is an opportunity that must not be missed.

A gospel that teaches that marriage is God’s ultimate gift causes many breaks in the single woman’s life.

Intimacy with God is the first thing to break: If God shows His love by giving you a spouse then not giving you a spouse means he hates you. You would never overtly say that, but it comes out in the way you resent Him for holding out on you.

Intimacy with yourself breaks too: If you are not connected to your maker, how can you get to really know yourself? You’ll catch details here and there, but the heart and soul behind who you are will always elude you. You’ll walk around like an emotional drifter.

Finally, intimacy with the present breaks: If your eye is fixed on that future date, today won’t really matter as much. You will live every day as if you are in limbo or purgatory, seeing no value in the present and approaching life devoid of power.

to be continued…


Song of the day: “Home” by Hunter Thompson (Bethel Music)

The Virgin Jesus – Part 1

Marriage is beautiful. Relationships are super nice and it is wonderful to be loved. That said, this post is aimed at single/celibate Christian women.

It doesn’t always hit me, but Jesus died/resurrected a 33-year old man and a virgin.

I have experienced a brand of Christianity that would have thrown a self-help book at Him by His early 20s. In that part of the church world, it’s implied that your life doesn’t really begin until you find “the one.” I have witnessed the spiritual castration of my sisters in Christ. A spiritually castrated woman walks around like a distorted version of herself: she mourns being single, she does not feel whole and she is convinced she doesn’t bring anything to the table.

It ties back to the deeper issue of gender disparity in the church. If you are the member of a church that does not empower women, it might be affecting you more than you realize. An egalitarian group of Christians, gather knowing everyone has an equal experience with God regardless of race, gender or other distinguishing human traits. On the opposite spectrum, you have groups that believe women shouldn’t have a voice in the church. They usually define themselves as “complementarians” which has such a sweet ring to it. I think “elitist” is more appropriate.

If you are taught that your experience with God is less valid because you’re a woman, then you would need a man to really experience God, right? It naturally leads to a watered-down gospel of what it means to be a single woman. It’s sad watching future preachers and teachers being told they cannot bring anything to the church because they are not married. That is simply not true. The gifts of God are given to whoever receives His spirit, whether single or married, rich or poor, male or female.

If you, as a woman, have God’s spirit, then your connection to God is just as valid as that of Jesus, Paul the Apostle, Anna etc.

A life of singleness was Jesus’ ally. He was steeped in community; He reached out to people that needed help; He was never connected to anyone sexually/romantically and He turned the world upside down.

But no one ever talks about the fact that He was single. Can we make Him our inspiration for living a life of celibacy?

Whether you are single all your life or for a short time, you should never feel like a waste of space, especially in God’s family.

To be continued…

On Judgement

The Problem

The conversation about Heaven and Hell is really hard to tackle so I am going to try to be as graceful and careful as I possibly can. I also want to try my best to be honest and Jesus focused. This blog post is also quite long so brace yourselves. There are many scripture references and sections. Alright, let’s begin:

We have exalted ourselves to the judgement seat.

Sometimes, in the church, when people talk about judgement/heaven/hell, we either feel pressure to say hell/judgement are non-existent OR we feel pressure to decide who’s going where. Those are tough tasks.

The pressure to decide who is going where gives birth to debates such as whether certain people are in heaven or hell based on what little we know of their lives. It is cringe-worthy (especially on facebook… come on, guys).

Alternatively, the pressure to say there is no hell or judgement is difficult because Jesus talked about judgement and hell quite a bit. He also purported to be a just and loving God but we find it hard to harmonize those 2 ideas:

“How could a loving and just God possibly have the whole judgement and hell thing going on?”

It shows what we’re really thinking: we don’t trust God to be fair in His judgement. Both parties are freaking out because they don’t think God can handle the intense mental pressure of judging the hearts of people and they are just dying to help Him out. Somehow, we believe we have a deeper heart of compassion and justice than God does (even though both those things originate from His heart).

We just don’t believe God is who He says He is. If that’s the case, why worship Him then? I am not being facetious. Seriously, why should you even bother worshiping a wicked God? Because of fear? If He’s that awful, then you probably wouldn’t want to be in Heaven anyway. If He’s unjust, you shouldn’t worship Him. Throw out your bible and stop going to church. Close this tab.

So, why are you still here? Because I think deep in your heart, you suspect that God is good.

A proposed solution

In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father… And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man… I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

– Jesus (John 5: 22, 23a, 27, 30 – NLT)

Yzma

“It is no concern of mine whether your family has… what was it again? [Food]. Well, you really should have thought of that before you became peasants!” -Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)

Let us all remember that the judgement seat belongs to Jesus.

For those of you who say, “Only God can judge me” and then proceed to commit a heinous crime? B+. It’s really “Only JESUS can judge me” but whatever. Semantics.

My point is, the judgement seat belongs to Jesus. Good intentioned as we are, we really have no place deciding how to judge people because it is too complicated a task. We’re about as useful as Yzma, pictured above.

By trying to handle the issue of judgement, we are sitting somewhere we have no place sitting. And honestly, it’s a huge task to take upon your shoulders. I think every Christian reading this has been there and has hated it. Here’s a verse that made me do a double-take one time:

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you…”

Matthew 11: 20-22 (NIV)

They would have repented? It will be more bearable for them? Wait. Jesus, you mean to tell me you have already worked out a whole system by which you will judge people? And somehow, you’re judging them based on their HEARTS and not just their actions?

Yes. Scripture seems to suggest just that.

You may believe you are doing right, but the Lord judges your reasons.

– Proverbs 21:2, NCV

But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motivesI give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.

– Jeremiah 17:10, NLT

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t look at how handsome Eliab is or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. God does not see the same way people see. [People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart]…”

1 Samuel 16:7, NCV [NLT]

It feels a bit silly to finally admit this but I think God has it handled. If God is who He says He is (and I suspect He is which is why I follow Him), then He is just and He is merciful and He is loving. He knows us and He knows us better than anybody. The precondition is that we trust in His wisdom and fairness otherwise, we will drive ourselves insane trying to run the world from that little room in our minds. Breathe. Calm down. He has it under control and He is going to do a fine job at it.

Once upon a time, I was angry at God’s response at the end of the book of Job but I will use that as a reference today. I think it paints a perfect picture of what we all struggle with when we call God’s heart of justice into question:

Then the Lord said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”

[then Job said something]

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

“Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.

Will you discredit my justice and condemn me just to prove you are right?

Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like his?

All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty.
Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud.
Humiliate the proud with a glance; walk on the wicked where they stand.
Bury them in the dust. Imprison them in the world of the dead.
Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you…”

– Job 40:1-2, 6-14. Read the rest of God’s comeback here

To sum it up, “You are not God. Take a seat.” In fact, scripture tells us to take several seats on various occasions. For example: Isaiah 55:8-11 and Jeremiah 17:5-9.

In conclusion…

we can shout out our man-made rules and use it to beat down innocent people (and some of the most beautiful hearts have been hurt by the blows of man’s shallow judgments) but God is the only one who really knows what’s going on.

We can also try to erase judgement but then that leaves the problem of a God who condones evil and does not bring justice to victims of violence, genocide etc.

God doesn’t fall for the show. God doesn’t fall for the optics or the hype. We as humans are susceptible to that. I can be (and have been) deceived by people who seemed good on the outside.  The humility in us must rise up to admit that this is too complicated for us.

Sometimes innocent people make mistakes and sometimes cold-hearted people start charities. Jesus is the only one who is able to tell wheat from tares. To Peter who called himself unclean, the Lord said, “I will make you a fisher of men” (Luke 5:8-10). While some of the Pharisees who did the right things, He called, “unmarked graves” (Luke 11:42-44).

When it comes to judging people one way or another, sometimes, the best response is, “I don’t know” because we don’t. We would do well to focus on judging our own selves; at least we actually know our hearts.

I know sometimes, really zealous people put pressure on other Christians to take a stance on every issue and condemn/vilify other people. Choose not to be trapped by that vicious spirit. Submit the government of the world to it’s true King then walk away and do what you were actually called to do: Love God; Love your neighbor. You were not called to judge.

Here’s something I think we should actually consider more: You will be judged with the same degree that you judge others and you will be forgiven to the same degree you show mercy to others. If that’s the case, I won’t lie. I don’t want to be judged by Jesus. He knows too much. I would rather run to the mercy seat.

To wrap up my heart, here’s a quote from a dear friend of mine:

“But I think a better question is who is Christ? I know him to be more unlimited than limited. I know him to be more loving than hateful. I know him to be more unexpected than predictable. I know him to be more scandalous than our traditions. I know him to be the husband and lover of all, men and women. I know him to be accused of being a lawbreaker in order to bring people closer to himself. I know him to complicate ways of thinking rather than always using simple language. And the truth is he lives within us and nothing in all creation, not even ourselves, can separate us from his love.”

The coolest artist ever

Grace and Peace,

Buki.