March 30, 2013

Reflections During Holy Saturday

Today is the day between Good Friday and Easter. Holy Saturday.

I try to be a bit introspective this one Saturday of the year. I sorta think Christians should use this day – actually, every day of the year – to consider how much we're blessed and what our faith really means/doesn't mean to us.

First, let me say, being a Christian is not being perfect. To me, it's being a sinner who's striving not to. I can only write here what it means to me. It means, first, that I've been blessed beyond anything I've had a right to expect. Beyond measure, as they say. I'm not what generally is seen as a "success." I don't live in a big house, drive a Mercedes or high-dollar Audi. My dog is a mutt that wandered into the neighborhood and adopted me. I'm living off my retirement funds.

The Wife and I, however, are in relatively good health. And even if sometime down the road we have to miss a few meals, we undoubtedly will not miss 'em. We live in our own home, not yet paid for, but not close to being foreclosed on, either. Our kids are on their own and doing well. They're educated, have stayed outta jail and both have someone who loves them. And we have a granddaughter on the way.

Do I wish things were different? Sure. But not so much in my life. I don't like that common sense seems a rare commodity today in our nation. I don't like that we seem to have confused "tolerance" with "approval" in certain cases. As a society, we have awarded credibility way out of proportion to substance, often simply because someone yelled the loudest. We legitimize the trivial and the spectacular. And embrace the easiest way. We're spoiled as a nation.

As life strings out behind me further, I try to view it through responsible Christian eyes. Here are some thoughts my faith has born:

I think the only way mankind can define life's beginning is at conception. Any other point is arbitrary. Therefore, abortion is justified only under the same laws covering self-protection or mercy. Everything else are killings of convenience. (I know this will outrage certain of my friends, but I believe this is the only moral view.)

Having said that, a "Christian" church that disrupts a burial or memorial service to attain its own ends is not acting in a Christian manner. Nor is a pro-lifer who kills an abortion doctor or bombs an abortion clinic. He/She is no different than a terrorist.

I do not try to thrust my Christian views upon others. If I am invited or see someone obviously hurting and I can offer comfort with my faith, I may offer it. I am, however, just as affronted when a Christian is painted as intolerant, selfish or bigoted, as Jews, Moslems, or ethnic minorities are when characterized as money-grubbing, camel jockeying or water-melon-eating or some other slur. It bothers me that in certain circles here in the U.S., it's trendy to knock Christians.

(A side note: When someone criticizes a church as "just a bunch of hypocrites," I reply, "Of course! We're sinners! That's why He established His church!")

I can sympathize with some libertarian, some liberal, or some conservative values without  buying into all of them. That doesn't mean I'm a crackpot. It only means I am a thinking Christian.

We don't seem to have learned much from recent history. The USSR fell largely because the government destroyed the people's incentive. When everyone was equally rewarded, regardless of how much or little they performed, nobody had anything for which to strive. Now, we're heading down that same road through "nanny government." Our involvement in Vietnam should have taught us not to get caught up in interventionary wars in foreign lands. Yet, today we seem to be racing down that road in a souped-up troop carrier.

What does any of that have to do with faith? It shows me that if we keep electing people who have no moral base, we as a nation eventually will have no moral base. And whether you like it or not, Christianity was the moral base upon which this nation was founded.

In my faith, only one thing stands really important: The belief that Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, died to atone for our sins. Nothing else really matters. That's the supreme blessing – and the single shining purpose of Easter is to remind us of that.

May there come a day when in Heaven...we can all just dance...!

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