Light, Revelation

Let Go of the Dang Door!


Remember the opening scene in Twister? When the dad held onto the door of the storm cellar (or was it a root cellar?) and got carried away by a tornado?

“Let go of the door!” I shout whenever I watch that movie. “Let go of the dang door and get down there with your family!”

That scene always exasperates me because that little girl’s dad didn’t have to be swept away. I know it adds to the drama, to the heroine’s motive for chasing storms, but it still makes me mad. Except today. Today it’s coming in kind of handy.

I’ve been pondering how to explain the compatibility of God’s love and wrath to a bunch of high school students. And it occurred to me.

In Revelation 14 it says, ‘Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.’  The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.”

We assume that evil people are being harvested and thrown into the winepress  because  of all the blood.

But what if evil is the only intended harvest?

What if “they”, the grapes = evil, not evil people?

Those who cling to the evil that is being harvested, who refuse to let go of it, end up in the winepress. Like bugs clinging to grapes, they get unintentionally swept up in the harvest. Like dads clinging to storm cellar doors.

I’m liking that possibility. It’s compatible with God’s character. It goes with His aim to save us. It goes with His desire that none should perish. I can see love in His wrath against evil. I can see Him thoroughly rooting it out because evil hurts all of us – those who love Him, and those who don’t.

Plus it goes with what He said back in Genesis 3 – that He was going to crush Satan’s head (like a grape).

faith, Light

Selma, Kinda’

This post isn’t really about Selma, and it’s not really about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  But it occurred to me as I watched the movie the other day, as I watched this scene:

Coretta:  If I ask you a question will you tell me the truth?
Martin:  Yes.
Coretta, mustering courage: You know I’m not a fool. Do you love me?
Martin:  Yes.
Coretta:  Do you love any of the others?
Martin, with a slight gulp: No.

Apparently that scene stood out to my daughter as well.  As we were discussing the movie (which was hard to watch but which I highly recommend) on the way home she asked, “Why are leaders so often cheaters?”

“I don’t know, some women throw themselves at power and perhaps it’s too much to resist.  Perhaps powerful men think they deserve a few perks. It’s too bad the moral character and determination of which Dr. King so eloquently spoke did not extend to his own sexual  conduct.”

I thought of King David as I watched that scene, specifically I thought of God’s words to David, via Nathan:

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.  Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?

And if all this had been too little, David, I would have given you even more. 

That is one of the saddest sentences in the entire Bible.

I wondered if God would have given Dr. King even more.

How many of us have missed out on the more?  How many of us have disqualified ourselves from doing, having, being more because of sexual sin?

Reuben did:

While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. Genesis 35:22

Perhaps Reuben thought it was no big deal, his dad heard about his antics but may not have done anything about them.  Scripture does not record a confrontation, or consequences, until chapter 49:

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honor, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.”  Genesis 49:3-4

And then there’s Esau:

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.  Hebrews 12:16

It’s interesting that Scripture pairs sexual immorality with squandering an inheritance.  I can’t help wonder how many young people, who are squandering their purity, will one day weep bitterly, “Bless me—me too, my Father!”

I’m not saying that God doesn’t redeem and forgive.  I’m just saying that there is a constant tension in my heart and mind between God’s holiness and His compassion.  And I think that tension is supposed to be there.  Holiness is the vertical beam and compassion is the horizontal beam.  Tension and balance hold them in place.

[Duncan], Creative Commons

[Duncan], Creative Commons

Without holiness there is no need for compassion.  Without compassion there is nothing upon which Jesus can outstretch His arms.

I love Christians like Glennon Doyle Melton who encourage us to embrace and enjoy our messy lives.  Who show us that it’s okay to give ourselves a break and accept that our lives are going to be hard and good, that we are going to make mistakes and it’s okay.  Because there is no joy in serving the taskmaster of perfection.

At the same time I cannot ignore the Nazarite vow.

And I cannot ignore Jesus when He said,“When much is given, much is required.” And, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

Or His Father, who said, “Be holy, because I am holy.”

There is a beautiful scene recorded in Revelation chapter 5.  I highly recommend reading the entire amazing chapter.  Here’s a snippet:

But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain….And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

I wonder if this heavenly scene took place just as Jesus was fresh from the cross.  The Lamb, looking as if He had been slain.

“I wept and wept because no one was found worthy.”

There were a whole lot of people who were not mentioned in the Bible.  A WHOLE LOT of God’s people who did nothing to contribute in any notable way to His purposes.  I don’t want to be one of those people.

“Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in His eyes?”

“I would have given you even more.”

Sexual sin diminishes spiritual effectiveness.  It just does.

There is freedom, grace and joy in cutting myself some slack and there is power, effectiveness and close fellowship with God in pursuing personal holiness.  May the tension within me maintain an effective balance.

I don’t know whether this stream of consciousness will make sense to anyone but me, but may we all maintain an effective balance.

Because this dark world needs SO MUCH more.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist