Hope Divided

Watch this video clip of Francis Chan speaking at a youth conference I attended this past summer:

We looked at this video a few weeks ago at youth group.  We did the Lemonade and Mocha illustration for the students.  It was powerful.  Students were moved.  But as students processed the illustration and text Francis Chan quotes, many felt as though they no longer measured up, they weren't good enough, and they certainly had too much Mocha in their life.  Self-examination, it turns out, isn't always fun.

Psalm 139:23-24 reads:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Is this prayer of David supposed to be negative?  Is David praying these words because he feels as though he isn't good enough or doesn't deserve to be heard?  I have to wonder whether David isn't instead praying a very real, introspective prayer trusting that the God who hears him can change him, forgive him, and make him new.  I have to believe - to HOPE - that the God to whom David prays is the same God who, when he considered the sins of the world, my sin, your sin, sent his Son to make us new and make a path for everlasting life.

Why do we always view correction, rebuke, and purification as a negative thing?  Last week we spoke to the students on a powerful text from James 4:7-10 (New Living Translation), another text that in a cursory read appears "negative," which says,
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
The text says that when we humble ourselves, when we allow God to "search our hearts and point out anything that offends him," we can be cleansed.  When we come close to God, he comes close to us. When we are honest with God and confess that our loyalty is divided, our hopes are divided, God comes closer to us.  God doesn't flee from our impurities; instead, he comes nearer when we are brave enough to come clean, wash our hands, and purify our hearts.  When we express our grief for what we've done; when we allow God to search our hearts and examine our thoughts; when we humble ourselves before the Lord, he lifts us up in honor.

How is your "loyalty divided"?   Where are the areas of your life, of our lives as a community of Christ followers, in which we need to allow God to search and point out that which offends?  Will we trust that when we are honest, when we are humble, and when we come near to God, he comes near to us, purifies us, makes us new, and lifts us up in honor?

1 comment:

listerenespray said...

Great insights, thanks buddy!
I think a ton of this really comes down to not only trusting God to embrace us in our sinful, broken state, but also trusting the Church to do the same.