Sunday, May 19, 2013

The End of Suffering

Revelation 21: 4 Observations

Wesley's Notes-- "Under the former heaven, and upon the former earth, there was death and sorrow, crying and pain; all which occasioned many tears: but now pain and sorrow are fled away, and the saints have everlasting life and joy."

What comforts you when you are suffering?  Got a favorite comfort food that you reach for when you’re stressed?  A muffin; that’s my comfort food.  

Eating provides us with some relief from suffering because certain foods have the right combination of salt, sugar, and fat, a combination which triggers the release of hormones that make us feel good . . .  for a few minutes.  To keep feeling good we have to keep eating that combination of salt, sugar, and fat.  And eating.  And eating.  And eating.

The inability of my favorite comfort food to truly provide comfort serves as a reminder that nothing in this world puts an end to suffering.  We can numb ourselves.  Distract ourselves, but the things that bring tears to our eyes remain.

“God will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  That’s how the end of the world is described in the Book of Revelation.  The heavenly Father will comfort the faithful and put a stop to all of the things that bring a tear to their eyes.

The night before he was killed, Jesus promised his disciples that his death would not leave them spiritually orphaned.  Jesus would send a Comforter to them.  The Holy Spirit that fell upon Christians at Pentecost is the fulfillment of that promise.  

The Holy Spirit didn’t end suffering on Earth, however.  Jesus final words to his disciples included the acknowledgment that in this world they would suffer persecution, but they were to take heart because he had overcome the world. 

The next time you are crying, outwardly or inwardly, don’t reach for the food, reach for the Holy Spirit.  This is the form of prayer that helps me reach for the Spirit--
Spirit of Christ (arms raised up above my head), 
Fall on us (arms lowered and then spread wide).  
Spirit of Christ (reach to the right and then to the left), 
Fill me (brings hand to the chest).
I think the Holy Spirit is a comfort because it comes to us with a reminder that death, grief, and pain have an expiration date.  We shouldn’t be satisfied with anything less.  We shouldn’t be content with the numbing effects of food, drink. or drugs.  We shouldn’t settle for the distracting effects of such things as TV, books, or shopping.  Instead of numbing out or dropping out of life, we should seek the One with the power to end suffering.

Monday, May 6, 2013

This is your mind on God

Romans 12: 2--

μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς

Does the second word look familiar?  Here’s the transliteration:  syschēmatizesthe
Looks like schematize, right?

How about the seventh word?  Transliteration:  metamorphousthe
Metamorphosis anyone?

So Paul’s command to the Romans is something along the lines of “Do not be schematized into this age, but be “metamorphosis-ized” by the renewal of the mind.”

ἀνακαινώσει is a lovely noun with connotations of uplifting, refreshing, rejuvenating while νοὸς refers to the mind’s ability to think, reason, and analyze.

This passage of scripture suggests to me that a line of thought can be a means of grace.  God can use our thought process as a channel through which grace can flow.  However, not just any thought process can serve this function.  Some lines of thought simply follow and conform to a worldly order.  

Has an idea or line of argument ever transformed you?  What mental exercises leave you feeling renewed or uplifted?

There was an example of a new thought transforming someone in the Upper Room devotional for Sunday, May 5, 2013