The Language of Heaven
All any of us want in the end, is to be looked in the eyes and recognized as human.
I’m a weak man. Every once in a while it dawns on me how quickly I divert my attention from what I know is my gut is the right way to treat people, and I allow myself to be impressed upon by the attitudes of those around me. I gossip, I condemn, I ignore, I withhold kind words, I get furious when someone cuts me off in traffic. And I become so tired of my own attitude as I freely partake in such things. I can say that I am in a place of rehabilitation enough now that it is unnatural for me to take part in such things. Not by any means that treating people in the right way is my normal state, or that has any sort of consistency in my day-to-day interactions, but there are moments in which I live out that identity as natural, that I know is the true Me. All the rest is the illusion, the Compromise. After a few hours or days I feel dirty, because I know I am letting someone else’s manner affect my own. Which is to say, I’m diverting my gaze from what I know to be the way God has wired me, and am taking up some other way of doing things. Essentially, I am an idolater.
The sad reality is that many times, my attitude in the way I address others comes from a pure thing corrupted, not a fundamentally evil first position. I have a fair grasp on right and wrong. I have a pretty decent understanding of what it takes for us to wake up and seek out intimacy with Father God and Other People. But often, my “right” perspective leads me to act in such a way that I sacrifice compassion and kindness in order to expedite the process of conviction.
Now, conviction is a funny thing. We know it has something to do with seeing the junk in our lives that keeps us back from walking in the identity God gives us. We know it isn’t always a pleasant experience, for it exposes the things in our lives we’d rather not acknowledge. Indeed, conviction is attributed as the first movement of the Holy Spirit, leading into His work of purification. It’s a powerful, tactile, raw happening that becomes the fabric of our rehumanization. But I find oftentimes, especially as one in a place of authority, that my desire to see people change causes in me a shift of tactic birthed out of impatience for the way God works, and I try to take on the mantle of Convictor rather than the role of Lover. My idolatry kicks in as I dish out the same patterns of change-mongering I have received form the people around me, and I react out of my insecurity in who God has called me to be. Essentially, in my desire to be Conviction, a pure and beautiful process, I become Condemnation. Condemnation is a ruined accountability that identifies someone by their weaknesses, their shortcomings, and their sin. Its speaks death over someone while Conviction breathes life. Conviction allows us to see ourselves through the eyes of God, a spectrum if you will, that spans from our darkest secrets to our most beautiful capacities for love. It calls forth the divine identity in each of us and severs the lies that proclaim sinful nature as the totality of our true self.
The reality is that I’m not as good at this as the Holy Spirit. In my genuine attempts to see change, I get impatient, I jump the gun, and I overstep my boundaries. That very thing we are all seeking, the acknowledging and dignifying look in the eye form another, I cannot offer that to my brother. I don’t have the time. Before I know it, every word out of my mouth becomes a watering can for the seed of resentment in my brother’s heart, and I begin to lose the place of influence I once had. His heart becomes hardened to my correction, and, quite possibly, to God. My desire to be right and seek justice has trumped my potential for compassion, and I have killed my brother just a little more. I’m probably one more person in a series of relationships that has discounted the slow working process of redemption by Our Father for some cheap short-cut to change, thus repelling him farther from his real nature as a son of God.
Why is this such a big deal to me? Because I’ve walked this out. I’ve been on both sides. In fact, I still deal with this daily. I let other people around me affect the way I engage with hurt and disappointment and rejection. I became numb to it all, and in turn dealt with some very soft hearts in a numb, cold, hardened way. But part of my story of redemption has been Jesus reclaiming my sensitivity. I’m allowing myself to feel again, to accept the death of the world heaped on us and respond with the gentleness of Christ. He breaks my heart, not into pieces, but open in order to invite others in. In my numbed state I lash back with the same tools by which I was oppressed. But Christ’s sacrifice and the actions of the Spirit have enabled me to drop my defenses and respond in the language of heaven. I’m trying not to accept things for how they are, but speaking in to them as how they SHOULD be and how they WILL be.
I don’t want to speak death over people anymore, I want to be a vehicle for life. I want to be one who creates an environment for the Spirit to do His thing, and I get the hell out of the way. I want to trust that God will do what He says He’s going to do, on His time, and the invitation He offers me is to play a part in extending the kingdom in my thoughts, words, and deeds; where His Spirit has free reign to soften the hearts of His people to the goodness of His character.
Christ redeems what we say, and he redeems how we say it. Soli Deo Gloria.