The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Friday, August 28, 2015

Watch out!

In the concluding words of St. Paul’s first letter to the saints at Corinth, we read these words:

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love” (I Corinthians 16:13-14).

There are many distractions that want to lead us away from our Divine lover. In our current American culture, it can be the barrage of political news or the incessant noise of Madison Avenue trying to create a hunger for a new car or the latest fashion or the ongoing senseless violence that fills our airways. Society’s ceaseless drumbeats can easily distract from the reality that we are spiritual beings having a human experience instead of human beings having an occasional spiritual experience.

The above words as timely in the 21st Century as they were in the First Century.

Watch out! Be on guard! Do not let the news of the day sway your confidence in God Plant your feet in your faith not on the economy or the political fortunes of a politician. Be strong in your convictions. Let love mark your every action.

Ronald Friesen © 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Death, O death?

If you have been at a Christian funeral you may have heard these words at the graveside service:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

The more common rendering of these three lines is this;

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

Christian hope is a living reality for those who follow the way of Jesus. There is more to this life than eating and drinking. Many people of told me the do not believe in any existence after this world. “This is it,” they tell me. 

Yet the belief of some kind of immortal existence permeates every religious belief system. Even belief in reincarnation bears witness to the belief that death is not the end of one’s existence.

Dr. Ernest Becker, a cultural anthropologist, argued that the history of the human race was one long story about human attempts to prove their immortality. He called the story, The Denial of Death.

What difference does it make to believe in an immortal or eternal existence?

1.   We are not simply physical beings consuming the earth’s resources and then dying to add our carcass to the earth to be consumed by the worms. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
2.   We are not animals who fulfilling our human appetites. “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” will not create a culture that cares for the least among its residents. If our human existence depends on productivity and consumption, then we can leave the infirm, the handicapped, the elderly on the street corner to die. Yet, our better natures cry out to demonstrate some compassion to these.
3.   We are called by our spiritual natures to know that our lives are part of a larger spiritual reality, a reality most of us call God. It is inner spiritual reality that cries out for a spiritual home, a place to reside. St. Augustine was right when he said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.” Christian hope believes that followers of Jesus will enter into such full rest at some future date.

Ronald Friesen © 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

By the grace of God....

I am sure you have heard this statement: Except for the grace of God….” Did you know that is from the Bible? It is a form of St. Paul’s words:

But by the grace of God I am what I am” (I Corinthians 15:10)

Most people when they use the expression, by the grace of God, they usually mean that the are not worse than they are. They often have a person in mind when they say these words. They see a drug addict on the corner or a story of the latest shoplifting ring on the television and think, “I could have been that person, except for the grace of God.” The expression has developed such a wide currency in our society that people who don’t profess any Judeo-Christian faith use it to describe themselves in these scenarios.

This common use of the expression is a misunderstanding of what these words, by the grace of God. St. Paul is not talking about how terrible he could have been; he is talking about how terrible he really was. “I was a murderer, a persecutor of the Christians but look at me now! If it wasn’t for the grace of God I would still be murdering Christians.” If you have experienced a transformed live because of your faith in Christ, you can rightfully say, “by the grace of God I am what I am.”

Ronald Friesen © 2015