It’s a cloudy autumn day, and we here at the house of Toni feel that it’s important to spoil the hell out of sick children. And that is why, when you walk up to our front door, you’ll hear the sound of gunfire and the cackling of a certain 3-year-old boy–a 3 year-old boy who’s been bent on going to the Dollar Store each. and every. day. since Caleb took him there one afternoon in a fit of fatherly love and pity.
“Yes, Merrick. I’ll take you to the Dollar Store and we’ll pick out a toy. A car. A motorcycle. Whatever you want.” And so now Merrick is obsessed with going “shopping with Dad.” This past week he’s had his heart set on some “soldier toy”. I had no idea what in the world he was talking about, so I did what any caring mother would do: I ignored him and told him he had tons of toys to play with and there was no way I was taking him to any Dollar Store and dropping money on fall-apart junk toys for no reason. But Caleb, being a sucker for kids with fevers, took Merrick on yet another man-outing and came back with said “soldier toy”: a gun set. Yay.
And so for the past couple days, Merrick has been bustin’ a cap in Noah’s head every 2 seconds, and the poor dog is about to lose his mind. I can see his face twitch and his body shrink everytime he gets shot. It’s like I can hear his thoughts: “Oh my God oh my God oh my God.” His life flashes before his eyes. But since Noah has wronged me one too many times, I will let the torture continue…for a little bit longer.
And this is now completely off the subject–or maybe, it’s right on the subject and all the other stuff was off–whatever. Who cares? Not me. But as I was trying to read my Bible today, in my early-morning stupor, I stumbled upon this passage:
2 Corinthians, chapter 2, verses 14-16: (14) But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ, and spreads through us in every place the scent of knowing Him. (15) For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. (16) To some we are a scent of death leading to death, but to others, a scent of life leading to life. And who is competent for this?
And, ok, I’m no theologian and I’m not even a deep thinker, but I let these words sink in. If I read that right, people who follow Jesus Christ are supposed to smell like Him. If I get past the hilarity of just that thought alone, I’ll realize that we’re supposed to ooze Jesus wherever we go–just spread Him all around. And God sees it from up there where He’s at. When we’re acting and thinking with the attitude of Christ, God’s happy because we’re doing exactly what we need to be doing. Here’s the 2nd part though: people on earth sense it, too, and they’ll take it one of two ways: as a scent of death leading to death, or as a scent of life leading to life. Seems pretty cut and dry, right? Some people will not take what we believe as good or even as acceptable. They’ll feel convicted, and threatened, and ultimately repelled. It’s just going to happen. But this passage ends on a good note: “…but to others, a scent of life leading to life.” God will use us to reach some people. That’s happy stuff right there. The situation isn’t hopeless, because there are those who will hear the message and be receptive to it.
I’ve been hearing/seeing/reading a lot lately about loving others and helping others and not judging others and reaching out to others–reaching out with the “good news of Salvation through Jesus Christ.” Even as I write it, it sounds hokey and crazy-Christian. The whole thing is still weird to me–I don’t know if it’s my Catholic upbringing or just my upbringing in general–but I wasn’t raised to talk about my spiritual well-being to anyone and everyone. And I certainly wasn’t taught to ask other people about theirs–because it was special and private. And it still is.
Evangelism plays an important part in the church I’ve been going to for the past 2 years, and I can’t say that I’m totally comfortable with it–not because I feel that it’s in anyway wrong, but probably more so because I’m scared of offending someone and getting yelled at by the someone I offended. “Do you know where you’re going when you die? Heaven? Is that right? Well, here are some reason why I think your assumptions are totally off-base. Mind if I change your name to ‘Satan-spawn’?” Perhaps that’s not the best way to approach the conversation.
Anyway, here’s the deal: it’s in the Bible that Jesus wanted folks to tell everyone about Him. When so-and-so hands you a pamphlet or leads your innocent chit-chat in a spiritually-intense direction, I hope they’re doing it out of obedience to God, and out of love for you. We are all pretty much morally-depraved sinning fools–but we don’t have to be stuck in that vicious cycle, and we don’t have to strive to be perfect in order to make up for it. Jesus did the work and He paid the price–and that’s what “the good news” is really all about. I might still have trouble verbalizing it, but I can darn sure write about it.
The entire Bible is full of direction and encouragement straight from God; I tend to think maybe He had a reason for putting certain things in there. But you can follow each and every rule down to the tiniest detail and still not be doing God any favors. Without faith, without that heart-felt belief, without that relationship, without that genuine love for God and without the sense that we desperately need His mercy and salvation–what are we doing? Why are we even trying? We’ll live “good” lives, but without God, it’s all for nothing. Without God, we came from pondscum and turned into monkeys, and the whole world exists for no reason whatsoever and if that’s the case than I can be a murderous whore-monger without consequense because I answer to no one but my damn self.
That’s crazy talk. Of course there’s a God, and He loves us. And since He created the entire universe, that makes us humans ridiculously measly in comparison. Our “good works” could be considered laughable in the grand scheme of things. God offers salvation through his son Jesus Christ–even though we are so unworthy.
Tying back into 2 Corinthians, people will hear that message and either reject it or embrace it. My job as a Christian is to not go into hysterics when someone disagrees with all or even part of it. I would love for God to use me to reach people. Maybe God will use me to start the fire, another person to fan the fire, and yet another person to further feed the fire. I will not take it as a personal insult when I get no response. Jesus does the saving, not me. I am so thankful that God is loving and caring and forgiving and Holy. He knows who is ready for what–He has plans that are far beyond our comprehension.
And because I could go on and on, and because I’m not exactly sure how to wrap this up, I’ll end with thanking God for taking the burden of sin away. I am so thankful for a God that is powerful and amazing enough to create the world, and everything in it–yet He knows lowly little me, personally, and he knows everything about me, and He pursues me, and that He still loves me despite everything I’ve done or thought in my life. What kind of crazy mess is that?
It’s an awesome crazy mess. Thank you, God.