Every election cycle (which is pretty much endless these days) I hear the argument that we citizens should be grateful for whoever is put into political office but the outcome of election’s is “God’s will”. Then, when their guy loses, some of those people get tied up in knots because either they don’t really believe what they’re preaching or God didn’t choose their candidate and that’s just unacceptable. How DARE God not choose the politician who most uses his name to make money and get votes and control people’s personal lives? Harumph!
Now that we have 45 in the White House I’ve heard it again, but less this time (probably because I’ve allowed some people to leave my life and others to enter). But, in all honesty, I can actually see it. Oh, not because 45 will do God’s will in, well, anything ever but because our great citizens have been complacent for long enough!
We’ve allowed the government full reign over everything! Improvements were happening slowly. We’d made progress on protecting the environment and on human rights. Women’s concerns were being taken almost seriously. Corporations were learning they had to act right by their consumers AND employees! But it was slow and there were those fighting every step of the way to resume a way of destruction.
So now we have 45. Donald J. Trump. Stephen Bannon. Rex Tillerson. A whole slew of the worst filth humanity has to offer in charge of our nation and reversing every human rights and environmental gain that’s been made in the last, well, ever. How can this possibly be God’s will?
Well, look outside the government. Look to the people. We’re waking up! We the People are getting involved! In our communities, our local governments, our environment. Every time 45 announces another human right or government program he wants to eliminate, the people move en masse to prevent disaster. We have NEVER seen this kind of involvement! Eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood? They take in a year’s worth of donations in one weekend. Eliminate funding to women’s health care providers in underdeveloped nations? Donations skyrocket there, too. Lock up American citizens and permanent residents and green card holders because of where their plane flew in from? Watch as people storm the airports to free those wrongfully held! Lawyers donated their services to help release people!
We can’t even keep up with all of the harmful, hateful garbage this administration is getting past us! It’s too much too quickly! Their only chance is to keep us dizzy and distracted, and they are good at that. But there are enough of us ready to fight back that we can mitigate a lot of the harm.
So maybe that is God’s will. Get everyone awake and active and participating in our local communities and helping all who come our way. It’s a shame it took something so destructive to wake us up but we’re here now. And we’ll do everything we can to stop this group from destroying the only world we have.
For years I’ve heard people talking about how the Bible is meant to be taken literally. These people almost invariably point out certain laws in Leviticus. Never the laws that affect them personally, though. Shellfish and pork are fine. It’s also okay to eat meat on Friday. Divorce is quite acceptable, slavery is illegal, and it’s nearly impossible to get all of your clothes made of a single fabric. Almost everything is mixed fibers!
However, the laws that allow people to dictate how others live — those are literal! Homosexuals are bad! Witches are evil! Stone him! Burn her! Kill them all! Those are horrible laws. Why would anyone want to keep laws like these alive?
Leviticus is part of the history of the Israelites. These laws may have served a functional purpose at the time. But they hardly seem relevant to a supposed Christian society 5000-6000 years after the fact.
In fact, if we do want to call ourselves a Christian nation, maybe we should consider taking the teachings of Christ literally instead. How about the Gospel according to Matthew?
In Matthew, Jesus performed many miracles. He healed the sick, caused the blind to see and the deaf to hear, and began raising people from the dead. Twice he fed thousands from a very small amount of food!
He also laid down many laws. Do not be angry, do not swear an oath, do not resist an evil person. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. He strictly forbade divorce and has stern words for hypocrites. Anyone who announces their gifts to the needy, prays in public, or would “disfigure their face to show others they are fasting” will get no reward from God. They put on a show to receive applause from others. They have received their reward and deserve no more.
The concept that Jesus talks about the most in Matthew is faith. Matthew 17:20 Truly I tell you, if you have faith so small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 21:21-22 Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
He also repeatedly accuses his disciples and other followers of having little faith. In Matthew 8:23-27 they were in a boat when a storm began to rock the boat. Being afraid they were going to drown, they awoke Jesus to save them. Matthew 8:26 He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
An even more interesting story is in Matthew 16:21-33. Here Jesus sends his disciples ahead in a boat. When he was ready to catch up to them the next morning, he simply walked across the water to the boat! The disciples freaked out but Jesus called Peter to walk with him. He was able to for a moment but began to sink when he got scared. “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?'”
In Matthew 17:20 Jesus referred to “faith so small as a mustard seed”. Why a mustard seed? What’s the significance of mustard seeds? Matthew 13:31-32 The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of the seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.
So the mustard seed is the smallest seed yet it has the greatest potential. How does a seed reach this potential?
Matthew 12:3-9 A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Still other fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.
It sounds pretty straight forward. We must sow our mustard seed of faith in good soil in order to produce a crop. OK, easier said than done. In Matthew 5 and 6 Jesus gives a list of rules to live rightly. Most of these rules regard relationships with other people – don’t hold on to anger (5:22), do not swear an oath at all (5:34-37), do not resist an evil person (5:39-42), love your enemies (5:43-47), and “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (6:34)
I believe this last verse is most significant because in Matthew 10 he gives his disciples the ability to heal and cast out demons then sends them out to spread the ministry but to take nothing with them. He instructs them to look for hospitality in the various towns they visit. Here they get to put Matthew 6:34 into practice! Is this the soil in which we must plant our mustard seed of faith? Not worrying for tomorrow but knowing tomorrow’s needs will be met? Again, easier said than done!
What will happen if our seed is sown in this soil? Matthew 17:20 Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ Matthew 21:21-22 Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to this fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain ‘Go throw yourself in the sea’, and it will be done. If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
Trees withered! Mountains moved! Prayers answered! That is quite a statement but Jesus makes it twice in Matthew so it is possible. Jesus said, “Nothing will be impossible for you.” NOTHING!
So why don’t we have a nation of people walking on water or quelling storms or withering trees or even healing the sick or feeding thousands? Is it so difficult to plant our faith seed in the Words of Jesus so that it can become a tree with birds perched in its branches? We must practice living the words of love and faith spoken by Jesus so that we can ask in prayer without doubt.
I guess this explains why modern Christians prefer to take the harsh words of Leviticus literally rather than the words of hope and love spoken by Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew. It’s easier to condemn our neighbor “because God said so” than to have faith in our own ability to perform miracles, even though Jesus taught us the possibility.
There once was a beam of sunlight named Little Rey.
Little Rey was smaller than most of the beams around her but she shone the brightest of them all.
She was so small that she never touched very many lives at one time but she was so bright that every life she touched was affected by her.
Some of these lives grew and bloomed and thrived because her light nourished them.
Others shriveled and shrank back into the shadows because her light overwhelmed them.
Whether a life grew or shriveled was not Little Rey’s fault. It was merely a chemical reaction.
But every tine someone pulled away she wondered what she’d done wrong.
The truth is she had done nothing wrong. It just was.
And when a life grew and thrived she celebrated for them but never saw her own light as part of it.
Then one day she found a little weed. He had been stepped on and kicked and hadn’t seen any light in all his life.
Little Rey plucked the little weed from the cold ground and planted him in a little pot.
She nurtured him with her light and watered him with her love. She strengthened his stem from where he had been stepped on.
Soon the little weed had outgrown his little pot so Little Rey planted him in her garden.
He continued to grow and grow and soon was the biggest tree to have ever existed! All because Little Rey, the smallest of the lights, loved and nurtured him.
As it happens, this tree began to bear fruit. Every kind of fruit known, plus a few unknown, grew on this tree. When asked what kind of tree he was, Little Rey just said he was an Every Fruit Tree.
Now this tree loved Little Rey with every bit of love she had always shown him. He inhaled pollution and exhaled vital oxygen. He produced enough fruit to feed hundreds, if not thousands, every day.
The Every Fruit Tree knew he would continue to grow and could continue his mission of producing fruit for all only as long as Little Rey shone on him and watered him with her Love.
He focused very hard on his love and gratitude for Little Rey until a special golden fruit grew on one of his upper branches.
“Little Rey,” he called out, “I have something for you. You found me as a broken, ugly weed and nurtured me when noone else could. I love you and am so grateful. I would never have grown and been able to provide for everyone if not for your Love. I grew this special golden fruit to say thank you and I love you, too.”
Little Rey picked the golden fruit. She looked at its skin and turned it over in her hands. She held it up to her nose and inhaled deeply. It was the sweetest scent she’d ever smelled!
“Go ahead. Taste it!” encouraged the Tree.
She bit into the fruit and her mouth was awash in an explosion of flavors! It was apples and strawberries, kiwi and bananas, oranges and grapes all at once!
“Finish it,” her friend instructed.
Every bite was a new riot of flavors!
“It’s incredible!” she told him. “What is it?”
“It’s an Every Dream Fruit,” he replied. “It’s everything you’ve ever desired. From now on you will have everything your heart desires. Anything you wish, so long as the wish comes from your heart, will be yours. If you want enough money to buy a home for yourself and a hundred other people, it’s yours. If you want the opportunity to shine your Light on more and more people, you’ll get it. If you want a lover, please let that be me because I love you above all.”
“Oh, Tree,” Little Rey sobbed, overjoyed to know he loved her as she had always loved him. “There could never be anyone else!”
“Then, come,” he said, “Let’s build your houses that you may be comfortable and help as many people as you choose.”
And they worked together, his love making her glow brighter and hers making him grow taller and bear more fruit.
The two of them worked together to house the homeless and feed the hungry, to love the unloved and welcome the unwanted, and they made it their goal that all who crossed their path would be enriched for it.
Ah, the beginning of a new year! So full of hope and renewal. Big plans to change lives, change the world! OK, hands up if you’ve decided this is the year you’ll exercise regularly or start running or begin a new diet or go to church weekly or “be a better you” in some other way.
Yeah, they all start off that way, don’t they? We start off with all this enthusiasm and we’re so gung-ho. But by March all the beginning enthusiasm has worn off and we’re back in the same old routines, probably disappointed in ourselves for failing when we’d set ourselves up for failure in the first place.
So what can we do instead? How can we make ourselves and our world better in 2017? Certainly not by trying to do it all up front. No, it needs to be a more gradual process to succeed. Baby steps! And we must be forgiving of ourselves when we don’t make a goal or a new routine doesn’t stick after the first month.
It’s true that we often don’t push ourselves hard enough and don’t reach our potential in any given area because of it. It’s also true that sometimes we push ourselves too hard and sabotage our efforts that way. I know I’m guilty of both!
Face it, you aren’t going to go to the gym every day. Probably not even 3 days a week every week for the whole year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise several times a week. Go for a walk. Do a 20-30 minutes workout video or follow along with an exercise sheet easily printed from various websites. I’ve seen some designed to be done at a desk! You also won’t follow a strict diet of severely restricting what and how much you can eat, either. But you can find a healthy eating program to help you make balanced choices and eat more whole foods instead of sugary treats.
How will I be a “new me” this year, I guess is a question. Well, certainly not by making any Earth shattering resolutions and failing by mid-February. No, that won’t do at all. That’s just “me” not a “new me” 😛 I’d rather continue studying to learn more about networking and computer repair until I finally get a job and then continue on from there. I’ll also continue meditating and reading daily (or almost daily, anyway) to grow both spiritually and as a person. I’ll try to do a better job to help those in need and to recognize when someone doesn’t need or want or can’t accept anything I have to offer. I could also do a better job of accepting help when I’m the one in need.
So how about it? Do you have big plans for the new year? How do you intend to make it work long-term? Can you be forgiving of yourself if you stumble along the way? Remember, dear. You’re only human. You will make mistakes. You will run low on steam to keep up a big project. You will probably even find yourself forgetting because it’s not part of your pre-set routine. Love yourself because of this, not in spite of it. It’s okay, really. You are going to be great and do great things! Even if it’s not what you planned 🙂