You’re Pathetic … And That’s Okay.

Being sad and vulnerable is generally seen as a negative thing. So much so that me offering to disagree with that assessment is probably looked at askance. I think that’s largely because we have no idea how to comfort people, so we try to bully them out of their pathos: “You look so pathetic.” “It can’t be that bad.” “You don’t need Prozac. You just need Jesus!” So, on top of already feeling like crap, because of being made to feel wrong for feeling like crap, we also experience a nebulous guilt about feeling like crap. But, I offer the hope that, perhaps, being pathetic isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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Martin Luther on Justifying Faith

“Faith does not merely mean that the soul realizes that the divine word is full of all grace, free and holy; it also unites the soul with Christ, as a bride is united with your bridegroom. From such a marriage, as St. Paul says (Eph 5:31-32) it follows that Christ and the soul become one body, so that they hold all things in common, whether for better or worse.

This means that what Christ possesses belongs to the believing soul; and what the soul possesses, belongs to Christ. Thus Christ possesses all good things and holiness; these now belong to the soul. The soul possesses lots of vices and sin; these now belong to Christ. Here we have a happy exchange and struggle.

Christ is God and human being, who has never sinned and whose holiness is unconquerable, eternal, and almighty. So he makes the sin of the believing soul his own through its wedding ring, which is faith, and acts as if he had done it [i.e. sin] himself, so that sin could be swallowed up in him. For his unconquerable righteousness is too strong for all sin, so that is made single and free from all its sins on account of its pledge, that is its faith, and can turn to the eternal righteousness of the bridegroom, Christ. Now is not this a happy business?

Christ, the rich, noble, and holy bridegroom, takes in marriage this poor, contemptible, and sinful little prostitute, takes away all her evil, and bestows all his goodness upon her! It is no longer possible for sin to overwhelm her, for she is now found in Christ and his swallowed up by him, so that she possesses a rich righteousness and her bridegroom.”

(Martin Luther, The Liberty of a Christian; in D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, vol. 7, 25.26-26.9 – cited in The Christian Theology Reader, edited by Alister McGrath, 3rd Edition, 2008, 441-442)

The Immeasurability of Impact

A while back, I had a fun Twitter exchange with three Christian “celebrities” who have between 15,000 and 153,000 followers on Twitter. One of them wrote that we live in a “wonderful world of Jesus-connections” through social media; it’s true! I began to think about their impact through social media, and also the impact they have in their ministries: top-selling authors, 6000+ congregations, even 400k YouTube subscribers. I only have 313 followers on Twitter and 3 subscribers on YouTube. They have thousands.

All four of us are in ministry in various parts of the country. Can you see where I could begin to compare myself and the impact I have versus the impact they have? Continue reading

Bring Your Nothing

I have a pretty basic digital bio: husband, father, friend, pastor, and self proclaimed nerd. But, I often wonder how well I know myself and tend to think that I don’t. Maybe it’s a mid-30’s-life-crisis. Or perhaps it’s a result of living inadvertently under a digital screen where I’m thinking only 140 characters at a time. I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that who I really am is not the tightly worded or perfectly angled person I tend to “display” to the world. If I’m honest, who I think I am–my identity–is usually a victim of the ebbing and flowing, rising and diving, twisting and dodging of the obstacles in my daily path; this makes me usually at war with myself. Who am I really? Most the time I don’t know; who usually wins is the puffed up version of myself: tooting my own horn for others to hear.

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