February 18, 2008

the trinity as a model for human relationships

Relationships are hard. I don't mean relationships as in dating relationships...I mean relationships in general: brother-sister, parent-daughter, boss-employee, friend, etc. The title of Tim Lane and Paul Tripp's book, Relationships - A Mess Worth Making, already captures the essence of relationships to me: very difficult at times, but something you don't want to live without. In the next weeks or months I hope to share various things I learned. Overall, may I just say that I highly recommend this book. I don't know if I'd want to sit under Lane or Tripp's teaching in all areas of Scripture, but this book, which falls in the Biblical counseling arena, was very profitable.

From cover to cover, this book reiterates that
1) sin has caused problems in relationships and
2) the only and wonderful solution to our relational problems is in Christ.
In the authors' words,
"Our aim is that this book will help you look through the shattered glass of our sin to see the glory of a Redeemer who is ever-present, always at work to rescue and change us....We are sinners with the capacity to do great damage to ourselves and our relationships... But we are also God's children, which means that we have great hope and potential...hope that rests in Christ.... our potential is Christ!
In this post I'd just like to make a few brief comments about the Trinity as a model for human unity in relationships. I don't know if I'd ever thought of it in that way, but there are some powerful implications. I love how this shows how important our theology is. I think that many Christians would think that a topic like the Trinity has no real implications in daily living. But it does!
Consider the following points:
  • Christ prays that believers will be one has God is one: their relationship is a model. (John 17:20-26)
  • God is the only properly functioning community in the universe. The Trinity is the only adequate model for human community. Our relationships are marred by sin. God is a model of a loving, cooperative, unified community where diversity is an asset and not a liability.
  • The perfect eternal love relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit was ripped apart to allow us to be reconciled to the Lord and to other people. Community for us came at the cost of temporarily broken community for the Godhead.
We were made by a community-oriented God and made to live in relationships (vertical and horizontal). The rubber of knowing God hits the road...
"Because the Christian God is not a lonely God, but rather a communion of three persons, faith leads human beings into othe divine communio. One cannot, however, have a self-enclosed communion with the Triune God.... Communion with this God is at once also communion with those others who have entrusted themselves in faith to the same God." (Miroslav Volf, p20)

February 11, 2008

integrity

I don't know how many times I've read these verses, but I'm impressed all over again:
At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God." (Daniel 6:4-5)
What a tremendous thing, for an employees only "fault" to be his or her unswerving devotion to the Lord. These verses were used today in a message about integrity and I was convicted again that I have not given 100% at my job. (Isn't it so easy to give 95% or so, compare yourself to the other employees and think you're doing a good job?)

Recently I was talking with a Christian girl that I had just met. In the course of our conversation, she told me that she was lying to her boss about something. I was taken aback to hear her so frankly admit that she was lying. She didn't even try to justify herself before me. I didn't want to come across as harsh on our first meeting, but I thought If Christians don't tell the truth to their employers, who does? How are we any different than the world? But I am sure that there are areas where the Lord is appalled at my lack of trust in Him. Do I not believe that if I seek to walk uprightly, He will take care of me?

I was encouraged last summer when my friend told me that she was quitting her job because her employer required that she be dishonest. "They think I'm crazy to quit because I don't want to lie. The pay is good." Good jobs can be really hard to come by in Brazil. Quitting her job also meant that she might have to postpone her wedding. But she set the Lord before the promise a steady paycheque. And I didn't have to change the date on her wedding invitation.

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. (Proverbs 11:3)

I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

May our integrity be seen beyond our workplaces and in our whole lives.
Wholeness,
consistency,
reliability,
trustworthiness,
honesty,
openness...may these things mark our lives.

I will walk in my house with blameless heart. (Psalm 101:2)

February 02, 2008

i didn't know i lived in a freezer

I don't listen to the radio much, but last Sunday morning I had it on as I was getting ready for church. A CBC radio announcer voiced a bleak outlook for the week: terrible weather in every corner of our province. I turned off the radio. I'd almost rather live in ignorance of the minus-43C-with-windchill weather conditions. After morning church, my brother and I received about eight offers of rides home. That may be a new record. There's nothing quite like a blizzard to bring those invitations on! By Sunday evening I had already had enough of the arctic wind. But it wasn't done with us yet....

Monday morning I put on my thickest mitts and headed to my bus stop. The bus was late, making me miss my connection and arrive at work about 25 or 30 minutes later than usual. My boss didn't seem to mind, maybe he even enjoyed having a report from one of the underlings of society about how the bus system was faring the weather. When I went to my bus stop that evening, it was gone. It had turned into a small hill with the incline of a black diamond ski slope, and my options were either to stand on the street or to hop up to the ledge someone had made in the snow heap. I opted for the ledge.

On Tuesday I went to the bus stop 15 minutes early, hoping that I would get to work on time. Instead, I just stood at the bus stop for 20 minutes, and got the same bus as usual. My daily bus stop companion, Woman-Man,* usually paces while he waits for the bus. Tuesday found me pacing too. I was dreaming about hot chocolate, and how they should give it out for free at bus stops on cold days. I don't think I'd ever been so glad to see my bus when it arrived.

A few minutes later, at the terminal, a man poked his head into the shelter and asked if anyone wanted free hot chocolate or coffee, compliments of his radio station. It is a little hard to hold a lidless cup of hot chocolate when you're wearing the puffiest mitts you own, but I sure wasn't complaining. A black lady on my second bus was wearing white socks on her hands. I could hardly believe it--my hands weren't even warm in my puffy mitts. I arrived at work only to have the owner of the print shop open the door for me as I arrived. "She looks pretty chipper for having been riding the bus in this weather," said one of the front office staff. By "pretty chipper," did she mean that my mascara had blotched around my eyes, because of the moisture? Because it had, and I looked somewhat like a cold raccoon.

I arrived home that night to find the walks shoveled. Well, most of them. Moko said he did it in two shifts. I said thank you.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were no-mascara days. (It would save me about $5 a year if I just got used to this and never wore mascara.) I got to work in better time. And at night I mostly stayed inside. My grown-up little brother headed out the door one night with the parting words "If my ears get cold I can just put up my hood." I told him, more than casually, that I had worn "only my hood" home from the bus stop and that my ears were very sore by the time I got to our house, which is only two blocks from the bus stop. Maybe his ears were already partially frozen, because he still didn't take a touque, even after I said that.

Have you ever met one of those people who just isn't very socially understanding or considerate? Unfortunately, I think bus drivers meet those people all the time. A few of those people were on my bus tonight. One was conversing with the bus driver, who told him that she was under a lot of stress with the bad weather and the traffic. He understood. Or he said he did, and then he talked to her much of the rest of the trip. At the next main stop, a man got on and swore at the bus driver for leaving people standing in the cold. What, does he think that she stopped for a spa treatment between terminals? What a horrible way to treat an already-stressed driver.

Last night a friend told me that he is sorry that I have to ride the bus. But I'm sorry that he doesn't get a free reminder of God's grace in his life every morning when he hears the conversations of single, working moms on the bus. I'm sorry he doesn't ever have the chance to sit next to the overweight guy in a down jacket that smells like smoke, to learn gratitude for the Lord's little kindnesses. I'm sorry the Lord didn't drop a cup of free hot chocolate into his mitten and that he doesn't get to see the Lord's goodness in the on-time buses. I'm sorry he didn't get to read Relationships: A Mess Worth Making and let the driver worry about the traffic and the weather. I'm OK with riding the bus. Now could it warm up, please?

*He wears fitted pants and carries a purse-like bag. When his hood is up, it is hard to tell from the back if he is a woman or a man.