Friday, March 14, 2008

Freedom From the Land of Make-Believe

When I was a child, one of my favorite pastimes was playing "make-believe." With my imagination, I could transport myself into historical or futuristic times. I could become anyone or anything, ranging from king of the realm to a crewmember on a spaceship. One of my favorite “make-believes” was to pretend to be the husband and father of a family. I had many enjoyable meals and family adventures with “Mrs. Beautiful Galusha-Luna,” and our two children, “David” and “Shaye.” As an adult looking back on those times of imagination and child-like wonder, it amazes me that I would assume these roles and responsibilities without fully understanding what they meant. Ironically, even as a twenty-two year old, I still play a kind of “make-believe” game called “labeling,” or as my professors call it, "stereotyping." In four years of college, my professors have said that stereotyping is a bad thing and to avoid it at all costs. Nevertheless, these same people are the ones who insist that there is no such thing as “absolute truth” and that those who hold onto convictions are “dogmatic” and “evil.”

I disagree with these statements, and yet it troubles me that I have grown comfortable passing judgment on certain kinds of people and certain parts of culture without knowing all there is to know about them.

A few weeks ago, a young man in my small group and I were discussing the heated presidential race running across our country. When asked what he thinks about Hillary, he enthusiastically stated that he "personally guarantees" that she is a homosexual. I agree that from an image-standpoint, Hillary Clinton bears little resemblance to the “June Cleaver” image of women from years past. However, hearing someone make such a bold statement causes me to stand back and examine my own heart in the many judgments I make on a daily basis. I think that all the women that I encounter who dress immodestly are non-Christians who are eager to jump in bed; I see mothers scolding their children at the supermarket as improper parents; youths wearing all black are suicidal in their thoughts, and so on. At various points in my life, I have passed judgment on genres of music: "I don’t like contemporary Christian music because it’s nothing but love songs to Jesus," or "all country music is about is ‘Your dog died, your truck is old and your woman left you for your friend.’"

The bad news is that this game of make-believe and stereotyping is not unique to the world [or “to the non-believer”]. We in the church are also guilty of such a mindset. In the name of Christ, there are those who wear signs and scream "God hates fags" or write books promoting self-esteem without speaking of the One who lived, died, and rose again for our sins. I would be a hypocrite if I said that I am free from this game, and I must examine my own heart before passing judgment on others. For sin is still found in the lives of men and women.

However, with all bad news there is good news as well. I take great comfort in the fact that my identity is no longer wrapped up and found in my sins. I think this is what Paul was addressing when he said, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). It is freeing to know that the righteousness in me is from above and not my own, but comes from Jesus' sacrifice upon the cross for my sins. This is a tale I must remind my own heart before thinking too lowly or highly of my fellow men, because everything on this world revolves around the tale of Jesus dying for sinners. I may carry several labels in my tenure on this earth: “student,” “son,” “husband,” “father,” “employee,” etc., but when everything is stripped away and I stand before the Holy Judge of everything, what will remain? Nothing except Christ. That is the only label I am comfortable with. As it says in the Heidelberg Catechism's first question:

Question: What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.


Jonathon Edwards Sawyer said...

Well done, friend. Great thoughts on something that, I am sure, is common to man.. i.e., passing quick judgments. Everyone does it, but few there are that admit it. Thanks for writing this. It was well written, and a nice interlude in my day.



Jacob said...

Good job!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Paz!! That was really good and really got me thinking :-)

Anonymous said...

hey great article, has anyone ever mentioned you have an avid imagination :-)

Unknown said...

Bravo Paz, good job.