Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jesus Wept

image Now I think I better understand the poignancy of these two small words buried deep in John 11.

As you are aware, Jesus wept when he arrived at the home of his dear friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus had been dead for three days and Mary and Martha had been hit hard by this untimely and even preventable tragedy. Upon seeing the pain this death had caused His friends and perhaps struggling to understand His own emotions, Jesus wept.

But why?

More than anyone, Jesus knew the Plan of Salvation. He knew where Lazarus was. Jesus knew that Lazarus’ pain was over. Lazarus had fought a good fight and finished the race. Christ was aware that death is merely a passage way each of us will take in our journey back to that God who gave us life.

Yet, He wept. Despite all that He knew and despite who He was, Jesus wept.


Biblical scholars all have their insights into this seemingly strange reaction. But having just gone through the death of a dear friend, I think I have an explanation -- at least one that suits my current needs.

I am on firm doctrinal ground when I state that Christ, as a mortal, had to experience the full onslaught of the human experience in order to qualify to be our advocate to the Father. Yes, the preponderance of this suffering could only come through His atoning experience, that much is for sure. But a critical part of His ability to heal our pain and dry our tears comes from what He experienced during His own life.

image I am convinced that Jesus wept because this may have been the first time He experienced death so closely. He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. He told his apostles this well before they arrived. But the theory of death is always much simpler to understand that the reality of death.

I feel Jesus wept because of His great love for Lazarus. Add to this the deep mourning of  Mary and Martha whom He loved as well. He wept because He grieved the untimely death of a good friend. He wept because the death of a loved one is hard.

image But, there is hope even amidst the pain. For Christ, during this same experience stated the only words that can bring peace to a grieving soul:

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

Our family will miss our dear friend Dorothy Gillespie. We will grieve. We will weep. But we have hope that though she is dead, yet shall she live.

I thank each of you for your words of support and prayers during this difficult time.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Trojan Horses

image Growing up, one of my all-time favorite stories from Greek mythology was the tale of the Trojan Horse. As you may recall, Greece was in a lengthy 10 year war with Troy. The Greeks had besieged the city of Troy but the war drug on with no end in sight.

In a bold act of desperation, the Greek army constructed a beautiful wooden horse to offer the people of Troy as a gift of the city’s bravery and tenacity in their ability to hold out against the seemingly overpowering military

After completing the horse, the Greek invaders wheeled it up to the city gate, marched down to the sea,  boarded their ships, and the entire army sailed back home. Or so it seemed. Little did the people of Troy know that hidden within this wonderful “gift” was a number of Greek soldiers.

The people of Troy celebrated their hard fought victory -- a celebration that likely included wine flowing freely late into the night. Unconcerned about an entirely inebriated populous, the people partied until all were in a deep, drunken sleep.

image In the cover of darkness, the men inside the horse crept out and opened all the city gates to the Greek army that had secretly returned. In a matter of minutes, the magnificent city of Troy fell to the invading army – a city that defiantly withstood that same army for years.

While it is disputed if these events ever really happened, story teaches us some important lessons. Throughout our lives we will all face a myriad of personal Trojan Horses. By that I mean we will be tempted to let down our guard to something that seems so innocent only to become easy prey to forces that wish to destroy us. Let me enumerate a few such personal Trojan Horses.

image Honesty is a virtue we all wish to possess but it can be misused. I am convinced that honesty devoid of kindness is nothing more the rudeness hidden inside a Trojan Horse. We must be ever vigilant in how we say things to others because words really do count. James called the tongue “a little member that boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth” (James 3:5).

Sensitivity is a better companion to honesty. We must refrain from using honesty as a weapon. This is especially true with your roommates and friends. To be honest without sensitivity is, in my opinion, a sign of immaturity. It may have worked in High School, but it does not bode well in the adult world.

image Another Trojan Horse is the incessant need to be right. Yes, this is a paradox. We are taught to be right in all that we do. I am not talking about doing right. Rather, I am talking about setting ourselves apart as the fountain of all knowledge. When our opinions or our practices become absolute in our minds, our only course of action is to diminish those who think differently. This is not a Christ-like attribute. Tolerance must replace our desire to prove to the world the we are right.

image Being too casual among others is one of the tricky Trojan Horses. We live a very casual society. But being casual too easily leads to gross and indecent behavior. Conversations about body functions, body parts, and bodily fluids, will initially be funny but do little to bring one closer to Christ. Yes, like a Trojan Horse, such juvenile behavior seems innocent on the outside, but inside the deception of casualness is a festering pool of disrespect and lewdness that we need not entertain.

image A final Trojan Horse I wish to comment on is that of physical intimacy. In a developing relationship, physical intimacy has its place. (Yes, I struggle to say that.) When properly used it can create a bond between a couple and provide clarity in a relationship. However, when used as a form of conquest, meaning such expressions are merely a tool to satisfy a selfish desire or to boast of one’s own powers, you cheapen the experience.

I am convinced that God is not pleased when we become casual with the tender feelings of others. The prophet Jacob warned the Nephites to respect the tender feelings of others. I feel a cavalier attitude toward physical intimacy is nothing more the a Trojan Horse that will lead to hurt and confusion.

These are just a sampling of potential personal Trojan Horses. As always, I am open to a vigorous and lively debate.