livid, adj.

Furiously angry

blue with rage?

also defined pale with rage.

Livid because of the Careless.

Careless are Tom Buchanan, Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker and the like; so wrapped up in themselves but lavishing the cheap love of a millionaire donating in pennies.

Careless because you smile; not a care in the world.

Even when Tom takes Myrtle as a mistress. Daisy smiles. “Nick. You remind me of a rose, an absolute rose!”

In a careless society, the great Jay Gatsby met his death.

The careless society that shoved everything messy under the rug, smiled, and glittered, leading a glamorous life.

The Roaring Twenties.

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Hubris

[I like how that word hubris feels when I say it. There’s a book about Hitler thus titled, as I recall from high school.]

Hitler 1889 – 1936: Hubris (by Ian Kershaw)

Anyways, the thought that inspired this post was: You cannot thwart God.

Thinking that you could ever ruin his plans by anything you could do is utter hubris. Isn’t that an amazing thought? Hold it for a sec.

[While we’re at it, I also like how ‘thwart’ feels when I say it.]

Entitlement

Thinking about a sermon I heard about a year ago about community. (yea, long time) God grants us the gift of fellowship in a community that can bring us encouragement, belonging, love, understanding… I would imagine it is a distant shadow of what the Trinity of Father Son and Holy Spirit are. However, we are not guaranteed the same gang always-and-ever. Sometimes you have to say goodbye, and bring what you have been given to share with another community; yet the act of fellowship – this you can always have.

Today, I was thinking about how we can get bitter about feeling left out. (I can, sometimes… but some people are probably sweet unassuming lambs who might feel hurt but not bitter.) What causes the bitterness? Well, I would say it is our belief that we are entitled to being included. Hence when we are not included, then we will perceive that an injustice has been done!

Sometimes we may feel entitled to being blessed by God. Entitled to success in some way. Entitled to know what direction we should take in life rightnowplease. Entitled to knowing why Jesus is the only way. Entitled to being saved by God. Entitled to freedom from God’s will. Entitled to see that what we thinkandreason to be ‘good’ is what is going to happen. The list goes on.

Such an attitude of entitlement, of assuming we have a right to things, is proud at its roots, and a rejection of grace. Grace is the unmerited unentitled favour of God. I am not included in God’s love because of me – whatever my qualities are and however great they may be. It is encapsulated well in this verse: (it manages to say in one sentence what I have been trying say, perhaps successfully perhaps unsuccessfully, in the last few paragraphs!)

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:10-12)

So this sounds kind of brutal – but by this train of thought in the second part of the quote above (where love is serving, like Christ, and being like Christ), friendships/relationships are not about the person? Who they are doesn’t matter. Life gets ugly when one cannot let go of a person. You think you are entitled. Or you think they are entitled. The person and your relationship to them is temporal; your relationships with God are eternal.

Not sure how cryptic/clear this is at the time of finishing typing. Funny how I can type and type when I blog but not when I write essays.

I feel slightly less entitled to anything than I did when I began writing this. There’s a freedom to the feeling :) Not that I don’t still have a long way to go.

How to see ‘god’ as ‘God’

[Because I have numerous other essays I need to write, I shall blog instead. (Contradiction intended.) Being able to write continuously and develop an idea about something else may help writing in general? Right now I am stuck, stuck, stuck like a pig in the mud.]

Job. He is the “suffering” guy in the Bible. The one who was a good man, but on whom suffering was poured. He rescued the poor and made the widow’s heart sing; was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and father to the needy; he took up the case of the stranger, and broke the fangs of the wicked, snatching victims from their teeth. (Job 29:11-17) Job was righteous in his own eyes. (32:1) A contemporary Job might be a leftist humanitarian volunteer doctor working in a third world country.

But Elihu, the youngest among Job and the three other friends who came to console and talk to him, becomes angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He hears Job say “I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt,” (33:9) “I am innocent, but God denies me justice,” (34:5) and replies: “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man.” (33:12) Ultimately, Job, in his ‘goodness’ and ‘righteousness’, had become too comfortable in it. He lost his perspective of the awesomeness that is God. He was proud when he needed humility. “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.” (37:14)

Job in his mind had begun to belittle the surpassing goodness and righteousness of God, that is beyond his imagination. God asks: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (40:8) If God had punishes the fully righteous, then God would not be righteous. In the same way, we ask why God allows suffering in the world – it may not be our own. Would we discredit his justice? Can we condemn God in order to justify people? On a side note, are we forgetting the existence of Satan, of evil?

This is Job’s reply. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:3-6) Job in this penultimate chapter displays Biblical wisdom: the fear of the Lord. Although he had earlier stated it himself, having heard that “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding,” (28:28) he was full of himself (to use a colloquial wording) and not full of the Spirit (literally). He had forgotten the evil still in himself. “It is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.” (32:8)

In the end, it boils down, yet again, to God-is-Holy-and-we-are-sinful. We strive towards (hunger and thirst for) righteousness, but must realise that we cannot attain that quality in and of ourselves. We are to be filled (and this is where Jesus comes in). I wish I had a better way to end this patchwork of the book of Job, but I am growing tired.

[NOTE: add from beginning of Job]

Those “What to read when…” sections

As I rifled through a “What to read when…” section at the end of a Bible today, I realized something terrifying. Or terrific. (funny how positive this word has become)

This was a realization regarding how the case is not – as I usually assume in the back of my mind – that Person A needs numbers 2, 5, and 11 and Person B needs 4, 17, 21, and 22. Individually, we all need to address every one of those issues, some repeatedly. Just maybe not all at once (thankfully).

What this means is that I need a lot of help, because I am a lot of things: hopeless, directionless, comfortless, disagreeable, easily enticed, uncertain about the assurance of salvation, sinned against, bitter, neglectful of public worship, weak in faith, loose-tongued, judgemental, cheated, successful!, uncertain about my spiritual gifts, starting a new job, in a position of responsibility, establishing a new home, quarrelsome, challenged by dark forces, jealous, lazy, lustful, angry, vengeful, proud, addicted, greedy, apathetic, and in need of learning how to pray. And that was just a list from my brother’s tiny ‘baby dedication’ gift Bible.

Terrific. I guess terrifying, but also humbling, which is a terrific thing.

Just thinking about getting scared of doing difficult things…

If God were really to take over our lives I think it would be much harder, and possibly impossible, to be proud. He’d work so amazingly through us that we would know it was all God and not us. But if we live controlling our own lives, everything we do would be humanly possible, and we would start attributing it to ourselves. (Though it would still be God because God does flashy great things and tiny small things too.)

It seems to fit into the whole topic of pride and humility too. When we make our will nothing, and God’s will everything, that means first that we will need God, and second that the consequences are all due to God and that in success we will also be nothing, and have nothing to be proud of.

I guess that is why God wants us to continually do things we fear and go places we don’t want to – so that when we do it we will depend on him alone (He likes helping us) and when we succeed we will see that it was by his power.

But of course this is infinitely difficult and all our lives we will be struggling with ourselves, wanting to maintain control and stay in our safe bubble.

Sometimes I get a clear reflection of myself through some realization or someone saying something. Then I am appalled at the insensitivity and self-centredness I see in me. Even just the lack of clarity of thought. You really think you are doing well… or trying hard to do well anyway.

But I guess my pride gets in the way. And since it is “pride” we are talking about, it is sneaky about letting you realize it is consuming you.