Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rubber-Band Religion

A few days ago, rummaging through our van, I found a big red rubber-band stamped with the line "God is Awesome" (rummaging through our van is a little like dumpster-diving).  Not being a big fan of chintzy sorts of stuff (I hate it when people put fish on the back of their cars - how do they get to make rude gestures at other drivers?) but loving wearing wrist-bands I was in a quandary.

The more I thought about wearing the rubber-band, the more I was conflicted.  You see, I've recruited a bunch of local teens from the skate-park near our house to build dirt-jumps behind a local grocery store.  I find that there's nothing that unites guys like doing something that's not exactly, um, totally technically legal.

I thought about the guys as I considered wearing the band.  Would this be a good thing to wear as I'm around them?  Could it open up spiritual conversations?  Realizing that it just might, I decided to wear it.

So I've been wearing this funny rubber-band for a few days now, and while I haven't seen the guys yet, it taught me a totally different lesson about myself this morning.  I was driving (where I do most of my thinking and cursing) and was stopped at a red-light when I remembered hearing about how depressed people sometimes wear rubber bands and snap them against their wrists just to feel pain.

I considered this for a moment, finding in me a desire for a little asceticism.  I've felt spiritually frustrated recently and thought I could use a few snaps.  Then it hit me, is this the way I view repentance?  I do feel I have to punish myself don't I!  When I repent, I seek "earnestness" by attempting migraine loads of brain-wracking.  Um, I don't think that's repentance.

And now that I think about it, the rubber-band I'm wearing has a little smiley face on it as well.  It would be humorous to go around snapping that!  Imagine people wondering around snapping their wrists in guilt with "God is Awesome :)" bracelets on.   What sort of testimony would that be?  Oh the layers of irony and social commentary that my new rubber-band religion would provide.

I was reading Lee Strobell's book, "The Case for Christ," yesterday, where he examines the medical evidence for Jesus' death by crucifixion.  It made me feel sick.  Here I'd been thinking about snapping my wrist with a rubber-band in an attempt to punish myself for my sin, when Jesus endured a Roman torture in crucifixion that was so intensely painful that a new Greek word needed to be invented to describe it - "excruciating."

Time, distance and lack of intimacy with God, has me thinking I can exercise my sins with a rubber-band.  When if I look at the pain in my wrist compared with the pain in Christ's wrists - with raw, bleeding and seething ripped nerve endings (the nails would have gone through the biggest nerves in the body - found in the wrist) - I've got to admit my little rubber band insanity boarders on the absolutely absurd.         

So I had a near brush with asceticism this morning, and I'm proud to say I haven't snapped my rubber-band once precisely because of the words written on it, "God is Awesome."  No doubt, the love that endured the cross for me, the absolute brutality for me, was fueled by the Awesome love of God.  Pure love, that I won't ever know fully this side of heaven.  And come to think of it, probably won't ever know fully.

"Don't snap that rubber-band Phil."

1 comment:

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