Sunday, May 02, 2010

Honesty and Fathers Part 2

“Why can’t anyone just get over the fact that I’m not perfect?!”

Bingo! That’s the whole point, buddy! That’s where we can start to rejoice.

If even our repentance is that for which we must finally repent, then we must at last admit that we are, as Luther would say, beggars before God. Then, and only then do we have Christ as our Savior and God as our Father. For, it is through His Son that God becomes a Father to us.

Still, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans, we cannot rejoice in our sin as if to say, “I’m forgiven; I’ll be forgiven.” Christ’s forgiveness is the very essence of the Christian and his life. We aren’t forgiven so that we may go on sinning. Neither do we rejoice in Christ’s forgiveness so that we may sin with freedom. As Steven Hein would say, “Now that you are forgiven, what is it that you want to do?” That is, Christ paid for your sins with His flesh and blood as the price. What is it you want to do for your neighbor? Faith in Christ is enacted as love for neighbor.

Pr. 26:11 likens a fool returning to his folly as a dog to his vomit. The fool in this case is the one who refuses to heed, listen to, or live in God’s word. Dogs are not often used as examples of uprightness in the Scriptures. Consider Dt 23:18; 1Sm 17:43; 2Sm 16:9; Jb 18:11; Ps 22:20. So when the Canaanite woman responds to Jesus, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table,”she is confessing both her utter unworthiness and her faith-wrought hunger for the food only Christ can give. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). Her daughter could be healed no other way than through the restoration Jesus could provide. This satisfied her immediate need. However, Jesus is the Bread of Life come down from heaven (Jn 6:33). To eat that Bread is to live forever; to be healed forever; to live forever. “Remain in Me and I will remain in you” (Jn15:4).

And then fruit will be borne.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Honesty and Fathers

It was a light week as far as attendance goes. One was on vacation, and another was battling the “bug.” On another day one has difficulties with her eyes. On one day even I was absent for pre-surgical work ups. So it wasn’t a week for introducing new material. I had to keep up with the Math lessons, though. We did that in the morning, reviewed History in the afternoon, and then watched some history videos. There was plenty of time for getting work completed, especially their weekly packet called Daily Work.

Daily Work is Geography, Handwriting, and Vocabulary in small chunks for every day. The students are expected to work on these assignments during free time or at home each day. Each assignment takes less than 10 minutes, tops–if they daydream between questions.

Throughout the week, with all the gift of free time, I reminded the students that this was prime opportunity for working on Daily Work. By one chose to read a book or do whatever else instead. “Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” Oh, he was certain. He even promised that by Friday his completed Daily Work would be on my desk. He knew the consequences: Daily Work is graded.

On Friday we again had a large amount of free time after tests were completed, so I suggested once more he complete his Daily Work. He refused. Did he realize the consequence would be zeroes? He glared at me, then went on to some other work of his choosing.

By the end of the day his Daily Work was not on my desk. I reminded him of his promise to me earlier in the week, and told him I was now going to put those zeroes on his grades. “Thanks for making me feel bad!”

We like to do that, blame others for the misfortune of our own making. I didn’t let him remain there, but rather called him to be honest with himself. I asked him if he thought he’d tried his best to get his work completed. He at first said he had. So I reminded him of his responsibility to the assignment; his promise to me; and, the choices he’d made. It was tough to face. As he put it, “You just want me to say what you want to hear.” We don’t want to be honest even with ourselves. Finally, though, he admitted that he’d made the wrong choices and that he had not done his best to get his work completed.

It’s not easy calling children to be honest with themselves. They get angry and start tossing the blame around. It’s like dodging stray balls in a T-ball game. It’s all a part of their manipulation: Wait a sec. Let’s change the subject and make it about you!

All God’s children do that with their Heavenly Father. It’s a part of our Old Adam. Adam did it when God asked Him “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” His response was to blame God for the woman God had given him, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” So it was God’s fault Adam ate of the tree, not his own. One of the consequences of sin is we cannot be honest even with ourselves.

Satan offered Eve what she already had, to be in the image of God, and the result was Man is not in the image of another, the father of lies. Ken Korby used to say that the confessional is the only place a liar can tell the truth. However much truth there may be in that, it is still certain as Norman Nagel teaches that when we are finished with our confession, even for that there is much that requires repentance.