Thursday, July 13, 2006

The eyes of a Friend

Not too long ago, I tried to take a look at the world through Peter's eyes. At the start, it wasn't a very pleasant trip. I mean, Peter constantly boasted about how great of a disciple he was and how devoted he was to Jesus. But it only took one gaze into Jesus' eyes for him to realize how far off base he was. I imagine that Peter's self pride and dignity immediately took a hit as the truth came crashing down on him.

I think that one of the problems that we have when we examine Peter's life is that we villify him too much. Yes, he was a poor fisherman. Yes, he was violent and quick to anger. Yes, he was a prolific cusser. Yes, he was boastful, arrogant, and condescending. Yes, he denied knowing Jesus. But, he was human. The fact is: I can sit here and villify Peter all day long if I wanted to. But, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I was sitting with Jesus by that fire and He gave me that same look. How would I have responded? How would I have felt?

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you found yourself alone with Jesus in those hurtful, shameful, and dirty places in your life?

My mind is often hit with this thought. Sometimes I imagine Jesus standing directly across from me looking directly into my eyes. I've tried to meet His eyes with my own, but with each lie that I've ever told, each bad thought I've ever had about somebody, and each sin that I've ever committed, it's really difficult for me to do so. But once I finally muster up enough courage and determination to look at Him, I see a single tear coming from each of His eyes. The tear from one eye is for the hurt that I continue to cause Him through my wrongdoing. But the tear from the other eye is a product of the love, compassion, and acceptance that He has for me in spite of myself. Just as He did with Peter, Jesus uses His dark eyes to remind me that I belong to Him, even when I screw up. He looks past my hazel green eyes, compassionately sees the pitch black soul that hides behind them, and responds to it with a type of love that no one else can duplicate.

Even after Peter denied knowing Him (to coin Mr. Burns from the Simpsons; "...not once, not twice, but thrice"), saying stupid stuff, bragging on himself too much, cutting a man's ear off, along with the countless boneheaded things he's done against Jesus, he was still viewed as being a precious and sacred part of God's design. He still possessed keys to the kingdom. He was still charged to tend to Jesus' lambs and to feed His sheep. He was still used as the rock upon which the church was built. Above all, Jesus still loves him.

I think that Jesus is the same way with me. Although I seem to find new and improved ways to screw up every single day, I'm still in God's favor. Jesus is looking directly into my eyes, not afraid of the filth, disgust, and shame that awaits Him. After He finds the sacredness and potential that lies beneath the dirt, He embraces it.

He embraces me.

He loves me.

- ACL

29 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

saved_sinner said...

Amazimg post, Andre.

My brother and I have been away at at seminary, so I haven't had the chance to view your previous posts (but I'm getting to it). But, this post hit me pretty hard, mainly because this was EXACTLY one of the focal points of the session.

While I attended the conference, one of the sessions involved a re-enactment of John 21. The actors did a terrific job of role playing, especially during the exchange between Jesus and Peter. As I watched the performance, I was drawn into it. At one point, Jesus kept asking "Do you love Me?", I was shaken up. It felt like He was talking directly to me. When I thought about how many times I claimed to love Jesus, only to turn around and hurt Him, I became deeply saddened. But, at the same time, it humbled me tremendously. Overall, it was a marvelous experience!

Once we TRULY allow Jesus to take over our lives and expose us, our lives get completed turned around. It's a little frightening at first, but fulfilling in the end.

The funny thing is, I've been a Christian for most of my adult life. And yet...

Diane said...

No matter what our lips say, what face we show the world, or even what WE think we are, looking into Jesus' eyes will reveal our true self. It may be painful and humbling, but it is TRUTH, and that's what our sinful self needs above all. Especially the truth that Jesus loves us just as we are, but He loves us enough to convict us to want to change ourselves, with His help, to be more like Him every day.

I think your writing gets better all the time, Andre. You do this kind of post much better than I ever could. Thanks, brother. :-)

Not a republican said...

Very good post. Jesus is......

KC said...

"Jesus is looking directly into my eyes, not afraid of the filth, disgust, and shame that awaits Him. After He finds the sacredness and potential that lies beneath the dirt, He embraces it."

Brilliant!

ajbendaña said...

nice post andre. it reminds me of one you wrote entitled: " Through the eyes of the rock"

off topic: how do you put up a pic for the blog profile. i have tried a million times and just come out frustrated. any help will be apreciated.

Andre said...

@ saved_sinner: Welcome back.

It sounds like you had a great time at the conference. I hope that it gave me a little more dimension that what you may have had before.

John 21 is one of those great chapters that really brings to bear our devotion to Christ. Based on its story, MANY of us fail. You're not alone...

@ Diane: You're absolutely correct in saying that facing our true selves is not always easy, desirable, or popular. But it's a price that we might have to pay to follow Jesus. Great point!

Thanks for blessing, as always.

@ Not a republican: Thanks ("JD") :)

@ KC: Thanks to you also. How have you been? It's been a while.

Andre said...

@ajbendaña: Chele. Ajbendaña. Chele. Ajbendaña. I'm confused. ;)

Thanks for your comments. As it stands, this post was inspired by the one about Peter. To me, we're really NO DIFFERENT than Peter in many circles.

Andre said...

Now, as it relates to the photo in the profile thing, I'll try to explain (there may be another way to do it, but this is how I did it):

First create a new post. Upload whatever picture you want to use; similarly to how you would do it if the picture was for your post. Above the post area, you'll see two tabs: EDIT HTML and COMPOSE. After you've uploaded your image in the post area, click on the EDIT HTML tab. Your photo will turn into a long string of HTML code which will start off looking something like this:

a href="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/8059/1884/
1600/name_of_your_file.jpg"

From there, copy the URL for the photo (the http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/..." part). Click on the BACK TO DASHBOARD link at the top of the page to go to the EDIT PROFILE section. Once on that page, paste the URL into the area called PHOTO URL. Then click SAVE PROFILE.

*note* You'll have to republish your blog to see the changes.

Hope this helps.

thehc said...

Hey Andre,
While I love the religious articles you write, (It's the closest I get to going to church and very educational for me) I can't help but notice that there's a reoccuring theme. That Jesus loves us despite all our faults. On some level the message I seem to get from that is: Why change? Jesus will love me despite my lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, and whatever else I choose to do. Is this really the message God would want us to get from his teaching? A little guilt, while not a pleasant feeling, was put there to help us understand we are doing wrong. I'm afraid the sin of our actions is getting lost in the fact that we are still forgiven....Your thoughts?

Andre said...

@ HC: My late pastor used to sum up Christianity in one phrase: Christians aren't sinless, they just sin less.

I think that one of the problems with our view of forgiveness is that it's pointless if you're going to keep on doing wrong over and over again (i.e. the 'what's the point in changing' question you raised. You're not the first person to ever address this.)

I'll be the first one to admit that Christians sin like anyone else (Hello! Look at your president). But the difference between believers and unbelievers (as my late pastor's quote points out)is that the life of a Christian is not identified by the wrongdoing that we commit. Though we have the SAME imperfections, we become new people through Christ. It's not like once I become a believer, I turn into some magical, mystical creature with perfect skin, a shining face, and some strange halo floating over my head. I'm the same Andre who battles with "good versus evil" all day long. Sometimes I'll miss the mark. I'm "protected" by salvation.

The beauty about salvation is that Christians are forgiven no matter how many times they screw up (hence my "recurring theme"). But, on the same token, we should strive to live a more progressive and sinless life in Christ.

Hope that makes sense.

Thanks for your comments, HC.

jd said...

Andre,

Quit calling "not a republican" me! I have no prolem posting as myself!

Excellent post, by the way

Andre said...

Well, it is you! "Jesus is..."?! C'mon now...

thehc said...

Andre,
LOL. That's not MY debt expanding, war mongering, mispronouncing Prez. Am I being paid back for an earlier comment?
Thanks for your reply, you made a lot of sense.

monique said...

Great post, as usual, Andre :)

ajbendaña said...

Thanks andre. I tried that as well and it says Error the pic size is to large.

Andre said...

@ HC: I'm sorry dude. But if defended this guy any more, you'd have your own show on Fox News. That being said, I'm placing ownership of this guy on you! That's what you get for being a "Hippie Conservative"...

Seriously, I hope that my explanation made sense. Please don't think that Christians can just do whatever the hell they want to without repercussions. If a Christian breaks the law, they'll still get arrested. If they commit a sin (that may not necessarily be illegal), God will still punish them. It's just that we have a Divine pardon that will keep our ass out of Hell.

I hope I clarified.

@ Monique: Thanks kindly; as usual. :)

By the way, I was only kidding about you being fat! You're probably gorgeous (just don't tell the b/f I said so...)

@ ajbendaña: Your photo was too large. It can't be any bigger than 50KB. If you right click on your image and go down to PROPERTIES, you'll be able to see how big the image is.

Also, if you go to this link, it will describe the same process I gave you for uploading your photo.

http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=42093&query=photos&topic=0&type=f

Hope this helps.

green eyed girl on planet earth said...

Hi ANDRE~
MY GEM
Wonderful post,I have a question if you do not mind , maybe you can answer it!
If something is considered a sin , is it equal to all sins , I know according to mans law if you break a law ,the difference in punishment can vary so the weight of the sin/ law varies .
What about our sins , I know that in confessionals if you do something nasty you have more penance but in GODs eyes , does sin have "type"or 'degrees' or vary ? what do you think ?Please and Thank you.
Dig deep in that bountiful,glorious grey matter of yours :}
Greeneyes :0}

JD said...

This is getting re-frickin'-dicoulous! I am JD, no one else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You KNOW (probably better than anyone) that I don't have to have another identity to say what I want to say. :)

Carry on.... :)

Andre said...

@ Greeny: With the exception of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" (Mark 3:30), no sin if unforgiveable.

I think that we often get caught up in the idea of "small" sins like lying, gambling, impure thoughts, versus "big" sins (murder, stealing, adultery, etc.) etc. But, I don't buy the idea that one sin is greater than another. To me, this simply isnt' true. In one of Jesus' final utterances on the Cross, He said "It is finished". This put a "paid in full" stamp on all the sins that we've committed...past, present, and future; irrespective of their magnitude.

Now, as it relates to the punishment assosciated with each sin:

I think that -- with God -- the punishment always fits the crime. Even smaller sins like lying could have a big impact; depending on the forum. I believe that it will be punished accordingly. If you think about it, with many sins, not only do we have to deal with God's discipline, we have to face the natural consequences that come with them. I think that THAT'S where the different levels of punishment are most evident. For example, if I get arrested for stealing, that's not necessarily God's punishment. That's courtesy of our dear folks in law enforcement.

But, overall, I think the most important part of our sinful lifestyles is not the level of punishment received, but the fact that ANY sin is forgiveable. I hope that makes sense.

How are you doing with 'the pox'?

@ JD: OK. Whatever you say...

JD said...

Dang Andre, update your blog cause "you wrote this a long time ago....in '94."

Okay, I'm done being corny :)

Andre said...

LOL!

I saw that skit again last night. I was laughing so hard I woke my poor neighbor up.

Andre said...

Anyway, give me a break! I wrote this last Thursday. It's only been a few days!

Sheesh...

green eyed girl on planet earth said...

My GEM :}
Thank you , I appreciate the answer , so I guess a SIN ,is a SIN, is a A SIN ! wow cuss you or kill you ,,,,hummmmmmm LOL j/k :}

All can be forgivable , what about the human who is a pure evil soul their entire life and lives life thinking that s/he can do anything they want , because as they lay dying they can ask for forgiveness and will be forgiven and accept God in the last ten seconds of life ! I guess it is not for humans to judge ,we should just worry about our own soul and being the best human we can be :}

MY pox are almost all gone ,thank you for asking sweetie :} you have a great day and hope you have some fun , you work to hard , how is summer school hahahahaha
Take er easy
Greeneyes

Andre said...

Cussing and killing. LMREO (Laughing My "Rear End" Off. Wouldn't want to get in trouble for cussing, right?!) :)

At any rate, I think that your final point hit it on the head: It's not up for us to decide people's guilty/innocence from a divinity standpoint. While we pass out convictions on Earth all the time (in the judicial courtrooms, the "court" of public opinion, etc.), there is a higher order where God is the ultimate judge.

But, please don't think that villianry won't go unpunished here on Earth. I think that God can and will use just about ANYTHING to punish (more like "discipline") His children for their wrongdoing. Just like parents disclipline their children (except, maybe, that lady you mentioned on your blog), God does so with us.

On an unrelated note, I'm happy to hear that your pox are getting better. Of course, that's not good for all the jokes that I had about you...

By the way, "summer school" sucks.

cynthia said...

Hi Andre,

Great post. Well said and sorely needed. Thanks!

natasha said...

I loved this post Andre. Thanks for writing it today. I really do identify with Peter. I can picture how he felt when Jesus gave him the stare that you described; a look of sadness/disappointment; but also a look of love and compassion.

Well written.

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