Monday, September 17, 2012

Condemning the World

My technologically resistant wife has suddenly found a level of expertise since she got an Apple computer earlier this year. After we both installed Kindle Reader on our computers, she discovered that a lot of free books are available online. She began to scan various sites for free books, and she now receives regular emails listing a wide variety of books available for downloading without cost. She looks carefully at the description of the book; and if it looks interesting, she downloads it. Since we share our Kindle files, I now have access to a lot of books that I probably would not have looked at otherwise. I’ve ended up reading a wide variety of books, and many of them have been pretty good reads.

Right now I am reading a book by J. J. Hebert titled Unconventional (Mindstir Media USA). The book features a high school graduate, James, who works as a janitor in a school but who has a special gift for writing. He meets an upper-class Christian woman, Leigh; and they fall in love in spite of the objections of her parents. Her hyper-Christian parents make a quick judgment that he is far less than what their daughter deserves. They openly abhor him, and they do all they can to protect their daughter from making a monumental mistake. I’m at the point in the book where Leigh is sympathetically sharing the plan of salvation with James. I was stopped in my tracks when she testified, “The Book of John says this: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.’”

The “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world” took on a new meaning for me when I saw that statement in the context of the condemnation that the outsider James was receiving from Leigh’s parents. I suddenly was reminded that too much of our Christian witness is directed toward condemning the world, and too little of it is directed toward so loving the world that we are willing to sacrifice our very lives to show love rather than condemnation. I have read that “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world” numerous times, but I never had thought of that statement in the context of the condemnation we subtly and sometimes not so subtly direct toward “the world” and the worldly.

We sometimes adopt the stance of “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” but even that places hate in parallel with love; and the sinner cannot see love in the condemnation of who the sinner is and what the sinner does. We need to rediscover that “the world through him might be saved” is most clearly seen in sacrificial love rather than in condemning judgment. Condemnation comes at the end when lack of faith in a loving God is the focus, not the sins that all us have committed. Our condemning attitudes may stand in the way of sinners discovering the compassing love revealed in Christ.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Water of [My] Life

This past week has been a time that I have had water on my mind (not "water on my brain" fortunately). It started last week when my water bill arrived--the bill was 50% higher than it had ever been. After checking with my wife to make sure she hadn't been watering the garden or doing anything else that might have caused the increased consumption, I called the utility company. They suggested how I could determine if I had a leak between the water meter and the house, and they proved prophetic. We had a leak somewhere in the 90 feet from our water meter to our house's shut off valve.

Wednesday a plumber came by, assessed the situation, and gave me the price for putting in a new water line. I was tempted to let the leak go (80 months of the higher water bill was cheaper than installing a new water line--if the leak didn't get any worse). Being the good corporate citizen and conservationist that I am, however, I relented and approved the new water line. A couple of holes were dug in our yard Wednesday, anticipating the installation of the new line on Thursday.

I won't go into all of the details of Thursday's work. Let it be said that it took about 5 hours to dig a trench with equipment that should have done it in one hour. As darkness began to envelop us Thursday evening, I was about to give up hope that we would have water overnight. The plumber, however, was intent on "finishing up." He did--but he left behind a leak at the water meter, a trench that was shoddily refilled, a flowerbed that was devastated, and a corner of our downstairs bedroom in shambles (where he had ripped out the corner box that hid the water access and shutoff valve from view).

Friday morning, our utility company repaired the leak at the meter; and Friday afternoon and Saturday we were able to get the front yard and flower bed back in shape. I'm still contemplating how I'm going to repair the damage in the bedroom. I'm a pretty good handyman, but this project has some challenges (the box has to be attached to walls that have paneling over wallboard, furring strips, and a concrete block foundation; and the locations of the in-house water lines and shut-off valve interfere with a regular box structure). A project plan is stirring in my head, and my wife is hoping it won’t stir for too long.

To top it all off, this morning we discovered water leaking around the bottom of our refrigerator. When you interfere with your house's water system, it seems you invite other problems to visit you. No way was I going to call a plumber and take a chance on a wall in the kitchen being torn out. So “plumber Mike” attacked the problem. It turns out that a kink in the supply line had cause a crack in the line. The turning off and on of the water supply had resulted in a slow leak. A quick trip to the hardware store, and I was able to fix the leak for about a thousand times less than the cost of repairing the first leak and a hundred times less than a plumber surely would have charged to fix the refrigerator leak.

Now I have access again to safe water without much thought or concern. Of course, that is a privilege not available to millions of people in our world. I’m thinking maybe I should make a sizable donation to an organization that is addressing the issue of worldwide access to supplies of safe water—providing abundant cups of water in the name on the One who is the true Water of Life.