alyssacogswell

Rebel. Wife. Millennial. Walker of the Way. News and TV junkie.

Category: Religion

What if We Never Looked at Clocks?

What if never, not at one single time in the day, did we look at clocks? What if the thought of “time” never crossed our minds, never made us hurry? Would we be more content in the present? Would our minds constantly be busy, thinking about to do lists? Or would we be more apt to sit and think. Would we know what we had to do, but simply do it when we got to it?

What if we just lived contented, right in the precise moment we are. We are. Think about that. We are. Full stop. Sentence completed. The only time we truly have is this moment, right now. The breath in, breath out. And we go again; in, out. We had another moment. Was it a good one? Did you make the right decisions? Did you make the most of that moment, that breath?

The thing about breath is that it unites us. Argon, an element in the atmosphere, is not used for our bodily processes, so we breathe it in and breathe it right back out. The same air we breathe today has particles which the past has been breathed; breathed by Gandhi, George Washington, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Plato, Socrates, the first humans. We are all connected in this one breath. And when I think and realize how many people have breathed this same breath before me, I freeze.

God is I AM. That is all; His name needs no more clarification than He is present. He is timeless, because He is always I AM, not I WAS or I MAY BE. But His character has been defined as one ageless, unchanging entity. And time, these moments, these breaths, are small glimpses of God, to show that He is always with us in the time. This concept is so large, that I cannot even grasp the minute part I wish too. But I do realize that even in this gift, God is physical. God gives us the physical particles of the air to be the same ones his Son breathed while on Earth, while being with us for a time. And in this, also encapsulates one of His other names: Immanuel, God with us.

What more could we need to show that God is always with us. He is with us because He is outside of time. He is with us as His names claim. He is even with us in the air we breathe.

Why You Can’t Compare the Gospel to the Ice Bucket Challenge

Earlier today, I saw a Facebook post which said, “What if we spread the Gospel as fast as we spread the Ice Bucket Challenge?” It took such restraint not to immediately comment on this status and rip into the person who posted it.

You cannot spread the Gospel like the Ice Bucket Challenge for several reasons. One of them being: One is a dare, a challenge. The other is a whole entire paradigm and life shift. No one wants to back down from a dare, especially one issued publicly. Daring people publicly pushes them to do something for the approval of others, to show that they aren’t afraid of looking silly nor afraid to admit they’d rather donate more money than pour ice water on their heads and donate a lesser amount. The Gospel is not a dare, and I should hope to God that people don’t follow it just because of fear of public or familial rebuke. Following the Gospel is something that must be sincere, and must be talked about with sincerity. Pouring ice water and donating is easy; all you have to do is make a video, fill up a bucket, click a couple of buttons on the Internet and *boom*, you’re done. But talking about and following the Gospel takes so, so much more. Following the Gospel takes a literal lifetime of trials, celebrations, droughts, floods, deserts, valleys, mountains, birth and death. One cannot be done with the Gospel or fulfill the call on their lives in 10 minutes. To follow the Gospel and to tell others about the Gospel takes a lifetime of learning; you must learn discipline and discernment, compassion, encouragement, kind words, and how to lean on the Spirit for strength when you have none. Following the Gospel (including spreading it) is a supernatural act. Any able-bodied person can dump water on their head.

We are never fully done spreading the Gospel, but we can be fully done with the Ice Bucket Challenge.

The Gospel is not a general statement most people agree with. Curing disease is. People will get behind something that supports a cause they believe in. Most people on this planet do not want disease or sickness. Asking people to unify and stand together to fight this debilitating illness is what’s so awesome about the Ice Bucket Challenge: It’s about people all over the world, from different countries, religions, races, incomes, and political beliefs standing behind ALS research and charities to truly make a change. That’s why it’s viral. We love watching Laura Bush throw water on her husband who, in turn, challenges Democratic President Bill Clinton. We love watching a star of one of the biggest movies of the summer down alcohol, then have his wife and a friend pour buckets and buckets of ice water on him. We enjoy this because it brings not only laughter, but hope of a cure. It’s something new and novel. We want to keep seeing people do it until it gets old, which will probably happen within the next two weeks.

Now about the Gospel:

Not everyone can get behind the Gospel. Faith in the Gospel is supplied by the Holy Spirit. Trying to “challenge people to believe the Bible” or trying to spread the Gospel like a viral video will only be a detriment to Christianity. Religion is extremely personal. Some people are not able to understand how if God is good, so much bad can happen, or if God is good, why let sin into the world anyway? The best thing we can do with those close to us who do not believe is love on them and gently answer any questions they may have about our faith or our Jesus. We must be vulnerable to admit that we don’t have all the answers. Others may not be able to believe because they truly can’t understand why anyone would want to follow a religion which has objectified and enslaved so many people in the past 2000 years. They may not be able to believe in a religion in which those who are supposed to be the most godly and the authorities and leaders in the faith community abuse children while in ministry. They see the Church and think, “If they are supposed to live like Christ, they certainly don’t look like it.” And while that thought is good and valid and something that should definitely be addressed, realize that the person is actually thinking about this quite rationally by Earth’s standards and without a the influence of faith and salvation in his or her worldview. We must minister to those we have abused; penance of sorts must be done not for our salvation, but that we may better show the character of our Lord to all peoples.

Others are culturally not obliged to believe in Christianity. This is okay as well. We, again, must love with tenderness, kindness, and gentleness. The reason why we are on this Earth is not so that we can “find our calling” or to “carry out this really, really specific Earthly task”, but to live our lives as a witness to Christ. In our everyday doings, we should live out the Gospel. We will do many tasks and have many callings at different times in our lives, but one thing that will always stay the same is the God-ordained purpose on each of our lives: to glorify Him. We are not put on this Earth to shove the Bible into people’s faces or damn them to Hell if they do not believe; God is the judge, not us. We are simply here to glorify Him whether it be through serving the homeless, teaching, being a big business person, or being a parent. The Ice Bucket Challenge serves only one purpose: to raise awareness and money for ALS research and treatment.

To say  “What if we spread the Gospel as fast as we spread the Ice Bucket Challenge?” is to reduce the Bible to a viral challenge which will fade away in a month or less. But the Gospel is everlasting, outside of time, a story for the ages. It will take however long it will take to complete, God willing sooner rather than later. To say  “What if we spread the Gospel as fast as we spread the Ice Bucket Challenge?” is to relegate people to unfeeling, unquestioning blank slates who will willingly accept something just to show they support this thing they are told to support. To say  “What if we spread the Gospel as fast as we spread the Ice Bucket Challenge?” disregards all the good, even spreading of the Gospel, which has been accomplished through this challenge.

The Holy Spirit Is.

The Holy Spirit is…what pulls the Sun up from the East every morning.
The Holy Spirit is…what awakens trees out of their winter slumber and into the rebirth of Spring.
The Holy Spirit is…what makes the creek bubble with joy.
The Holy Spirit is…what creates the rainbow in a prism of clouds.

The Holy Spirit is also…what illuminates the Son for us, so that we can better see Him.
The Holy Spirit is also…what persuades us to do good.
The Holy Spirit is also…what whispers to us when we are in the desert places.
The Holy Spirit is also…our water to drink.

The Holy Spirit is…Immanuel, God moving among His people.
The Holy Spirit is…Christ on Earth.
The Holy Spirit is…what connects and moves us all as the Body.
For this Spirit is what makes this Body move and breathe: alive.

Why Pope Francis is a Paragon.

Ever since he assumed the post of Bishop of Rome last spring, the world has been enthralled with Pope Francis. The press follows his every move, showing a man who truly follows what he believes.

 

Have we seen a Pope like him in recent history? Who was the last Pope to love on people like he does? Why are we so fascinated with him?

 

My friends, we all probably know why we are fascinated with him, but have we looked deeper?

 

On Monday, the Pope stopped his motorcade to see and love on a disabled woman, who cannot breathe on her own, much less travel far from home. One friend of the family was quoted as saying, ““Today we can say that Christ stopped in Sibari in the vestments of Pope Francis.”

 

As Christians, we know the passages where Jesus says “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have also done it for me”, “Let the children come to me,” and  to “Love one another as I have loved you.” At the risk of repeating thoughts which have already been said dozens, if not hundreds and thousands of times, do we live this out? Would people say of us, in our everyday lives which is our mission field, “Today I can say that I saw Christ in the person of _____”? There have always been examples of Christ’s love, Christ’s compassion, and behavior a true Christ-follower should have. But for my generation, the generation of Millennials, Pope Francis is the most visible, internationally known example we have. And I think we are being moved by his example.

 

Huffington Post has a slideshow at the end of the article about Francis stopping to see the disabled woman about different times when the Pope has shown Christlike behavior. There are many moments in the slideshow where he is doing things I frankly would be afraid to do. In one shot, he is praying over a man with bubble-like tumors on his head. He accepts and even encourages children to interact with him. He has taken a vow of poverty (as much “poverty” as a Pope can realistically live within as an international, visible figure). He loves gay people, and says who is he to judge. He desires for the poor to have opportunities to make a better living and for the selfish rich to give their money away, to make things fairer for all workers.

 

The Catholic Church did a wise thing in electing Francis pope. All of these concerns, about gay people, about fair working environments and markets, about looking for people who really live out their faith, especially faith in Christ, are addressed and assuaged in this one man. We are a generation of cynics, crying out for someone to show us authenticity, to show us that peace is possible, to show us that living like Christ can be a daily lifestyle, not just something we are free to do in a foreign country. Our hearts and spirits are broken, because in most of the Western world at least, those who proclaim Christianity are for things that are anti-Christ. Many are for Capitalism while, yes fair markets are good and choice is good and being able to start businesses on your own is good, it does not look out for the worker, who is also the consumer. Capitalism is, in fact, a form of slavery in both literal and metaphorical terms. But more on that at a different time.

 

Pope Francis motivates me, my husband, and many others I know to live more like Christ. To truly live more like Christ. We are all busy, and in that busyness we get tired, worn down, and selfish. We must, must, take time to rest. Take time in the Gospel. Take time to think about the small simple things, so that we can see Christ and God’s Grace in the everyday.

 

To be a Christian is truly to be a rebel. Christ himself was a rebel in his society. Even if we live in a “Christian” society, acting like Christ is still different and noteworthy; why else do we pay so much attention to the Pope?

 

Don’t be afraid to be a rebel. Don’t be afraid to step out and do the unordinary thing. Don’t be afraid to be afraid. Loving on people is perhaps the scariest thing one can do, because we must be vulnerable and gentle; the exact opposite of how we are usually shown to live life. It’s okay to be afraid. He will go with you. Have faith.