Archive for October, 2012
But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
Psalm 59:16 (Zabur)
This morning I was encouraged and inspired by this poem written by Musa Burki. It is a poem about the early morning prayer, fajr (it happens before sunrise). It makes me want to start my day focused on God, full of gratitude and praise. I hope you’re encouraged as well.
As we rise in the morning
Our souls possess a yearning
To fill our hearts with spiritual light
Kneeling as a humble servant in His sight
The dawn rings out a peaceful solitude
Rising from our slumber to show gratitude
Revealed words which emanate from the heart
A beautiful ritual for our day to start
Standing before Him in all His glory
While He encompasses our entire life store
Pleading and begging for a measure of grace
As we wipe the tears from our face
Prostrating and bowing in complete humility
Desiring to feel the mercy and tranquility
Releasing our fears and anxiety
Increasing us in our level of piety
We feel the trembling of our soul as it’s shaken
As the wind and the sun begin to awaken
Completing our spiritual practice at the start of day
Asking for our Lord to light the way
A wonderful contentment rests in our spirit
Obeying the call to prayer as we hear it
Our day can now begin with clarity and peace
Hoping that our love for Him will increase.
Rick Love had me at the first line. In his book review of Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America by Eboo Patel, he writes, “Can a Christian learn anything from a Muslim?” Having just posted on this topic, I thought it would be good to link to his book review both because it comes from an interesting site with Muslim and Christian writers we can all learn from (Middle East Experience) and because it exemplifies what I was communicating in “Can We Learn from Others Different than Ourselves?”
Protestants have a hard time listening to and learning from Catholics. Both are Christians, but we all like to find enough of a difference with others to justify not learning from them. Think of how much more true this is with people from a completely different religion? When was the last time you truly learned something significant in your life from someone of a different religion?
Yasmin Mogahed has written a helpful piece on marriage. We can all learn something from it. What so impressed me though, was that what she shared she had learned from a Christian author. She references Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. In this book he lays out research that says that men most need respect from their wives while woman most need love from their husbands. The problem, then, is that when a husband isn’t loving to his wife, she often responds with disrespect, which leads to unloving behavior from the husband and on and on. It is a cycle that can only be broken when the husband determines to love his wife whether she is respectful or not. Or when the wife determines to respect her husband whether he shows love or not. This idea about love and respect comes right out of the Bible, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).
I love that this Muslim woman is setting such a good example for the rest of us. She knows that she has a lot to learn from Christians. I have seen this first hand in my own life. It was my Syrian Muslim neighbors in Damascus who taught me what it means to be a good neighbor. This was especially good for me to learn since Jesus the Messiah commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). I have always been so grateful for what they taught me about being a good neighbor through hospitality and genuine concern and love for a neighbor.
When was the last time you learned something from someone from a different religion? If you haven’t, why not?
The Word of God became flesh (John 1:14) so that he might save humans. There was no other way. The guilt of our sin required death (see Gen 2:17). Either we die and pay this penalty or someone worthy (i.e. one who has no sin) dies in our place. Jesus Christ was the only one worthy. He was a man and thus a suitable substitute, but he was also God and thus a worthy substitute for countless people who would believe. But our problem is bigger than just guilt. We we also bear the shame of our sin and all of its defilement. We must be made clean. God the Son became flesh, not only to die in our place for our sin and guilt, but also to cleanse us from the inside out. He did not shy away from flesh that is so easily defiled. He became flesh and in so doing made flesh clean, even when encountering the defiling forces of this fallen world.
Throughout the law we see that no one could make another clean. Only God makes clean. When Jesus was on earth he was so pure that he could touch those who were unclean and instead of becoming unclean himself, they were cleansed. He made them clean. No priest ever made one clean; priests merely pronounced one was clean after God had made them clean.1 What was different about Jesus? He was and is the God who is clean. He does not pronounce others clean, he makes them clean.
This, in part, is why he became man. He became man to cleanse us. Light drives out darkness simply by entering into a dark place. God drives out defilement of our flesh by taking on flesh himself.
1. We repeatedly read the phrase, “the priest shall pronounce him clean” in Leviticus 13 (vv. 6, 13, 23, 28, 34, 37 and also 14:7).
Other posts in this series
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 1: Introduction
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 2: The Danger of Defilement
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 3: Distinguishing between the Clean and Unclean
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 4: What Makes One Unclean?
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 5: Uncleanness is Contagious and Defiles the Camp
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 6: Defilement and Purity in the New Testament
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7a: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7b: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean by His Baptism
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7c: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean by His Death and Resurrection
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 8: The Incarnation Was Necessary for Our Cleansing