Thursday, January 17, 2008

suPRESSion, oPRESSion, dePRESSion

There are so many things that vie for my attention, and it is always a struggle to choose the best over the bad or even the good for that matter. I have recently seen two movies that I feel were well worth the time spent, One was Life if Beautiful, and the other is Amazing Grace.

In Life is beautiful, the story of a man and his family struggling to survive in Nazi Germany unfolds in a touching and sweet way. The father hides his son in the mens barracks under his mattress, and convinces the boy that it is all a game, and they will win a prize if they follow all the rules. It ends tragically with me crying my eyes out thinking how this is one of millions of stories that could have been told. People oppressed because of their blood heritage.

In Amazing Grace, the life of William Wilberforce, disciple of John Newton, is told. As an opposer of slavery, it shows his life's passionate work to end slave trade in England. It details how his tireless pursuit takes a toll on his health, and how his friendships and alliances are tested through it all. In his lifetime, he meets a former slave, and is told the inhuman cruelty he had endured, and Wilberforce becomes even more impassioned. It was two+ hours of emotional reckoning of what humans can do to other humans... an incomprehensible thing for this 21st century American to digest with any real understanding. I tend to shy away from such things as it makes me feel so powerless. History cannot be changed.

This brings me to the title of the post. Human existence is peppered with peoples who feel superior to others, and if given the power exercise that power, do so to exact pain and suffering. Even now in Rwanda, India, China there are "sub class" humans that are looked on as inhuman by their fellow people. Though they won't acknowledge it, people with the same blood heritage running through their veins.

They are pressed in some way. Into slavery, murdered, left to die without care.

Then I think of America- the land of Paxil and Prozac.

We are a people afforded any freedom we choose, and so many choose bondage. The binds of sin that hold one incapable of escape- or so they think.

What about American Christians? I am shocked at how many, friends of mine!- resort to "medical attention" to help deal with their daily struggles. What is going on?! I feel shame in that I felt inadequate on more than one occasion in confronting these friends. I hear over and over "there are some real needs out there that only medication can help...!" WHAT?!?!? Where is the BLOOD in that?! I get so frustrated in my lack of boldness for fear of the unknown. What if they really do have a medical condition? What if they will write me off as a judgmental "better than you" Christian? Should that really matter? I don't know, that is why the struggle!

So back to the title. PRESS is all caps for a reason. We are called to be pressed! It is the press of God that makes us what he wants us to be! The lump of clay that gets pressed, the olive that is pressed for the oil to separate out from the flesh and be burned in the lamp stands! The more it is pressed, the more oil is removed, and the brighter the light can shine... !!! Do not look to mentally escape the press! Christ himself in the Garden... (Gethsemane means press) didn't look forward to the Cross with glee, but knew that on the other side there is joy unspeakable. We are invited to join him in both. The press, and even better the joy.

In my reading today, I kept thinking about how the Christian life, of all things is filled with joy, hope and strength. We have read and know the end of the story! We win, the bad guys lose, and we get to have peace and praise the Lamb who is worthy for the rest of our lives! Now that is something to be happy about!

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!

Please encourage me if you see me pressed. And if you see me begin to crumble under the weight, point me to the Blood, to the Cross, to the One who already has won the victory! I might not like it for a while, but I promise I will love you!

Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.

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