Thursday, August 17, 2023

Bullet Points

 It’s astounding how much fat you can trim when you really try. When you don’t have a minimum word count set by your publisher or aren’t trying to seem overly pedantic, you can cut to the chase, get to the point, and say the hard things that need saying quickly and unapologetically.

Because we are living in the days when coffee cups need a ‘HOT’ label, and cardboard pizza boxes have ‘Do Not Eat This Box’ stenciled across their front, certain metaphors, parables, and instructions found within the pages of Scripture require a more finite explanation than just calling someone a cloud without water, or a late autumn tree without fruit.

The more I look around nowadays, the more I understand what Paul was trying to say to Timothy. Even though I’ll never be mistaken for a glad-hander or a people person, I study people and have been for the better part of four decades. Ever since I could remember, I have been fascinated by what made people tick, by what animated them, by what made them smile, and cry, and laugh and scream, and most of all, by the need to understand why they did what they did.

Being that I’ve seen enough of the dark side of humanity to make me perpetually skittish and situationally aware, one thing I’ve noticed over the last few years is that everyone is busy doing nothing and doing their best to live in a bubble of their own making with as little human interaction as possible.

If you ever have the chance to use public transport, just look around and see how many people are wearing headphones, earbuds, or some sort of contraption to block out the noise or the words of others. Chances are you’d hit close to 90%, and those that still like to hear the sounds of the world around them are usually most of the way through the twilight of their lives.

All those people with the wireless buds likely to cause brain cancer in a decade or two are listening to something. Sure, most of them are listening to music, you know, the good stuff like Hillsong, Alabama, the Gaithers, or REO Speedwagon, but some of them are learning. Podcasts, audiobooks, courses on everything from how to find a wife to how to turn your passion for doggy pompadours into a business, self-help seminars, the unabridged version of Ulysses, everyone’s learning all the time yet getting dumber by the day.

We’ve become dependent on gadgets to tell us where to go, how to get there, how far to walk, and how much to eat. There’s even an app that reminds people to drink water. That used to be a natural byproduct of thirst, but who can trust their bodies to tell them they need fluids anymore?

Everyone knows everything about everything, and everyone has an opinion of how it could have been done differently, faster, better, or more streamlined. The Y-shaped hot dot never took off because the Hebrew National people killed the tech before it could get off the ground. It couldn’t be because it was a dumb idea.

Jude dispenses with the hand-holding and, within the span of two verses, identifies the rogues' gallery of those within the household of faith that would seek to do it harm. Yes, there is more than one type of individual trying to do harm, and each has its vested interest in why they are doing it.

The worst by far are the devil’s agents who have infiltrated the church, hoping to corrupt, defile, and turn God's grace into lewdness. Ones such as these are not acting out of ignorance or some misplaced sense of nobility; they are ungodly men who were long ago marked out for condemnation.

Besides these, you have the clouds without water, which are the unstable and easily swayed among God’s people, those carried about by the winds and believing whatever the heresy du jour happens to be that particular week. They go from ‘Jesus is the only way’ to ‘Is Jesus the only way?’ in the blink of an eye simply because a middle-aged woman with a perpetual weight problem brought it up on television.

Clouds without water will love you one day and hate you the next because they are not anchored in the truth, so everything is situational to them. They tend to gravitate to where the cool kids are, only to be dismayed by the vapid emptiness of their ministrations. That’s the thing. Even clouds without water carried about by the winds are bothered by other clouds without water who insist that they are the vehicle by which the latter rain will descend upon the earth.

Can we dial back the pomposity a smidgeon? Can we just be about the Father’s business without declaring that we’re neck in neck with Jesus for the most important person ever spot? It’s getting tiresome. It’s like seeing a movie where the hero is on a quest to save humanity for the hundredth time. Nowadays, it’s not even humanity anymore; that’s not big enough. It must be universes and the existence of all life anywhere in the cosmos!

You’re a dude filming himself in his basement with his iPhone 6. A little perspective goes a long way, Bishop, Apostle, Prophet, Seer of all the unseen realms that you are. Maybe spare the mirror a look, and do as the good Book instructs and wash yourself and make yourself clean once in a blue moon.

If you insist that you have the most critical job in the Kingdom and spend your days trying to convince everyone else of it, chances are the kingdom is your own, and you are its only inhabitant.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

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