Sleep on This: Crooked
Good evening, friend.
I hope your soul is well!
A dear pastor friend of mine suffers from terrible scoliosis, curvature of the spine. It was a problem all his life but finally reached a point where he was so bowed and pained by it, that he had to take radical steps. It required brutal surgery: running a metal rod up the entirety of his spinal column. (I’ll bet he’s a treat for TSA agents at the airport!) But without that radical intervention, he would be held in a perpetually bowed state by his crooked spine.
In Philippians 2:15, Paul describes the world, starkly, as a “crooked,” (skolias in the Greek) and perverse generation.” This is the environment in which Paul’s readers were trying to live out their Christian witness. A bent world; a world with spiritual and moral scoliosis.
By contrast, Paul declares that the Philippians are to be without “blemish;” the word used elsewhere to describe a sacrificial animal. A sacrificial lamb had to be without spot or blemish; perfect. But isn’t Paul asking a lot? For us to be “perfect?” After all, we are never as straight or pure as we think ourselves to be.
To be clear, we Christians are only as straight as Jesus makes us! But we live in a world that “tends to bend.” There is a contorting power to this life that strives to make what is straight, crooked. And we see that skolias even more acutely in times of crisis. Crooked fear, crooked selfishness, crooked suspicion, crooked fear-mongering, crooked finger-pointing.
It is not possible to resist in our own strength the contorting effect of a crooked world. But we don’t have to. The Spirit of Jesus resides in us. It is HIS purity, his lack of blemish…his bracing straightness that allows us to stay true in the face of this pressure. So…throw your shoulders back and stand up straight! Christ has made that possible.
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, may these hours of rest serve to straighten me into your image. Make me strong and true, resistant against the distorting influence of a crooked world. Amen.
NOTE: A reminder that starting this Sunday, we’ll premiere two worship services on Facebook and YouTube: classic worship at 9:00 am and modern worship at 10:00 am. Also, starting Monday, our online rhythm for connecting with you during the week changes: Pastor Ellis’ Daily Prayer becomes a podcast you can download and listen to any time, and we are premiering some new videos throughout the rest of the week. Find all the links you need for weekend and weekday connections with your church here.