Two Quotes

December 21, 2010

Last Thursday during our gathering time, in a short teaching by two of our elders leading up to communion two things were said that I wanted to repeat here:

“All sin is a failure to believe something about God.”

That’s a powerful statement.  An excellent platitude, but far too broad to be true, right?  I don’t think so.  Consider this, where in the world do people find/derive your meaning, value and purpose?  Shopping, sports performance, being a friend, helping people, politics, a hobby, etc.–there are innumerable places.  The implication of this statement though is that any place we draw our meaning, value and purpose from outside of God leads to sin.  And wrong belief about God always leads to the same things: fear, hiding, guilt, manipulation, jealousy.  Am I fearful?  Am I worried?  Am I jealous?  I’m not believing God to be the good, loving, gracious, awesome God he claims to be.

So how do we find our way back out of sin?  That takes us to quote number two:

“We worship our way in to sin and so must worship our way out of sin.”

Worshiping the right things.  While our lives serve as walking demonstrations of the first quote, it is easy to miss out on the second.  Too often the Giver of good things gets lost my appreciation of the good things he gives and I end up worshipping the wrong things; the job, the spouse, the car, he kids, the safety, the freedom, the security, the money.  It’s not that these things are inherently bad–many of them are good!  They’re just not meant to be ultimate.

Compounding the brokenness, I often come to my rescue with a barrage of promises, justifications, self-loathing.  “That was so stupid!  I can’t believe I did that again.  I can’t ever do this again cause I don’t want anyone to know about this…”  I’ve already sinned by rejecting who God really is, now I’m rejecting his provision to save.  Yes, this is broken.  I need constant reminders of the Gospel so that I don’t end up trying to shame, guilt and fear myself back out.

Preach the Gospel to me so that I will worship God as he is, that I might worship him, trust him and in trust, refuse to yield to some lesser counterfeit God.

As we’ve been looking toward the future I’ve found myself moving between dependance and independence.  I suppose it is the dilemma of every Christ follower who is in a place of transition: where do I move and where do I wait?  How do I keep from moving forward independently?  How can I stem my inclination to grasp at control?

Last week I listened to two parts of Soma Community’s “4 G’s” portion of their Soma School training (parts one and three of session six).  Based off of Tim Chester’s book You Can Change the basic idea behind the 4 G messages are an expansion of a couple ideas:

  • God is Great: so we don’t have to be in control
  • God is Glorious: so we don’t have to fear others
  • God is Good: so we don’t have to look elsewhere
  • God is Gracious: so we don’t have to prove ourselves.

Personally, listening to the message on the goodness of God has been good for me as we look for the future.  With as little as we can control, I’m constantly amazed at the ways I go about pursuing it.  And frankly, the only reason I can see why I would feel the need to manufacture my own security, is that I don’t trust God to provide what I need.

God forgive me for denying your goodness in the times I seek my good outside of your provision!

Please keep praying for us!

Knowing me in you

November 22, 2009

For a long time now I’ve marveled at how relationships seem to find their foundation in the most mundane of times.  Sitting around playing games or something.  Do it for long enough and your circle of friends will be seriously renovated.  A couple things recently–things I’ve read, heard and experienced–might finally be bringing some clarity in to this.

Tim Chester said something that caught my attention when he said this:

“In the triune God the one and the many are perfectly held together…God’s plurality does not compromise his unity nor does his unity compromise his plurality.  He is not one in a way that he cannot be three.  He is not three in a way that he cannot be one.  And the key is that divine personal is defined in relational terms…God is persons in community and human personhood too is in the image in the triune God and therefore defined in relational terms.  You can no more be a relation-less person than you can be a childless mother or a fatherless son…Who I am is defined in relation to other people.” (beginning around the 33rd minute of this message)

In stories, characters who tell us things about the main characters have come to be called “foil characters”, and in some sense all of us are foils to other characters in the stories we all inhabit.  In the words of C.S. Lewis,

“By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald” (The Four Loves)

Personally I have been reflecting on this and it has been slowly working its way in to reality.  My being is both that which is called from me in relation to other people and that which is created in my interactions with other people.

 

"Because you've given so much of yourself to the company that you don't have anything left we can use."

Slowly I think I am really coming to believe that I too am known in my relationships.  I am not who I am because I am a success or because I know the things I know, etc.  What this means is that my value no longer rests in what I produce or what I know.  My value rests in my relations, which is of course essentially the Law-Gospel juxtaposition as well, here my value is in Christ rather than my obtaining righteousness by the law.

 

Drawing the focus back a bit, I wonder how this impacts my understanding of Church.  We are who we are together not because of what we do but because of whose we are and our relationship with him.  I wonder that this is why Leonard Sweet should say this about church and “going”:

The church doesn’t ‘go’ into the world and take the church there.  The church ‘goes into the world to discover itself there.  The church isn’t ‘sent’ into the world merely to bless or even to ‘be a blessing to the nations.’  The church is ‘sent’ to be Jesus.  Jesus is the blessing.  As we incarnate Jesus in the world, we will find ourselves doing things he did, even ‘greater things.’ ” (So Beautiful, 61)

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