Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Living on the lifeboat: part 2

This is the conclusion to a 2 part series I started a while back. If you missed part 1, here it is:

“The fear of the Lord leads to life:
   Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” Proverbs 19:21

How incredible that we must fear God to find life. But when we fear God, there is nothing left to fear: not man, not sin, and not death. When we see the glory of God, we do not die; we finally live.

No matter what we get, it does not take us long to become complacent and entitled. I had a new phone, and for 2 days I took incredible care of it. I knew where it was. But it became part of my unconscious self. As though it was intrinsic to living, even though I did not have it most of my life. And soon thereafter I felt it was obsolete. It needed to be upgraded. I couldn't live without the new one.
This our generation. Consumers trained to accept nothing less than instant gratification and temporary pleasures. Nothing is built to last, it can all be replaced. Toys, tools and our relationships too. Like a morning mist or a flash in the pan, it all goes away.

To sustain and form Christian community, we must focus not on the community, but on the Gospel Word.. Human activity cannot create life which endures; we can never attain community by working for it. It is not something we can "do" but rather something we must "be"  something we receive through Christ's gift of grace. Only the Word of God can create an enduring community of life and love.

What if you ate only one meal a week but still went about your daily work? You would eventually grow weak and wither and die. The Church does this by allowing themselves to believe 2 hours on Sunday morning is enough spiritual nourishment to energize their week. This is foolish, un-biblical and ultimately a futile effort.

I am quite sure God wants some Christians to be Republican. And some to be Democrats. But not because he wants them to place their hope in politics. Rather he wants his people to be "all things to all people so that by all means some might be saved". To Republicans we can be Republicans. To Democrats we can be Democrats. As fellow Christians the only identity we should look for in each other is "Christ, and him crucified."

Theology is more romance than science. We do not study God just to know about him. The Bible is no mere textbook. We study him like a husband learns the minutia about his wife that wouldn't interest anyone but him. The Bible is a love letter, stories that God recorded throughout time to reflect his larger Story of grace. When we focus on the boiled down, bullet point Bible- not to say systematic theology has no merit- we miss out on the beautiful poetry, the artistry and love of the Story God is trying to tell us. The Gospel is not an intellectual proposition; it is an invitation to a very real relationship with a very real God.
We just run the danger of losing the essence of Scripture when we boil it down. If it can be effectively shared as bullet points or formulae, why did God take so much time with so many people to share His heart of love through stories, poetry, letters, dreams, songs, and other media? But it is at the very least both/and not either/or. I think theology is a great tool, as long as we do not become too busy studying God to love Him.

If we look and sound like the world, how can we offer an alternative? We are just more of the same. We can't remove ourselves from culture, but we can't compromise scripture for culture. We can't take over culture, and we can't ignore culture, but we can go into culture with all the tools we've got to bring light right into the dark world.

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