Saturday, July 24, 2004

Authority or Relationship pt 2

In the last few months I have been really venturing out into new territory for me.
I have always put authority and then relationship with Christ in that order. But lately I have been seeing more and more that there seems to be a split or a difference in the two on how one approaches God.
I do give this disclaimer…none of this is set in stone…. though solidifying.
My friend Levi who I have come to really enjoy our exchanges of ideas in the last few months has kind of put me on the spot…. that is cool. This forces me to be more diligent in developing this Authority vs. Relationship thought I have begun.

In his Blog he brought up Ephesians 5: 21 which I wrote about in my last Blog. The verse is “21. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

I believe as I said before this is core to the understanding of the relational aspect of Christ. But let’s back this whole chapter up a bit. At Verse 1,2 and 3.

1. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
2. and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.

Be imitators of God… dearly loved children. Right off the bat Paul teaches this whole chapter will be about relationship. That we are to relate to God as His children.
My first child is six months old…I never thought at such a young age I would be such an influence on him…but even at this young age he will try to imitate me…one of the games we play is Incredible Hulk…. I take on the Hulk stances and go GRRRRRRR! Fischer laughs and squeals and in his own way goes grrrrr! It is more like gwierewber! But like any parent, we hear what we want to. Hahahahahaha.

My point is God wants us to be like Him…. not as the Serpent claimed, (bing equal with God) but in a loving relationship that gives us humans a model to grow into.

What is God’s character? Exodus 34:5-8

5. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.
6. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
7. maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."
8. Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.

These words stand out…. compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love, and faithful, maintaining love to the thousands and forgiving...sin.
This is the Father character of God…but then we have the authority side.

But He does not leave the guilty unpunished…even to the point were because the wickedness which can go on for generations. God will give them all the authority they desire and sadly deserve.

Now here is the kicker…. I would venture to say this…. Moses had a relationship with the living God…Moses would argue and debate and challenge…. knowing full well who God was and is. Yet, He was allowed to do these things. Why? God loved him and he loved God.
Now here I will venture a bit out on a limb…this in a way goes contrary to all teachings I have been under…
Deut 11:22-23
I have read this but have not connected this verse in my mind to relationship with God.

22. If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow--to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him--
23. then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.

God tells the Hebrews to “love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him”
Love the LORD your God. Pretty simple command here…. but then He says this.

26. See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse--
27. the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28. the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

The Blessings have always been connected to the ordinances of God…. but in the context we have the blessings connected to “love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him”.

But the curse comes if they disobeyed God “commands”.
First I see here the pattern of relationship vs. authority.
If they love God and have a relationship based on this love…. God is pleased and blessings will flow. NOT BASED ON JUST OBEDIENCE! BUT ON LOVE.

The Authority and curses kick in when there is no fellowship.
So God says, I am setting before you blessings and a curse.
Relationship or authority.

Back to Ephesians 5. A superficial reading would give one the impression Paul is then teaching “do’s and don’ts”, but in fact he is laying out that as a believers character is developed and one becomes more like our Father…the sinful things of the world become nothing in light of our relationship and become out of character with who we are and are becoming. This is much richer that having a list of don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew tobacco or date girls who do also.
Paul simply contrasts that we are to be like our Father… compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love, and faithful, maintaining love to the thousands and forgiving...sin.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Authority or Relationship?

For years I have struggled to reconcile Free Will with the traditional teachings of Grace and Eternal Security. The balance of the Freedom of Christ and the teachings of the Holiness of God and how we must be Holy. This only part of my journey to a "God centered" approach to theology.

I believe it revolves around the word Submission.
Submission is a very misused and abuse word. It has become intertwined with authority when I believe it was never intended to be as such.
I have come to see it has to do with relationship more than authority.
I do think many passages carry this authority teaching as when Jesus is dealing with demonic powers. (Luke 10: 20) yet I see a differing in the understanding of submit as taught by Paul in his epistles.

I see Paul writing how mans mind will not submit to God’s Law…not can it do so. (Romans 8:7) I see this as basically saying, “how can a mind of man who is so far away from understanding love begin to understand love”.

Now again I do see the word used in the sense of authority. But, as I look at these versus I began to see a different type of submission begin to emerge.
Ephesians 5: 21. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
To see submission in this context how can it be authority…how can we be under each other’s authority? It seems to be more saying “respect, care for, lift up, edify, hold each other up in high esteem….in other words relate to each other…to develop relationships.

The next verse 22, teaches wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord…
This has been set up as submit (build relationships with each other), so I see it continuing saying, “wives, as in your ‘relationship’ with God, have a rich and deep relationship with your husbands… I do not see this as the man has authority over you so you are lesser and he is greater.

Vs 23. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Though here one would see it look a bit like authority, I see it adds richness to the foundation already set. To be saying, relate and function as one complete person, to have a relationship so deep you are connected. Just as Christ in His love for the Church has connected to the Body being made complete in one another and functioning as the human head would relate to its own body… all in relation and as a single unit. For to separate ones head from ones body would kill both. To see it as authority then to disconnect from Christ the Head…would then kill Christ. So if it is relationship we have a holistic harmony that Paul is showing.

Vs. 24. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Again this is a call to relationship…if the Church and Christ are united in a loving harmonious relationship, then man and wife should reflect this harmony also.

Vs. 25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26. to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
27. and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
28. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Here you see the key to the submission…love. Men love your wives. No power plays or authority but sacrificial and relational with the deepest of intimacy.
It is a call to relate to her as a holy vessel for she represents the Church and Body of Christ. It is the teaching that opposes the type of structure that was present in the Jewish thought and even much of the civilized world…women are property and man rules. It is the opposite of “authority” but Divine Love in action.

You see as Christ relates to us and we grow in our faith and understanding Jesus washes us and cleanses us. As in vs. 26,27. I love my wife and I hold her thoughts and opinions over all others. We have developed over the years a trust and intimacy that really no one else but us can understand. We have over the last 20 years shared our lives, thoughts, fears, and in a sense washed each other and purified each other by the fact we have set our focus on each other and our love and building of this marriage relationship. I love my wife as if she was a part of my own body. To loose her would be as if part of myself was lost or has died. We have a sense in our relationship that it has become a complete entity in and of itself.

Vs, 29. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--
30. for we are members of his body.
31. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
32. This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

I know marriages have problems…but even through these times or especially at the hard times a man and wife must keep on developing their relationship. Continue to grow… to continue to care, as if ones wife was his own body…and also for the wife to grow to respect her husband…relationships are not easy…they take nurturing and trust and respect but mostly love, mercy and grace.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Will History Repeat Itself?

I am currently reading Harvey Cox's "Religion in the Secular City". In the book he quotes German Jewish writer Walter Benjamin who wrote and essay published in 1936 called the "Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction"...As Mr. Cox point's out the article is about art...but it can apply to religion also.

Benjamin states..."the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition”...then adds that this leads to, "the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage." Benjamin, called this the "decay of the aura".

When an artist is attempting to copy a master's painting, the one copying may get the technique of the original down to the style of the brush strokes...but it still does not capture the essence or "aura" of the loses the original artists intent and purity.

Bill H. and Rick W. are the genuine authentic originals...but something is lost when we copy...even worse when we copy a copy...the authenticity is lost.

I see nothing wrong with many of the teachers out there today...Rick states the essence of worship as "being a living sacrifice" and "worship" is not just music on Sunday morning.

The problem is that these truths are undermined and missed when put in the context of not "purpose driven life" but the copy that becomes the "program driven life". The truth is there...under the surface, just buried...Rick would be the first to say it is not programs but Jesus! But, that is the point...are we really listening? Just because Dan Kimball's "gathering" works for him do we copy it and make it work say here where I live in Billings because I am in a different culture...different people and different needs...Billings is not a mecca for run aways nor entrenched in subcultures inside subcultures. Nor does Santa Cruz have as large of a Native American culture as Montana. ( I am not saying Billings does not have the subcultures inside subcultures,just that in Santa Cruz these are more out in the open...Billings would not get the "Vagina Dialogs"...)
I have lived in Monterey and visited Santa Cruz many times by the way...

The challenge is not to set out a model that all can copy but to seek out your communities needs and culture and dynamics...and to stay pure in that with the message of Jesus Christ. If we do that, we can be a bit closer not to become like "modern" or "fundamentalist" but will be in each "Gathering" authentic.