A system is what a system does

27 06 2008

For me a lot of stuff changed in 2007. I was sitting in a Church service with my then girlfriend (and now wife) and listening to a guest speaker. This wasn’t my usual church I was just visiting.
The speaker was David Peters. His wife was a quadriplegic, and they toured the country together sharing their experiences and how it had impacted their faith. It was a powerful testimony to everyone who attended. The power I believe came in the fact that they were so open and honest with the struggles they had. They asked the same questions everyone else asked, yet somehow they did not waiver in their faith in God. I was amazed. But there was another element that I had overlooked. David Peters claimed to have a prophetic gift.

In the middle of his sermon he stopped and pointed directly at me (it was a small service of around 100 people) and said something I will never forget. “You will become radicalised for God and it will start with His word” – I was a bit shocked. I had never really been singled out in a service like that.
I’d had prophecies over my life before but nothing like this. The words may seem simple but they have echoed in my mind everytime I pick up the Bible or a theology book.

Its like i’ve been bitten by a bug. I can’t stop studying theology, I can’t stop reading it. I have a deep desire to get to know the word in ways I havent before. It many ways it has proved to be very fruitful, but being radicalised by the word is only half the pursuit. God is not just a God of ideas, or abstractions. He is a real and living God. He is the God that lives within us and this is what I am struggling with right now. I understand what good theology is, and I understand most of the arguements. But when did being a Christian become about having all the answers? When did it become something to use to outsmart someone else? Paul was right when he said “Knowledge puffs up”. It has someways become that for me. But I yearn for God to change me through what I learn. I yearn to experience a deeper relationship with Jesus by worshiping him in SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH ! I’m getting the truth part down by studying the word and learning how to think correctly. I am all to aware of how sin  has messed up my ability to think and comprehend truth.

But what does it mean to worship God in spirit?  It is something I am still working through. I have some thoughts.  Perhaps as Christians we have allowed a type of dualism to creep into the Church. Ever since Plato separated the world into the things that matter and that which doesnt matter, and the part that matters is not matter. So in short – all matter bad, and only ideas good. Some people took that to mean that if the body is bad then it is to be shunned, and scorned, beaten into submission. Surely arrogance would have been the only logical emotion for those who succeeded. Then there were the others who took it to mean, if the body doesnt matter then what does it matter what I do, as long as I have good ideas I’m fine. People were given over to vile passions, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. We can draw a parallel with our postmodern culture here.
Dualism has entered the Church throughout history and in light of it has meant we now see a split between Spiritual and Natural.

An argument put forward against this idea by Mark Strom is to say that the phrases “Life in the Spirit” should be read as “A life fashioned after the person of Jesus”.
“Life in the Flesh” should be read as “A life fashioned after the person of Adam”. I can see the potential for misunderstanding. Life in the spirit does not mean that you have try and work hard to shape your life to be just like the person of Jesus. Its an action taken by the Holy Spirit who works in us to “will and to do”. This is not something we do by our own effort.

This leads me a little closer to a conclusion. Worshiping in Spirit does not mean my mind and flesh go for a walk. It is the Spirit that illuminates the truth for us, and gives us insight. But it is also the word which teaches us about the nature of the Spirit. Its easy to see how this dualism crept in, it makes sense. If the Holy Spirit is real and we can’t see Him then he must be like a Ghost. But if we understand it as a life fashioned after Jesus then we see that Life in the Spirit began when Jesus rose from the dead. Eternity broke through into the present and began with Jesus.

I’m still working through this idea and you may notice that I have not mentioned Spiritual Gifts, Speaking in Tongues, Prophecy and all that some would associate with this passage. Those will be discussed later when I have time to do an exegesis on 1 Corinthians 14, that is where I’m headed.
The point of this post is to say that Studying theology purely for the sake of knowledge is pointless, it must result in a changed life. Faith apart from works is dead. But the problem with that is that we want to start from the wrong end, we want to start with works and drum up some Faith, rather what the text is saying is that works are the evidence of Faith, not the source.




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