Consistency & The Grace Full Conversation

21 08 2008

Well its been an interesting week. My wife and I both spent a week at home recovering from a nasty flu. While I would normally say that anytime away from work is good time, there are only so many movies you can watch. It got old pretty quickly. I’m still getting over my cough, it creeps up every so often when I’m on the phone with clients. No matter how much medicine I have taken over the past week nothing helped me more than a good sleep. Funny how that works. The most effective measures we have are sometimes the most frustrating. But the week was not a total loss. It has given me a lot of time to think and ponder over some of the issues in my own life. 

The first challenge I had was to live consistently with my worldview. I consider myself a follower of Jesus Christ, a Bible believing Christian, a Monotheist. I believe that God the Father created the world through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy spirit and that He is also active throughout history and in every aspect of the world. That includes my life. However the challenge has been to live as if that were true. Too often I live as a Deist. That is to live as if God created the world, set things in motion and then left us to get on with life apart from Him. Nowhere do this become more clear to me than when I am sick. I trust the power of medicine more than I trust the power of the creator of the universe to heal me. I’m not putting down medicine or doctors, or the gift of a sound mind God has given me to do the right thing. But when did I start trusting these things more than God? The same power that raised Jesus from the dead now dwells within me and I would do well to remember that. (I could make the same charge of an atheist who believes in naturalism. If life is truly is survival of the fittest then lets praise Hitler and Stalin for their amazing ability to eradicate the world of those who are not fit to dwell within it)

I’m also keenly aware of how that thinking has been abused in the past. Just last week I spoke to my friend who goes to a rabidly arminian pentecostal/charasmatic church. The sermon was about climbing the mountain and the higher you climb the more you can see, the more you can see the more you can get [reffering to possessions – emphasis mine]. Did I miss something there? When did following Jesus become all about how many posessions I can amass? I could go on about that church but sometimes I have to acknowledge that they are sincerely trying to follow the Lord just as I am. I am eternally grateful for a decent understanding of Grace. 

Recently my church had a seminar series that spanned five weeks. Two of those weeks were devoted to the doctrine of the Ttrinity. The more I listened and wrestled with what was being presented I came to a startling realisation. The same realisation that many of the disciples did after Jesus’ death and resurrection. There is so much more to Jesus than I ever realised before. Nobody killed Jesus but he gave himself willingly for us. He now stands in my place and mediates between me and the Father. His blood covers my sins. Not only that if we truly believe that Jesus is God, then as much as the Father raised Jesus from the dead, then Jesus must also have raised Jesus from the dead. It may be mind boggling but it has certainly given me a lot more to think about.  I love what Mark Strom said, “Its as if you now have a pair of Jesus spectacles on your eyes and it takes a while to get used to seeing everything that way, and the trouble with those spectacles is that they are trifocals. Meditatating and dwelling on these truths would help a lot more than fighting over doctrine.

In my spirit there is a hunger to know Jesus more, not to just know facts about Him, but to truly know Him in a real way. The author of Hebrews said that in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son. For Paul he resolved to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. For Him to live was Christ and to die was gain. Can I really say that about my life? Those are some big statements to make and if I’m honest I don’t live like that everyday.  In the same way I dont just want to know good doctrine but I want to be impacted by and live out good doctrine. If I truly believe the doctrine of total depravity, that no man can chose God without divine intervention then why do I live like the Pharisees in Mark 7? They wanted to pick themselves up by their own moral bootstraps instead of trusting God to give them a new heart. If I believe that salvation is by grace through faith then why do I live as if I have to keep earning it? Resting in grace is not something that is easy to do. It goes against everything I’ve been taught.

Sometimes it is not what we believe, in terms of facts and figures, that counts. Anyone can amass a set of facts about the Bible. In the 17th century theology was considered a “gentleman’s hobby”. But to truly know the Father as revealed by Christ through the Holy Spirit, in the scriptures is something totally different. My heart is not to condemn those who feel like me but to share where I am with my faith. I am tired of clichés. What I think we need more than a sermon, church service or book is a conversation. A group of people getting together to retell the story of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, and then to ask the question of what this means for us. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? Have all the fights about eternal security, or unconditional election that you want. Keep your new or old perspective on Paul. I make the call to everyone anywhere who names Jesus as Lord.  The point of being a Christian is not to have a definitive position on every issue that there is out there. The point is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Let us return to the grace full conversation about faith and everyday life.




2 responses

24 08 2008
m slater

I hope you and your wife are feeling better, as much as we may all like time off from work, when you feel like that its not any kind of real break. A few months ago I was down pretty hard and had to take NyQuill to be able to sleep without coughing all night, that stuff made me feel almost as bad as the cold did though, not fun at all.

“What I think we need more than a sermon, church service or book is a conversation. A group of people getting together to retell the story of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, and then to ask the question of what this means for us.”
Very well stated and I agree wholeheartedly. I would say though that at its best, theology is not dry debates and the tallying of points against an opponent (though it unfortunately degenerates into that more than one would like), but rather an embodiment of exactly the sentiment you expressed there. Done right, theology is indeed a form of worship, a prayerful exercise of retelling the story of the mission of God as seen in Jesus in a way which sheds new light on both his revelation and on the path that we as the church are to take in this broken but to be redeemed world.
I think the conversational side of it is why I find myself spending less time on forums and more time on various blogs and discussing these things in person. I think the forum format to often turns into debate for the sake of debate, whereas in blogging people take the time to express more fully where they are coming from and (if you are in the right place) they are both giving their own thoughts and honestly hoping to interact with the thoughts of others.
Let us hope that we see the church increasingly approach theology in the way you stated, what a difference that would make no?

24 08 2008

yeah being sick sucks ! Thanks for the kind words. It always helps to try and ascertain where someone actually stands on a theological position before debating with them. I agree forums are not as helpful as I first thought they were. I way prefer blogs, but I have to limit my blogging there are just too many things to blog about and I’d never get any work done LOL.

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