Your Dangerous Excursion into Arrogance

“I don’t need church” she says.  “I know God’s with me.” 

“We’re doing our own thing” he says.  “Taking a break.”

 

And I wonder…

Which is our truest need: community or control?

What is our basest instinct: relationship or rebellion?

Who is our true God: Other or Self?

What is Church: community or commodity?

Why commit to those with different needs and interests: to give or to take?

 

 

“I do not necessarily have the final answer, the clearest understanding.  I have to be ready to listen to the words, directions, insights of the one who is the voice of Christ for me.  To resist those who can bring that help and guidance in my life (parents, teachers, Church) is, in Joan Chittister’s words, ‘a dangerous excursion into arrogance and a denial of the very relationships that are the stuff of which our sanctity is made.'”  – Ester de Waal, A Life-giving Way

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Which Are Your Most Valuable Relationships?

My most valuable relationships are not necessarily with people who like me the most or admire me the most or need me the most.

They may not even be with those I love the most.

They’re with people who

know Jesus,

know me, and

know me in light of what they know about Jesus.

 

They’re with people who

love Jesus and

love me and

love me with the love they’ve been given by Jesus.

 

Because it’s with these people that I can be myself.  And it’s with these people that I become the person I was created to be.

I don’t have to pretend I’ve got it all together; they know I need grace.  Nor can I remain stagnant and apathetic about growing; they love me too much to stand by and let that happen.

They’re not loving me solely because I deserve to be loved – much of the time I don’t deserve to be loved.

 

They’re loving me

because Jesus loves me and

they love Jesus and

they’re going to love Jesus by loving me.

 

These are the relationships I cherish most because

these are the relationships that reveal to me what heaven is like,

that show me the way it was meant to be,

and the way it will be in heaven.

 

And by really engaging in these relationships

by allowing myself to be known and

by doing the hard work of knowing others

I can participate in the restoring of one of the things that has been most-obviously broken by sin:

relationships between people.

 

And you can too.

What’s the Big Deal about Relationships?

Because we are so relationally broken, the value of knowing others and being known by others can sound unimportant.

We don’t get it.

But, in fact, it is an issue of ultimate importance.

Did you know that at the end of Jesus’ sermon on the mount he warns us saying that in the end some who have called Jesus “Lord”,  who have spoken to others about him, who have even performed miracles in his name

will not enter the Kingdom of heaven?

Image

Do you know why?

Do you remember what reason Jesus gives?

He says “I will tell them plainly.  ‘I never knew you.’”

And of course, on one level, as our creator, he knows us.

But he’s talking here about a real relationship.

About being allowed in.

About honesty and

emotion and

time spent being with and

love and

knowing and

being known.

This is a condition of entering the Kingdom of God.

This is a way to bring the Kingdom to earth.

This is a matter of ultimate importance.

This is a really big deal.

[from chapter 3 of Kingdom Come, Seven Ways to Experience Resurrection Here and Now, coming Easter 2014]

Just spoon-feed me.

“Can you just tell me what it says?”  She asked.

“What the Bible says?” Image

“Yes.  I need the Bible in short, simple sound bites.  Like Facebook.”

“You want to read the Bible like Facebook?”

(She raises her eyebrows and nods her head).  “Yes.”

+++

“If I give my students test instructions in paragraph form they won’t read them” he said.

“They just skip the instructions?”

“Ya.  Then they fail the exam because they’ve done it incorrectly.  If the instructions aren’t super simple, super short, and color-coded they don’t get read.”

(I raise my eyebrows and shake my head).

+++

“If you skip over the [experiences] that aren’t spoon fed to you, all you’ll end up with is eating from a spoon.” – Seth Godin

Does your prayer lean towards self-centered appeals or lifeless ritualism?

“To respond to [Jesus’ invitation to spend time with him in prayer], we need to preserve a proper balance between two forms of prayer, liturgical and personal.  The one must inform the other.  

If they are not a reflection and extension of the worship of the gathered community, personal devotions all to easily deteriorate into self-centered appeals to an idol of our own making.  For the liturgy not only praises God; it also reveals Him as He is.  It teaches us about Him as it communicates to us His very life.  

On the other hand, communal worship that is not leavened by inner prayer of the heart, by a constant invocation and exaltation of the divine Name in the depths of our personal being, is not worship at all.  It is lifeless ritualism, to be condemned as vain repetition.”

  – Fr. John Breck, Ph.D.

Like Every Other Movement of God Through History

What if it’s possible to participate in bringing heaven to earth?

What if life isn’t just about the struggle to survive, but is actually an opportunity and a calling to join God in his mission to restore all things?

What if the gospel isn’t just about being forgiven and then holding-on till heaven?

What if it’s much more than that?

What if Jesus was serious when he taught his disciples to pray to the Father in Heaven,

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”?

And what if, like in every other movement of God through history, God wants to use people like us to accomplish his will on earth?

That sounds like a great reason to live: to help bring the reign of God to earth.  To be one of the vehicles through which heavenly realities begin to take root here on earth.  To be a person who believes so fully in the goodness of the future Kingdom that I decide to start living differently here in the present.

That sounds like a “religion” I could get excited about.

[from chapter 3 of Kingdom Come: Seven Ways to Experience Resurrection Here and Now, coming Easter 2014]

You’re Invited to be a Bearer of the Second Great Moment

“The Kingdom of God involves two great moments: fulfillment within history, and consummation at the end of history.”  

– George Eldon Ladd, The Presence of the Future, The Eschatology of Biblical Realism, page 218)

 

“[Jesus] did not simply assure people of the future fellowship of the Kingdom; he invited them into fellowship with himself as the bearer of the Kingdom.  

– George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, page 78

 

[from the introduction to Kingdom Come: Seven Ways to Experience Resurrection Here and Now, coming Easter 2014]