He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon
Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Faith, the object and focus of Christian life. Faith is an indeterminate aspect of our existent. It is also that which provides the substance for action in the Christian life. It may be said that faith is our religion, apart from God, an idol formed by Christians to assuage life's uncertainties and remove the 'question' (whatever the 'question' is for you) from life. We use faith to override our indecisiveness and provide sanity to face the vagaries and absurdities of existence. We desire in relationship with a sovereign and omnipotent Authority to have certain assurances and guarantees, by association with, and reliance upon. We seek to have infallibility. Life operates in contradiction to that viewpoint, creating disharmony. Faith is in question as an automatic occurrence of decision-making, there exists no place of absolute certainty in life's course. In fact, even if we will not admit, we make decisions with the best information at hand, knowing that absolute certainty will never be attained. Faith becomes in Christian context a mental exercise by which we use faith as the fulcrum point of a lever in order to posture a decision to a point where we can live with the uncertainty and lack of guarantee and believe that we are in accordance with the will of God. In this there is an exclusion of doubt, and whether it is the truth as a place of peace with God or a levering of the weight of the decision to placate anxiety, there has to be a removal of the absurdity of the ambiguous, the element of the indistinct, the essence of 'question'.
Faith is an antagonist, it sets itself against the norms of this world, it stands against rationalism, it is set apart from common sense, it is unnatural, it is anti-impulsive.
Faith is revelatory, spiritual, inspirational. Faith is active, always; instrumental, constantly; trying, pervasively; testing, incessantly; personal, ideally; purifying, wholly; life-changing, practically; senseless,truthfully; working, actually; possessive, not without a fight; living; difficult; it is the alchemy of the soul, the reality of revelation. Faith declares God and maintains that the worth of life, the declaration of the clarity of God's character in my mind, is found in relationship with Him through the power of Jesus Christ and His indwelling of me.
"Without faith it is impossible to please Him." Hebrews 11:6
Friday, October 19, 2007
[Religious man] must therefore live in the godless world, without attempting to gloss over or explain its ungodliness in some religious way or other. He must live a "secular" life, and thereby share in God's sufferings. He may live a "secular" life (as one who has been freed from false religious obligations and inhibitions). To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself (a sinner, a penitent, or a saint) on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man--not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life.
During the last year or so I've come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity. The Christian is not a homo religiosus, but simply a man, as Jesus was a man..." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Micah 6:8 (NKJV) He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 7:18 (NKJV) Who is a God like You,pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever,because He delights in mercy.
Job 1:8 (NKJV)Then the Lord said, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?"
The man Job, exhibiting purity and holiness in the inner man, exhibiting righteousness in the outward man.In the description given of Job we see a representation of servant hood,priesthood and those traits duly noted by God as being that which is commendable and worthy. We also see a denotation of the example of supreme piety existent in Job's life and the reverence by Job for the worship of God and the avoidance of doing evil.
As Christians we are to strive and live a life honouring of God, a life characterized by virtues consistent with an understanding of the scriptural application of the workings of God (through the revelation of His Word) in His people. It is amazing that God the Sovereign, Omnipotent Creator of all that exists chooses to allow through the frailty, vanity and absurdness of men the glorification of His Name. He who can find no other expression of His existence in name except by calling Himself the 'I Am', chooses the option of having men proclaim His worth and merit as One who is to be esteemed, revered, held in awe, venerated.
Within this context, we find ourselves thrown into the world, an abyss of contrary notions of existence,a chasm of dissimilar discernment's as to the meaning of being, an immeasurable cavern of conflicting opinions of life, its measurement, its value.
We are to be the one's upholding the ultimate expression of love and sacrifice without being tainted by the world's obvious and invasive pursuits. In this context we are none other than men who must exist in one world, physically, while maintaining citizenship spiritually, emotionally and mentally in another. The other exists primarily as a vision, without formal substance, without a physical existence discernible from the viewpoint of life.
The reality of expressing a Christian life in a valid format, with the intent of being attractional to those with whom I come into contact is an impossibility. My exclusion from society due to the beliefs that I have mean that my contact is minimized. I am just a man doing a job, attending a church, raking my lawn or any other expression of the menial aspects of life. Even in the aspect of character my beliefs will be non-descript. The only aspect of my belief system of any value to the world around me is those character traits esteemed by all men in society. Honesty, courage, sacrifice, work ethic and other such 'virtuous' characteristics are also evident in our culture apart from Christianity, and some times with more substance than Christians are able to offer. The essence of being secular in the world or the thought of my worldliness is built upon a consistent effort to live a life of non-judgemental hypocrisy. In other words I must live with the reality that there exists in me as with all other men a desire and longing and searching of those things common to all men.
However, I must also live in that reality an example of what it means to be a man of God, consistently striving against and indicating to others my inclination to live apart from the blatant, apart from the common, apart from the things that degrade, apart from the normal exercises of men, apart from any and all things which affect my relationship with God and dishonour the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
However, in contradiction to the previous statement, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says "it is not only what is said that matters, but also the man who says it". Heavy emphasis on 'the man' as opposed to the 'the saint'. A man in the secular world must be an overcomer, a man created by God living a distinct or peculiar existence, a man not sequestered from life's trials and errors, a man exposed to life's dangers, fears and pain. A man who has the strength of character to face life's difficulties, not in or with an assumption that these things are necessarily 'good'. I must live and understand pain and suffering. The hardest thing about being a parent and a Christian is convincing and being convinced that Santa Claus has died.
In John 18:36 (NASB-U) Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." Active Christians live in a shop window, our busy lives indicating our devotion and service to our kind. Our stresses and strains are different then when Jesus spoke these words, but the intent of the passage remains the same. The Kingdom is in the heart and our ability to handle and cope are indicators of the depth of our residing and abiding belief in that Kingdom and its subsequent and inevitable victory in the circumstances and situations orchestrated by God in His effort to cleanse, mature, and deepen our understanding of the things of God.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Conversations are unique aspects of our ability to communicate with one-another. Conversations are not the means by which all the information required to make decisions is arrived at. Communication is enhanced in conversation by the subtle ques expressed through body language, environment, even the very process of how information is extracted via questions and statements reflecting the values and views of individuals. It is in the person-to-person interaction of conversation, as compared to a phone-call or e-mail,etc., that the quality of information exchange is at its best. We function, despite the technological capabilities at our disposal, as people when we as people give vent to our thoughts and feelings in circumstances requiring eye contact. It is in community that this aspect of exchanging knowledge is most prevalent. I am not talking about the weather, the fail-safe conversation-saver, which people fall back on to avoid the awkwardness of silence. I am referring to the exchange of those burdens upon our hearts, those things we hold dear, those ideas that require expression, the thoughts that interrupt our life and need clarification to move on. I am talking about community, where the things which I value are expressed in conversation, not only by my words, but by your interest in me because I have value in your eyes, and that value is expressed by the involvement you have with me through conversation, by the importance you give to the weight of my thoughts. I am talking about conversation reflecting those things shared in common, as people united in like-minded pursuits, as people who share and are willing to be associated with one-another. My willingness to communicate with you and your willingness to listen. This is reciprocal, I hope I did not have to state that for clarity's sake.