Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Cherish; Charis; Charity

People who know me, know that I like watching sports. Being Canadian it can be properly assumed that Hockey is my favorite sport, followed closely by Football and Basketball.

There is something intensely entertaining watching the abilities and strengths of opposing players vieing for supremacy. In more relative terms it is more akin to beating each other up. It is about battling through adversity, weakness, it is about individual effort and team play, personal strength and prowess, mental preperation and fatigue, failure and mistake. It is man and team against an opponent, the equality to be determined by the outcome, usually indicated by the score. However there are times when teams play there best games in a losing effort.

The intensity of the competition requires that there are rules in place to govern and allow each team to play on an equal standing. A leveling of the field so that as far as equity can be assured it will be. Enter the referees. This is where some of the greatest of problems can develope.

I am all for referees and other game officials, they are a needed requirement of fair play in sports. What I have issue with is when these officials and the authority they have are a factor in determining the outcome of the game.

Personally I do not watch a game to see an official destroy the competitive abilities of players. There are calls that have to be made when the advantage because of unfair practices create a disadvantage for the other player or team. However, ...

I watch to see players either equally matched vie for supremacy or players assert thier dominance by superior ability and talent. I want to see the excellence in each player and team. I do not want to see penalty upon penalty over inconsequential discernments of the rules which deflate competition, frustrate players and aggravate spectators.

As one who has watched a substantial amount of sports and having played at a recreation level, I know that after a short time of play most players and teams sort out or find and develope the margins within which they will play the game, without any official intervention. Yes, there will be some questionable activities at the beginning of the competition, but barring any obstinant or overtly aggressive persons, these questionable activities will sort themselves out and the teams will settle in, essentially policing themselves, resulting, usually in a hard fought, fair and very entertaining game.

In the realm of professional sports this allows the coaches to place their best players against the oppositions best players. As a spectator that is what I want to see. Officials need to let players, play, so coaches can coach. It is an officials job to guard against unfairness, not destroy competive edge. I will admit that that may be a hard line to follow, but there are officials that are able to do just that.

Unfortunately this does not just apply to sports, life seems to be fraught with 'officials', people with self-proclaimed arm-bands refereeing the decisions and choices of players on the field of life. In life, however, these 'officials' are usually not involved close enough in the game to provide impartial judgement on the calls they make, or the penalties they impose. As an observer, spectator, I have noticed that the ones who are closest to the situation are usually the ones most suportive and less likely to penalize. It is alot like the 20 to 30,000 referees that make calls from the stands, they are not face-to-face with the altercation or infringement of the rules.

It has been said of the Church, and rightly so, that as the Army-of-God, that we are the only group of people that shoot their own wounded, it is an ailment of the Church, solely.
I have always been curious, who gave these people that authority, that power, that wonderful gift of discernment and the right to punish?

I have always believed that 'grace extended, is grace returned'; that 'but for the grace of God, there go I'; that you 'don't throw stones if you live in a glass house'; that only 'he who is without sin can cast the first stone'; and that 'of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace'.
The impetus and force of the last quotation (John 1:16) is that there is a final ending exchange of goods or services, not as in a worldly principle as in 'a serpent for a fish', but as the continuing waves of the sea coming to shore, manna new every morning, a plenitude of grace, perpetual and eternal.

In this day-and-age navigating through life is difficult. There are so many paths, by-passes, short-cuts and way-side attractions (distractions) that safely getting from point 'A' to point 'B' is a tenuous enterprise. In this game of life the Church and Christians really do not need a plethora of whistle-blowers, self-proclaimed 'refs' calling attention to any perceived violation of the 'rules'. Yes, there are sins which must be addressed, these will always exist in the Church, but, if I pass you on the left or the right, if I bump into you and rub you the wrong way or dodge your jibe and ignore insinuation and advice, if I choose to lead or follow, if I use my gifts in alternate settings, if I smoke, masturbate, drink beer or wine, or drive fast, are any of these things truly the issues that determine my salvation/your salvation? For it seems that the Christian Church is in peril because of the minutest of infractions, actions and activities and there blatant condemnation must be broadcast from far and wide and my 'sins' must be dragged through the streets like Jezebel's body. The game and the contest are over, the player has been condemned and sentenced, the final score will never be determined.

Think soberly about the words you use, the condemnation you mete out, the foot of the cross is level ground and we are all on equal footing there. The world's humanitarian mandate is 'do no harm'; the Christain's mandate is 'do unto ... as you would have'. There is a distinct difference in the two lines of thought governing our interactions.
If there is 'now no condemation in Christ Jesus' why must I or anyone be placed in the penalty box because someone has so determined? Would they penalize themselves or justify their actions?

The Christian life is not one of gaining advantage by unscrupuloulsy exploiting personal physical, mental, theological and emotional abilities to score more points. As pointed out 'I' is at the center of sin and there is no 'I' in team. I think (possibly another issue with 'I' in the center) that the premise of humility is observing and examining my own life in the context in which I would judge another's. Any perception of how another persons life is lived should be placed in the context of how I am living my life.

Grace for grace, cherish 'charis', it is truly what saves and it is what makes Christians, Christians.

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