The Way

The Way
My Journey Into the Community God Intended

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Foundational Thoughts

I just read a review of a book entitled "A Heretic's Guide to Eternity". Normally, I won't comment on a book without reading it first, so my comments here are actually on the review itself - which may or may not reflect what the original author intended.

The reviewer quotes the author as writing:

"His [Jesus] message eradicated the need for religion. It may come as a surprise, but Jesus has never been in the religion business." I could not agree more. "Nowhere does Jesus call His followers to start a religion. Jesus' invitation to His first disciples was to follow Him." Again - I agree wholeheartedly.

What I saw that disturbed me was:
"A core of this is the rejection of the belief in the inherent sinfulness of humankind, calling for the suffering and death on the cross of God's Son, Jesus."  If it was unnecessary for Jesus to suffer and die the death He did on the cross, then God is a sadist - and He is not.  This 'new age' thinking that no one needs saving, that God would not send anyone to hell, goes totally against scripture.  Scripture is clear that God is holy and will punish the unrepentant, Satan and his fallen angels in a very real place called hell.  Yes, God loves everyone, and again, as scripture states, He desires ALL to come to repentance and that Christ died for ALL.  But our sinfulness demands a blood payment and Jesus became that payment on the cross.  One only need look into the mirror to see that we are ALL inherently sinful and self-centered.  To argue this point is - well - proving the point it argues.

"Instead, the authors believe humankind is loved by God from conception and never needs saving from the wrath that would send them to hell. Instead, the real journey of the spiritual traveler is to continually move toward the understanding and experience of that surrounding and saturating Grace that has always been present, though we are often unaware of its existence."  YES, humankind is loved by God from BEFORE conception, but our need for saving (or salvation) is by far greater than our need for oxygen.  God's wrath, I believe, does not send the unrepentant to hell, but rather allows them to go there - by their own choice in life - to remain unrepentant.

I don't know that I will ever read this book in it's entirety.  I have seen groups rising up, even locally, that promote this way of thinking that goes against all scripture - that by which I must weigh everything.  But, do not take my word for it - take God's.  Get into His word and see the truth for yourself.  This truth is foundational to my faith and this thing I will defend with all that I am.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Moses, Egypt, Me & the IC

In looking back through the Old testament, I pause at the story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of bondage to the Promised Land and cannot help but draw parallels to my life in modern day.

Not to suggest that I, in any way, am even on the same level as Moses....

Moses was born a Hebrew. He was, however, raised as an Egyptian. Even thought his birth mother was his personal nurse in the house of Pharaoh, he no doubt was aware of his Hebrew heritage while growing up. But rather than be subjected to the hard life of a slave, he had the priviledge, because of his relationship with and the favor of Pharaoh's daughter, of being raised as the grandson of Pharaoh in the royal palace with all the trappings that came with that. Growing up, the future Pharaoh was his brother. He enjoyed all Egypt had to offer - while his own people (the Hebrews) and his own family - brother and sister - were forced to labor to support his lifestyle.

At some point, when waching an egyptian slave master whip a Hebrew man, Moses, stirred by guilt, perhaps, came to the Hebrew's defense, striking the Egyptian and killing him - probably accidentally. Later, when trying to stop two Hebrew men from fighting, one of them popped off, "So are you going to kill us like you did the egyptian?" Fearful that his Egyptian family would not understand his taking the life of an egyptian in defense of a Hebrew, he fled to the wilderness in a move of self-preservation.

It was during his stay in the wilderness (some 40 years later) that Moses encountered God. It was not a casual, "Hi, how ya doin'" meeting, but rather a full blown in the actual presence of the creator of the universe meeting - the kind that brings your face to the ground because you know you're not worthy to be here. At this meeting God directs Moses to lead His children, the Hebrews, out of bondage and into the Promised Land that God had promised Abraham 500 or so years before. Although he felt totally inadequate for the job, Moses finally accepted the calling and set out for Egypt to deliver the good news to the Hebrews - "God has heard your cries and is now ready to deliver you out of bondage into a glorious freedom so that you might worship Him!" somehow, I don't think Moses was quite ready for the reception he was about to receive - from the Hebrews.

Most everyone knows how the story plays out, so I won't go into great detail here. What I want for us to see is the heart of Moses. Moses was a messenger. Moses had developed "allegiances" to all of the parties involved. He was called by God to deliver His message and deal out His judgement on the egyptians. He was the Hebrew's "lost son" who was returning home to be God's instrument to set His people free. He was also the "lost son" of Egypt - retuning to tell them that His God was about to wreak untold havoc on their political, social and economic system as judgement against them - these egyptians who raised him as their own. No doubt he had many friends and step-family members he still cared about in Egypt.

The truth I want us to see is this: Moses did not return to Egypt specifically to destroy the Egyptian culture (political, social and economic systems). Although that was surely a result of the judgement God poored out, that was not Moses' calling. His calling was to lead the children of Israel out of bondage into freedom. What was the message God had Moses give Pharaoh? "Let My people go that they might go into the wilderness and worship Me." Wow.

I feel this as my calling.

God placed a calling on me to come out of the bondage I was under in the institutional church. He brought me into the freedom that was originally intended to be experienced by His children in corporate worship and body life. No longer a spectator nor the leader, but rather an equal with all God's people in the priesthood. Having experienced this freedom and knowing that bondage to anything is bad, God has also called me to reach out to others in bondage and let them know there is more to body life that attending meetings and giving money. So much more. My calling is NOT to destroy the institutional church system. My calling is to help people see it for what it is - bondage. My heart is for my fellow followers of Christ, to see them set free. There are so many followers of Jesus out there who know there must be more to body life than what the IC (institutional church) offers that are praying for God to come and deliver them (I know this to be true for I was one of those followers).

There are brothers and sisters out there who's calling is to aggressively expose the IC for the imposter it is, masquerading as the bride of Christ. My calling is rather to show followers and non-followers alike what the body is supposed to look like (according to scripture) so that they will recognize the counterfeit when they see it. Not to say that the aggressive manner is wrong - that is just not the manner in which God has called me to answer His call.