Saturday, May 15, 2010

Modern Myths

Someone posted this quote recently, and the conversation was relevant so I am posting it here.

"It is a modern myth that you can know and love Him and not have a transformed life by Him."

I am posting some of my own responses:
It is much more of a modern myth that the goal is transformation instead of knowing and loving. 'In this is love, not that we love God, but that God loved us' - 1John 4:10

To this came the response:

Biggest myth: That knowing and loving are separate from the transformation.

"This is love for God - That we obey his commands"
I John 5:3

Uh, we... don't... ever... attain perfection... in knowing/loving/transformation.

But if we're following, shouldn't we be continually getting better at it? I'm not not one to see k/l/t as some binary ("either/or") thing. This Romans text seems to show it more as a process, yes?
Here is my response:

I think the engine, the animus, the dunamis, to the Christian life is wholly other than trying to continually 'get better.' It starts with finding our treasure, hidden in the field, and then FROM JOY OVER IT (Mt 13:44) making sacrifices and life changes. It starts with saying, yes, morally, I am a miserable mess, I need rescue. It continues (read Galatians) by grace. Always there is the struggle with sin (Rom 7) but always there is no condemnation (Rom 8:1) and always there is the open door to walk by the Spirit (first half of Rom 8). Nothing, not even sin, can keep us from the love of Christ (rest of Rom 8).

My starting place and my continuing animus is that I am the one who is loved by the Father, greatly greatly loved. Sin and righteousness cannot change that or increase it. Our works are a gift (Eph 2:8-10), or fruit. As Christians we have left the universe of earning favor, of criticism and judgement. It is living in the light of that favor, that joy, that great great happiness, that the power to work works comes to us, that our life becomes transformed.

Focusing on the transformed life instead of focusing on knowing Him and knowing that He first loves me, is like the guy going and selling all he has as a discipline, and then hoping he stumbles on a treasure. It simply doesn't work that way, it is all a sham, all a white-washed tomb. If our works aren't coming from joy over it, they are dead ones.

Further, don't argue with ME about it, I am nothing and I am completely stubborn in my insistence on grace and mercy and the sufficiency of Christ's blood for me every day. Look at yourself, to see if you are living under grace, if you have found your treasure hidden, if you have a constant sense of the Father's fondness for you. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance.
Now, some other thoughts about all of this...

Here is where I see so many getting so lost in a depressing colorless lifeless pursuit of morals and a Christian version of pharisaism. It comes through very subtle back door deceptions, very well-meaning fervor. We have an emphasis on a "transformed life", and even on "knowing and loving God", which are sort of pitted against each other. You can't do the one unless you do both. The truth is you can't do either one, they are both impossible and onerous tasks. The Christian walk is characterized as looking at Christianized versions of laws and edicts, such as 'being in the word', 'praying more', not masturbating, not skipping church, doing youth ministry so you can inflict 'youth' with your same disease, or whatever, and gradually 'getting better' at it all. I personally cannot get fired up about a spirituality that is only about looking at how well I conform to such things, frankly it is boring and bereft of life. The focus is on a transformed life, whereas I think the focus should be on God's love for me, God's spirit leading us, and on TRUTH! Does this mean I advocate masturbation and prayerlessness? Of course not; I feel like I am continually circling around romans 3-8, with special emphasis over and over on Romans 6:1. But really, however cleverly and poetically you put it, such as "A transformed life ... " ta da ta da ta da, if your message really boils down to, stop masturbating and pray more, how do you expect people to really get fired up about it? Pray to who? Some fairy tale invisible entity who hates me, who won't let me love Him unless my life is 'transformed', which means actually that you intend to trick me into joyless colorless 'holiness' by getting me to fear His wrath and retribution?

Furthermore, here is what will happen in the inevitable dialog. "No - of course that's not what I mean!" "What do you mean then?" "I mean you should have a transformed life." "How do you know?" "Well, ... ." "Oh, well, isn't that what I was saying?" And on and on and on down the rabbit hole it goes. Of course no Christian will own up to being a legalistic pharisee, but until they are willing to say that it is faith in the blood of Christ + NOTHING ELSE that justifies us, until that translates into complete genuine freedom, until it finds a place for holiness as a fruit of being first loved by Him, until they advocate scandalous grace like Jesus and Paul and John, they ARE a legalistic pharisee. If you aren't getting romans 6:1 ("shall we then sin all the more that grace might increase??") put to you over and over and over by religious zealots, until you are experiencing some real persecution by the same kinds of people that persecuted Jesus, you have to wonder if you are really following in His shoes and preaching the same outstanding and delicious message that He did!

I am certain I am stepping on all kinds of toes here, so I apologize in advance, but I hope and pray that the beautiful truth that the Holy Spirit is trying to get across to the dear person who stumbles across this will come forth.


Krause's Corner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim McNeely said...

Robert, strangely enough, the more I dialog with you, the less problem I have with what you are saying. I obviously have come to a place where I strongly emphasize grace, I think until we enter heaven we will continue to be sinners who need it. I think that if you look at the whole scripture from the perspective of grace then all the pieces of the puzzle fall together in a way that honors the whole scripture unlike any other way of looking at it. However, I don't really think you disagree with that. This post wasn't really directed at you anyway. I know you and Betty have been in dialog, and I've been watching all of that unfold and talking to her about it. I think it is probably true that most Christians don't honor the OT enough but they don't really honor the NT much either. The largest truth is that we are loved first by the Father. I don't think you disagree with that either.

My main animus is that I think I have a beautiful beautiful message, a message truly born of God and given of God, which I am working out, and I just want to live it and share it. I'm not trying to wiggle out of any kind of obedience. You have no idea how consistently I have to go to the mat for this.