A Christian discussion blog for those interested in living a blend of Christianity that is as counter-cultural as it’s supposed to be. As a counter-culture we need to make ourselves truly different, yet also truly available – to anyone and everyone. Postmodernism is here and the Church needs to embrace a paradigm shift- (i.e.- emergence). And we need to do this while coming together (i.e. convergence). The journey continues…

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Getting Rid of My To Do List

Over the last few weeks, while listening to a sermon series from the book of Romans, I have found myself frequently "pricked" by its teachings. To be honest, I've caught myself sitting on pins and needles, hoping that the next point won't be one to "nail me" for my behavior- either now or in the past. The truth is I have been frequently indicted throughout the sermon series. It almost makes one a little afraid to attend another Sunday service!

But of course, when I step back a little from myself, I see that this is the same root problem for which Jesus condemned the Pharisees. I am guilty myself. And I know I'm not alone. The truth is, even in Evangelical North America today, many of us are still trying to feel liberated and exempt because of the relative goodness of our actions. We know that it is grace through faith that saves us, but even so, we like to know that we're on God's "good list"- relatively speaking, now that this whole "salvation" issue has been taken care of. And that's just all wrong. Even on my absolutely best day, I am a cosmos or two away from the standard God has set.

But that's not the point I really want to deal with. Another thing that has come to light in this experience is my "felt need" to be able to neatly package a list of actions that are either right or wrong in God's eyes. And when I say "neatly package" I mean right down to the smallest detail. And that too is Pharisaical. I have to admit that it matters to me, not only that I am "innocent", but that pretty much everyone who calls themselves a Christian would agree that I'm innocent. I just don't like gray areas. I want to know, is what I'm doing right or wrong- period. But to quote C.S. Lewis here, doing this, reducing the teachings of Jesus to a mere list of do's and don'ts, is kind of like "trying to bottle a sunbeam".

While there are specific examples where Jesus said "do this" and "don't do this", there are many more examples where what he said seemed to depend on the context of what was happening, and even more importantly, on the context of the heart (i.e. motive) behind what was happening. Just when I think I've pinned him, I read a parable or something somewhere else and realize that my shiny, white platitude has a glitch of sorts.

Even if you examine the fruits of the Spirit, you realize this is the case. They are not merely a list of actions. They are specific enough for us to understand, but not quite specific enough for us to fully grasp or ever "nail down". That is to say, you never really arrive in pursuing the fruits of the Spirit; you just keep moving in closer and closer orbital approximations to a fuzzy-set center.

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