Today’s Sunday Devotional is a guest post by my Facebook friend Bob Chase.
In the South Texas, USA desert, I used my tactical boot to flip a large black beetle off his back and onto his legs. Then repeatedly. Each time that I righted that top-heavy scarab, it mounted a small hose and flipped. Legs-in-the-air is a dangerous position for a creature with a hard-shelled back and a soft belly.
At Christian conversion, we fall to our knees; our sins are pardoned, and we stand. At times we go topsy-turvy as we learn the ways of the Kingdom while negotiating the world. Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6
Big black beetles flip on their backs because of their high centre of gravity. Evolution did not give them a means to right themselves, because for millennia they dwelled in soil. They are woefully unprepared for small hoses.
New Christians climb over familiar patterns of thought and behaviour that abruptly are reclassified as sinful. Patient discipleship of mature Christians helps them to master the disciplines that promote spiritual growth, including prayer, silence, simplicity, Bible study, acts of generosity, and loving others as Christ does.
Christian conversion is a mystical, transforming experience that sets us on our feet. Borrowing from Jerry Herman in the musical Hello Dolly, “It only took a moment to be loved a whole life long.” Remaining on our feet is a process of maturing.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
I’m pleased to share a guest post by my online friend Adam Howie.
Adam’s Bio: Gamer of many a genre, geek of various forms, bordering on nerd, oft a wannabe thinker and ponderer, but mainly trying the journey of a digital and traditional media artist.
Over the last ten or so years, although to be honest this probably has its roots much further back, I have been going through a self-critical journey of examination and periods of reflection on what it means when I say, “this is what I believe”. This goes from the smallest seemingly insignificant parts, to the largest and perhaps core concepts of my beliefs system, and not just what many would call “religious” either.
Partly this evolved from the root of the idea behind the quote attributed to Socrates above, although probably when I started this process, I really wasn’t aware of that quote. It was also born from my experiences in university of being challenged over my beliefs and being confronted with the beliefs of others who could articulate their reasons. This was when I came to firmly embrace the idea that “just because” was rarely, if ever, a valid response as to the “why do you believe X?”.
A number of years later I encountered the work of Peter Rollins (“Idolatry of God”, “The Divine Magician”) which among other elements further exposed me to new facets and concepts, such as the work of the mystics, Lacan, Hagel, “dialectics”, “the lack”, and a whole swathe of other fascinating ideas that I had not been exposed to before, but at the heart, I guess, of it was embracing the unknowability, the uncertainty of reality. His work and exploration of belief/doubt/etc have been instrumental in this journey, along with of course a myriad of other thinkers etc.
One key element throughout this journey was a “creed” that I started as a way to codify my beliefs into a more logical way but has become much more of a “living document”, a way to reflect upon my journey, that I revisit, reword, and even completely rethink parts of as I continue this journey. This creed details everything from my understanding of the divine, to the nature of community, to my positions on societal and political issues, at least at a high concept level. Through the years I have went back, tweaked small parts, and rewrote entire swathes of text, reread, and reaffirmed some elements, while wholesale removed some parts.
While doubts and questioning all things of faith and belief is good, I do hold, do not find any contradiction with this process in this, that when it comes to the realms of the scientific, those parts where peer review, examination, testing, experimentation, etc can provide to varying degree of certainty answer we must acknowledge the limitations of our own understandings and trust those things where science provides such answers. This isn’t a contradiction or invalidation of accepting doubt, or questioning beliefs, rather confirming our belief in the processes and rigours tools behind the answers they seek to provide, yet even they admit that science is journey too, where they delve ever deeper into the mysteries created by those very answers.
Instead of my usual Sunday devotional, I’m pleased to share a guest post by an online friend, Andrew King. Andrew is married to Sarah, a tutor at the Salvation Army Training College. In a varied life, he’s been a sausage designer, a preacher, a lecturer, a granite salesman, and a photographer. He also climbs mountains.
Talk about God, and talk about 10 minutes.
So, it is said, went the advice from the bishop to the curate, and it isn’t too bad. There is one issue with it, though. Perhaps we have taken it too much to heart, and as a result we quite often talk about God, but much more rarely talk about Jesus.
That is a shame, or worse. In the church today, God has been “flattened out” into a rather vague, faceless, shapeless force. And that is very sad – not simply because we have failed to tick some dusty doctrinal box marked “Trinity”, but because we are missing the heart of our faith.
God has made himself known – and above all he has done that in the person of his Son. If we want to really talk with God, to know him – not as Force, but as Father – then we need to meet him in the Son. And the way we know him as Son is in Jesus: Jesus as revealed in the gospels of the New Testament.
Now my friend John and I are from slightly different camps theologically. And there are plenty of wider extremes available! You may think “every word of the gospels is literally true” or that all four books are basically works of pious fiction and that we can know next to nothing about the historical Jesus if he even existed. In a sense, I’m not going to bother with that question here.
No – my challenge to you, whichever camp you’re from, and especially if you have responsibility to care for a church, or corps, a little group of God’s people, is to talk more about the Jesus we see in those books. However literal or mythical you think those gospel stories are, just tell them.
Put people in the place where they can see and feel how amazing it was when Jesus touched lepers. See the look on the face of the woman, outcast for 12 years because of her gynae problems, as she is called “daughter” by him. Sense Jairus’ desperation as he throws all dignity aside and begs for Jesus to help his dying daughter. Get some plaster dust in your hair as you relive what it was like when the friends lowered the paralysed man through the roof. Feel the emotions as the woman bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears. Help people to see the man who was at the centre of all of those stories. Talk about how he headed for Jerusalem even when his friends thought he was crazy to go to his death.
Talk about ten minutes, and talk about Jesus.
When we see him, we see God. As we come to know him, we come to know God. And as we interact with him, so God changes us.
Talk about Jesus. You and your hearers will not remain unchanged.