Sunday, June 28, 2015

Using the Buoy To Survive in the Sea of Cultural Crisis

Rather than learning to swim to survive, Christians adrift in a sea of post-modernism continue to grasp for a buoy that fails to provide them with the security they think they desperately need.

The Bible is the bouy.

Yes, the Bible has provided and can continue to provide a modicum of spiritual security and sustenance but when truly examined as a long term plan for spiritual health and independence, it falls short- by its own admission. The Bible itself teaches that when in the sea of current cultural and historical context, the follower of Jesus has an internal Source of survival, yea even a Source of direction, that frees us of an unhealthy attachment to and dependence on the Bible-bouy.

It's called the Spirit of God/Christ.

We can see this teaching played out very practically and relevantly when the first followers found themselves in a rhubarb regarding circumcision of early Gentile followers (Acts 15).  Instead of restricting this text to a historical account of a fresh theological understanding of how non-Jewish believers like me no longer are required to get snipped to be accepted in the club, it may serve us better to view this passage as a model of how to face cultural and contextual crises as they emerge over the centuries yet to come.

Consider the problem for those who passionately loved Jesus and the "Bible" that was revered by all, including Jesus himself! Circumcision was instructed by God as the identification for all (obviously men- a fact that in itself should reveal its limitations and male-driven perspectives rampant at that
time) who would be a part of a committed covenant relationship with God. It was documented and codified in the Torah (read: Old Testament) and practiced religiously for centuries. Questions about its practice, relevance or need were simply not entertained. Like today, those who would question it would be seen as heretics as they would be questioning the Bible, God, and orthodoxy.

But the problem was that uncircumcised people-men and women- were experiencing an undeniable committed (new)covenant relationship with God EXACTLY like those who had obediently followed the historical and biblical practice instituted by God Himself! This didn't make sense to the Jesus-loving  biblicists at that time.

I can only imagine that had the blogosphere and Facebook existed then that it would've looked eerily similar to what we witness today, especially in regard to homosexuality. After all, I can safely say that
I know practicing gays who evidence as much, if not more of a committed faith and practice in the
ways of Jesus as me. I, like the apostles in Acts 15, have to conclude that no matter what the Bible says, there are people who are experiencing God like the rest of us contrary to a few quotable biblical passages. And, like the statement issued by that notorious Jerusalem Council, no one- especially those of us who have loved, revered, read and quoted the Bible (including, sad to say, verses condemning homosexuality) should get in the way of or make if hard for people to experience Christ.

Church reform and cultural renaissance in the 1500's, slavery in the 1800's, and equality of women in the 1900's have gone through the crucible of biblical scrutiny and come out (accept the pun!) on the other side embraced by Bible believing followers of Jesus.  What we easily accept now could not have been easy for those Bible loving people wrestling with these issues in their time and place.

Sexual orientation and practice in the 2000's is facing the same challenges and the model provided for us in Acts 15 can (and should) get us to the other side of this issue even if it is difficult. It was no
doubt difficult for many in the room at that momentous meeting to accept a new way of living in the Spirit of God that felt like it contradicted that which was believed to be initiated and blessed by that same Spirit.

So instead of expecting the bouy to be that which saves us, perhaps we can trust that which transcends and is supported by the bouy to accept that God's ways are not our ways.

And apparently, sometimes God's ways are not even His ways as we have come to expect them to be.

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