04 April 2006

Get ready, it's a doosie

I'm so sorry for not posting for a while. We had a little bit of adventure (classic definition: someone decides something for you and you have to deal with it). Erik decided to take a look at some just boiled rice, and dumped it and the little bit of water left in the pot over himself. Some screams, a trip to the hospital emergency ward, and a number of days of redressing, and we are starting to get over the accident. Erik has a burn on his elbow that has healed up about 90% already, and two more burns on his hip. Those on his hip will take a little longer to heal.

So, now I'm back, with a lot of ideas to hash out with you all. The first one regards religious identification, the second religious duty, the third dreams, the fourth will be any other thought that may still be wandering around this junkyard of a mind.

So, lets get too it. Point number one: religious identification. What is it that identifies us? What is it about us that people see by which they know what we believe? The way we dress? The house we live in? The smile we wear on our face? How well worn our Bible is? How many meetings we attend at church? How many times we say "God Bless you!"? How many times we share the Gospel each day? How many times we invite people to church? What is it that people see that undeniably identifies us as Christians?

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35

Ok, I understand, a gross simplification, but isn't that part of the paradox? So our defining mark is whether or not we love each other, ie. other Christians. So, do we? So, is it? Are we doing our utmost for each other? Are we willing to die for each other (wasn't there a verse about that somewhere?)?

So, our defining mark is not so much our love for "the world" (has this ever been definitivly defined?), or for missions, or for the poor, or for sinners, or for _____ (fill in the blank with your favorite spiritually significant target group). Our defining mark is whether or not we love each other, whether or not we care about each other, whether or not we really want the best for each other.

Again, I know it's a gross simplification, for now, maybe we can develop this thought a little, or we can cut it down to nothing.

Ok, on to thought number two: religious duty. What are we expected to do? Because we are Christians we do this because that is what Christians do. Is it going to church? Is it going on missions? Is it going door to door sharing the gospel? Is it standing on a soapbox on a street corner yelling "The end is near!"? Is it reading your Bible regularly? Is it praying before meals? Is it praying before you go to bed? Is it sending in cheques to TV evangelists?

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matt. 22:36-40

So, again a gross simplification, but I like paradoxes so here we go. Our duty, to love God and to love our neighbour. So are we doing what is best for God, and what is best for our neighbour? If everything hangs on these two, are we doing it? Are these the two most important things for us? Are these the things that drive us. Our purpose for living, our mission, our mantra, our vision, our ______ (fill in the blank with another big word).

If we really desire to strip away everything else that distracts, to simplify things to the essentials, to "get real"; then why not begin with the most important things? Why not put in the 'big rocks' first then see if something else fits? Are we really loving God, or do we just say it? Are we really loving our neighbours, or do we just say we do.

I know, another gross simplification, but hey, I'm on a roll.

Thirdly, the topic of the day is dreams. I've been wrestling with this one for a while. I've got my dreams, stuff I'd really like to do. Things I love to do, and would love to find a way to be able to do them a lot more. And a number of years ago I would have gladly just up and done them, but now I've got a family. I have kids (amazing I know, not many two year olds are already more mature than their Dad, but mine is!). So I have a responsibility to provide. But shouldn't I be an example to them of dedicating your life to something meaningful? Should I be an example of settling for security, or should I teach them how to risk by example? Won't it be good for them to live through some of my mistakes, only to realize that humans are a very hardy bunch able to withstand copious ammounts of adversity? But wouldn't that be irresponsible? Parents just don't do that kind of thing. They must be good examples (of what, boredom and unfulfilled compromise?).

Not that I will be taking unneccessary risks, but that I still take risks to make my dreams happen. To do the things I need to do, and to pay the price for them. If they are really that important, am I willing to pay for them? Or are our dreams not worth anything at all? Is 'family' really more important (a loaded question I am sure)? Is a career outside of your dreams really all that it is cracked up to be? Why can't dreams come true, and pay the rent, and buy the groceries? Why can't we take our dreams, make an investment in them, and then make them pay out?

Ok, not a simplification. Hopefully just an honest question.

So, now we are left with whatever is left in my brain....

Not much, sorry, give me a couple more days, and feel free to respond and help me find the truth in all of these questions.

I'll finish with this, I've heard it said that there are never any stupid questions. I would be willing to argue that. I've also heard that if you're not getting the right answers, you're not asking the right questions. So I'll just keep asking questions until I finally ask the right one. Bear with my while I sift through all my dumb questions until I find one that really matters.


David said...

I agree. I think you are over-simplifying it, but I don't know that that is always bad. I am not sure that when Jesus said the world would know we were His disciples by our love for one another that He was saying only by our love for one another. I think often we take the words of scripture and make them into restrictive propositions - as in Jesus said "this", not "that", so "that" is not what we should be doing.

In reality I am not sure Jesus was trying to create a club of exclusives - like an "us" vs "them" based on belief - I just don't think that was the point. I think the above proposition needs to be interpreted alongside Matt 25 - the parable of the sheep and the goats, and with His assertion that the greatest two "rules" are to love the Lord with all our beings and our neighbors as ourselves.

All that to say, I think you're right. Matthew 25 is not about sheep and goats - it's not even about hell - it's about a collosal failure to love and to bear the image of God (is His primary character not love?). Man, we spend so much freaking time arguing theology and He puts on flesh, dwells among us - teaches us to love, dies on a cross to demonstrate that love - and then we go back to arguing.

I am THIS close to calling myself a buddist just so I can get on with the task of loving and not always defend myself and the label I wear. People seem to leave buddhists alone to do their thing.

I am so weary of the battle for doctrine. I don't believe there is no place for it, but even so we're neglecting the PRIMARY doctrines in favour of the lesser ones.

Perhaps, David, we're not over-simplifying enough. Perhaps we need to strip away the chaff so much that we risk being mistaken for something else entirely. A quote (borrowed from Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water):

"To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist." --Cardinal Suhard

Anyways, I've rambled too much. Take those risks, Dave. Trust God to make something brilliant of your life and feed the kids. Take the risks (but do it with wisdom and the counsel of your beautiful wife) I think your kids need a legacy of a father who took risks based on what he knew of God's character and the brevity of life more than they need the latest fashions and a middle class lifestyle, and worst of all: the illusion of security.


Dave said...

I wasn't trying to say that these were the only means to identity or duty, but primary ones. Again, an oversimplification will leave out many good things that are equally justifiable. But I believe that the oversimplification will reveal that which is primary, that which is essential. The one thing we cannot leave out, in the midst of everything else we do. But as you said, maybe we need to get back to those primary things. Jesus was mistaken for something else, a drunk, a party goer, a sinner. But His life was spent on the primary things. Love God, love our brothers, love our neighbours.

I wanted to mention the part about loving the brothers, because sometimes it seems we're so focussed on those outside the church we ignore those within. "The church can't have hurting people inside, can it?" is a very dangerous presupposition. If we really dig in and get past the religion and church clothes, how many of us are really lacking in the love department within the church?

But at the same time this does not negate or lessen our duty to love our neighbours.

I agree with you David, once again. We need to strip away everything else, and get to the most important things. We need to live our lives so that the only explanation for how we do it is that God is real.

As each day passes I am understanding more and more what it means that we have been set free. We are free, to do good, to do ill, to make others happy, to make ourselves happy. Even more so as Christians, which means that the responsibility is greater as well. We know better, and we should use our freedom wisely. In giving the Hebrews the Law, God drew a fence separating that which is wrong from that which is right. I believe that fence is a circle, not with the good on the inside, but with the evil. The Law restricts, restrains, and defines that which is wrong. As Jesus said, the Law is all about Sin (even today the laws of the land are in regards to what is criminal). Beyond the fence is what is good, and there is no limit, restriction, or definition for it, it exists in the realm of freedom. What is good has seemingly infinite forms and expressions as compared to what is inside the fence. At least that is a thought that has started floating around my head lately. Maybe I'm off on this one, but it's been interesting to mull the thought.

I am starting to move on those risks, trying to pepper those decisions with wisdom as well. I'll keep everyone updated on that.

Oh, and David, don't worry about rambling too much, this is a brand new blog, I've got tonnes of room for rambles, rants, and other kilobyte eating posts.

the significant other said...

Something that has been on my mind lately falls somewhere along the same lines. Love should be the motivator for everything we do, love for God. Whether it's our religious duty or everyday deeds. All the alterior motives lead to trouble. I don't think we are ready for missions or fulfilling visions or dreams until our Love for God outstands everything we want to be or do.

Dave said...

That falls directly into line with Matt. 22:36-40, first and foremost we need to love God. Priority number one, always do what's best for God. Always be involved in what God is doing, be lead by Him, be obedient to Him. But most of all we need to adore Him, to want nothing else more than Him. Then, secondly, there's everyone else.

David said...

It's so cute that you two talk on your blog. Sometimes Sharon and I are online at the same time and we MSN each other even though we're in the same room. Ah, life in the 21st C. Weird!

Dave said...

Hehe, we do the same thing, as well as MSN we often play online backgammon (even though we have a backgammon set in our bedroom). Here we sit only 10ft apart, won't talk at all, chatting in MSN, playing online games together.