Monday, April 30, 2012

Love Makes Us Helpful (soap journal #2)

S) Knowledge makes us proud of ourselves,  but love makes us helpful to others. (1 Corn. 8:1)
O) Paul really understood what it meant to love. He later says, if he knew that eating meat sacrificed to idols--though for himself was not a sin--but if it hurt another Christian who believed it was a sin,  then he would never eat meat again. In other words, he was willing to give up his rights so as not to hurt someone else. That is love.
A) We are all about 'rights' these days--pursuing what will make us happy, regardless of who it hurts in the process. My goal is love, all else is secondary. This will help me in my decision making.
P) Lord, you are love.  All that you do comes from love--that is why we can trust you. Show me how to love.

I must say, I think I have misused this verse and this concept in the past...let me explain. When my daughter first came out to us, we had some friends over who were Christians and didn't know. Amber was giving her girlfriend a backrub on the couch--just trying to help her get out the knots. I was worried--I was embarrassed--what would our guests think? (It's hard not to guess Amber's girlfriend is gay--she looks very masculine) I came over and whispered in Amber's ear to please stop. I'll never forget the way she looked at me; she was just so taken by surprise. (she just couldn't understand why anyone would be upset at a backrub) Later I used this verse to justify my actions.  Even though for Amber, this backrub was not a sin--to our guests it might appear sinful. So, out of respect for our guests, she needed to not show that kind of affection to her girlfriend. But if I'm honest with myself, the only thing I was really worried about was being judged--and my daughter being looked down on.

Looking at 1 Corinthians in it's whole, I don't think Paul was urging Christians to obey the rules about eating meat so as not to offend those who would judge them for doing so. His concern is the conscience, and that the person who thought eating meat was sinful would then actually eat it too, and condemn himself. He is not saying to give up your freedom to eat meat just because someone else will see you as a sinner. He makes this clear later when he says, "I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?"

I know, for many the homosexual thing is non-debatable. It's a sin, and that is that. And those that say it isn't will argue over translations and what "list" the old testament had it under--is it an 'abomination' like child sacrifice, or is it an 'abomination' like having sex during your period? How do we know if God's pissed off about it or not? For me, I have to come back to the golden rule...I just really don't think rule lists are the answer.

Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the Law demands. In the Law there are many commands, such as, "Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not want what belongs to others." But all of these are summed up in the command that says, "Love others as much as you love yourself." No one who loves others will harm them. So love is all that the Law demands. (Romans 13:8-10)

Again, love is the issue. I want to support my daughter in having a loving, committed, relationship with another human being; and I don't want her to condemn herself for doing so. I want her to treat those who would condemn her with respect and love, but I never want her to pretend she's something she's not just to please them. I regret doing so in that moment of fear...and all I can do is pray that I've learned from my mistakes, and keep going forward.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"The World" (soap journal #1)

I've mentioned before my "soap" journal, which stands for scripture, observation, application, and prayer. I'm reading back over my old journal with new eyes, and transcribing them here, along with my thoughts on how things look different to me now.

s) The message about the cross doesn't make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God's power at work. As God says in the scriptures; I will destroy the wisdom of all who claim to be wise.  I will confuse those who think they know so much. (1 Corn. 1:18-19)
o) (underlined part) What is this saying?  We know we ARE saved, so how is the message "God's power at work?"  I love this whole chapter though.  God obviously doesn't want us stupid, but He wants us humble.  We have no knowledge that does not come form Him.  Mostly I think of scientists who discredit the glory of God.
a) I always need to look to God for direction and wisdom.  It's foolish of me to think I can find my way myself. And when people are impressed with me, I need to glorify God. Not in that false humility way, but because I love God.
p) I love the humility you showed when you came to earth. Our culture does not get it, but I want it. Let it be the power at work in me.

I cringe a little when I read this now; at my thinking that because of my "correct beliefs," I was saved (from hell) and that scientists who did not believe the correct things were doomed.  (Because of their ironic, right?) It seems to me that the wisdom that God is wanting to destroy is the wisdom of the religious leaders.

Where the wise? Where the scribe? Where a disputer of this age? Did not God make foolish the wisdom of this world?  (vs 20)

When we read "wisdom of this world," what do we think?  "The world" is non-Christians in most Christian's any wisdom that doesn't have the Christian label on it is "of the world". The Bible speaks of "the world" many times, and I think we make a mistake when we think each time it speaks of the same thing.  But I just want to point out one scripture where Jesus speaks of "the world":

if the world hates you, know that it hated me before you...
they would not have been guilty of sin if I had not done among them the things that no one else ever did; as it is, they have seen what I did, and they hate both me and my Father.This, however, was bound to happen so that what is written in their Law may come true:They hated me for no reason at all.(John 15:22-25)

So, at least in this instance, I think it's obvious when Jesus says "the world," he is speaking of a religious mindset. (And you don't get to say "it was the Jewish religion that was bad" because Judaism was the "true" religion--there was no "Christian" religion) And when there is a wisdom that comes from the scribes that needs to be destroyed, I can't help but think it's the wisdom that takes scriptures and laws and rules and excludes and dehumanizes and condemns people to make "us" and "them".  But when people look at humanity and feel disgust, I think God looks and sees something different. I love the next few verses following the ones in my soap journal, and I'll end with those:

God did choose the weak things of the world that He may put to shame the strong; and the base things of the world, and the things despised (like maybe homosexuals?) did God choose, and the things that are not, that He may make useless the things that are--that no flesh may glory before Him. 

P.S. I forgot to add that I have no problem anymore with the idea of "being saved" - now that I see it as transformation instead of "I said the sinner's prayer, so I'm saved from God's wrath." There is A LOT of saving yet to be done in my life.