The father's house -safe on his paths- and why it is necessary to puzzle
Updated: Apr 6, 2022
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1.Corinthians 13, NIV)
9 I pray for them. Not for the world do I ask, but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 And all that is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world; but they are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one like us. 12 As long as I was with them, I kept them in thy name which thou hast given me, and I have kept them, and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to you, and this I speak in the world, that my joy may be complete in them. 14 I have given them thy word, and the world hateth them: for they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I also have sent them into the world. 19 I sanctify myself for them, that they also may be sanctified in the truth. 20 But I do not pray for them alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. (John 17:9 ff.)
My dear friends,
Scandals are once again piling up in the States. One of the two largest worship providers in the free church scene is affected: Hillsong Church. The founder of Hillsong has resigned after blatant revelations and scandals.
The church is embarrassed that secular journalists openly criticized the VIP lounges of the leaders, since there is no respect of the person before God. Sex scandals, drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, affairs - what would have elicited only a weary smile from David Bowie is a scandal without equal in the megachurch.
Why is it so? Because of overzealous judges who take advantage of the sin and fallenness of others to divert attention from their own sin?
In part, that will be so, yes.
We tend to point fingers at each other. Pointing out where the other is not holy enough. One of the reasons why being a Christian is often accompanied by an uncomfortable sense of shame on the outside - because this tearing each other apart represents anything but love.
But there is more to it than that: Publications that are all about doing business. Books with the title: "Money" instead of "Intercession, Blessing, Mercy". Greed. Worldly prestige instead of treasures in heaven. Self-realization instead of God's goals. World equality- and rightly one wonders then what is still Christian about it.
All this fragments the God family.
But what does that mean for the individual? Well, first and foremost uncertainty.
At least that's how I feel.
Sometimes I no longer know where I belong. I dearly love the joy of sonship with God at Bethel Church, and I see with horror the phenomena that occur, twisted Bible passages, false teaching.
We quickly believe that sonship and the joy of closeness to God are also lies, then.
I love the passion and determination of Hillsong. ("History Maker"). "Live for God! Believe in answers to prayer! Believe that God wants to use you, that He wants to reach others through you, and that you can be a blessing!" , and I see with horror the pride, the ensnaring of superstars, the focus on money and profiteering, and many a double standard. I see the missing biblical basis in many places and the mixing of spiritualism and Christianity.
Quickly one thinks then that the statement that God wants to use us and prayer answering is possible, is also washed into the sewer.
I love the exact, contentwise, historically, culturally correct Bible work of the conservative churches. The depth, the amazing agreement of Old and New Testament, the clarity and truth, and see with horror the lack of joy, love and the degeneration of a message of love into a rigid obedience to the law.
Quickly, all too quickly, the feeling arises that Christianity has nothing to do with joy, with life, with a good message, but only with bondage and permanent self-mortification.
I love the peace in the national church, the aid projects, the workshops for the disabled, the kindergartens and community projects. I love the traditional and the sacred-and see with horror the denial of God's answers to prayer, the remoteness from God and empty pews and droning organ chants.
Ouch, not easy to find one's identity in God. Not easy to follow his ways.
All these directions, however, hold a piece of the truth.
And in their claim to absoluteness, their claim to be the only true direction, fronts and hearts harden, correction becomes impossible and unity among Christians a distant dream.
The way is open for false teachers of all kinds. For extremes, for lack of wisdom, and everything is only about alignment and interpretation, while Jesus' goals are obviously forgotten.
Does, I ask you, in the midst of all this autoaggression of the Christian body, does anyone still ask for the Head?
The song I have chosen today is a setting of Ezekiel 34. Jesus came to save. And he comes to gather that which is scattered.
He revealed to us the nature of the Father.
He opposed pride and claims to power, and he sought out the lost, the wounded, the outcast. He urged unity, and he gave the command to love God and neighbor. But there was no question of narcissism and self-aggrandizement. There was no talk of profiteering in his name. There was no talk of world domination. There was no talk of elitist self-aggrandizement and contempt for non-believers - nor of being the shepherd even as a sheep.
Jesus said that he did not abolish the laws of God, but fulfilled them. In his nature, ways and actions we see the result of a way that keeps the 10 commandments. The result- it is overwhelming love. Truth. It is true life. HE is true life. Truth. He is the way.
It is true that we will never reach this perfection - not by our own efforts. But if we want to be transformed into His image-if we want to become more and more like Christ-then that is our goal. And the voice of the Holy Spirit teaching us will never contradict this.
The worst distortion of biblical truth is turning away from the nature and heart of Jesus to His fullness and authority.
Greedy calls are made for the same authority, authority is rigidly demanded. Meanwhile, individuals are lost. Leaving injured churches, or in their brokenness not daring to go at all. Its values of charity and mercy, of confronting lies in favor of uplifting and healing reorientation to God and His good nature are replaced by striving for power, cadaver obedience, or spiritualistic celestial journeys.
Individuals enrich themselves but do not share.
When Jesus said that the one who leaves his house, parents and children for his sake to be added to his people, his flock, would be repaid a hundredfold - he meant all the brothers and sisters, all the other followers. Their houses, their fields, their knowledge, their hospitality. Their care, motherhood and fatherhood. In the beginning, in the Acts of the Apostles, this Christian culture was also lived. In close fellowship, in sharing all that the individual had to give. The war we are in - is not against each other as Christians. It is on the outside, and we should be holding each other. Community. Love. And have each other's backs instead of falling into the same in encroachment and pride.
Today- there is spasmodic hoarding, demarcation, exclusion and limitation. Individualism and self-care instead of community and charity dominate. Like the Pharisees back then, we try to relativize Jesus' commandments: What does hospitality mean? "That I like to entertain my friends, but no one can force me to open my house to anyone".
Well- actually it means that you open your home and share. That it is natural for you to have brothers and sisters in the Lord stay with you, that you clothe those who have nothing, and that you realize that what is given to you is for the community, the family- and not for your own well-being.
It is difficult as an individual to find your way back to the simple, simple values that Jesus stands for. To find our way back to the grace by which we are saved and which frees us to live anew precisely in this love and in this attitude of service. It is difficult not to see one's own convictions as absolute and to open one's eyes to the truths that come together to form the whole picture:
You are God's beloved child through Jesus, and He sees you. He loves you and wants to be loved by you. His love is good. You are safe with him, and you may draw near to him ( Bethel Church).
You have a mission. You will receive from God everything you need to fulfill your mission if you follow His ways. If you follow him first, you will experience how he leads you.
In the Bible you will find all the knowledge you need. Study it, understand it. Immerse yourself in it. Check what you experience with the Bible. Understand it, internalize its truth, so that you are equipped. Include cultural and historical background. Stick to translations that are as true to the original as possible. Make it your passion to know the Bible so you can discern. ( Conservative, often apologetic churches).
And then serve. Be a blessing in generosity and mercy to those who don't have it as good as you. To whom you can minister. Seek community and feel a part of it. And let others breathe and stand in their diversity. Seek silence, and know that the peace of the Lord accompanies you.
( National Church)
Recognizing that every direction holds truth that is piecemeal, and that in every church form the weeds grow among the wheat, can help us to examine everything and keep what is good. It can help us grow together as a family in the house of God. It can also help to keep the weeds in by stopping to argue. And by humbly acknowledging that the weeds are only defeated by Jesus and insight, confession and the will to repent.
The goal, the head of all is Christ the Lord.
To embrace our new identity, we must accept his lordship and greatness as well as our limited perspective. And open ourselves to the wonder of his giving us his love, wisdom and knowledge, so that we may abide in him and bear good fruit that tastes of faith, hope, joy, love, patience, self-control, gentleness and kindness ( Galatians 5:22).
It is no longer about you. It is no longer about the world. Your goal, your pursuit is Jesus. Your identity is in your new family, and your task is salvation, blessing and mercy - so that the lost, wounded can return to the arms of the Shepherd.
This is what the daily thoughts are about this week on my Facebook page and in the groups.
Sibylle/ Daughter of Zion.