Thursday, February 16, 2006

Old thoughts re-pondered...

Today I was looking through some old notes in journals I've kept. Not personal journals (though I keep those too). These have sermon notes, notes from conferences, quotes I want to remember - that sort of thing.

I have realized something about myself: I take long amounts of time to really "get" certain concepts. You could say that ideas need to "marinate" - or that I'm a "slow learner." Doesn't really matter - but there were a couple things that I wanted to process here.

There's a certain worship scholar (Dr. Wwwwwhat's-his-name) that I have heard a lot from over the past 3 years. Some of that has been through books, some has been in person, and some has been through his influence on other people around me. He says some really good things (which I'm about to mention) - but he also has said a certain amount of things that confused/frustrated me (which will remain unnamed for now).
I have heard him teach twice in person over the past 2 years - and I was reviewing my notes from both of those. A couple things jumped out at me - but I'll share just one thing for the time being.

He was talking about how in early Christianity - people didn't only confess belief in Christ when they were baptized - they also verbally renounced Satan. I think the phrase was, "I renounce Satan and all his works" or something like that. (They also spit to emphasize the point. I love it.) It sounds rather funny at first.

But then he compared it to the traditional marriage vows. You know - the part that says - "and forsaking all others..." And that somehow doesn't seem as ridiculous. I mean - we're all for fidelity and faithfulness in marriage. (He BETTER forsake all others. Shoot.)

And I think there's a point to be made there.

We don't just accept Christ - we also reject Satan. And we reject his control on our life. And we reject sin. How often do we rest so much in grace that we betray the vow we made to accept Christ as Lord or act in a way that is unfaithful to that relationship?

This is all part of a larger thought I've had lately about sin - and how we rarely identify it in ourselves or call it what it is - SIN.

What do you think? How do you react to that idea?

6 comments:

Johnna said...

KK to coin a phrase you used in this post...I need to let this "marinate" for a bit. I'll try to verbalize some thoughts soon :o)

Love,

Jo

Duchess said...

I think we do it much more often than I would like to admit ("rest so much in grace that we betray the vow we made to accept Christ as Lord or act in a way that is unfaithful to that relationship"). I know the times in my life when sin has such a draining effect on me are times when I stubbornly go into sin head first, knowing full well what I'm doing, and justifying it by saying "God's still going to love me, because that's how He is." Totally taking advantage of that relationship...

I am quite certain there are areas of my life that I allow Satan to still hold control over... and that realization in itself sucks... One or two of them because I'm not sure how to give them up without admitting that they're there and I don't want to admit them...

And sometimes it's more that I don't renounce temptation... even when I see it for what it is... which sucks as well...

This is very interesting stuff, Bethany.... I don't think I've ever thought about it so cut and dry and it really is, isn't it? I think it's easier to think of a God who is all loving than a God of whom we should be fearful and respectful and who expects us to "forsake all others." It makes it alot easier to NOT feel guilt or shame... to do what feels good at the moment... to make our Christianity fit into a box but keep our lives our own...

yeah, much too deep for midnight...

This is a bit deeper than you normally post... what are your thoughts? We see a lot of mr what's his name (which I realize is also filtered through your perseption) but what's your reaction to the idea?

Bethany said...

Well, Duchess ;o)

A lot of this post was my own processing - but it is definitely a tendency of mine to think and talk in abstract concepts rather than getting messy applying them in my own life.

So thanks for the nudge towards that. This is your invitation to ask me that question in person...

And Jo - keep marinating - but I'd love to hear your thoughts too...

Johnna said...

Ok…marinating isn’t helping much…LOL…anyway…thoughts here…well several (and as a disclaimer/warning, some of them are way tangential so bear with me kk?)

1. It’s strange. When you point out the part about “I renounce Satan”, I automatically parallel something my mother (who learned it from her grandmother who learned it from her mother who learned it from well it goes on a ways back in the family) taught me about being able to resist “evil thoughts”. That trick being to say out loud “Get thee behind me Satan”, and surprisingly it works!!! HOWEVER, I have only ever used it when my vivid imagination pictures horrible things like a family member dying or something along those lines. I’ve never really associated the phrase with SIN, how weird is that? Ok, that was random, moving on.

2. As to the resting in grace…uh yeah…I think it’s something we as Christians in the twenty first century are prone to do (not that it’s necessarily right, just that we are already predisposed toward that attitude) Why do I say that? Well I believe that if we were to examine or poll most twenty first century Christians in how they view God, the metaphorical analogy used would be that of a friend or family member (father). Ok, now look at how twenty-first century Christians (actually twenty-first century AMERICANS) treat or react towards family and friends. For the most part (obviously not always), we take our family and friends for granted, so often using them as outlets for anger or other negative feelings, because we KNOW that our family and friends will love us regardless. While that’s AWESOME and a great trait for any relationship, it also tends to desensitize us. Think about it, haven’t we all at some time taken out our frustrations on a friend or family member even though that person had NOTHING to do with what frustrated us? Why? Because they are safe outlets. They will love us regardless. However, each and every time we do this, chips away a little bit at that relationship and very rarely do we actually realize this until it’s too late. I think this is a poignant parallel towards most 21st century Christian’s relationship with God. We KNOW that He loves us and will always love us no matter what. Therefore we take out our frustrations with the world on Him. Think about it. 99.9% (and I hesitated to put that, I wanted to put 100%) of sin is our own selfish choice. We get frustrated because we don’t have something we want, we feel disconnected or lonely, or any of a dozen other reasons. However, I do truly believe that the inducement for most sin is a frustration with the way things currently are. And we take that frustration out on God by sinning, by consciously deciding to ignore that voice that tells us this is wrong, or this is not honoring to God, because whether we acknowledge it or not, or whether we even REALIZE it or not, we feel dissatisfied with something and want to act out in frustration. But, again, we know that God will always love us. Therefore, we take advantage of it. Chipping away little by little at the purity of that relationship.

3. Again, moving off of the 21st Century Christian view of God. If we look back in history, this has not always been the predominant view of God. Sure he’s always been loving, but so often we see people possess a much more….searching for a word here…I guess the only parallel/metaphorical word I can come up with here is that our ancestors tended to posses a much more submissive attitude towards God. Let me explain. It is my belief/understanding that historically the view of God tended to be much more authoritative and that Christians viewed God as the dominant force in their life. Not just a friend/father, but the dominant force in their life. While today’s Christian can have this view and say that God is present and considered in every thing they do, I honestly find this hard to believe. I believe that today’s Christians strive towards this, but often fall short of this. I also believe it’s because of the very view of friend/father relationship with God. Again, I’m not saying this is a bad view, just a limited view that opens up the doorway wide to allow sin to be viewed as less than what it truly is. A paradigm shift back to God as the dominant being in our life may change that. ***note here, that I could explain what I mean and give an analogy here that actually is like this light bulb, amazing, astounding revelation for me personally, though probably doesn’t have any impact on anyone else. However, it’s extremely personal so while I’d be willing to share it with you girls in a convo, not quite willing to do it online*

4. So that leads me to why are we reluctant to name sin for what it is? Well personally I believe that firstly it is because of the nature of sin. Think about it…how do we know that we sin? There has to be some guilt associated with it, and guilt is an ugly icky emotion we don’t want to EVER deal with let alone actually acknowledge what caused it because when we start to do that then we have to place the blame where it belongs, on ourselves and who wants to actually do that?!?!?…it’s a huge circle/cycle of sin…now secondly, and this may just be a me thing (in fact, it probably is) is that so often when I do admit to sin and call it out for what it is, I don’t feel any better, I actually feel worse. Why? I don’t know…If anyone has that answer I’d love to hear it! I do know that while I disagree with many of the tenants of Catholicism I can actually understand their belief in “penance”. I know that I would feel personally better and more willing to name the sin if somehow I felt that I could physically “make up” for it. I cognitively know I don’t have to, and that God’s grace is sufficient, however, that merely compounds the guilt for me…it doesn’t alleviate it which just causes a downward spiral into feeling worse, so do I really want to go through all that when there is nothing that I can do about it? Nope, not at all! So do I often not call sin what it is because of that? Yep, pretty darn often!

Ok, I do believe that is the main gist of where my thoughts went! I’d be happy to clarify if it’s confusing, b/c I know my mind tends to go a thousand different directions at once :o)

Bethany said...

Wow Johnna. That's a long comment! ;o) But I asked for it, right?

I think you are getting at something with several of your thoughts. The different ways God has been viewed throughout history - I'm curious what your basis for this is...

Of course we don't always notice sin in our own lives - or we ignore it because of the shame it could bring. But I'd venture to say that 99.9% of the time we know it's wrong. And I am thinking of recurring sin.

However, the idea that we can keep on sinning because God gives grace isn't a new one - it used to make Paul UNHAPPY (see Romans 6).

The biggest thing I was trying to get at is that once we accept Christ, our relationship to sin should be DIFFERENT than it was before. And I forget that...

Talking in person is better, no? Let's do that sometime...

Johnna said...

oui oui Mlle Bethany mais bien sur