Monday, May 10, 2004


Warning: I have a feeling this is going to be a long one:)

I got up at 6:30 this morning despite my tired state and traveled to Jackson, Michigan with some other Taylorites to attend Westwinds Community church. My little brother Destry calls it "the art church" b/c they're supposedly very big on using art in their architecture and also in their services, etc. Anyway, the church was good and all...nothing spectacular, but one thing Ron Martoia (the pastor who's leaving the church in a few weeks actually) said stuck in my head. He talked about how we live fragmented lives and how even the very language we use insinuates that we, as Christians, live in a very divided world. It's "us vs. them." It's outreaches trying to bring people into the church and "get them on our side," so to speak. I realize it's unintentional sometimes, and many of our motives stem from things that are good (i.e., bringing people to Christ) BUT it just seems like we separate our "spiritual walk" all too often. Having devotions. Praying. Singing worship songs. These are, unconsciously maybe, viewed as better or more important. I don't know how to break free of this line of thinking. Every time I think I'm "out" of it, I sink back in and realize that I'm still knee deep and sinking.

It was made very obvious of this fragmentation again in small group tonight when we were discussing the book of Romans and picking out something from the entire book (we just spent the semester going through it) that stood out to us especially. Yodes picked out the classic Romans 3:23...but he didn't stop there. In fact, he mentioned how it was odd that while he knows that verse, he never seemed to understand and comprehend the magnitude of that passage and the context in which that verse springs out of.

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"-Rom. 3:23

This is the verse every Christian raised in a Christian home can relate to...or at least, can recall easily. It's been drilled into our heads and I wonder why? Why has this phrase...concerning something very important (our human depravity) been pounded down our hearts so deeply? When I first think of it, it makes me cringe. It's not the whole idea. Paul did not say this and end his thought. This thought was part of a bigger thought and we've seem to have taken this thought and elevated it above the rest. "You are a sinner! You don't deserve God's mercy! You are bad, bad, bad!" Okay, yes...I agree, but that's not the whole thing. You are also good and have value and are not just a "nothing." Look at the entire passage that Paul writes in which this verse is pulled out of:

"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."-Romans 3:21-24

It's funny how that whole justification by grace through the redemption of Christ gets left out. I'm also reading a book right now for class which touches on the very same thing. It's called "Escape from Reason" and it's by Francis Schaeffer. In it he writes:

"Man is not only wonderful when he is "born again" as a Christian; he is also wonderful as God made him in His image. Man has value because of who he was originally before the Fall, who he is by his creation."....."We cannot deal with people like human beings, we cannot deal with them on the high level of true humanity, unless we really know their origin--who they are. God tells man who he is. God tells us that He created man in His image. So man is something wonderful....Man is not nothing. Modern man tends to think that he is nothing."-Francis Schaeffer

I love this idea. It's funny to hear many 'postmoder thinkers' in the Christian realm talk about holistic spiritual living. Many people think this is a new concept...but it's not. St. Francis of Assisi did it and Francis Schaeffer wrote about it (and did it i think) and yes, we should too. We need to stop segregating our lives into the sacred and secular. Yes. I've heard this so much before and I'm sure you have too---but why then, doesn't it stick. I'm convinced more and more that every Christian is on a process or "journey" and that inevitably, some things will just come later to some than others. After going through Romans this semester, I thought, "I'm so not where Paul is..and I don't really want to pretend to be." I think it's important to understand what he's saying but it seems foolish to act as if I can do all of what he says after one or two readings through it. I'm taking it piece by piece and this seems to be hard enough. When I read the Bible now, I feel like I can only read a little bit before it seems too overwelming to take in.

Angie and I were talking about this once. We were talking about how hard it is to grasp these huge concepts that are presented in scripture and that times, it seems way too difficult. We talked about how it's funny how we used to try and conquer the world and read it all, swallowing the words with no idea of how they really tasted going down. We talked about how horrible it is to try and expect people to change on a dime when they "convert" to Christianity, and how so much of it is like going through certain stages or experiences or places. You need to get through these times before you can try and grasp God's grace. I was talking to my dad about this last Fall and it was so cool what he had to say. He compared our Christian walk with being born naturally...and how cool it is that God gives us such a wonderful picture of what our spiritual walk with Him will look like when he shows how children are born and raised. He talked about how we (his kids) were all so different and all took different amounts of time to do certain things. I took longer to walk, my sister Brittany crawled way more than people thought she should and so on and so on. But the point he was making was, there seems to be something in us that must go through certain stages, specifically designed in our own individual nature, before we can take the next step into a deeper understanding of our faith. It makes a lot of sense to me. Too often, we try to force change on people (myself included) and have little tolerance for God requesting that we be patient. We want to have the same experience at the same time and expect that our friends and family should experience and understand God the same as we do (and the same time we do). Thank God this isn't how it is. I'm not advocating passive living, I'm just saying I need to be more patient with others and with myself and what God's teaching me. I'm not good at being patient. I need things to be happening or I feel like I'm dull and uninteresting and very boring. I don't like feeling that but I do...and it's ironic that it comes when I fail to be patient and hope for something better. Anyways, I'll stop now. I'm sorry for going off on this---it's just been building up since Thursday afternoon and I really needed to sort some of these things out. Sorry if it felt like a sermon. ;)

One more thing..:) Happy Mother's day mom. I love you more than you could ever know or understand or fathom or comprehend. Thank you for showing love more completely and "holisticly" than any other human being I've ever met.

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