February 25, 2010

A Divine Moment

What kind of faith is Christianity? Is it experiential? Many of thought so. Is it intellectual? Again, many have considered it so. The answer is of course neither and both. Christianity is primarily relational. We understand God in how we relate to Him, and the church is functional only in terms of is communal unity.

Relationships have their experiential nature. I'm writing this today because this evening I had one of those truly defining experiential moments. I've had others, but I thought this one was worth sharing, especially considering how theological it was.

I've been reading a book called Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be (which I highly recommend) and in it, it was discussing the necessary aspect of complaint in Christian worship. This is something that I've felt strongly about for some time, but this sparked me to think about it with some depth. I pondered (remember, this is meant to be as close to my train of thought as possible with words):
God is God. Because of this, He is the Lord and Master of all of the cosmos and over all of creation. As such, we have no right to come before Him and complain to Him about how He is doing things.
However, because we are now in covenantal relationship with Him, which was cut through Christ, we now have an invitation to go before the throne and complain. Indeed, God requests that He does, and it is important that we do so honestly. David was honest before God; Job was honest before God; We should be honest before God, and should not hold back in case we offend His majesty.
Marriage is a covenant. When I am upset with my wife, I tell her my feelings. I am open before her, and tell her precisely what bothers me about what she did and how it affects me. I do so because I trust her not to throw it back in my face, and because ultimately my desire is reconciliation with her. This can only happen is I openly and honestly express my perspective and reaction to what she has done. With that comes correction and restitution.
With God, to not be honest and to hold back is not to trust His response, and to prefer obedience to proper relationship. Being open doesn't mean that you believe that what you are saying is correct, but that you recognize that this is the perspective that you have, and it needs to be dealt with, and that the only way to deal with it is to go to the source, submit it, and trust that He will value your honesty and reconcile with you. It is a supreme trust.
And how good of a God He is that He is faithful to that trust! That if we come to him complaining, He'll listen and come and reconcile. He may speak from a whirlwind, or He may speak in a still small voice, but He'll come.
God loves me. He really loves me. That love is not simply an emotion, but it motivates action. He pursues me. Yes He reigns, but He really cares about me.
God, You're love is real, and true...
At this point, my thoughts really stopped being words. It was more a group of concepts sort of ramming into each, and interacting with each other: blending and merging, sort of like a conceptual kaleidoscope. I had a similar experience once contemplating the Trinity. It is like the ideas almost become pure, leaving their verbal symbols. It sounds chaotic, but when this happens my thinking is actually clearer.

The first time this conceptual kaleidoscope happened the concept of the Trinity was simply made plain to me. In this case, God's love was just before me. I could see it; feel it. All of it's parts and depths were there. It began to feel like God was holding me in His arms: not in a literal way, but definitely in a tangible way. I don't think I can describe it better than that. It was just me and Dad: and it was good. VERY GOOD. I would've been content to just stay there if Esther didn't tell me that it was dinnertime (she actually could tell something was happening with me).

I don't know if I can say much more than this. It was what it was, and I will hold it in my heart. I pray that you all may have a similar experience.


Kevin Jackson said...

Those words are great. Wrestling with God is healthy. Ir is something that I have intellectually realized, but in practice don't know how to always apply it.

Some passages that come to mind here. First the parable of the unjust judge. The widow "nags" on the judge until he gives in. Jesus says if the unjust judge does what is right, how much more will God do that if we keep on asking him. Another passage is where Jesus talks about what kind of father gives his son a snake or a rock if the son asks for fish and bread. His point being if the earthly father provides for his son who asks, how much more does our heavenly Father want to provide for us who ask? I also like the passage that says "ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened." I heard a sermon on that one time and the pastor said it is better translated as "Keep on asking...Keep on seeking", etc.

It's good to know that I can keep on asking and it doesn't stress God in the least. I don't understand why God doesn't see things my way sometimes, but try to trust Him anyway. :)

Jc_Freak: said...

Mostly I believe it comes down to honesty. It is a matter of not holding back. Like if you are mad you yell, if you are sad you weep, if you are happy you smile, and if you are curious you ask. Always be honest though.

I wonder why it is often so difficult for us to be honest. Hiding things from Him is about as affective as running away from Him on a boat to Tarshish. It behooves us to be honest.

I think it is because we expect God to behave how we would if we had His power. That often seems to me to be the principle touchstone to Calvinistic thought. But God never acts that way, as Scriptures constantly show us.

Side-note: I've also heard that interpretation of Matthew 7:7-8. It is usually based more on how in verse at the participle form is used ('asking' as opposed to 'ask'). In verse 7 they are in the simple present tense, just like the English. This interpretation doesn't really hold water though because the participle is simply being used as a noun form. The best rendering, in my opinion, is "ask and it will be give; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open for you. For the askers receive, the seekers find, and for the knockers the door will be open."