Lifted from Jeremy – Don’t Eat Trash – Originally posted on Sept. 15, 2011
Since we are in Steps across many meeting, I thought this reflection was appropriate.
I treat Gods forgiveness like that stanky dish cloth that doesn’t merely spread the dirt around, it adds to the dirt. Or some kind of dish washer that makes us feel nice for a couple of minutes – the boiling hot sterile water. But then when we get taken out of the washer later, there is still the crusty pasta baked on the side.
Gods forgiveness is complete.
It is deep and wide, and like steel wool it scrubs back to the original intention.
Watching myself and close friends through life, it saddens me to find that we struggle with the same sins for years and years because we don’t let His forgiveness liberate our souls. Often is the time when I have been asked if there’s anything I need to confess and I always go back to the same confessions only later to realize God has forgiven me of that. Also watching how that subtle condemnation sometimes goes full circle, and is used by the enemy to take me out.
The subtle whispers, the mistrust. Of not only ourselves but of other people. It all becomes an environment of disunity, suspicion and un-forgiveness.
If our view of Gods forgiveness is that it’s not complete. That it’s only partial and needs repetition. – what kind of model does that set up for us?
When I am wronged by a brother and I only forgive him partially, I leave open a huge door for resentment to walk through, resentment when watered into bitterness can end up in destroying relationships. Revenge becomes a normal response, we second guess everyone’s motives and end up dividing everything, because we haven’t forgiven completely.
Take the bleach of forgiveness and clean everything with it. I have wronged God most, if not every day of my life. I have rebelled and walked completely away from him for weeks and years. I have besmirched his name by living like a butt-head whilst hoisting his name on a banner.
He has forgiven me. He has wiped my slate clean. He has bleached my soul – I am rescued and forgiven. Gods example of forgiveness frees me to forgive similarly. If I forgave everyone – freeing my heart and mind and if everyone forgave me and if we held short accounts with each other…..
We would be unoffendable. We would all understand that we are all fallible, we are all imperfect at present, and we need each others help to stay on top of everything.
How communities would change and improve.
Now a little difference between bleach and forgiveness. Bleach is powerful and shouldn’t be drunk. Bleach smells and makes its presence known. But a lot of the time God’s forgiveness is subtle, loving, gentle – not looking for attention. Outside of Christs death, that was more gruesome then theatrical – Gods forgiveness of us is genuine and quiet.
So should our forgiveness. We shouldn’t trumpet it around. We shouldn’t make banners.
In all of my room-mate relationships, I’ve had to ask forgiveness a few times and all of my room mates have been very quick to forgive. The ways they gently and no-questions-asked forgiven me, means I’m even quicker to say sorry the next time, I’m quicker to run to get that bleach on me. If our view of God is that he is doom and gloom, incomplete at cleaning and overtly condemning, why would we remotely be near him?
Can we forgive each other like God does?
Can we run after perfection and purity, whilst having the ability to run to God quickly for forgiveness when we need to?
Is your picture of Gods forgiveness one of bleach or the dish cloth that does nothing?
a week and a half ago i began a journey to my brothers wedding that has completely changed everything.
As an outward processor i haven’t really done anything to get it out. My brain has been full of half thoughts and the excitement of possibilities. Through conversations with my family, hearing speeches, watching people, reading two books, 4 amazing conversations and then finally a train trip to the central coast.
I am at breaking point.
The men and women i really want to suss this out with are interstate or three flights away and so i start here. in the most public forum i have.
I invite you to read and think. and react. I don’t know where i will end up in this thinking, i’m not looking for fights, i am looking for a process to get rid of stuff i don’t need and keep to the things i have been designed for so i can change the world one person, or even, one nation state at a time.
I will start from some semblance of beginning…… (realizing i can’t do that to the detail i want)
lets speed through the beginning.
trinity – building blocks of existence – non violent – fully united – fully knowing their identity and role – fully submitted to the communal victory.
Us – adopted fully into the trinity through christ, to bring heaven to earth,
God – sovereign – The will of God – to reconcile all to him – to unify ALL.
And I pause for a moment. Still not knowing where to go from here. So I will simply go from two tweets that I posted in the last 48 hours.
“If we are predestined anywhere its to be with the trinity”
the second being
“Gods love is his holiness. Not elitism. No comparison. No violence and all the unity. Like the trinity, love and holiness are one.”
The idea that we are chosen before birth if we go to “heaven” or “hell” doesn’t make sense to me. The idea that God knows where we are going when we are born doesn’t fill me with relational confidence, but having a God that doesn’t know everything, doesn’t either. A God who decides to relate to us in ways we need to be related to and love us the way we’ve been created to love though…..
The word predestination holds with it such ridiculous weight that has split communities down the middle and I don’t plan on exploring it fully but it seems like the consequences of the different definitions would completely change how we function as people.
If the word and concept means we are picked already, irrelevant of how we live, then why love? Why spread truth? Why learn anything if we can’t change anything?
If it means “called” to certain things, or pre indicated, pre disposed – more likely to do so, then one would somehow have to figure out what that “pre” thing is and follow it to its zenith.
Or like an arrow to a target – this arrow is predestined to reach the bulls-eye. The archer will be highly trained, will spend months on practicing shots. The arrow gets to its predestined target, but not until after its been through the target in other ways, or missed completely. But that archer is determined. He will keep training his hands and arms, keep rebuilding targets if need be and upgrade his bow. Because he wants that arrow to hit the target.
Humanity is strange because we are so good at comparing. We are so good at being elitist. We are so good at failing.
We were created perfect. We were created the apple of Gods eye, paradise in form, heaven on legs. We were the best. That’s Gods target. Triune-like community. He hit it.
Now its here that in a way the word arrow picture doesn’t fit, because Gods aim never misses. So I wonder if we are the arms. In relationship could our role be the arms. God as the brain and the aim makes a perfect shot every time but we mess it up? So God sends Christ to re affix the nerves and muscles that we severed so that we are getting messages from the brain again. But its not perfect. And our arrows definitely aren’t hitting every time.
But because of Jesus they are. Because of Jesus, God sees them as hitting? Or mid flight Jesus corrects them? Or because of Jesus, ultimately they will hit after picking them up from the ground a few times. A perfecting.
And its that perfecting that I’m hazy about.
Who decides this perfecting? When does it end? When does it start? Is it really an individual choice? Can I opt in or out at any moment?
Its this point that in the discussions in my head I start ranting about a conversation thread that has been formed on the back of multiple conflicting books and a childhood of church arguments.
The elitist humans that are right assume the right that they get to judge. When they are neither judge nor jury they are merely created. When humans assume judging rights it distracts us from our loving responsibility. And helps us to forget our rock bottom need for rescue, our invitation onto the rescue team.
Christ is judge (THANK YOU LORD) so we need not worry about it.
As created beings who are we to design our own lines of ownership or salvation or truth or Gods or languages or schedules?
And then I get to a place that I realize I to, am putting forth a picture of God. I too am questioning where the lines are and will eventually draw one (I hope not) so where does that put me?
So I open it to a statement
– I believe we were created for intimate vulnerable love to share – very similar if not – the love of the trinity. For no other reason other then God made us for that because its awesome.
– We are predestined for that love. Gods sovereignty deigns that he will get his way. Who are we to put mortal limitations of how he will succeed?
– Our job is and never will be one outside of Christ-like love who split no churches, ran from no responsibility and was around people 24/7 unless he was alone with the father.
“Gods love is his holiness. Not elitism. No comparison. No violence and all the unity. Like the trinity, love and holiness are one.”
If we were designed for that. If God will fight for that through all circumstances. Then we have nothing to worry about.
I once heard that holiness is a legal term to describe relational perfection.
A holy person can sometimes be pictured as that weird hermit up in the mountains with very little connection with humanity. He is clean, wise, good. But he’s not relational and he’s definitely not perfect at relationship.
God is one with three. We were designed for that also.
Gods love – his relationality is his relational perfection. He’s not somewhere else. He is not distant. He has not walked away from us because we stuff up. He is where he needs to be. Perfect.
So when we discuss – is God loving before he is holy? Do we need to be holy and then loving? Do we need to get our rubbish together and in a neat pile before we love?
They are one and the same. They can’t be separate.
So we need to get dirty in our relational perfection instead of trying to keep our white shirts clean. We need to go to the hurting and dying and unloved because that’s where Gods holiness would love.
So my musing is now this
If God created us for… His will is…. His holiness is…..
God wants heaven on earth…. Now.
He wants us loving, he wants us serving, he wants us spreading truth not fear, hospitality not oppressive division, tolerance and space to change (ala grace) not offense and traditional comfort zones.
God will hit the bullseye with his arrows.
He’ll just do it quicker if we be less douches to each other and ask God living advice.
So can we just be not right?
Can we not need to know who is saved or not as long as everyone is running towards perfection?
Plus a billion more questions….
Christ has one name. A banner we stand under, a saviour king with an army of lovers and peace bringers.
We did the census tonight, and amongst the questions in the census was – religious persuasions. There was no Christian option. Followers of Jesus now have to choose other. Or a sect that comes under some other title other then our rescuers.
So its official. The love and grace that is handed to us on a silver platter is so splintered in our acceptance that its now a secular way to label us.
Imagine for a second – a unified world. Under the banner of one loving and wise ruler. The new world order, based not on globalised economy but on love.
Imagine the conversations you would have when you first meet a fellow Christian. It wouldn’t be “so what church are you from” Waiting for the answer so we could put our brother or sister in a box, with historical attachments that then label them anything from a raving idiot, to an elitist, racist, ignorant… the list goes on for miles.
We like labeling each other, we like ridding ourselves of the need to relate. We like being right.
Why not start the conversation with a heart felt “what is God teaching you” We derive encouragement not only from people saying nice stuff about us, but others giving us the chance to share with each other exciting adventure stories, of when God showed up.
The flip side to this is. If not even christs followers can be united and get it “right” on a large universal scale, why to we expect non Christians too? What gives us the right to judge? To preach death? To box and label whose that are unboxable.
Our love of boxes spreads even to our father-God himself. I once sat on a stair well photographing an almost complete stranger who looked me dead in the eye and said “the last six month has blown the box that I held God in completely apart. But now I’m afraid I’ll just put him in a larger box”
We are designed not for boxes, not for labels, and not for divisions. But we are designed for freedom, love and unity.
We just have to figure out how to unite with brothers and sisters who think the opposite of us.
If anyone knows the family I come from, sometimes it doesn’t make sense that we love each other so much. Especially now we are all into our twenties, we live in four different cities in Australia. But we are united by a love that surpasses preference.
What parts of our own families aren’t boxed but grind?
Is there times we need to not speak of something for awhile in preference for love?
Is there times we have to put effort into calling up one another and inviting the other over for a meal in the midst of being awkward?
III – Plan, Do, Review: Insanity.
Theres a famous Albert Einstein quote about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
As creatures of habit we will occasionally, if not often, attempt this. We continue running schedules into the red, into debt, eating too much, leaving late etc etc whilst expecting it all to just get better.
In school I used to leave all my assignments till the last minute as if magically I would be better at them. For years I would get up late and just expect to find extra time sometime during the day. But its crazy. To not get results we want but to continue down the same road.
One of the best examples in my life would be a band I played in for multiple years. All writing members of the bands were very busy. So busy in fact that none of us made time for practicing our own instruments outside of band practice. We didn’t make time for writing by ourselves, or improving anything. So communal band practice was a weird mash of learning new techniques, writing, re learning things and occasionally learning that our equipment is broken. But every week we would arrive at practice hoping and expecting to get better as a band. In four years we played 5 shows. We released 4 songs. Neither original guitarists got all that much better.
We did the same thing expecting the results to change.
The last fifty years have been interesting times for the church. I was born 26 years ago, slap bang into a traditional arm of the body that had only been alive for 20 or so years. My 12 year old self could walk into a service in most congregations in Australia and know exactly whats going to happen. Nothing has changed. People have changed a little bit. Faces have definitely changed. But the shape hasn’t. This isn’t unique to that brotherhood. Church meetings in some communities haven’t changed for hundreds of years.
Are these the groups that are growing rapidly? Effecting change everywhere they go? Not usually. These are the groups that are slowly dying because their only congregants are descendants, but even now the children are leaving.
Why do we fear change?
Why do we feel like we need to find a truth that we like and then camp for the rest of our lives under that aspect of church?
Is it ease?
Is it satan?
Is it ignorance?
My heart got excited last weekend because I sat in a church service that amongst it the preacher got up and said the words that are like a salve to my heart “If it doesn’t work we need to fix it”
They are going through a painful but beautiful process of growth. Painful because its too quick for some and too slow for others. Beautiful because they are doing it together. They are fighting for unity patiently and honourably.
I got asked last week why I feel like I need to push boundaries, and if I thought there was a time when I would stop.
It stopped me. Because as a 19 year old I would’ve answered a simple word – “rebellion” But I feel like I don’t push boundaries as rebellion anymore. I push them for freedom.
Imagine a field. But you a trapped in a tiny stone house in the middle of it. You don’t gain any freedom in that little house until you push the boundaries. And the further back you push them the more freedom you have.
I believe God has a lot of freedom for us. We just need to push back certain things.
Do we need to change?
What do we need to change?
What do you need to change?
What boundaries are holding back your freedom?
Lifted from: Jeremy Don’t Eat Trash
Conscience and worldview are interesting things that can be retrained. For definition sake, because both are defined multiple ways, when I say conscience I mean the pin board we hang our values on. We can retrain the pin board to hold different values but its pretty tough, and world view is our presuppositions about the world and the pin board. The wall that the pin board is on lets say.
So, as apart of bringing the people out of Egypt, God had to retrain the people of Israel’s presuppositions AND values, because over 400 years they had been taught, through forced slavery that their identity was that of ‘nothing’.
They didn’t get to choose what they did. They didn’t get to choose when they rested. These decisions were all made for them. So with the 10 commandments God both rehung the pinboard, repainted the wall and formed them into an ethnic group “culture” that he could impart wisdom and power onto the world through. But, their conscience and worldview were tampered with constantly by outside forces or internal descent-ers.
A lot of what God leads the Jews in, is the fomenting of ways to avoid having the wall smashed or the pin board de-pinned. And you watch through history, how the biggest enemies of God attack the wall that we hang the pin board on. Words like “re educate” are thrown around. Which are championed by those lifted on the shoulders of others as liberators of truth. Whilst, in God’s reality, they chain themselves to lies and false truths that have repeatedly destroyed humanity throughout our history.
In the near ancient east it was a sex religion whose height was in offering live babies in sacrifice to a silent god-figure. In the current west it is similar, we don’t know how to value humans so we just get rid of those that we subjectively don’t like. We have re educated ourselves to have no truth outside of our own, as if that liberates us into life and love, as opposed to drowning ourselves in conflict, and more tension between the differing truths that we each hold. As if holding different truths increases justice. (insert sarcastic emoticon)
In Lithuania during the Nazi – > soviet chunk of their history, the communists were genius in their re-education. They took out the educators (priests) they deconstructed the celebrations (state marriage, atheist holidays instead of christmas etc) Teachers were retrained to teach atheist theory and they even attempted to stop parents from teaching their own children anything other than the state ordained truth of humanism and only humanism. We look at Soviet Russia’s history with East Europe in ghastly shock. How could they kill so many people? How could they force whole nations to ‘believe’ such a destructive ideology. But the west is now in the midst of just that.
Christmas has become a capitalist utopian dream. Marriage has become and will become an atheist ideal based on little commitment or meaning. Its less about the commitment and more about the party. Teachers are not only being stopped from teaching Christian ethic, they are being retrained to teach only evolution, only humanism and as parents are less and less engaged with what their kids are learning, – because they are focused on their “careers” because humanism tells us only man can save man – we have to save ourselves the best we can with constant work. So the parents are taken out too. What the communists knew about retraining their populace, the capitalists have taken on as well.
God save the queen.
Satan was there when the stories happened, when they were written, when the words were lost, when they were found, when we translated them, when we warred over them. The enemy was there when we built empires on its principles and also when we forgot the principles and gave ourselves the credit. And he loves it when we forget, when we don’t read it, when we think we understand it without even knowing it, when we argue about lies and half truths. He loves when we are too busy to read it, when we are bored of reading it and when we convince ourselves it was written directly to us in the 2000’s.
Its a little worrying huh? That Christians don’t really read our bibles. And if we do, we don’t exactly know what we are reading. And when pastors teach us what is actually going on we are playing angry birds on our phones, or not even going to church and reading atheist diatribes on the internet disproving the faith that we weakly hold to, then we point at the church and accuse them of not doing their jobs.
The bible, if you read it like it was written to be read, changes lives. It reconstructs our thought patterns, it unleashes freedom, it solidifies the truth of Gods character, it builds strong foundations for marriages, families, communities, societies, cultures. It has the capacity to cut out crap in our lives, to invent better technologies and to do business and government for the people.
The bible isn’t God. We believe Christ not because the bible exists. We believe in Christ because God (Emmanuel – God with us) walked amongst us. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, he inspired life in all others and then went to the cross unfairly to take the sin of the world on his God-man shoulders. But do we know the back story to his triumphant victory? Do we understand what is actually happening when he vocally attacks the spiritual elite of the day? Do we understand the Jewish concept of evil and the need of Christ to come destroy it all?
Have we actually read it, and let it flood our lives with exciting goodness?
Because if our battle isn’t over, we are going to need sharper swords to rescue the hopeless and raze the enemies fortresses.
Get sharpening. Get life.