24 August 2011

None Good but the Father... And You

(Alternate title: "Jesus never said you suck.")

Why do we put ourselves down? Why do we think it's spiritual to put ourselves down? Why does the Church teach us to do this?

It seems to be based at least greatly on one passage (OK, three, but they're the same story related in three, different Gospels). A man, often known as the "rich, young ruler" prefaced a question to Jesus by addressing him as "Good teacher". (Jn 10/17)

Jesus prefaced his reply in Jn 10/18 with, "Why do you call me good? There is none good but the Father" (KJV) or "No one is good--except God alone" (NIV)

See? Easy! We all suck.

Well, that's one way to read this. But think about all the other things God the Father and God the Son said about us-- not just about the unfallen Adam and Eve. Not just about Mary. Not just about the disciples (the 12, the 70, the 120, the 500, etc.) You and me.

We are made in the image of God. (Gen. 1/26)

He has given us His glory! (Jn 17/26)

So how does that fit in with Jesus saying "You all suck."

(Waiting... waiting... waiting...)

Can't make it fit, can you?

I guess we could sorta, kinda say, "None of us is as good as God, so compared to him we suck." I suppose. But there really wasn't any reason for Jesus to interject anything like that at this point in the conversation. Plus, Jesus would be saying, "We all suck. You, me, everybody but the Father."

That just doesn't fit.

Just before this, the Pharisees had been testing Jesus, harassing him, trying to trip him up so they could bring charges against him. One of the charges they were perpetually trying to stick him with was blasphemy-- equating himself with God.

I believe this was simply a case of Jesus saying, "Hey! Do you realize what you just said? Yes, I am one with the Father!" That's it. Was he reminding the man addressing him? The Pharisees? The crowd? The disciples? My guess is all of the above. But it really doesn't matter. The point is that the commonly accepted explanation doesn't really fit, whereas this one ties in with Jesus' teachings, and indeed with other things his Father-- our Father, our Daddy-- has said all along.

If the Father is good, so is his only begotten son. If we are one with Jesus the way he and his father are one (Jn 17/21), if He lives in us (Jn 17/23), then we are good as well, purified by his blood and his presence in us.

Does this mean we are incapable of sinning? Sadly, no. But it means that our new nature, the new man or woman, is the polar opposite of the old, sinful nature. It's the new Adam, the new Eve (Rom 5, esp. 18-19). We can choose to be believe the lie that we are bad, and therefore have a propensity to sin, in which case we will almost certainly live a life of defeat (for which there is no Biblical case), or we can choose to believe the truth that we are good through Christ, with a propensity to become like God, in which case we will find it easier to move from glory to glory (II Cor 3/18).

I'll take the truth, every time.

20 August 2011

Biblical Zombies

Today's burning question(s):

"Are zombies real? Are they in the Bible? Help!"

Gather round, children, and Daddy Miles will tell you a zombie story with a happy ending, so you can all sleep like babies tonight. Happy, uneaten babies, unafraid of stupid zombies.

Of course zombies are real. The living dead? You bet. St. Paul talked about them in Rom 7, asking who would free him from "this body of death". If that's not a clear zombie reference, then you need more Ed Wood movies in your life.

So, if the old you is your own personal zombie, lumbering around trying to eat your moral brain, causing you to sin and become your old zombie self's other evil twin, what can you do about it?

Most of us us are taught to flee from it (dooming us to the life of a fugitive, grasping a a bite or two of food as we run frantically through the church on Sunday, never really making much difference except than as laughing stock for those who have no use for God or his people) or to resist. But resistance is for the enemy (the doo doo head, see previous blog on Satan). Zombie aren't even alive. Why do we fear them? What are their weapons?

A zombie mainly has two weapons-- fear and lies (the same as doo doo head). In both cases, their opposite is the only weapon you need, the equivalent of a head shot with a twelve guage, depleted uranium slug.

Truth destroys lies.

Love conquers fear.

As I noted in the "Satan is a weenie" blog, Love and Truth of these are part of the very essence of God. We are made in God's image, and if we accept Christ, we accept that image. We are remade into it. Further, we have his Holy Spirit. If we have the living God in us, who else need we fear?

Certainly not ourselves. Especially our old, dead selves. Let that body rot. Fill in the grave, put up a cross as a tombstone, and walk away.

Jesus came to set us free. Not to make us feel bad about ourselves. Not to make us hate ourselves, fear ourselves, or any of that garbage.

Go read John 17, or at least the last part. Wait, I'll read that part to you. Close your eyes and listen...

"My prayer is not for [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

(Jn 17/20-26, NIV, emphasis mine)

I had always focused on the results parts of this passage, unity and others getting saved. But all the results are predicated on something key that we typically miss, having been prejudiced by our (mis?)understanding of Paul's writings. We know the Holy Spirit is in us. But according to this prayer-- the last thing Jesus is recorded as praying before his betrayal and arrest-- we also find that:

+ we are one not only with each other, but we are one with Daddy God and Jesus;
+ Daddy God loves us the same as He loves Jesus;
+ we have the glory of the Father and Jesus in us;
+ his love, and indeed Jesus, lives in us!

We've been taught to fear the old man or woman, the one that died when we received Christ. But the reality is, the dead fear God and his family. So just be you, the you that God made, and let the zombies run away screaming like little girl zombies, whatever that sounds like.

14 August 2011

Who Measures the Rulers?

``It seems a difficult requirement. But then we are reminded that the responsibility is not due to the worthiness of the officials themselves, or even to the fairness or wisdom of their rules - it is for the Lord's sake that we submit ourselves. It would be so much easier if I actually respected the officials, but hey, it is what it is.'' --Cindy Howard

This immediately struck a chord, helping coalesce thoughts around the issue I've had for some time.

I find myself conflicted. Paul clearly defined what rulers are there for, and far too many of ours are either at odds with that or (in some cases) in outright rebellion. And yet I believe in honor. How do we honor the individual without bowing down to the idol? How do we honor the office when it's current use is so polluted?

There is no way to resolve that conflict once and for all, because each and every one of those people are different, individuals made in God's image as surely as you and I.

I have lived in that place of rebellion, that seat of self, so I know too well how easy it is to turn away from God. I just didn't happen to be in authority over hundreds or thousands (local offices) or millions (state offices) or hundreds of millions (national offices) of people.

I can but live moment by moment in grace, trusting God for what that looks like at the current instant in time.

Lord, help us all. Deliver us from self.