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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? ~ Micah 6:8

It continues to fascinate ~ & sometimes apall me ~ how diverse this thing we call Christianity is.  Surely we cannot all be right...& if we cannot all be right then some of us must be wrong ~ & that opens a whole 'nother can of worms!
I have been reading here...& here ~ sober, thoughtful, Quaker posts that are not afraid to tackle the difficult questions & wrestle with them in prayer & discussion to a reasoned & prayerful conclusion.  Which is more than I can do.  It's not that I can't follow the arguments.  It's not a question of what I personally believe or actually endorse or even where I am in my own walk.  It's not even that I don't see the point because actually I do. Having the truth is important we go! Again.  It's not the most important thing! And because it's not the most important thing I actually think it's a lot of wasted hot air.
See I happen to think, my thinks, that it all rather misses the point because thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. [Deut.6.5] It is all about relationship. This was all rather drummed into my thick skull by a wonderful little book  The Lord Our Shepherd  by J. Douglas Macmillan.  Macmillan was a Scots shepherd before he came to Christ & his insights on Psalm 23 are fascinating but what I concluded was profound was his comments that go something like this: if you do not know the shepherd of the pslam, if Christ is not your shepherd, then this pslam has nothing to say to you & you cannot claim its promises because the personal pronoun is possessive: my shepherd. It's like talking about my husband or my children.  It speaks of an existing relationship.

Now the thing with relationships is they tend to be messy.  Messy is ok.  Really it is.  King David screwed up big time & by biblical account he was a most apalling father but God still calls him a man after His own heart!  I used to look at that & think, huh?! This adulterer, this murderer, this crummy father. Yep ~ he was all of that & then some but he had this most amazing relationship & it transcended everything else that he was. No, I am not advocating a wayward lifestyle.  What I am saying is we need to grasp our nettles &  sort out the important things.  There is no point in being right in our theology if we are wrong in our relationship.  Our theology cannot save us.  Only our relationship with Christ can save us ~ & because that is so I tend to think we can be wrong in matters of faith & still be saved.  First things first.  Do you have a relationship with this Jesus they called the Christ?  Because if you do all else will fall in to place.  How do I know?  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:12~15 & I can trust the Spirit because Christ also said My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; John 10:2

Now I can hear the theological hounds baying for my blood but you can argue theology till the cows come home & the world ends not with a bang but a whimper & it will make absolutely no difference to anyone. But, if you love God you will ask, what does God require of me? And that changes everything. The only requirement is love; love of God, love of one's fellow man. The bible is all about how we then go about loving God & loving our neighbour as ourselves.

No, this is not what God's been on me about.  I'm merely entertaining myself ~ &  I don't mind if you disagree with me.  You are entitled & I am open to whatever is said so long as it is said in love & with respect for differing opinions. Floor's all yours.


Diane Shiffer said...

Oddly enough, this is almost precisely what I have been thinking/contemplating lately. There's so much of everything else we can and "should" be doing, but truly what God cares about is us. His heart longs after us and He longs for us to respond to Him in like manner. A few years ago I did a special study of the Bible where I put away everything else but the Bible- no commentaries or anything else to "help" me "interpret" scripture. Then I went through and read the Bible chronologically. It truly was one of the most transformative experiences of my life... and I learned something really neat about David. His first response was always towards God. No matter what happened, no matter how badly he screwed up, he almost reflexively turned to God. I think that's what made him a man after God's own heart. God really was his source.

Larry & Amanda said...

This follows along with what I've been thinking about too. Loved this post. I recently read a book titled "Will the Theologians Please Sit Down". It expressed much of these same thoughts. Christianity, as practiced by the first Christians, was all about relationship.

That book also inspired me to do as Diane did with the Bible, only I'm starting with the gospels so that I can really get to "KNOW" Jesus. And not through the lens of what I "think" I know, or what some commentary tells me. But, what do the Scriptures actually say.


Ganeida said...

Diane: There is so much contentiousness around ~ & everyone is convinced they alone are right ~ that it pothers my soul. When I go back to the scriptures it coalesces for me into just 2 things: love God, love your fellow man. Jesus said everything else hangs on these 2 things. My relationship with Christ is everything.

Amanda! So lovely to have you back! I am fascinated by the title of that book. I think I will find it & read it. Theology is not relationship. I suspect, as per usual, us humans have got it all back to front. How God must roll His eyes some days!

Larry & Amanda said...

Oh, I often lurk. ;)

Here's the website of the publishing company:

seekingmyLord said...

You already know what I would say on this subject. It is one of the reasons I am not loyal to a denomination or even to a church, only to where I am called to be at a given time. Theology is often described as the "study of religion" when what we really should be doing is a seeking of God. I don't use the name seekingmyLord because I have a high opinion of myself, but to remind me to seek Him, to seek to please Him, in all that I do.

MamaOlive said...

You're right, of course. BUT... (I know you were holding your breath for that one) There has to be a little bit of theology or a person might just fall in love with someone other than the Biblical, historical Jesus. You have to know who He is before you can agree to join with Him. Just like in a marriage, love is THE thing, but it's hard to love a person if you never talk to them.

Ganeida said...

Thanks, Amanda! ☺

Seeking: lol

MamaO: Now you know I want agree with you ~ & all my logic [what there is of it ☺] says you are absolutely right BUT...what are we then to make of muslims who have been converted through dreams & visions yet have not the scriptures? Or the Chinese who have partial scriptures? Or those in obscure parts of the world to whom the Lord has made himself known yet who have no scriptures. See. It gets dodgy fast. Paul says if you have not love you're a resounding gong, a clashing cymbal, but you have nothing! What if our theology grows out of relationship & we read scripture in light of who it speaks about? Curious.

seekingmyLord said...

I think that this is a very old argument within the halls of Christianity that need not be.

It is not about right or wrong so much as meeting the needs of the people working their way closer to God. At some point, the person should develop a close relationship with God no matter in what denomination he has been called to serve.

Actually, I believe that all the theology is tainted with what we want God to be, not what He is. We are always most attracted to what we want or need. Although theology is our attempt to understand that which is beyond our understanding, it will be flawed no matter how we rationalize our version of it, because we are.

Ganeida said...

Seeking: I may agree with you but I keep bumping up against those without that grace & the god they seem to be following after is not one I would personally care to know because of the lack of love & grace they display. Often their biblical knowledge & theology is far sounder than mine but there is such a thing as being right in such a wrong way it actually makes you wrong. ☺ Am I even making sense any more? I need to e~mail you. Lady, I am so relieved you will prayer partner with me across the ocean ~ & are my friend. ♥ BTW, Ember is wondering where you've got to. ☺

Jan Lyn said...

First things first. How I miss the time and freedom to stop in. Second thing, Micah 6:8 is one of my very favorite verses. Always helps when all that theology of lofty thinking gets to me or the ever-present 'ego' talk amongst Quakers on the internet. I say ego is edging God out...and that's a rabbit trail I am running off on here, but makes me sad how many don't even believe in God these days. Back to it, YES, theology. It's a hard one. I had to write a personal creed for my program last week and could not weasel out by saying Quakers have no set creeds. :) I loved your post, and think it all about loving and connecting, though also for me the lack of creed amongst Friends challenges me to think on what I do believe more, I guess, if that makes sense. I'm rambling tonight....anyways,as always, I enjoy your thoughts.

MamaOlive said...

Ah, well, if you want to talk about "unconventional" believers... :-) There is a line (don't hate me, it's Stephan Lawhead) in a book, at a funeral, "He lived by the light that was in him." Kind of like the Bible's "to whom much is given, much is required."
But we just have to be careful not to fall into universalism - thinking that everybody is on a path to God. There is a "right" way, and it's narrow.

I'm glad I'm not the one who has to sort out who is a true believer and who isn't.

I guess you could say theology is like modest apparel. Anybody can dress up like a Christian without being one, but no one can dress up like a heathen without being one. If that makes sense. I'm getting tired.